So I've been working at the University of Tasmania for two weeks now.
You guys. You. Guys. It is ACE.
I've never worked in the public sector before this. Previously I'd begun to suspect that there was something inherently flawed in me that meant I could never be satisfied with a job. Nope! Turns out I just had some super crappy employers over the years. (I'd suspected that, too.) Oh man, guys. The University is like... paradise. I almost tear up when I think about it too much. My work is fairly simple and precise: managing and updating university websites through an excellent content management system called MySource Matrix, and then assorted other tasks that come my way, including (at some point) a couple of logo designs. In general it's not particularly creative work, but I don't miss the pressure of creating for money, and what I LOVE about this is that there is a definitive 'right' and 'wrong' way to do things: when you get it right, you know it. With creative work you're never entirely 'right'; there's always something you could have done a little better, something that could have been cleverer, some area where you skills just aren't there yet. And that's not something you grow out of, no matter how good you get. In fact, the better you get at art, the better you get at spotting your flaws - so in a sense, you feel like you're getting worse. The more I knew, the less I knew that I knew. Little bit of Socrates there for you.
Oh god, and the benefits. I'm not going to go into massive detail here, but think practically-free state-of-the-art gym, modern offices and equipment, more salary sacrifice options than you can poke a stick at, and flex-time that is by far the most flexible I've encountered.
My coworkers are lovely, welcoming people and the pace is reasonable (there's always something to do, but for once I don't have someone breathing down my neck treating me like a subhuman drone). I'm appreciated for the diverse skills I bring to the position, too. I'm being paid well enough that I'd happily tolerate conditions other than those, but the fact that these things worked out well too is a huge bonus.
What else is going on, let's see...
Well, I'm meant to finish my first year of TAFE at the end of November. I absolutely whipped myself for a fortnight before I started my new job, and managed to finish all my October assignments a month early - I didn't want to be working on assignments while adjusting to full-time work. I've still got November's assignments to go (many of them haven't been released yet or I'd be doing them right now) and then that's it. I can take my Cert IV and walk away, or enrol again next year and leave with a Diploma. I'm not sure yet. I have another option, too.
The Other Option:
The Uni will pay for me to do a few units of study per year, which is just... amazing. I'm a bit of a learning junkie. I'm considering forgetting about the Diploma next year and just taking up a Bachelor of Arts part-time (my flex-time allows for this; my employers have let others do it before and in fact encourage extra learning).
- a degree beats a Diploma
- As a B Arts student I can indulge my desire to learn ALL OF THE THINGS and take a whole bunch of interesting stuff as electives
- I'd be studying on the same campus where I'm working, which is convenience plus
- Many of my units would be paid for by my employer
- I might be able to get a little bit of RPL for my previous studies
- Do I really want to sacrifice this much time? There are other things I could be doing instead (writing, the Diploma, etc)
- I will have to put the non-uni-paid units on HECS, where I still have a $5k debt from the unfinished B Animation
- What if I overload myself and it affects my work performance? I REALLY want to do well in this job. The more easygoing my employer, the harder I want to work for them... so that's going into overdrive in this job
- Doing the B Arts full-time is a three-year commitment. Doing it part-time is up to six years
There's so much to think about. Joe and I are planning on having a child in the next couple of years, once we've bought a house, paid it down a bit and made sure we're extremely stable - I don't want my child to have the childhood I did. Small children should not inherit money stress by proxy just because it permeates every conversation and action in their home. So from what I'm told by the assorted parents I'm getting to know here (all of who are just a few years ahead of us in the parenting / settling down / housing timeline) when you have a baby, that's pretty much it for your money and your free time. It seems foolish to take up study now if it means I'll have to drop it a couple years down the line. On the other hand, study (like children) is one of those things you could put off forever waiting for the "perfect time".
Is doing a B Arts necessary? No, probably not. I intend to stay with this job for a very, very long time - and for the first time I'm not saying that while grimly setting my jaw; I'm saying it with excitement and anticipation. A degree won't move me any faster up the pay scale than hard work alone will. But then, that's not why I want to study. I want to study for the joy of learning. I've had a freaking WHALE of a time studying full-time this past year.
But as I mentioned above, that's six years of work - I'd be 35 by the time I finished the degree, and I kind of secretly want to go on to honours and even further, perhaps. This is a nutty thing to say and it'll make all the honours postgrads out there want to strangle me, but I think I'd love writing a thesis. I love to argue. I love to write. My only issue in every essay I've written so far this year has been forcing myself to shut the hell up so I don't bust out of the wordcount. Nothing appeals to me more than the idea of doing original research into something I find compelling, and being the first person in the world to write about it in that particular way.
I still have time to think about it and decide. And I can always do some units next year and, if it's too much, leave it at that or defer it until I feel ready to take it on again.
Because I'm a massive nerd, I've already planned out what major, minor and electives I'd like to do. Major in English, minor in History, electives primarily Philosophy with a bit of Indonesian and a unit on Aboriginal Art thrown in. I confess I've made fun of Philosophy students in the past, but as these are just electives I figure I can do whatever the heck I like with them. Having ruled out the Philosophy units that look too wanky (one called "What is the Meaning of Life?" went STRAIGHT out the window; god, imagine the eighteen-year-olds in that) I can see myself enjoying certain others; one on sexuality, another on ethics, another on logic.
Enough study rambling. Other things that are happening:
- My first pay solved a large portion of the money troubles that were gradually taking us over. This job honestly turned up in the nick of time. I don't think we'd have made it past December... and I will be forever grateful that this happened and we got our chance to stay in Tasmania.
- Joe is definitely going to apply for the Antarctica job. Thank you for all your thoughts on that, guys - your info and experiences really helped. The next intake isn't until early/mid next year, so Joe has a while to gather his materials. As it happens, I recently did a favour for a woman who then became a friend... and it turns out she's one of the recruiters for the Antarctic Division. For that specific job. So she's already regaled me with handy hints which I've passed on to the lad.
- Beyond that, Joey's as good as usual. Better, even. The Asperger's diagnosis genuinely changed his life, and mine by association. I've never seen him at peace in himself like this. Our home is filled with joy, every day.
- Still haven't started driving practice again. Still need a car. It's on The List, right after our remaining bills.
- Over the past few months I regained a little of the weight I'd shed. I was down to 64kg, and I managed to crawl back up to 68. No serious damage done. I could roll out a long list of excuses - frequent visitors, frequent illness, and a really shitty month where I honestly thought we'd have to go home to Queensland - but never mind. I'm back on the wagon and I've already lost a kilo in the past two weeks. On Monday I start at UniGym. Besides my normal cardio/weights, I'll be doing regular CX30 lunchtime workouts, and I'm going to try Zumba. Go ahead, picture me doing it and laugh; I do. ;)
- Tasmania is still amazing. Thankfully, I don't think that's going to change any time soon.
- Still going to America for FC in February. It's been OK'd by my work, too. First international trip ever!
- Our lease expires in December; we're looking at renting a small former church in Franklin (just down the road) for about half of what we pay now. There's only two of us, and right now we're in a three-bedroom place. It's excessive. I believe in keeping life simple. Additionally, the church is for sale, and if the owners are amenable we'd like to buy it in about a year's time. The price is approximately 3.5 x my annual salary (not counting Joe's), which I think is very do-able. Mortgage repayments would not be much more than we're currently paying in rent.
Things are really falling together. It was worth the risk of moving, and worth the wait. Coming here was the best thing we ever did.