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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Life in March: STRIKE!!!! ... and Disney's Frozen on Ice

Oh, hi there. Long time no see! I haven't blogged since my last monthly recap and it's because I have been really freaking busy.

My life in March was consumed by one big thing: a strike. I am a graduate student at the University of Toronto and at the end of February, members in my union voted down the tentative agreement that was presented by the university administration for our new contract, and thus the strike began. The strike ended a full month later at the end of March.


Graduate students do the majority of teaching and marking at the University of Toronto, as well as most of the research that gives the university its prestige and ranks it as one of the best universities in the world. And yet we are given a funding package of only $15,000 a year ($8,000 below the poverty line) to live on in the second most expensive city in Canada. We also pay more money in tuition than a full-time undergrad who takes 40 courses (I've only taken 1 course in my time here).


And so I went on strike for the month of March. I spent 4 hours on the picket line every morning, and the rest of my day was spent trying to keep up with the 8 hours of research that I would normally put into my day to complete my thesis. Any remaining time left to my day was devoted to vegging out instead of blogging, you understand.


If you yourself have ever been on strike or know of anyone who has been on strike, then you are likely well aware of how stressful it is. Tensions run HIGH. People get ANGRY. I tried to not let myself get too caught up in the intense emotions, but it was hard not to. I've always been a very sensitive person and though I tried not to take things too personally, I couldn't help ending up HURT most days. There were countless numbers of people who called us lazy and selfish and greedy. There were numerous undergrads who threatened to run us over with their cars if we got in their way. There were a few service vehicles who almost DID run us over on the picket line. There were innumerable people who went out of their way to give us the finger and yell insults at us. It all really took a toll on me. The entire month of March was both physically and emotionally exhausting for me.

But it's over now! We have agreed to binding arbitration (in which an unbiased third party will decide what deal we get) so hopefully that works out for us. And to celebrate, I was gifted a huge box from my employer filled with 300 assignments to mark within a week. Yay?


So this is far from a "I'm back!" post for me. I have a lot of work to catch up on now that the strike is over, and to top it off I'm quite sick at the moment. So please bear with me - it will likely be a while until a return to my regular posting schedule (she says as though she ever HAD a regular posting schedule...).


And now for something completely different: part way through March, I had tickets to go see Disney's Frozen on Ice! LOL. Random, I know.


I tried my best not to dwell on the strike while I was there and I had a great time. And I got to eat Olaf's BRAAAIINNNNSSS!! Heehee.



Best Book Read in March:


OMG definitely a highlight of my month was finally reading this beauty!! If only I hadn't been so busy this month, I think I wouldn't have been able to put this down! It was so exciting and took me on a CRAZY roller coaster of emotions. I think I love Celaena more than EVER! I plan to get to Heir of Fire hopefully soon-ish!

Previously, My Month in February: Poutineville, Valentine's Day, and The Casual Vacancy

32 comments :

  1. Ack! It sounds like you have had such a busy month. A strike seems like a lot of work o.O You are amazing. <3 And I'm happy it is over with, lol :) I hope April will be a lot calmer for you; and that you'll be able to read a lot. <3 And eeek! Frozen on Ice! Wishing I could go to that :) Sigh. It seems so amazing. Happy you got to see it :D Happy reading Aylee. <3

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    1. It was and it is. But it's all over now and I can breathe a bit easier! Thanks, Carina! :)

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  2. Wow, I can totally see the strike being a trying and overwhelming ordeal :( Congrats on sticking it out though, I hope the resolution goes your way - you'll have to update us when they reach a verdict. I can definitely see feeling exactly as you did throughout the duration. 300 assignments in a week though? Woah, that is madness! o_O

    Yay for Frozen on Ice and infinity YAY for Crown of Midnight!! :D I'm willing to bet you would NOT have been able to put it down if you'd had more free time haha. Man, when I finished that one I had one of THE worst book hangovers I'd ever had...until Heir of Fire ;D I'm super excited for you to get into that one too - hopefully before Queen of Shadows comes out! Here's to a much calmer April for you and happy reading ♥

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    1. Overwhelming, definitely. I am glad I stuck it through though because on the plus side I made some worthwhile friendships.

      I can pretty much guarantee that I'll get to Heir of Fire before Queen of Shadows... I just don't think I'll be able to put that one off any longer! Thanks, Micheline <3

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  3. Oh boy, sounds like March was a crazy month for you. I've never been in a strike before, or any kind of protest or demonstration, but I can see how things can get out of hand easily, and I think you were really brave to have been able to withstand all the negative emotions and insults you got plus the intensity! Maybe I'm wrong, but I've always had the impression that Canadians are super polite and nice, so it's a bit of a shock to see these kinds of things happening to you and the other strikers. Or maybe that's just the world's label for Canadians, heh. :P And all the best with those 300 assignments. A week, oh my gosh. A WEEK. You're incredible for being able to manage!

    Eeep, that Olaf shaved ice thingy looks adorable! The colors! The stage looks beautiful, too, and I'm glad you had a great time! And gah, I still haven't gotten to my re-read of Throne of Glass. I'll have to re-read it again to refresh my memory before I can continue on with the series, but it's promising that the second book was the best read of the month. :D

    Hoping that this month will definitely be much calmer and don't stress yourself too much! <3

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    1. haha, not all Canadians are super nice and polite. That's a stereotype, if a very positive one. If only everyone was nice and respectful like the world's image of Canada has us, then I'm sure this strike would have been a completely different experience. You on the other hand are much too kind and generous with your words! :)

      I reread Throne of Glass via audio to prepare for Crown of Midnight - I'd definitely recommend the audio! It was great.

      Thanks, Megan! April is already shipping up to be much calmer :)

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  4. I'm so sorry you had to go through a strike and that people were cruel, but I'm happy to hear it's over. That's ridiculous that you work so hard and the pay is below the poverty line! I can't believe your employer expects you to grade those 300 assignments in a week! You're so awesome and I know you can do it, but good luck! :)
    OMG I love how colorful Olaf's brains are, haha! I hope April is filled with my Olaf-brain-fun-things and less strike things. <3

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    1. Aww, thanks, Katie! It's the nature of my position as I am both a student and an employee of the university, which complicates things. I think this whole experience has been eye-opening for everyone.

      Oh, I'm all for more Olaf-brain-fun-things for this month haha!!

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  5. The strike sounds really overwhelming and emotionally draining. I hope you get to load up in April and eating Olaf's brains, you zombie :D!

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    1. Heh, I think I will - thanks Mel!!

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  6. I think you're pretty brave going on strike. I admire your commitment in getting a fair deal. I didn't know you guys were paid so low. I hope you get through marking all those assignments without too much strain. Remember to sit up straight and rest your eyes sometimes so you don't get back pain and sore eyes.

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    1. Aw, thanks, but brave is one of the last words I would use to describe myself. And yeah - I definitely need to take that advice into account! This much sitting and writing really does put a strain on my body.

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  7. Strikes are so stressful!!! My uni used to go on strike all the time and it was awful. I'm glad you guys are working it out though!! Hopefully it will be a good outcome!! :D
    And those papers don't look like fun!I feel your pain (I'm grading tests at the time, but only around 120, and I wrote them up so that's easy).

    Annnd that Olaf cup is super cute!!!

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    1. All the time, really?! That's crazy. The hope is that we get a good enough deal this time around that we don't need to go on strike again in a few years time...

      I wouldn't mind grading these assignments all THAT much if only they were better constructed. As it is, they're not, and the students' answers are all over the place -_-

      Thanks, Alex! <3

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  8. Glad to hear the stress of the strike is over, and that you will have a fair resolution. It sucks that you have so much to do now that it's over! I'm glad you at least got to have some fun with Frozen on Ice and with Crown of Midnight. That series just keeps getting better with each book. Hope you love Heir of Fire!

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    1. Thanks, Lauren! I shouldn't complain too much - my life is good :)

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  9. Busy busy!! Strikes are stressful. Hopefully this month is a bit slower for you.

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  10. Wow, the strike sounds like a really intense situation. I'm sorry you had to deal with angry comments and such negativity. It would have really got me down too. I hope the new deal works in your favor, and good luck with all the grading/research you have to do. A friend of mine is in grad school in Canada right now too and she's super busy trying to do her thesis!

    Ooh Frozen on Ice? How fun is that? And I love that Olaf cup- such beautiful brains! lol

    -Lauren

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    1. Thanks, Lauren. It was very stressful, but things are going better for me now, thankfully. I hope your friend wasn't affected by the strike at all!

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  11. Oh wow! I can't people were threatening to run you guys over. That's really crazy. Did you find out what kind of a deal you got?

    Out of curiosity, is Olaf's brain a colourful snow cone?

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    1. It is indeed a colourful snow cone XD

      We haven't found out yet what our new contract will entail. The third party arbitrator has 30 days from the end of the strike to decide, so we'll see...

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  12. Hmm, I don't understand this: ''Graduate students do the majority of teaching and marking'' What does it mean? It's not really the same here, in Québec. :P But, oh, I did not know you lived in Canada too! We had strikes here too so, yeah, I do know what it is although I was still in high school so I didn't participate, although I could have...

    Thank god you can breathe now!!!!

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    1. Hmm, I would imagine it is pretty similar in Quebec. Grad students are weird in that we are simultaneously both students and employees of the university. We do have classes, but only a minimal amount. Most of what we do is research, and the teaching thing is kind of like a part-time job.

      But yes, finally!

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  13. I’ve never been on a strike, so I can’t begin to comprehend how draining it likely is, but I’m so sorry you were so berated for having your say. Here’s hoping the outcome is one that is suitable and beneficial!

    You read CoM! Yaysies! I’m so excited and happy that you managed to get to it, Aylee! I adored it to utter pieces, but then there’s Heir of Fire and everything is intense and brilliant and cuttingly gorgeous and sad. Cannot wait, now, for you to read THAT!

    And lastly, OH MY. That snow cone in Olaf’s head looks amazing. Want.
    Xx

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    1. Yes, hopefully! It would make it seem like it was all for nothing if this doesn't turn out well for us.

      Hee!! :):) I enjoyed the heck out of it and I can't wait to get to Heir of Fire!

      Thanks, Romi :D

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  14. Pfft- Professors sometimes... *smh*. Anywho, I am glad the strike is over, and life can go on as normal (somewhat). I chuckle a little bit that you went to Frozen on Ice... But Olaf's brains look yummy. I am in the middle of Crown of Midnight and I am enjoying it, but having a hard time connecting with the story, I still have a ways to go yet. I look forward to seeing more of you around the interwebs.

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    1. Yup, back to normal! For me, there reached a point in CoM where I just couldn't stop reading - it started in on the action and did not let up. Hopefully the same happens with you!

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  15. My husband has been on the brink of a strike several times but luckily it hasn't happened yet. But it's stressful when management comes around trying to get the workers to show them how to do their job so they don't need them during the strike. Sure - I'll train my replacement! Grrr

    mmmmm - brains lol

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Oh good grief - as if it would be his pleasure to train his replacement!! I did also experience very similar bs to that from my employer...

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  16. Wow. Being on strike sounds so stressful. I’m glad you made it through. Nice way to welcome you back lol.
    I loved seeing that picture of the Olaf snow cone on Instagram. It totally looks like his brains!!

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