Wednesday, April 13, 2011

european schooling and lifestyle

Just a few points I wanted to share since I lived in London last semester and worked for a British website. I also took a class where we strictly discussed the British culture and workplace, versus that of the American. It was pretty revealing, and I'm surprised most Americans don't run to the UK to work. My boss' daughter went to a school that was 9-4. She then had an afterschool program until 6 that was so popular with the students, it was rare for a student NOT to attend the program. She had different activities in that program, where they began with a snack and did their homework. They then either had piano, a language, theatre, dance, a sport that changed with the seasons, etc. So, having such offerings meant that my boss dropped her off, and then picked her up at the end of the day, instead of American parents picking them up early, or from an afterschool daycare, and then carting them to soccer, dance, or some other activity that takes place at an entirely different part of town. Most UK companies work 10-530/6 ish, so this works out perfectly for them. Plus, she was the brightest 8 year old I ever had the pleasure to meet. In regards to the workday, it was pretty relaxed and I never felt pressured, like I do at my job here in the states. 10 am is a nice time to start, it's not too early, and leaves time for a good breakfast, and maybe even a morning run. 6 seemed a late time to get off, especially since it gets so dark there so early, but it worked out well since Brits usually don't eat dinner until 8 or 9. My boss also gives the entire company August off. Most of the UK has extended vacations in the summertime, and also a good amount of time (almost 10 days) near Christmas. I really couldn't believe that. My boss said to me once, "Americans live to work, whereas Brits work to live." That kind of perspective was very obvious over my time in the UK, and I wish it was as popular here in the States. My parents work way too much, and will have to work way too long, if they even retire at all. They hardly have any leisure time, besides the two weeks they take in the summer each year, where we have some sort of "vacation" that is pretty much visiting with family back in Illinois. It's no wonder that people in Britain are generally happier. And they make such work sacrifices for the benefit of their well-being and it has no evident impact on their business profits. They seem to be giving their children better education, and then allowing them more pleasant work environments after their education. And it seems to be working for them. 1) Should afterschool programs be implemented to help parents and ultimately help and benefit students? 2) Is the workplace in America too stressful, too competitive, and too negative? Will it ever be able to change?

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