Tuesday, 14 October 2008

London Employed

Here's a hint - the frequancy of my blogging corresponds to my own personal uncertainty. Happy Leanne = less blogging . Stressed out, uncertain, scared Leanne = more blogging. Just saying.

Anyway - I am presently waiting a call to go into work. This may or may not come (would it be horrible to admit that I would prefer it not come?). In other words, this may be a short entry. Here is what I can admit: I am scared sh*tless to go into the classroom. The reality: I have not taught in over a year, and am fairly certain that I am an incompetant teacher. Ok, Ok - this is a sentiment reiterated by many new teachers. Unlike other new teachers, I am certain I am a bad teacher. Ok...again, I'm sure other new teachers will say the same thing. But really. I am certain. I'm a science teacher - how Leanne ended up as a science teacher is beyond the scope of understanding. Let me think...hmm...what qualified me to teach science? *waiting....waiting...* No answer.

No, in reality, I do know what qualified me - eight years of undergraduate classes that were spread over topics ranging from the Philosophy of Sex & Moral Issues to Forensic & Archaeological Microscopy (sounds fancy, doesn't it?) & Human Skeletal and Dental Biology. I have a fairly moderate understanding of the biological sciences (specifically anything to do with bones, and maybe bone pathology), and a decent understanding of earth science (I like to dig in the earth). I do NOT have an understanding of chemistry. Or Physics...and that's what scares me about teaching science (I also have no math background, which is even more troubling).

How did I get accepted to teacher's college specializing in science? Well...call it a shortage in qualified science teachers, a quota that needed to be filled, and again - those eight years of university courses (I think the governing body decided that somewhere along the way I must have aquired enough knowledge over the years)...

Oh this is good (ADD moment) - I'm watching the british news, and you know how Brits love their sensationalism - anyway this woman went away on vacation, and while she was gone, a cleaning company came and emptied her flat into the garbage. Right down to the shower curtain. She estimates her loss at 50,000 pounds (I will learn how to make a pound sign eventually) and the company has reimbursed her 50 pounds...FIFTY! Can you imagine coming home to that??? I think there is a mental note and lessson here...

So anyway, my hope is that I don't have to teach science -at least not serious science. You know what I am talking about - chemistry and physics are the perceived serious sciences. The biological sciences derived in both of those topics are also considered the serious sciences. Soo...out of fear, I purchased Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" (Thanks Judy!) - there is nothing like teaching myself science out of a Bryson book. Luckily he seems pretty keen on learning, and I see nothing wrong with utilizing information from someone who has already reasearched the topic. I could spend years pouring through textbooks, and learn absolutely nothing. He has done an excellent job of presenting topics, without the waste space. At least I think he has...let's face it - I have a short attention span, and I'm barely through the first chapter on the Big Bang.

When I take a closer look at my predicament, I feel an overwhelming sense of selfishness. My fears about teaching, and desire not to teach are ridiculous. England, like America, is in a major financial crisis (or Credit Crunch). Around me, people are struggling to cope with meeting their daily needs. Families are loosing their homes, and struggle to provide the basic necessities for their children. Here I am, in England, not a citizen, making what will be a fairly good wage. Meanwhile, around me, people are trying to sustain themselves on minimum wage, while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. In it's entirety, the UK as a whole is incredibly expensive. I googled the UK's minimum wage rate - it sits in the vicinity of 6 pounds or just shy of $12.00 CDN an hour. An eight hour work day will result in a net pay of about 50 pounds or $100.

$12.00 an hour? Sounds great, right? Yet in Ontario, our minimum wage (and I am guessing) is around $8.50-$9.00 an hour. So Englanders make an additional $3.00 over us. Swell. Now let's examine the cost of living. In Ontario, it is entirey feasible to get by on $1000 for rent & utilites monthly. Daily, you can sustain yourself on about $15.00 for food. Add a little entertainment. Maybe the internet. Maybe a couple books. Let's add an additional $150 to our costs. Now lets look at England - I am going to be paying $1600 a month on rent and utilities (for a basic room with a shared kitchenette). Transport? about $10/day...food - varies widely - but a cup of coffee is about $3.00 (get the idea?). Entertainment? Who can afford it? Yeah...in Ontario $12.00/hr is great. In England it is appalling.

What do these calculations mean for me? Listening to people struggling to make ends meet, seeing how the locals cannot find work, or cannot find decently paying work, is startling to me. I am here as a foreigner, making a darn good wage (with my expenses potentially reimbursed), all because I happend to go to school for an additional year. I have an English friend making $100/day (CDN)...I'm here making $240-260/day. In America there is animosity towards foreigners - especially those in this exact situation. Truthfully I do feel guilty. When you start to contemplate these calculations, you realize - how f*cking daft am I?

Thanks to the British sensationalist media, I am daily confronted by people who are in absolute dire situations. The BBC latches on to crisis like a leach to skin. I watch the details of people who are attempting to survive the credit crunch, and cannot fully understand it. Then there are the other stories - about the people who have real problems - children struggling to survive, health issues, poverty, collapse, war, etc, etc, etc. What do I have to be upset about?

Ultimately, you knew the credit crunch would eventually enter this blog. I have been in the UK for a week now, and yes it is overwhelming. I am removed from my real-life, and am developing this second life far removed from the first. It is a difficult feeling to comprehend. Leanne Canada versus Leanne UK. They told me that the first 6 weeks were the hardest - dropping everything, moving half way around the world, starting a new life, new career, new everything...its not easy. I am reluctant to have a second life - I hate change - and that's the hardest part. Trying to find that point that both lives can be integrated. Even so, at the end of the day, I know it could be worse and thank goodness I have the BBC to remind me of that.

No comments: