Through the summer I have been deliberating over the possibility of returning to academia. Having passed my rather easy test for Spanish citizenship in June, I found the study sufficiently enjoyable to consider doing a postgraduate course of study at the University of Alicante.
I explored the possibility through July and August and the course director for the masters degree in European Studies told me he thought my Spanish was up to an appropriate level for the reading. The self-funding to pay for the course was more or less within my means and the travel to and from Alicante was easy enough. Commuting 30 km from a junction on the autovia A-70 five km from my front door to a university department 400 metres from the destination junction at a toll of 2.30 Euros is what anyone in Europe would call an easy commute!
It all looked very straightforward. So this week I decided… to abandon the idea.
I’m not quite into my second year of retirement yet, so I haven’t yet got used to the idea that I don’t need to be looking for ways of proving that I have some value outside of my happy existence tending to the needs of four donkeys and two chickens. The triangle of two villages and one reasonable sized town, more or less equidistant, provides my normal universe.
Occasional trips to Alicante to the MARQ archeological museum, suffering a one-hour tram journey listening to people shouting into their mobile phones, or skirmishes with fly-infested picnic spots with a view further inland, should provide all the confirmation I needed that it is not really worth the effort to go outside my hermitage of El Parral and its immediate surroundings. The village of Sella feels very much like “the big city” for me and I don’t really want to travel much further than a five kilometre radius.
Similarly, the online equivalent of travelling too widely from here, on Facebook or Twitter, is entirely unrewarding and allows the outside world to intrude upon a reasonably happy existence by hurling its problems, bad manners and inevitable entirely unsought abuse in my direction. I made the mistake of returning to social media and got back out quickly before I found myself enticed to spend any longer attempting to understand the point of it! (BTW: if anyone has discovered the secret of permanently deleting a Facebook account, please tell me. The good people on that platform’s information team seem to have overlooked to provide such instructions in a place where they can be easily found. I wonder why.)
So I am beginning my second year of retirement at the University of the Wind in the Trees. A place where I do not have any immediate need to do anything, submit anything for a deadline, go anywhere or speak to anyone. The wind in the trees provides arboreal contact with the wider world that is sufficient for the moment. Above all else, I feel very happy with the decision and quite relieved that I can never be proved wrong: I would have made an academic success of the opportunity and passed. I have already got a postgraduate degree with distinction so I have nothing to prove anyway. All round, it’s a good decision!
So I have opened a bottle of Mayor de Castilla 2015 Ribera del Duero and I would like to propose a toast to my daughter Alys who has just had an unconditional offer of a place on a Master of Arts in Archeology at the University of Liverpool, starting shortly. Cheers!