Bonjour!! As my first post was in the early hours of this morning, I figured it doesn't really count as my Wednesday post! So here is my first Wednesday post! :) It's going to be about the first of my many adventures.. When I ventured to France to do work experience...
In February of 2011, in preparation of my A Level French Speaking exam I took part in Halsbury Work Experience (http://www.workexperienceabroad.co.uk/). This may have been the best decision I made out of my academic life. I was absolutely dreading this trip and left for the airport on the verge of tears. But it turns out that it was one of the best weeks of my life...
20 of us turned up to Stanstead Airport having no idea what to expect, I had no idea who was going to be there and what the hell was going to happen during the next week. I still keep in touch with 4 of the people I met during the trip and have absolutely no intention of losing contact with them, I can genuinely say I can see them being my friends for life.
|Arriving back in England after our week in Tours|
I was fortunate enough to go to a beautiful little city called Tours. Located about 2 hours away from Paris by train. The locations chosen by Halsbury are based on the amount and quality of the English spoken there, in order to make sure we speak the language as much as possible and learn as much as possible during the trip. For work experience, I was placed in a Gym called 'AquaGym'. A lot of my working day included working out, which I will not complain about as I am a fan of the gym. I was also encouraged to take part in a variety of the classes they offered, (this is where I discovered that zumba was not for me and I have no intention of ever taking such a class again).
I became quite close with two girls, one called Ange and another called Yousra, who convinced me to let them visit England one day (I am still to keep this promise). I spoke a lot of French to Ange and Yousra as they did not speak any English and I do feel as if my French improved significantly, especially as they were eager to learn English, so I was frequently translating little phrases for them, which also made sure that those phrases were firmly imprinted in my head. Overall I honestly couldn't have asked for a better work place.
|Yousra & Ange... My French wouldn't be where it is without them|
We also had two leaders (Mathieu and Yael) who were there to supervise and look after us. I genuinely think we had two of the best people you could ask for. They organised some amazing activities for us which was a great way of letting off steam outside of work and getting to know everyone... even if all of my limbs felt like they were going to fall off. Some of these activities included watching a basketball game, laserquest, bowling, ice skating and even an evening out on the last night. Whilst they organised some activities, we were also left to explore and do our own thing, they believed that as most of us were adults, we shouldn't have a curfew, of course in our seventeen year old minds this meant that we were allowed to go out and get drunk.. We ended up finding this great Irish Bar called 'The Pale', staff are really friendly and so are all the customers, we met some awesome guys from America who were kind enough to walk us home one night after a friend of mine had a little too much to drink. There was also a great restaurant called 'The Continental' who did great meals for reasonable prices, which was vital for us as we all only had around 150E to last us for the week.
|The Irish Bar I would highly recommend|
From my experience, I would highly recommend Halsbury. They are great at finding a placement that YOU want to work for, and if there are any problems with that placement they have backups so you can switch if you really need to. If you are considering doing it, you have to remember the real reason you are there, you are there to learn and speak French or whatever language you have chosen (they also do Spanish, German and Italian placements), it is fundamental you do so as you have no idea how much you have learnt until you go back into that classroom at school and your confidence has rocketed. Not only does this look amazing on your CV but you also have the time of your life and can come back feeling really proud of yourself.
P.S Sorry about the dodgy photo quality... This was before I discovered the wonders of DSLR and I have (unfortunately) gone through multiple laptops... and the originals of these photos remain on my hard drive which is currently in my desk drawer at university!