I’m happy that classes have returned to normal this week. It was fun to be lazy for a few extra days, but after a while it feels a bit depressing. However, since I spent so much free time finishing up my essays, I am not really gaining much by going to class. After all, the essays are the only thing that count towards my grade. I just have a bit of polishing up to do, and then I will be ready to turn them in. Going to class can be fun to listen to the lectures though. My creative writing professor tells great stories – which I suppose makes a lot of sense considering his area of expertise.
On Thursday I volunteered, and afterwards I went to the National Gallery, walked around Piccadilly, and saw a musical. I saw the book of Mormon, which I loved. It’s a satirical play that had me cracking up. What I thought was funniest of all is that there were some jokes I would laugh at, but the rest of the audience would not. It dawned on me that some of the jokes would land for Americans, but were likely flying over the heads of the British audience. This was especially evident with jokes involving Salt Lake city. I wonder if they know much about Salt Lake city? Being from Idaho, Mormons were very prominent in my community, so my Mormon-related knowledge helped me better enjoy the musical.
On a separate note, lately I have been thinking a lot about my volunteering “job.” I feel very well taken care of when I am there. Every hour or so, someone will walk by and tell me I’m working hard, and I should go make myself a cup of tea and relax. They show a lot of appreciation for me and the work I’m doing is really helping Light Project get organized. I find myself daydreaming about working there full time.
My first thought was that they’re being extra nice to me because I am a volunteer, and maybe if I worked there for money like they did, it wouldn’t be so laid back. However, after paying closer attention over the last couple of weeks, I realize that everyone is treated this way. They take breaks frequently, have friendly chats, and take pauses to stretch. Perhaps this is just the way Light Project is run, and it is rare to find workplaces in the UK that treat their employees so humanely?
I suspect my view of work culture is warped because I come from a working class family. Personally I have only worked minimum wage jobs, like restaurants or retail, which are infamous for being horrible most of the time. My experiences include not being allowed to sit down, not being allowed to keep my phone on me, and sometimes working many hours (I will never forget the 12 hour shift where my manager said we were too busy for me to take a lunch break). After doing some quick research online, I can see that the US’ average work/life balance is poor compared to the UK, but the UK’s work/life balance is poor compared to many Western European countries.
I have always wondered what my work/life balance will be like when I’m a teacher. I know that teachers in the US have a high turnover rate because they are often expected to work off the clock and are underpaid. However, this is clearly an issue for teachers in the UK as well, which is evident by the two week long strike I just experienced. Lately I’ve been wondering: Would I be happier if I just worked an office job?
I’m definitely not giving up on teaching. My passion is for helping people and I want to do for my future students what my teachers did for me. However, I am more open to the possibility that, after teaching for a few years, I could decide to find a job that still helps people – but is less stressful – if I am unhappy. Alternatively, I may decide to teach overseas. I have been interested in teaching English as a second language for a couple of years now, and many countries have ESL programs I could apply for. I would love the opportunity to spend more time abroad!
Images: Crab study painted by Van Gogh (National Gallery), Waiting for the Book of Mormon to begin