The smell of academia


“Ooo,oo, that’s smell! That smell is all around you!”

Academia as a first year faculty smells.  Sometimes really good and sometimes really bad.

–a list by New Faculty

Things that smell rosey:

  • free food–i don’t care what any other new faculty says, the ‘free food’ gene lasts forever…..and you’re never ‘too good’ for it.
  • the smell of home when you finally get there and can stay for longer than 20 minutes and dare i add: sit/lay on your couch
  • Spring–when you can open your windows, or better yet, leave the office
  • new books–don’t deny, academics love books
  • old books–don’t deny, academics love old, stinky books too. you can smell the knowledge….or idiocy ;~)
  • coffee–fake energy smells great!
  • happy hour-let’s face it, you made it through another week, you deserve it. now, go pick your poison
  • publications–no explanation needed
  • syllabus’ hot off the copier–smell the work you put into a course, breathe deeply
  • students learning–while the actual smell might not be that great, the learning is sweet.  your nose may disagree. i’ve had students who bathe in cologne of foreign, manufactured smells and students who fail to bathe and i can smell them walking down the hall as i say a small prayer they’re not heading to my office.  then i hear the ‘knock, knock’ *d’oh!*
  • breaks/vacations/student move out–let’s not deny that there is something wildly hilarious about students and parents packing up mini-vans/suv’s/u-hauls–it’s like human jenga but with comforters and pillows to make the game more interesting…..i don’t know what this smells like, but if freedom smells, it sure smells good!

Things that don’t smell so great in academia:

  • rejection with a ‘do not resubmit’ attached. *ouch* get used to it and move on
  • missing happy hour–that might be ‘pout worthy’
  • failing to make a deadline that you ACTUALLY wanted to make.  i am reminded of that quote, “i love the sound of deadlines, i like the sound they make as they go whooshing by.” this is not one of those situations.
  • undergrads who have eighth grade bathing habits
  • undergrads who wear enough cologne to make you eyes and nose water (like an eighth grader).  fake smell rarely attracts a mate, i’m sure there’s scientific evidence on this one.
  • when you can smell coffee but there is no coffee left–also ‘pout worthy’ but a good excuse to take a break and go follow your nose for further investigation
  • blood, sweat, and tears–you can have all three simultaneously in academia.  ask me about the 95 degree day i was running up the stairs and tripped, smashing my toe nails and my knees….it hurt. it hurt real bad….i have also experienced this smell while trying to complete a grant application. my toe nails didn’t hurt, but other parts of me sure did.
  • budget cuts–they smell worse than a hog farm
  • graduate students who can’t behave in the sandbox– while there is always something to worry about, every once in a while you get a grad student who makes your life holy living hell.  you know you have at least one student in the back of your mind who fits this description and hopefully they made a quick departure or were advised by someone else.
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