The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

Working for pleasure


I’ve been a student at ASL for almost 12 years now. I can safely say that I’ve managed to weave my way into the community to a point where, for the most part, I feel at home while in school.

However, there has always been a sense that the life I have lived beyond the school walls is completely disparate from the ASL bubble. The way I have been brought up is to appreciate everything I have and to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. The environment I have lived in and many of the people I surround myself with have been those who are very careful with money, often low on income but never give up on their objectives and are dedicated to doing what they love.

Having a father who has built his art gallery up from the age of 13 and a mother who is fully committed to her love for writing and teaching and has just been granted funding to take a PhD in education at Cambridge has instilled a sense of constant commitment to being productive and achieving my goals. My parents made the decision to prioritize my education over housing, something I hugely appreciate. To put that in context, I still share a room with my younger brother in our 700 square foot flat.

One thing that is beautiful about the ASL community is that students are not judged based upon their financial status. The school is very respectful of families’ financial needs and no students are ignorant enough to exclude people based upon their monetary situation. However, inevitable lifestyle differences make it tricky for students like myself. Other than the sporadic £10 I receive from my father when he’s feeling generous, all the money I spend is money that I have earned myself. Since the age of about 15, my parents stopped providing me with a regular allowance. They thankfully still provide me with meals and accommodation, but when out of the house I am forced to spend out of my own pocket. I pay for all of my clothes, food, school supplies, toiletries, and countless other necessities.

I must admit it can be hard to sustain the traditional lifestyle that other ASL students lead – the ones who receive £50 a day. For example, I decided I would participate in the annual senior ski trip although I realized I would be responsible for earning 70 percent of the cost.

Before I buy anything at all, I have to consider a multitude of concerns: My bank balance, future purchases, and the necessity of the purchase. This process, while customary to me, would seem alien to a vast majority of ASL students.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t change my situation for the world. The concept of truly understanding the need to earn money and to look after one’s earnings is something that most ASL students may not understand until they are out of college. It will come as a reality check when students realize the need to find a job and spend their earnings attentively and carefully. The feeling of being able to, in part, support oneself also brings a level of utmost pride and confidence in one’s abilities and maturity. Also, being able to relate to most normal working people in London has helped me grow my network and as a result bring more work and money in. The fact that I can understand

the daily lives of others I work with on a more real level allows me to maintain longstanding relationships and ultimately fit in. To truly appreciate the hustle, one must live it, and accept that like many people in London with a strong work ethic there are many enjoyable career paths that do not necessarily lead to a huge salary.

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