After eight seemingly perfect weeks at the University of York, the University and College Union (UCU) announced a ten-day strike affecting 60 universities throughout the United Kingdom. The strike, which was scheduled from November 25th until December 4th, created a platform for university professors to voice their concerns for equal pay, proper pension plans, and better working conditions.
As a result of the strike, the final two weeks of classes at participating schools, University of York included, have been cancelled due to the lack of staffing for university lectures across an array of disciplines. Moreover, the participating universities are unable to reschedule lectures due to the upcoming holiday break. The strike, while proactive for professors, has left students in a panic right before finals season. Students throughout the United Kingdom have been in an uproar, demanding that universities reimburse hundreds of pounds for lost teaching hours. Furthermore, students are demanding an extension on deadlines for final papers, projects, and examinations due to the recent activity.
So what does all of this mean for an international student studying abroad? To be quite frank, not much. Besides the inconvenience of completing my final papers without my teachers to guide me and the abrupt end to my study abroad term, I for one have been taking advantage of this time to catch up on my homework, to spend an excess amount of time with my friends who I will soon be leaving, and to FINALLY visit some of the historical sites of York, England. It only took me three months and a nation-wide strike, but hey! I did it.
Still, while I would normally view the unexpected strike and early start to Christmas break as a good thing, I can’t help but to feel apprehensive in lieu of the strike. Yes, the strike means no classes (and I love a good excuse to skip class), but it also means that my time in England is quickly nearing its end. With only two weeks left in Europe, I have finally replaced my “firsts”- my first Yorkshire pudding wrap, my first glass of mulled wine, my first deep-fried Mars Bars- with my “lasts”- my last Fish and Chips, my last university club night, my last few moments in a city that has stolen my heart. To my dismay, my term at University of York has come to an unexpected end. Now, I can only hope that I will be better prepared to say my final goodbyes in just two weeks.