Friday, March 18, 2005

The End of the Travel Season

In 2005 I have already traveled on five trips to four different countries on three different continents. My travel comes in bunches. I didn't teach in the winter quarter (at the cost of doubling up in the spring) so I planned much of my travel during this time. After I return tomorrow I have no major trips planned until STOC in late May.

Why do I travel? I don't enjoy at all the act of traveling despite the advantage of non-stop flights to nearly everywhere from Chicago. The tourism bit has long lost its allure. After a while all the cities and universities start to look the same.

I don't need to travel. I could hole up in Chicago, just work with the students and visitors and have a moderate research career. I have tenure so my job is safe in any case. So why travel?

  1. People: Working with people, talking with people, drinking with people. Traveling to visit different people keeps my research and academic life from getting stale.
  2. Getting Away: Like most people, I have considerable work and family responsibilities and travel allows me to escape and have time to focus on research. When I visit someone for a short time they will usually make time to work with me as well. The internet has prevented me from completely escaping but I can usually tell people I'm away and I will deal with the problem when I get back. I do try to keep to a goal of not leaving the family for more than a week at a time.
  3. Being Involved: If you want to be an active member of the community people need to know who you are. Don't travel and people will forget you. Email is not a good substitute for meeting face to face.
Traveling has many virtues but I am really looking forward to two straight months of going no where at all.


  1. Coelum, non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt. Strenua nos exercet inertia, navibus atque quadrigis petimus bene vivere; quod petis hic est, ...
    -Quintus Horatius Flaccus

    They change their sky, not their mind, who cross the sea.
    A busy idleness possesses us,
    we seek a happy life, with ships and carriages; the object of our search is present with us, ...

  2. Ummm, speaking of traveling, what happened to the blog entry that used to be following this one, about a prospective grad student traveling through the dark underbelly of theory departments in North America?

  3. There was another entry?

    Dang, missed it.

    Maybe the student requested to have it removed. In any case this is about the time prospective grad students are visiting colleges and I see that some of them have recorded their impressions on their blogs.