Monday, 19 February 2018

The Marylebone Hotel, London

It has been a great overall experience going to London and working for the Doyle Group. From day one, I was welcomed as part of the team and was made to feel very welcome. The team are so close-knit and really see themselves as a family. Staff were so accommodating and didn't hesitate to help me in any way they could which helped me settle in a lot faster than any other place I've worked in.

Although saying that, I did experience a small amount of stress at the start to try and achieve my own goals while working as an Erasmus student, as well as trying to portray a high level of professionalism in order to create a level of reassurance between WIT and the Doyle Collection for future students who may decide on doing their Erasmus with them.

Just under two months of working there, the Head Pastry Chef, Moinul, and his wife ( also working on the pastry section) decided to take a week off together. They rarely got to do this as they are the only two on the section. This meant that I was going to have to work alone which I was quite nervous about but got on with it and did what I had to do. It was hard because I was alone and didn't get the chance to do everything personally prior to this (each of us usually did our own specific jobs in the morning and then mise en place in the afternoon). I tried to keep on top of all mise en place as well as get everything done for functions, The Pantry, afternoon teas and restaurant deserts which was challenging but nothing a few hours overtime wouldn't fix. On their return they seemed pleased with what I achieved and feedback from the Head Chef was positive too. After that, I was given a lot more responsibility and was put on the section alone a lot more frequently which made me feel a certain level of self accomplishment and self belief.

I soon learned that the Head Chef had nominated me for the employee of the month and I won it, along with a £100 bonus. This proved to me that they really do monitor and appreciate hard work carried out by their employees. Before I started working there, I heard that the company was voted one of the best places to work for in the World, and they truly are. They always give recognition for a job well done and really take care of their staff in relation to this along with company perks etc.   


I would highly recommend The Marylebone Hotel to future Erasmus Students who would like to travel to London. It has been the best experience for me to date and I am even thinking about going back to the hotel to work after graduation! It would also be a great idea to work there and get your foot in the door to maybe even get a transfer to their hotel, The Dupont Circle, in Washington DC if it would be something of interest.
Working with the Doyle Collection can open so many doors leading, not only to your future career, but also towards your personal development.

I recently came across a short video on Youtube (link posted below) which gives feedback from some of the chefs themselves. This video was published in October 2016 and all but one of those chefs are still there which shows that the staff turnover is very low because people are really happy working there, as was I.

The Kitchen at The Marylebone (click for short video)

Sharon Doyle

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Ulster University - Coleraine Campus

I gotta say the process to get into the University of Ulster was quite easy. No visas needed, closer to home and most likely the cheapest option out of all the other choices. Choosing this university was a last minute choice I made due to finance problems. London was a very expensive city to live in, which I should have considered in the first place. The University is located outside Belfast in a relatively small town, Coleraine. The university has three other campuses which are Belfast, Jordanstown and Magee.

Image result for university of ulster coleraine map

Being International Students
The Coleraine campus university does not have a Culinary Arts course. The modules they were offering for us were Food Innovation, Food and Wine Tourism, Corporate Events, Business Planning etc. I chose Food Innovation, Food and Wine Tourism and Corporate Events. These are all theory classes which will be new to me. They do have a domestic style kitchen on campus which will be useful for us on our upcoming projects. They have amazing facilities here on campus, from what I noticed in the first few weeks I have been here.
We are known here to be international students, which I still find weird, and are part of the international student group on facebook. A lot of events are organised for international students for us to be able to see and explore the Northern side of Ireland. Just recently, we got free tickets to the Belfast Giants game of ice hockey located in the Arena. That was my first experience of going to a game and it was great fun. There is also a trip organised to Rathlin Island in the next few months. Tickets for a tour of the Game of Thrones filming locations are also given at cheaper prizes.

I was given a choice to apply for student accommodation or rent a private housing. Private housing is a cheaper choice but it is a lot of job to look for one especially during this time of the year. There were times where rent a house websites would give zero results. The town is relatively small as we figured. The campus is also located around 20 minutes outside town which made housing rentals more troubling as most were located in town. This left me with no choice but to apply for the student accommodation. This process was done online through their website. They have a lot of student accommodation available on and off campus. More choices would have been given if I applied early. I applied for an off campus accommodation which was a two bedroom but they replied back with an on campus which meant these were my only choices. Thinking about it, it is very handy to live on campus as it is only a 3-minute walk to class. One thing I do not appreciate is that we have very little privacy here as accommodation officers with access to keys to these apartments can come in any time they want. They do knock and ring the doorbell but before we even get to answer, they've already welcomed themselves in. This is the first time I am staying on a student accommodation so I do not know if this is what it's like in this type of accommodation. 

Journey from/ to home
The journey from Waterford to Coleraine was quite a long one. I had no choice but to take public transport throughout. It took me a total of 6 hours altogether. Yes. 6 hours! I decided to take the train throughout as taking the bus would take me the whole day or maybe even longer. There were 3 changes to this journey and costed me around £40.

So far, I am enjoying my studies here with the modules I have chosen. Let's hope this will last.

BACA Student,
Marcia Lechoco

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Visa Application Process:
        Ireland to Miami

I was pleasantly surprised by how simple the visa application process was.The process first began online by paying the SEVIS fee (180 dollars) then the DS-2019 fee (160 dollars). You then get a date for your visa interview at the American Embassy in Dublin.
On arrival for your interview you are required to bring a colour 2x2 inch sized photo which is slightly bigger than a passport photo. (I got mine taken at a pharmacy beside the Embassy).  You are required to bring a receipt of the paid SEVIS fee. You need to be able to explain how you are financing your trip e.g. bank statements of your own finances or your parents. Proof that you are attending college on your travels. The interview was quick and easy. The Embassy takes your passport and after around 10 working days your passport is dropped off to a selected drop off point and for collection.

There are many other costs involved before you head to college in the USA. Health insurance is the most expensive as I think it is averaging 600 dollars for one term. As we are staying on campus accommodation, vaccines are required if you have not had them before, such as the meningitis vaccine, hepatitis A and B. My advice on the vaccines is to get them early as you can as they can only be taken with a certain amount of time in between. They can work out expensive. I was advised to get them through “Tropical Medical bureau” which have 20 different locations around Ireland so I am sure there is one near you. I also got a student discount on this which meant I saved a lot compared to my GP ordering them in specially for me.

A lot of preparation goes into getting organised for heading to America so the best advice I can give is to do everything sooner rather than later.
Best of luck!!      


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Humber Toronto, Sarah Kehoe

So when thinking of moving to Toronto or Canada to work and study the first thing you need to think about is VISA'S I know its a little daunting. I myself had the idea of doing the both but the process of getting the work and study permit did not happen for me so... I went for an alternative route which I could not of been happier to take. I took the opportunity to go to Edinburgh for my placement which I did not regret at all. I had the chance to visit not one but two great cities. When you only study in Toronto for less than 6 months a visa is not required, all you need a ETA ( electronic travel authorisation) this costs 7 Canadian dollars and is a super easy fast process done online, if you are looking to work while you study you will have to apply for a VISA to do so.

Getting to Toronto 
Due to a strike in the college in December 2017 the date on which college was meant to start back was delayed which in turn meant that myself and Hope had to buy new flights out to Toronto which was very pricey. It is better value to return flights when booking your tickets, WOW air provides budget flights to Toronto via Iceland which myself and Hope took and were very pleased with. When you get here essentials are snow boots (not ski boots), very warm jacket, scarf, gloves and thermals. Yes, when you get here it is super cold but it does not take too long to get used too as long as you are wrapped up! Our second day in Toronto was orientation were we met our super nice lecturers and college advisers who kindly brought us to Wal-mart to pick up supplies for our room as walking aimlessly in the snow is not fun. It didn't take us long to realise if you wanna go somewhere you need to take public transport and get a presto card (used for metro and buses in Toronto). Public transport is great in Toronto so getting down town is easy ..... once you know your way, If anything goes wrong uber is your next best friend. Near to the north campus is a hospital (wellness centre), woodbine shopping centre and Fortinos (grocery store). If your looking to buy booze you have to go to designated LCBO shops which are a little further from the college.

Myself and Hope opted to choose campus accommodation (North campus Humber). Dorms, shared bathrooms and meal plan cards are not something I have done before as in Waterford I have always opted for a shared house. North campus residence is huge, each floor can contain up to 50 rooms. Rooms consist of a bed, wardrobe and a desk.... thats it. Bathrooms and social areas are all shared, but are kept very clean and are a lot nicer than I had expected. Dining cards..... this by far is my least favourite part of residence, with your residence fees you must purchase a $1000 meal plan card as there is no cooking facilities except a microwave, fridge and kettle in social area. You may rent an hour in a kitchen at a select time but no equipment i.e. pans, bowls are supplied. The meal plan card can buy you food at any campus, in residence and in the college although the food sucks! Meaning the food has zero nutrition, your options are Pizza, burgers, chips, sandwiches, frozen yogurt, endless junk foods, overcooked various meats/vegetables and a very sad salad bar. The residence also has Tim Hortons coffee which when you come here will discover is life. On the bright side you are a Culinary student Yay, your practical culinary classes provide packaging to bring home meals after class I know something I really wish we could do in WIT. The college also allows you to eat in the Humber restaurant run by students (takes meal plan cards).

Classes are run a little different here so I will try explain as best as I can. For a semester you must obtain 15 credits (equivalent to 30 credits in WIT). Classes in the culinary department here a run 6 week terms, which means you will take different classes in your first 6 weeks to your last 6 weeks, which means classes run by super fast and assignments are not to be left on the long finger! If you miss more than two days of a particular class you will automatically fail. The facilities in the college are fantastic. Emerging Trends in Canadian cuisine has been a favourite class of mine so far, learning new techniques and meeting lots of guest chefs.
Making steamed pork buns with Chef Chris Jang for Momofuku Toronto

Being an International Student
You will be invited on loads of trips with other international students from Europe, Our first week here we enjoyed a really nice trip down to Niagara falls followed by ice wine tasting, these trips give you time to make friends which you will do! Opportunities to ski, sleep in an igloo and go to hockey matches are just some of the thing we are enjoying so far the list is endless. 
Niagara Fall in January

Yes we are not even three weeks in and it has only taken us that time to get settled in and we are already having the time of our lives. I hope this blog gives a little insight to students making the decision on what college to choose now. It has been great so far and I no any student who chooses here will enjoy there time but, be aware this option will cost you a significant amount of money so start saving now!!! so that you can make the most of you time over here.

Sarah Kehoe 14/01/17