Numbering the days

31 July 2012
Today I handed in my written notice. It was really just a paperwork formality as I had already declared my intention to leave back in June, but it also means my days at my current company are now officially numbered. Originally my plan was to aim for a December departure, which would have meant not making a final decision for at least another few weeks, but circumstances meant that I could not keep my intentions under wraps any longer. Listening to conversations about future projects, some of which were quite interesting, was torture given that externalities necessitated I start committing to a schedule.

So why leave?

My current job is largely independent of the UK economy, which all things considered is an envious position to be in. In fact when this is coupled with the whole setup I have in Bristol, it all adds up to quite a high standard of secure living. Doors that opened slowly can easily slam shut quickly, so on any measure this is a big thing to trade in. The problem is that the situation is a set-rigid mould, and taken as a whole I feel that Bristol has had its peak. Of course there are one or two gripes about my company that set everything off, because if this was not the case I would not have thought about relocation in the first place. However the company side of things is a story for after I have left, so for now I will go into the non-company side of my decision.

The university bubble

The underlying problem here is that in a city like Bristol, it is very difficult to escape the University bubble, but you also cannot participate in it like you did before. I know people who studied in Bristol but then deliberately spent a few years away working in another city, and their reasoning tallies with what I see:
University segregation
PhD colleagues who don't then become RA's (or move to Toshiba TRL) rarely stay in the city, and then the tendency of only really socialising with colleagues kicks in. Inside the university this is not an issue as it is a large organisation, but as soon as you go outside you rapidly get isolated from it all.
Decline of student activity
Leaving aside issues of associating with current students, Bristol students are becoming both more insular and semi-conscious. This is partly down to the Students Union being in terminal decline, and partly because students need to be more work-conscious.
University is more serious nowadays
Fees and living costs are on the up, and the graduate job-market is brutal. The summer term these days is dedicated exam season, and the tendency is for students to go home when they finish rather than have post-exam parties.
Destruction of the PGU
Back in 2009 the Students Union dissolved the Postgraduate Union in what I will simply call acrimonious circumstances. As a result student activity, even in the international societies, is basically devoid of postgraduates. Current undergrads simply don't have the mindset of my generation.
The problem is that if you are outside the large organisations, things are too fragmented to really build up a decent pool of associates. Work for a small company out in the sticks with mostly married-with-kids types, and you are utterly stuffed. By the time travelling and a 6pm finish is factored in, both lunch-time coffee and after-work drinks are non-starters.

In short?

The city tends to make me look backwards rather than forwards, and from a mini-max perspective, the thing to do would have been to leave in late-2007. Outside of Clifton Village you are never far from examples of economic devastation, and the political direction of Bristol is not exactly to my taste. It all reinforces my view I should sweep the deck and consign Bristol to memories.