Sunday, June 25, 2017

Time Flies: Five Years in Ottawa

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the move to Ottawa and to Carleton.  It has worked out better than we imagined.  To be sure, this one had an advantage over all the other moves--it was the first time we moved to a place where we knew people and had many friends.  Last night's party for Roland and Katie Paris reminded me of that, as Roland was one of the friends who was so very enthused for our move and welcomed us.

So, what do I love about Ottawa and Carleton after five years?
  •  It is so much fun to be an IR scholar in a national capital. 
    • I get to meet with people in and near government all the time.
    • I regular meet diplomats and defense attachés so I get perspectives from around the world.
    • There are many interesting events that inform me about stuff directly in my research agenda, directly relevant for my teaching and then stuff that ain't either but is most fascinating.
    • Interviews with military officers, politicians and others are easier to arrange. 
    • There is a dynamic density of folks who are interested in this stuff.
    • My students often have fascinating backgrounds and experiences as they have often done some time in government.
  • Ottawa may have fewer options for comedy or food than Montreal, but it is so much easier to enjoy such stuff.  Traffic is supposed to be bad, but it is not.  We say yes far more than we used to when things come up since it is easier to get to and enjoy whatever is going on.  I love the Byward Market, which is a great place to have a beer with a government official (who might just spill interesting stuff).  
  • It is far easier to the public engagement stuff, including TV and radio, here as I can into downtown and home pretty quickly.  That Ottawa is the national capital also means I get to engage with journalists all the time--this is not just about self-promotion but about learning stuff from them
  • We live in a very neighorhood-y neighborhood, where the folks actually know each other and look out for each other's kids.  Oh, and I have a two car garage so I don't have to scrape my car all winter long (and Carleton has covered parking, woot!).  And now a Costco is only five minutes away!  People call my neighborhood Barrhaven Farhaven since it is 30 minutes from downtown.  Which is about 50-67% of the time I needed to get into downtown in Montreal. While we could use more/better selection of restaurants out here, I have everything else I need.
  • Frisbee is only 12 minutes away most of the time!  And the leagues here are very friendly, chock full of the usual assortment of silly players.  The big difference between this frisbee community and previous ones (other than proximity)?  More beer after games!
  • NPSIA has turned out to be an even better place to work than I expected.  
    • Perhaps hiring my friends (ok, I was excluded from those searches) has something to do with it.  I have also developed friendships with most of my colleagues, and we have managed to resolve the 10-25% problem very well.
    • The students are quite bright and have pushed me to teach differently--MA policy students don't need/want the same kind of classes as Phd students.  I do miss teaching undergrads, and I do have more grading than I had in my previous job.  
    • However, I am also no longer the adviser of last resort (my last job had several scholars in areas near mine who were inferior advisors for one reason or another).  So, I have fewer PhD students, so my guilt about potentially producing many folks who might end up underemployed is diminished.
    • I had one of the best "bosses" in my career for the past five years in Dane Rowlands.  I am sure that his successor, Teddy Samy, will be great.  
    • Our dean, Andre Plourde, has been super-supportive, and his staff have been of great
      assistance to me.  Indeed, one of the key strengths of Carleton has been consistent efforts to recognize people for their contributions. I definitely feel not just welcome here, but appreciated.  And that goes a long, long way to making me happy and appreciative.
    • There is a Tim Horton's in our building!
I am sure I am forgetting stuff, but the key is that we are very happy.  The five years have flown by as they have been full of interesting experiences, much fun with friends, excellent beer, and heaps of frisbee.  So, thanks, Ottawanians for making me and mine so welcome. 

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