Firstly, how did you hear about Scotia Personnel?
From my friend Jennifer, who has done many programs with the company.
So your friend recommended us! Could you tell those reading a bit about your background in hospitality?
I did a 3-year program at Champlain St. Lambert College in Tourism Management. After graduating, I started a job as a junior travel consultant at HRG Worldwide. Unfortunately, this type of work wasn’t for me and that’s when I decided that I wanted to get into the hospitality industry!
Interesting! Can you tell us about your current position and day-to-day activities?
At the moment, I am a Food and Beverage team member of the Pullman St. Pancras London. I am on the breakfast team, which means I work form 6:30am to 3:00pm. In the morning we have the breakfast going on. During this time, I take care of the clients, by either cleaning their table or bringing them drinks. Then in the afternoon there are 3 possibles things that can be done. Either being on the bar floor, in the restaurant “à la carte” or lastly being back of house (preparing everything for the next morning).
Sounds lovely. Have you always been interested in travelling?
YES! I went on my first trip to Disneyland, Orlando when i was 3 years old and I think is where my passion started! Travelling is everything for me. In life, I’m curious. I like to learn, and see new things, and travel can bring me this. I like to get out of my routines and my comfort zone, and again, travel helps me with this.
Was this your first trip?
I’m only 23, but I have been to Cuba (like all good Québécois), as well as the U.S., England, Costa Rica, Panama, Greece, Spain and Portugal. I know there are more to come as well!
So, you’ve travelled before. How did it feel to move to the UK? Were you scared?
I was really excited about moving here. Really, for me, I’ve always thought of London as this nice, upscale City that everybody dreams of visiting. As much I was happy to move here, I was also extremely scared, because in some ways, I didn’t know what to expect. When I left Montreal, all I had here was a job lined up, and a place to stay for a week. It was a bit stressful, because I had one week to find a room to stay, since I couldn’t really find it before coming here. Like most places, landlords here like to see you first before renting you a place. However, turns out it’s really easy to find a room or flat in London, there are so many. I was also afraid of feeling really lonely in this big city. I did feel lonely a little bit, but I very quickly made friends at work, so this feeling is long gone now. It was scary at first, but I would absolutely do it all over again.
Currently, you’re working with a hotel in London. Can you describe your experience at work?
The work is really nice. The Pullman St.Pancras hotel is a luxury hotel and people can feel it in the service they are receiving. I feel that my work is important in the hotel. Every day, I’m happy to go to work because I know it is going to be a nice day and I am going to have a lot of fun with my coworkers. I also feel that I can apply, and expand, the hospitality knowledge that I learned in school.
Wonderful. Has it been easy to make friends as a Canadian in London?
Yes, people around the world love Canadians. I was a little bit afraid that wouldn’t get long with the people here, because I felt like Canadians were so different from Europeans, but not at all! During my second week here I was already going out with the girls at work. I think that hospitality is a field where it’s especially easy to make friends.
Let’s say a friend comes to visit you in the UK. Which of your favourite spots in London would you take them to?
The Kew Royal Botanic Garden is a must-see. It’s absolutely gorgeous. There are lots of different plants and flowers, but also many different, historic buildings. The museums of London are also a thing to do, because it gives all the story behind the city and explains how it became this big city that we know today. If you are more in a mood to go out and party, for me Shoreditch is the neighbourhood to go to: with different bars, clubs, restaurants and many rooftop terrasses. Soho is always a good place to go out, many restaurants and bars, as well. For shopping, the place to go is definitely Westfield Mall. It’s the biggest shopping center I’ve ever seen, and there is everything for every budget – from Louis Vuitton to MAC to Primark! And, yes, Primark in England is life. It’s where you will find good and nice clothes for really cheap.
Did having a job in London already make the move abroad easier?
Yes, because you don’t have to stress about the money. This way, I knew my wage and it was much easier to make myself a budget before coming. Also, they help with finding a place to stay. They sent me websites for finding places before I’d even moved here.
What are some cultural differences between your hometown and London?
The first thing that shocked me in London, is how British people can be blunt. Don’t annoy them, because you will know right away what they think! They are not as reserved as Canadian can be. Also, here it’s nice as I can talk about everything. Nothing is taboo, everybody is comfortable talking about any subject.
Overall, what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt by living abroad?
I’ve learnt that you don’t need anyone else in life to accomplish things. I gained a lot of independence while living here. Before, I found it difficult to be by myself, but now I do things alone and I like it.
Very cool. Have you had any experiences in England you wouldn’t have had at home?
Yes, I had no family and only one friend when I first came in London. If I would i stayed home, I would never have experienced this. It makes you feel very independent and gets you out of your comfort zone.
Would you recommend living and working in a new country? How is it different from taking a trip?
Yes, a thousand times over. It’s different from a short trip, because first of all, you work here, so it’s not like a holiday. Also, you find a routine after a few weeks. When you live in a different country, you really feel like part of the city, rather than just seeing it. Also, on a short trip, you always know exactly when you are going back home. When you live somewhere else, you don’t know when you are going to come back because so much things can happen! I won’t lie; it’s hard to move to a new country, you’ll miss your friends and family, but it is so worth it. You will meet new people, learn new things, and discover so much. But the must important thing is the feeling you get – to be proud of yourself and all the things you accomplished while being away. Whether you stay for 3 months or a years. Always remember how lucky you are to be where you are, and how few have the opportunity to just move to new country!
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