Yesterday marked the end of an era for me. Well, not so much an era, which is a really long period of time, but a significant period of time in this Euro-American life. And by significant period of time, I am referring to Claire putting up with frustrating people who make her completely insane. Yesterday, I quit my job at the university.
I have had enough ranting. I can do no more. I knew this was coming, and after today, I don't feel bad at all.
I got up at 6:30am on my DAY OFF (I want to emphasize this, because it is my last day off, i.e. no English classes, until Christmas; until then I will work Monday through Saturday) to go to the University yesterday. I had to turn in the left over grades from my seminar last semester. It took awhile, but I finally finished them.
Then I added up all the work from last semester:
Number of class room hours taught: 18
Hours spent in traffic commuting: 10
Office hours held: 10
Hours spent preparing lessons: 48 (usually 4 hours per lesson)
Hours spent grading: 8
Estimated total hours worked: 94
Estimated pay per hour: 6.34 Euro per hour
I was teaching teachers and potential political leaders for less than minimum wage. One of the topics I often covered in my class was Rational Choice Theory. After doing a cost-benefits analysis of my life, I decided that the University had to go. "Sebastian" left a comment on my last University post that introducing tuition fees violates the International Charter of Human Rights. He forgot to mention that my right to a living wage actually comes first in the Charter. But this is only a small detail.
This decision has made me very sad. Yesterday I went to the student union / cafe to have coffee and read the paper. Not far from me was a table full of American exchange students (speaking English with a Mid-western accent is a dead give-a-way). I was fascinated and a little envious of their new beginning and I thought back to my first time abroad. But as I watched the students, I realized that I was only clinging to the university because of all the memories it held. However, my life is now so far from that point, and it is perhaps time to move on.
Unfortunately, when you leave academia, there is no turning back. It is almost impossible to get another job and to catch-up on the literature. This career change is so difficult because I cannot help but wonder if my PhD was a waste of time. Am I throwing 10 years of education down the toilet? I hope not. I prefer to think of it as "moving over to another teaching challenge."
Early this morning I received an email from a former student who is unhappy with the grade I gave him last semester. I will now have to have a few last office hours (which are not paid) to explain myself. Suddenly all those doubts I had disappeared.