The word sabbatical, from the Latin sabbaticus, Greek sabbatikos, and Hebrew Shabbat, literally means “ceasing.” Of course, for academics, a sabbatical rarely means the complete cessation of work. While they are given the opportunity to let their home professional fields lie fallow for a year or so every seven years, sabbatical takers often use the opportunity of a break from their normal routine to teach, research, write, or practice medicine in some other region of the globe. And many don’t travel alone.
My husband always reminds me that a sabbatical is “a privilege, not a right.” Yet I can’t help planning for the next one, hoping he’ll be granted another of these perks of academic life. Not everyone takes advantage of these opportunities, though. Too many professors fear the upheaval to their homes and families, and just stay put. But sometimes all they needed was a little advice – information that could change a potentially stressful, unpleasant situation into an enjoyable and memorable adventure.
After five overseas sabbaticals and exchanges, I’ve found what works — and what doesn’t. Through the years I’ve made lists, compiled notes, and consulted other sabbatical veterans. Friends who were planning such a year themselves began asking me about sabbatical preparations, living abroad, and re-entering normal life. I soon realized I had information that could help both novice and more experienced sabbatical-takers, and thus began the seeds of a book I wrote to help others: Sabbaticals 101 — A Practical Guide for Academics and Their Families.
Of course, my suggestions in the book are not only for academics. Anyone who sojourns for an extended period can benefit from the tips and resources assembled between these covers. I offer this to you as advice from a friend who’s been there.
Try the Tenants’ Guide
So whether you are planning your first or fourth sabbatical, travelling across the world or just settling into a city nearby, I hope you read this book first! Also, read/download The Tenants’ Guide template here. It will be invaluable in planning for your sabbatical!
Nancy Matthews is a freelance travel writer and the mother of two sons. Born and raised on the U.S. west coast, she married a Canadian statistics professor and has lived in the Great White North ever since. Thanks to her husband’s sabbaticals, she has had the opportunity to experience life in various corners of the world. Their first sabbatical was in London and Berne, Switzerland, followed by an exchange in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. They loved life Down Under so much, they returned for two more sabbaticals in the same location. Another special highlight was a year spent in Oxford, England, where they homeschooled their boys. Nancy coordinates a program at the University of Waterloo for the spouses of international students, and is a member of UW’s International Student Office orientation team. She and her family call Kitchener, Ontario, home when they’re not exploring the world