Monday, 4 November 2019

London, so far

My name is Kate Miller, and I’m a third year Culinary Arts student. As part of our third year, we must undertake a 12 week work placement abroad. Sounds exciting I know! As part of our course we have to post a blog about our experience to fill you all in on how we’re getting on. So here goes mine ...

 When I was in my Leaving Cert year, I chose my course, it’s a BA in Culinary Arts. The thought of a great adventure during my third year was what made me choose the course, apart from having a passion for food, the fact that a year of travelling was mandatory just made me fall in love! However, as the time grew closer, I no longer felt ecstatic or excited about leaving home to start an adventure in a strange country where I knew very few people. The thought of finding a job, accommodation and then what about friends? It was a lot to think about!

My journey began back in May 2019. I had secured a job in London city centre and my new employer to be, had so kindly offered me a place to stay for my first two weeks until I found my own place to live. I began working on a hot Monday morning at 6am. I had to drag myself out of bed and travel to work on a bus. I’m not used to public transport so travelling on a bus alone was something I knew I would have to get used to. Anyway, three days into my new job and I ended up at the doctors in pain unable to move as my back went into spasm. Unfortunately, the doctors here chose not to prescribe me anything for the pain and I knew that I would not be able to work the next day.
What a great start to my exciting adventure…

I weighed up the pro’s and cons of trying to work for the next 6 months, most likely making my back worse and to my disappointment, with advice from a physio and doctors I ended up going home only five days after arriving in London. I was so upset, I didn’t know what to do, I contemplated dropping out of college, or taking a year out. I had no idea how I was going to make this year work. It had taken me months to secure my placement in the first place and the fear of working in a kitchen in pain had me doubting weather or not I would manage.

But summer came and went, and the best decision I made was to come home to get better and make a new plan. So here I am now, just finished week four of my 12-week placement. I am working in a great patisserie in a Blackheath village in London called ‘Boulangerie Jade’. Over the summer I decided to come to London for a week and I was determined to get my work placement sorted somewhere that I knew I would be happy. The minute I walked into Boulangerie Jade I had a good feeling about the place. The atmosphere was good, the staff seemed very friendly and the pastries were just amazing. I made a few inquiries about the place, like do they make everything themselves, their working hours etc. I came to a decision that this was where I would do my work placement, yet they didn’t know that just yet! I managed to secure myself an internship, which is an unpaid work placement, so of course that’s not exactly ideal but it suits me.

                                                                                 A selection of cakes that we make in the bakery

This is a frontal view of where I work. Its so quaint and cute, and you get that very atmosphere when you go in.

The reason an unpaid internship suits me, is because even though I am living in London where the cost of living is extremely high, I do not pay for accommodation. I found a great family that live a 10-minute walking distance from work that give me accommodation in return for child care. My daily routine is, walking to work at 4:40am, I finish at 2:30pm. I collect the boys I mind from school at 3:15pm and bring them home and feed them. Their parents come home at 6:30pm and then I usually go to my room to relax for an hour or two before having to go to sleep. To be honest, I feel like I’m living the life of a mother for the last four weeks… but I’ve enjoyed it so far!

The early starts are probably the worst about the job, but the job itself is brilliant, I’v learned so much from the great head chef, and the staff are so friendly and have made me feel nothing but welcome.

This is me learning to pipe French macaroons. (Some of them came out slightly wonky!)

I couldn’t have asked for a better living situation. Basically, what I’m trying to get across to anyone reading this, or considering going on a work placement abroad for college is, have a plan, of course everyone needs a plan, but also know that plans don’t always work out, and sometimes they don’t work out for  a reason. The universe will always sort any problems we have out over time as long as we go into any difficult situation that’s been thrown our way with a positive attitude. Back in May, I was confused and upset because my plan had not been successful, but with the great support from my college lecturers, and my family and friends, I believe that my new plan was always the one that was meant to happen. I won’t pretend moving away has been a walk in the park for me or in any way extremely easy, it hasn’t at all. There are times when I’m feeling lonely and sad, but nothing worth while is ever easy. Leaving home, no matter how short of a period it is, will always be tough. But travelling and going on an adventure will never be something that you will regret!

Thanks for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it. For my next post will I go into more detail about my working experience.

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