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I just completed my Ph.D. and have recently been offered a lecturer position in a university. The first day of classes is on August 23rd, and I am getting married abroad in Europe on August 21st. The university is not aware of this, and I am not exactly sure about what to do.

I am considering catching a flight the day after my wedding (Aug 22nd) and then going to work on the 23rd, although this is risky and very stressful. Perhaps I will be expected to be present the week before I begin working, which is out of the question for me.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to handle this situation?

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    Have you asked your supervisor, boss, or the department administrators about this ? If yes, what did they say ? It is best to make them aware of this and ask for their opinion. They may find a suitable solution for you such as letting a TA temporarily teach your class for the first few days if this is a normal undergraduate class. – Job_September_2020 Apr 30 at 21:23
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    Several years ago I hired a post-doc who wanted to delay starting a month or so to go get married, go on a honeymoon, and then start. I convinced him instead to start earlier, take unpaid leave for the wedding etc., and then 'start' work. I felt better knowing he had insurance coverage and whatnot. – Jon Custer Apr 30 at 21:29
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    @Sarah You are playing a tight game. Flights get delayed, weather, volcanoes or other imponderables can weigh in. and you will have a very stressful time at your wedding to the moment you reach the grounds of your institution. Seriously, not a good idea. Talk to your institution, if they have a solution for you, you'll have them on your side, and if not, you know that you need to make a decision. Reasonable institutions will have an understanding for your situation and might offer the option for some remedy, such as doubling up your first week's duties at some other time. – Captain Emacs May 1 at 1:36
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    @Sarah And if they tell you that you cannot delay anything, you know that you are playing a dangerous game, and can take an informed decision then rather than gambling with an unknown risk. You also may want to consider getting an early flight (or a late night flight at the wedding day) and perhaps a fly a more expensive class, so you would get priority treatment in case of a bottleneck (but you'd have to check with the airline). – Captain Emacs May 1 at 1:39
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    I would not count on being able to travel on such a tight schedule in August. While we all hope this crazy pandemic situation will be under control by then, it just seems foolhardy to ignore it now. For all we know there might be mandatory quarantines, or even a full ban on flights. Remember that most of Europe is still currently under lockdown, and even if the situation seems to be improving you can never be sure it will be completely resolved by August... – Denis Nardin May 1 at 9:28
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The best way to handle a situation like this is to get in touch with your Head of Department / Director of Teaching in advance (perhaps, after you receive a formal offer) and discuss your situation. Make them aware of your wedding date (congratulations, btw!) and explain that you can arrive to your post right in time for your first class, but you would be grateful if your first lecture can be rescheduled to give you a bit more time. In many Universities it is customary for colleagues to step in for each other in case of sick leave or important family events (like wedding). It is much better to arrange a replacement / rescheduling in advance, rather than risk not showing (or showing not prepared) for your first class.

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    I have done this previously when having prior commitments when starting a new job. Upon acceptance, I let them know that I need to take leave on these dates for prior commitments. It has always turned out well. – masher May 2 at 15:03
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Congratulations on finishing your PhD, getting married, and getting hired as a lecturer, all at once!

Can you record the first lecture online? We've all been pretty used to online lately, so maybe you could start the class off this way. Apologize to the students, explain you're out of the country but everything will be normal for week two. You would probably need to clear this with your department first, but this seems like the best option if they'll allow it.

Barring that, has your school opened up the fall classes for student enrollment yet? If not, maybe you can shift the weekly schedule to get another day or two. I see August 23rd is a Monday - does that mean you teach M-W? If so, maybe you can switch the class to T-Th, for example.

Or if neither of those, are you teaching one section of a larger course, with other professors also teaching the same sections with standard curriculum? This often happens for early required classes that many students take every year. If that were the case, maybe you could ask one of your fellow instructors to cover your first class, because they will have prepared the exact same material already anyway. It's a little awkward since you're asking favors of people who don't know you, but it seems reasonable.

If none of those alternatives work, unfortunately, I think being back on the 22nd is your only option. A teaching schedule isn't flexible - students sign up well in advance in order to coordinate their schedules, and the semester itself starts on a university-wide schedule that everyone knows well in advance. You want to make a good, professional, first impression with the department and your students, and not taking responsibility for being there on the first day of class would be quite the opposite.

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    The first lecture is probably still going to be online even if the OP is back. With possibly vaccine-escaping variants going around, OP would be endangering the students by holding a physical lecture within days of an intercontinental flight, and hopefully won't be allowed to do so. – gerrit May 1 at 11:10
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    At a lot of (US) universities, fall registration is already open, so switching the class around would probably be a hard no. – user3067860 May 1 at 20:31
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been offered a lecturer position

how to handle this situation?

Do not sign the contract until you have an agreement that is satisfactory to your future spouse, yourself, and the person who supervises your teaching. Get the agreement in writing.

Signing the contract and then asking for changes would be extremely rude if this is the sort of situation where you have been hired to meet teaching needs.

Keep in mind that travel during a pandemic that is not essential is irresponsible, and will hurt your reputation.

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Cancel your wedding and hold it locally instead.

In this time of global pandemic, international travel for trivial reasons should be avoided wherever possible, and weddings would be included in that. Travelling internationally to hold a wedding is simply selfish and irresponsible. As such, I would recommend that you simply cancel your European wedding and instead hold your wedding locally. If you have relatives in Europe who would be unable to come to a local wedding, stream it to them over the internet.

From an academic standpoint, this also means that you won't be stuck in quarantine for the first two weeks of term, and you'll actually be able to perform the full breadth of your duties during those two weeks.

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    @DonQuiKong Even if those assumptions are wrong, travel for a wedding is inappropriate right now. – Anonymous Physicist May 1 at 9:30
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    @DonQuiKong Even if all the guests are from Europe, they should still cancel the European wedding and livestream a locally-held wedding for them over the Internet. Even if they're vaccinated, the vaccines still aren't 100%, and there are dangerous strains like the UK strain in Europe. International travel for weddings is irresponsible while there's a global pandemic. – nick012000 May 1 at 9:55
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    This answer is outside the scope of this Stack Exchange, as it has nothing to do with academia. The Asker was not asking about what to do about the wedding, and thus did not include enough details for that to be dealt with. You're also making a lot of assumptions about the state the world will be in by that time--most events being scheduled in August are not currently being cancelled. And quarantine plans can greatly reduce risk. – trlkly May 1 at 11:30
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    @nick012000 If the argument was "consider rescheduling the wedding" I wouldn't object. But instead the argument is "don't have the wedding due to the pandemic" which is outside the expertise of this SE. It also clearly scolds the Asker. – trlkly May 1 at 12:29
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    It's not a frame challenge, it's a frame rant. – DonQuiKong May 1 at 13:58

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