Time flies when you’re having fun…

A lot of my spare time in the past year has been taken up by my new sport/hobby. Roller derby. Yep, that crazy skating-contact sport that was in the film Whip It (although it’s not really like that, I’ve learnt). I have training 3 times a week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday with varying things happening at them. We’ve just come back from the ‘off season’ and everyone has realised that we’re not as fit as we were before we stopped regular training. The off season was great and I really enjoyed it but now it’s back to drills and scrims and feeling like my legs want to give up. (I started a blog to document my experiences here)

Work has been going okay. I failed an exam that everyone else in my intern cohort passed so I was pretty bummed about that for awhile but I had roller derby to help me through it (hitting people is always a good way to relieve anger…) and the skaters on my team are also lovely when that kind of thing happens. I got an intern who I’m sort of mentoring but is technically assigned to a different sub-team within our general team so some of our work doesn’t cross over and she has to get work from her manager and not me. But it’s all been going fine, so far. I’ve been given more responsibility and projects and it’s a busy time right now so I’m not feeling too bored or stuck.

It’s that time of year already?

The first day of December always makes me think of putting up Christmas decorations. I’d been told as a child that if you did it before today then that would be bad luck (and that you have to take them down by the 5th January) but I’ve never forgotten those words. I actually haven’t decorated my room/desk at work/the house in general but we do have some tinsel and are looking into getting some more decorations since one of the guys is really into Christmas. He has three Christmas jumpers. I think that says it all really.

I started going to the gym about a month ago and decided to go before work so that I wouldn’t have to put up with the crowds after work and so that I would get my workout done and not have to worry about it after work. So far I’ve been sticking to my plan but I’m slowly slacking in terms of how early I get to the gym which means it’s busier when I go. I’m actually looking at following some running blogs if anyone knows of any. A colleague at work runs quite a lot too and she was listing all the new gear she’s bought just for running (which I won’t do because I’m not quite as dedicated as she is nor do I have the money).

Training is officially over (and was about a month ago…) so we’ve all moved onto doing actual things that are going to be useful to the company. I’m actually working on some stuff to be published in a few weeks which has gotten me into some kind of zen mode since I seem to be more content now. There have been times of doubt/boredom but they’ve mostly been few and far between but they are there. I think we’ve all had some element of boredom but I’m hoping as we learn more they’ll give us more work so we want to stay at the end of the year (it’s hinted that they want us to but we don’t have to). I also got a new manager who just came back from maternity leave and although she’s quieter than my last one, she’s no less knowledgeable. I’ve asked her so many questions and it’s so good to have someone who’s just meant to focus on my team (our last one was splitting his time between two teams and doing his normal job on top of that). Our work Christmas meal is a week on Friday too so we’re all looking forward to that to tide us over until the actual holiday which I’m looking forward to!

It’s October already?!

It’s October already, which means that I’ve been at my job for five weeks now (which is actually quite a scary thought) and yet I still haven’t finished all of the training yet. I have more training next week, the week after and the week after that (plus a few extras in November but they’re not as important). I also have a meeting scheduled with our department head that’s been moved about half a dozen times due to training and him being away for a week but hopefully that’ll go well as others who have had theirs said it was fine and they had a chat about what they hope to achieve in the year.

Between my last post and this one, I’ve actually graduated (woo!) and had all the fanfare that went along with it. It was a pretty hectic day, with robe hire and photos and more photos and then the actual ceremony and worrying that my family wouldn’t find seats (but they did so it’s all cool). I also thought I’d fall over but I didn’t so that was all fine. It feels very weird to be a graduate after being a student for so long, not just university but being a student in general. I’ve been in school since I was three (I suppose the nursery my first school had doesn’t count but I’m counting it anyway) and at the ripe age of twenty two I have finally left education (only to go into a job that sort of links with the education sector). My friends said that adjusting to working life after university was something that took them some time too, but since for the past three years I’d been living at home I was at uni from 9-4/5 on most days (except when I had days off) so it’s not the hours that are killing me. I don’t live very far from work, five minutes in the car or twenty if I walk and sometimes we get back late so it’ll be six o’clock and then it feels like the day is gone, just like that. I hope that as the days go on I’ll get used to it and make better use of my time and actually do something that’ll help me improve myself or my future.

My job isn’t in my home city. It’s not even remotely close, or close to anyone that I know who’s moved away from home either. I’m in ‘new’ territory, so to speak as nobody really knows where I am until I mention what the town is famous for (then they get excited). We (myself and three of my work colleagues) all live in a house together and we cut that very fine, we almost didn’t have anywhere to stay but managed to get a nice house at the last minute. My room is a good size and the people are nice, I was just apprehensive about moving to a new place with new people. Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling and seeing new places and doing new things, but I’m more or less all alone here. I came only knowing those three (plus the others who I added on facebook but never met) but I can safely say that I’ve adjusted pretty well. I never moved far away for university, so living by myself is sort of new to me (and my parents too. My mum is the one that people worry about when I tell them that I’ve moved a hundred miles away from home) but they also have to cope with the fact that my sister has also just moved out for university (but she’s a lot closer to home, which is reassuring for my mum) so within the space of two weeks, they lost their two kids to new places. I went to visit home three weeks ago though and everything seemed to be fine (my room doesn’t have a bed but that’s cool) and I think my parents are slowly adjusting to life without kids. I do have to update them every week with some kind of text saying that I’m not starving and yes, I have done my washing so I have clean clothes to wear at work.

We also didn’t have internet for nearly a month so I spent a lot of time watching tv (Suits, anyone?) and movies and talking to my housemates (we even did a year 3/4 quiz one night and the results were shocking) so I got to know them pretty well in a short space of time. Even though we work together we haven’t had any major problems (and everyone’s really nice at work too) and we’re on separate teams so we only see each other at lunch and when we have tea breaks/getting ready to go home. It’s kinda nice, and we’ve been named the ‘big house’ because four out of the nine interns live at our house (we had a cocktail party here too, which was also fun) and when things happen they try to get all four of us to go because it’ll instantly add numbers. (Fun fact, we have four cars between the nine of us and three are at our house, which we also find funny).

This was longer than I planned…but it’s good to get it all down so I can see where I am now and when I look back I can see how far I’ve come (or not).

Let’s go to the beach beach…?

I’ve been here for nearly nine weeks now, and have just under three until I go back home and honestly, I can’t wait to go back home.

I’ve been working for eight and a half weeks and it’s been…interesting. Orientation (which was training) was very long and a bit tedious, as is most training and then I had another day of food and beverage specific training which was a bit more interesting as it related a bit more to what I do. I serve food at the beach, or at the pools which can be fun, and spending all day at the beach is fun. I have a nice tanline too! Which proves to everyone that I know that I CAN tan and I’m pretty dark too. Even the girls I work with think I’m getting dark! Although lately I’ve been working at the pools so my tan is fading a little, will have to go to the beach and top it up at somepoint.

Housing…housing…To be frank, it’s not great. I feel like I’m overpaying compared to some other people, which is annoying but I can’t do anything about it as there’s nowhere else to go and the landlady is very nice…I know for next year though, and I hope that HR sorts it out for next year so that other people know what they’re getting into. Housing in general for a lot of people is one of the main things that might stop them from coming back here next year, and probably the monotony of the job (and the small town atmosphere). I will give advice to anyone who has any questions about J-1 visas and will help to the best of my ability! I’ve been through all of the paperwork at the embassy, social security, bank accounts and travelling for insane amounts of time (probably not but it feels like a long time to me).

The people I work with are mostly nice, I’m the only English person working in the cabanas. There are (was) one American (he left for another job a few weeks ago), three Macedonians, three Bulgarians and two Jamaicans. Our supervisor is from Haiti but she’s been living here for the past 10 years so I’m not sure if she’s American or Haitian? Anyway, we all get along relatively well except two of them can get very bossy when we don’t have a supervisor around. It’s a little annoying but one of them might be in trouble because he insulted a guest in his own language, but one of the other guests could understand him and I think he’s getting reprimanded for that. I don’t know for sure what’s going on but he’s still working, his girlfriend is nice though. She said she enjoys working with me because we are both chilled out and not bossy, I don’t order her around and she doesn’t order me around. We have a new Romanian guy and one new Macedonian girl who work occasionally because they don’t have enough hours but they’re nice enough. It can get hectic at the beach sometimes, and even though we have 4 of us, there aren’t enough but hopefully there will be 5 at the weekends to ease the pressure a little. We also got into trouble because we haven’t been going around to take orders and the guests have to call us to order anything which they aren’t used to. If they haven’t noticed that there are only 4 of us but only 3 can serve at once and when it’s low tide the beach can span a pretty big area, even for 3 of us. I don’t know the guest for sure, I don’t think I’ve had to serve them but my supervisor is on our side and said we go around and do our work. Our manager (who’s head of food and beverage) says that he sees us working when he visits and when it’s low tide he thinks that doesn’t help because of the vast distance. It annoys me but I can’t do anything about it. Next week I’m working at the pools for 4 days which is good because I prefer the pools to the beach so hopefully the problems will be sorted out and I won’t get into anymore trouble because I did well on Friday at the pool. Good cash and good cash tips so they shouldn’t have much to complain about me. I hope.

I’ve been to the mall twice now. The first time I went was a few weeks ago but everyone had been and it took me 5 weeks to finally go. I went with a girl from work and bought some new shoes for myself 😀 they’re galaxy print and so cool, I’ve never seen them at home before. I’m going back to buy another pair of a different design because they’re cheaper and they have better designs here 😀 my friend bought work shoes and we went to McDonald’s for lunch. I got a habanero ranch quarter pounder which was really, really hot and it felt like I was on fire. I’m tempted to get it again…there was strawberry fanta which was nice mixed with sprite. Why isn’t there strawberry fanta in the UK? And for that matter, why isn’t there Minute Maid lemonade in the UK? It’s so nice!

I have also started to appreciate the public transport system back home too. It’s cheaper here which is nice, it costs $2 and you can go to a different town which is hours away but the buses only run once every hour so if you miss it…that’s it. At home there’s at least one every half an hour which I’m too used to so I hate waiting around for the buses. I end up going to Starbucks and drinking something whilst I wait for the bus. Last saturday I went to the bank and met one of the employees from the place I work and we became friends almost instantly. It was really funny but it’s a small town here so it’s easy to run into people who I work with (and the resort is very big, they have hundreds of employees during the summer) but I’ve never met before. He was telling me about himself and we then met another one of his friends on the bus on the way back. Small world!

On top of my work/travelling/experiencing America I have stuff to do for university too which is due fairly soon. I need to sort out some things for work in September plus choose my modules for next year which is a bit scary because it’ll be my final year! Most of my friends have graduated this year, which I missed because I’m in America but it’s nice and sad to see their photos on Facebook and see that they’re growing up and moving on with their lives. That’ll be me next year (hopefully!).

Finally, here are some of the photos I have taken in the past nine weeks. There are a lot of food and other strange things I’ve seen here. It will be updated soon once I filter through all the pictures.