18 August 2013

Up in the air

SOMEWHERE over Australia—Cathay Pacific Flight CX100 left Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia at 2 p.m. After dinner, a film, and a sleep, we are still over Australia, nearly six hours later. This is a vast land with miles and miles of nothing below us most of the time. I have a great fondness for most of the countries I visit regularly. Australia, however, has a special place in my heart.

My family has been associated with this country for more 50 years following the emigration of some of my family, including my grandmother, after the Second World War. Three of my children have been here. It is hard not to like the place. As the early morning flight to Sydney from Brisbane circled the lagoon, clear blue water reflecting a perfect sky made me want to stay a while.

The Sydney skyline.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, I am on the way to Hong Kong. After that, it’s on to the U.K. and home to family and work. I have visited four countries in three weeks and have reported on my visits to Ireland and Taiwan. My annual visits to Australia are due to my part-time professorship at the University of Western Sydney, an eponymous university that lies to the west of Sydney. It is spread over several campuses —some of it is a long way from Sydney—and I feel lucky to be based on the Campbelltown, NSW campus, which is relatively rural but within a short train journey of the centre of Sydney.

June to August is the winter season in Australia, and the early mornings were ideal for running. There was frost on the ground and, as the sun rose revealing a cloudless sky, I was able to explore some new parts of town. My academic activities included teaching senior honours undergraduate students about turning their assignments into published articles. I also presented to colleagues on other campuses about increasing their online profile—this blog was referred to—and about ethical issues in academic publishing.

I especially enjoyed giving a lecture to clinical nurse consultants and other clinical colleagues at the Nepean Hospital in Penrith, NSW, on presenting a conference paper. Online lectures are used a lot here, on several campuses, to teach nurses and midwives, and I make a contribution to this by providing links to my online lectures at my own University of Hull. I used my nights alone in the hotel to make one, especially for students here, on writing for quantitative research. You can listen to it and hear what I sound like; don’t be too harsh.

I mentioned my family earlier. My final weekend in Australia was spent in Brisbane, Queensland, where most of my cousins live. This is definitely the best time of year to visit Brisbane, as it is only hot at the moment, as opposed to unbearable. I paid a visit to a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base near Brisbane and had some fun in the cockpit of an RAAF Airbus refuelling plane. It was still on the ground, I emphasise. I then watched the All Blacks (New Zealand) destroy the Wallabies (Australia) at rugby union on television. For North American readers, rugby is American football without the helmets.

Second Officer Watson pretends he knows what he's doing.
Soon, I will be home to spend the rest of October in the U.K. In September, I have several European trips planned. Otherwise, if the weather holds, I will be climbing rocks.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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