Sunday, September 7, 2008

So the Fall Semester Begins...

It started last Thursday, actually, but since my classes only meet Monday through Wednesday, I start tomorrow. I will be taking Arctic Engineering, Elastic Stability Theory, and three thesis credits, in addition to my research assistanceship. Both of my scheduled classes are in the evenings, so I am free to schedule my daytime hours however I find convenient (within the constraints of the other people I work with, of course).

When you are a grad student doing research, your time is tight, but fluid. I am thankful for this and find that it suits both my personality and what I am used to. In the Silicon Valley, salaried engineers almost always work over 40 hours a week, but we are not paid overtime. However, on the flip side, the time that I took off was equally loosely managed. No-one even recorded the time I took off for personal business. It was just sort of understood that since I worked 45-70 hours per week with no overtime pay, it was perfectly fair of me to take off the time I needed without getting all nitty-gritty about reporting my vacation or sick leave.

When I was growing up, my mother worked for the federal government. She worked 9 hours a day, four days a week. On the fifth day, she alternately had the day off, and worked an 8-hour day. This summed to 80 hours every two weeks. Later, after having been working in industry for several years, I recalled this with a sort of awe. No-one had ever managed my time that carefully, and no-one ever would. I'm not sure what part of my personality gives me this, but I would be very resentful if anyone tried to schedule my hours exactly, even if the sum total of hours is less than what I would have planned for myself. I have worked in such jobs before, and it didn't bother me then. And obviously, taking classes imposes such restrictions, and I'm not so resentful about those. *shrug*

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