Work Experience UK Story: Part 3 – First days at the job
Thursday, December 16, 2010 by
December 6th, 2010
It is my third day in Ampthill today. I left London on Saturday and went by train to the destination of my work-placement. The journey took approximately two hours including the London tube and then travelling by train out of the city. The train departed from the St Pancras railway station and I got off in Flitwick which is a town next to Ampthill. Although I called my employer to confirm my arrival when I set off he forgot about me so I was waiting at the Railway station a little bit longer, but after I gave them a call again his wife came to pick me up. [APEX: Employers seem to forget to pick you up at all continents ;-) ]
Anyway, ever since that moment I have had only positive experiences! :-) My room was just gorgeous! I did not expect anything like that. The room was equipped the same way as the other rooms for guests. It was spacious and cosy and there was my own bathroom, nice furniture, television with DVD player and so on. I couldn’t wish anything better. My rent was supposed to be £50 including all meals which was a great deal. Moreover I was told that I may have a friend to stay in my room for a few days which was fantastic!
The owner and his wife made a very good impression on me and seemed to be very nice people. He was British and she was actually from Brazil and, as she told me, came to England to study English 17 years ago, but eventually she has met her husband and has settled here. The first evening I came she invited me for a glass of wine and to meet their friends. The next day I went with her to a huge shopping centre where she works as a manager in the department of cosmetics and perfumes. She took me for a breakfast and also made up my face. After we returned back to Ampthill there was a dinner prepared for us. It was a meal from the traditional Sunday menu in this restaurant. It was Yorkshire pudding with roast beef and I found it totally delicious! So far I felt like being on holiday not at a work experience :-)
As regards the work place itself, it was a restaurant called Prince of Wales, and it also had a few rooms. It wasn’t big but very warm and cosy. They told me that they have had foreign students to work here very frequently. There were some from Brazil, Russia, Spain, and I was the first one coming from the Czech Republic. The work position assigned to me was a general assistant which supposed to include cleaning the rooms and the restaurant and also working in the kitchen and waitressing. However my first working day hasn’t come yet, because I had two days off, thus let’s see what tomorrow will bring to me. :-) Today I will probably go to look around since I actually haven’t chance to see Ampthill yet.
December 9th, 2010
6 days has passed since I came to Ampthill and it was 6 busy days! :-) As I wrote last time I was going to explore the town which was supposed to be my temporary home for 3 months. I must say I was totally overwhelmed. The picturesque and enchanting atmosphere of this wonderful old town resembled a fairy tale. There were almost only the classic English houses, most of them fair-faced made of red bricks. It was cold, everything was white frosted and there grew quite a lot of holly trees around so the Christmassy feeling was perfect. The walk was really an aesthetic experience for me!
Anyway, after my two days off I started to work. My work involved really a wide range of duties. I was generally supposed to make breakfast in the morning in case we have some overnight guests, then hoover and mop the floor in the restaurant, subsequently clean the hotel rooms and then help in the restaurant while lunch-time, occasionally also in the evening. First three days were really busy for me. There was so much new information, so many things to learn. I was especially anxious about the breakfast cooking since I had no idea how the typical English one looks like! Moreover the kitchen wasn’t like the home one but it was so industrial which really scared me out. However I was explained everything patiently which calmed me a little bit down.
The work in the restaurant also appeared quite stressful. Well, nothing is easy at first and especially when struggling with the language barrier. They had quite an extensive menu including enormously long names of dishes sometimes even in French. Fortunately, when serving the food they always told me what it was in the kitchen and I gradually picked the names and get on it a little bit. Anyway, it is a worth and interesting experience for me to look in the backstage of such English restaurant.
Tomorrow is my fourth day of work and in the morning I will probably cook the breakfast by myself for the first time. I hope nobody will be hurt! :-)
December 12th, 2010
My first week has passed already and I am getting used to the run of everything. I have cooked my first breakfast by myself without setting the kitchen on fire or poisoning the guests so I may congratulate myself :-) Well I had a little bit problem with finding all the supplies and tools and turning the kitchen-stove on but I managed in the end.
I haven’t called to apply for my national insurance number yet which I definitely need to do so that I can be paid. However I haven’t had time for that since it was so busy from the beginning. I will be paid weekly which is nice because as far as I know it can be also monthly or so. As regards the money issue I am supposed to be paid minimal wage which is £5.93 for people over twenty one and because I work in the restaurant I get tips too. The tips have been approximately £10 per day so far depending if I worked during the lunch only or also during the dinner.
I must admit that so far I have had very positive experience with English people. The staff members here are very nice and always helpful. It appears to me that the atmosphere at work is friendly and relaxed which makes one feel comfortable and actually enjoy working. I would say that people here are in general open to others, talkative, very polite and looking good tempered most of the time.
[Pavlina is participating in the paid Work Experience UK program.]