On Herding Cats

Maybe the title isn’t totally fair, but being responsible for the general well-being of 20 18-22 year-olds is definitely a new way for me to travel. And I think it’s at least partly contributing to my on-going sleep deprivation.Today was mostly a travel day, and yesterday was consumed by a photography workshop about which I have mixed feelings. So I don’t have a lot to post about in terms of Sweden and the trip itself, but it’s *such* a different experience to travel as a group – that I’m in charge of. There’s so much less room for improvisation and changing plans. When I (and many of the students) got bored at the workshop yesterday, we couldn’t just leave. And we also couldn’t stay longer at the museum of photography since we had to get back on the bus to collect the other half of the group.

Any time we move from one location to the next (whether that’s a building, street, or city), I have to count twenty moving targets – and often track them down. I really like 90% of our students, so I don’t mind terribly so far. (There are two of them on my shit list, but even they are sweet/mean well). But it’s draining to be the one responsible for them – especially in unfamiliar territory.

It’s 10:30pm here in Kiruna, Sweden – about 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle – where we’ll be spending the next two days experiencing the Scandinavian winter. And for the second night in a row, I can’t seem to fall asleep, even though our students have been great so far.

Admittedly, one did leave her phone at a restaurant last night, most of them seemed pretty hung over yesterday, and in spite of factoring in a extra 30 minutes between the time we told them to be downstairs ready to go and the time the bus was actually  supposed to leave, there was still a lot of last minute scrambling this morning.

There isn’t much to do in Kiruna, and tomorrow is the day we go dog sledding, so I doubt they’ll get themselves into any trouble tonight. But there seem to be a lot of lingering, back of the mind “what ifs” that I have a hard time shaking off. I also probably shouldn’t have “graded” the blog posts they had due today – as it meant dealing with the inevitable missed deadlines and intermittent shoddy work right before trying to go to bed…

They just aren’t adults yet. And it’s interesting to really see that in the way they handle the freedom we give them. Again, so far so good in avoiding major disasters (knock on wood), but the perpetual wrangling is more frustrating and draining than I anticipated.

I’m thrilled to be here. I want to hug most of them, most of the time. I’m just tired, and it’s only day four!

 

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