Things I did not expect to have to learn about in my life ever, but am suddenly becoming conversant with, if not an expert in:

  • International banking and currency exchange
  • Freight shipping
  • How to talk to politicians, ambassadors, and high ranking religious officials1
  • Conducting academic conversations with students after waking up, before tea or shower. (Also related: thinking very hard about what sort of bathrobe might pass as ‘professional attire’)

Things I thought I didn’t need to think about ever in my life after getting out of undergrad but am suddenly remembering I’m an expert in:

  • The locations and closing times of the nearest late-night restaurants
  • The locations, menus, and inventory of the local 24-hour shops and restaurants, with a sub-specialisation in the ones that offer delivery
  • Decorating without leaving any holes in the wall.
  • Exactly how many cups of tea it takes for me to become functional on 4 hours of sleep or less, without getting so wired that I can’t sleep
  • Drinking coffee (thus far, only iced coffee, which is really an entirely different creature… but it’s early days, yet)
  • Furniture design

Things I kinda figured I’d spend a lot of time dealing with at some point in my life, and am:

  • Filling out visa applications
  • Language acquistion
  • Trying to squeeze an extra 12 hours into the day
  • Doing at least three different things at the same time

This post has been brought to you by all the numbers on my to-do list and all the letters in ‘sleep deprivation’.

What skills have you found unexpectedly necessary in your chosen career?

1: Yes, I know, I should be used to this by now, or at least expecting it, and I’ve done enough hand-shaking with my father’s colleagues and consorting-with-bishops on my own to be not completely out of my depth. But, honestly? Those fancy schools that make their graduate students take seminars on cocktail party etiquette? They have the right idea. Some (most?) of us decided to spend our lives in the library because we just aren’t naturals at that sort of thing.