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   5.05.14 16:37
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Experience report 2

###################
Internship in London

(16.02.2013 – 05.04.2013)

1 Internship

1.1 Location and facilities
1.2 The CSE Team / Colleagues
1.3 The English courses
1.4 Working hours
1.5 Tasks
1.6 Impressions of office training at the CSE

2 Accommodation

Living at Manishas shared house in Finchley

3 London in general

3.1 Street
3.2 People
3.3 Food
3.4 Weather
3.5 Tubes, Oyster card
3.6 Sights
3.7 City
3.8 Life
3.9 Keep calm and carry on


1 Internship

1.1 Location and facilities
In summer the school usually rents extra rooms because a lot of students are expected. Soon the office team will move in another room which is now the study centre. The study centre will be in the current office. So the students will have a bigger room and the study centre is supposed to give a nicer atmosphere then.

1.2 The CSE Team / Colleagues
Zenaide is now a full member of the team and totally integrated. Jerry also hired Gabriela Thompson to organise the social activities programme. She is a young energetic woman and works at the office three times a week. Most of the social activities are not only planned but accompanied by her.

What makes my colleagues a real gain are their different accents, different backgrounds, different roots of nationality. So there is a variety of cultural differences and we laugh a lot together finding them out.

I found out that there is nobody around saying “It’s raining cats and dogs”. So it is not that common as I thought. I told them in Germany we would say something similar to “It’s raining out of full buckets”. Zenaide who is from France said the French people would say “It’s raining like a peeing cow”.

Some colleagues presented me their German vocabulary, e. g. ‘Jawohl’ and ‘Schwarzwälderkirschtorte’. Whilst I have problems pronouncing the words ‘squirrel’ and ‘jewellery’ my colleagues made the point that ‘Eichhörnchen’ absolutely sounds Chinese to them. Well, I agree.

You can’t deny that British people are really polite. My colleagues often ask around if anyone would like to have a tea or coffee before they go to the kitchen to make one themselves. They also love to bring sweets and share with the team. I have tried tasty little cakes and delicious chocolate.

If an agent comes for a visit to have a meeting with the head of the school Jerry himself makes the coffee. I was never asked to do that. People are really down to earth.

Although the computers are modern the software seems to be an old DOS software (Eloise) which is not usable with a computer mouse. But there is also New Eloise which is modern and easier to use. The computers are all centralised. If there is any technical problem at your computer there might be the same problems with the other computers as well.

The technical support is brilliant. Whenever you phone the friendly IT team they help you immediately.

1.3 The English courses
Simon, the Director of Studies, makes sure that every single student gets individual support and satisfaction during studying. Whenever there is an issue Simon talks to the students (one-on-one conversation or group discussion). He wants the students to feel comfortable with their classes. Whenever a student wants to change a class, Simon talks to the student first and asks for the reason. Then he discusses it with the teachers.

Every week there might be changes with the classes, the levels, the students, the teachers, the times, the rooms. So the whole system is very flexible and oriented on the students. If there are several students who want to be prepared for the IELTS exam Simon will open an IELTS preparation class.

Being so flexible with everything impresses me a lot on the one hand. Everything is for the students’ satisfaction. It’s not only about the money. Some schools send people to spread school leaflets on the street and they only want to make remittance.

But on the other hand it makes it more confusing to check the students’ attendance and ask teachers for information on students who changed the class or the course. On the registers there are sometimes students put as missed although they attended a class, but changed to another class. On the system (New Eloise software) there are sometimes students in the wrong class or they are not even put on the system.

This makes my work more complicated. I don’t only have to check registers and put attendance on the system. I also have to ask teachers for further information when they give uncertain information. Often teachers miss to fill in information for a day so I have to ask them to make up leeway. I also have to be a little detective to put back the puzzle again. Which student moved to which class. The student is not in for the whole week because he/she is sick or on holiday.

This information is important for me because at the end I have to calculate the attended and the total hours for the certificate. And I never trust the system but correct the hours while calculating it myself.

1.4 Working hours
My working hours are still the same, although I often stay longer in the office. But nobody tells me to do that. I stay longer whenever I think it might be worth it to finish a task on the same day.

1.5 Tasks
Some of my tasks changed. Laura took back some tasks which I undertook from her in the beginning. Zenaide and Gabriela also took some of my tasks.

I started a new project which involves updating host family letters and transferring the data into New Eloise software. So I correct information about host families we have ordered in files and create Ad hoc letters on New Eloise with the same information arranged in a different way.

Why am I doing this? Whenever there is a student who books accommodation and wants to live with a host family we send the student information about the family he booked with. We open the email programme and write a message to the student. Before attaching the correct file with the host family information we put personal information of the student in the file.

On New Eloise we will be able to find the correct host family letter within a list and then send it directly to the student without opening our email programme and adding individual information to the file. This will save us more time and makes work easier.

I now feel a lot more routine dealing with my tasks. My colleagues say it will be a loss when I leave. They have to find a replacement for me soon. It would be good if I can teach the follower the tasks. I am planning to leave instructions anyway.

The teachers also recognise my structured way of working. Compiling notes,
creating lists, using Post-It notes and working with colour systems. I assume they think this is really German. Doing everything really accurately and not sloppy.

1.6 Impressions of office training at the CSE
It never is as busy as I am used to it from other internships. I know it’s normal to have busy days and less busy days. But even on the busy days I never feel pressurised.

I think the reason for that is the great working atmosphere. The team gives me space how and when to do my tasks. I do have deadlines or time-limited tasks. I can also vary tasks to improve the process and results. The team is open for my ideas and thankful for creative solutions.

I totally enjoy being trained at Central School of English. Both the office team and the teachers are great people and I feel that there is a good connection between them. I enjoy and look forward to go to the office to meet my colleagues and the students. Working in a front office is so much better than working in a back office. I really like having direct contact with the clients.


2 Accommodation

I still live at Manishas shared house and will stay until the end of the internship. The tenants are still the same. We are a mixture of German, English, Italian and Greek tenants living together in a house of a Mauritian landlady and her family.

Some tenants are using the bathroom on the 1st floor, some on the one on the 2nd floor. Some are using both. But we manage to always have one bathroom free to use.

Since we don’t have a living room you meet your house mates sometimes in the kitchen or on the floors. If you want your privacy you go to your room and shut the door.

Very seldom there are still problems with the heating. But my room is one of the warmest. I always have hot water in the bathroom I use. There are still WiFi internet problems from time to time. I bought an internet connection cable for only £1 at Poundland to solve the problem of having interruptions.

Meanwhile Manisha doesn’t come upstairs that often anymore. Maybe she recognised that it might be better to give the tenants more privacy.


3 London in general

3.1 Street
Meanwhile I got used to look in the correct direction before crossing the street. But from time to time to make sure I am right I still take a look at the signs on the streets saying in which direction to look. Anyway I always look at both sides like I learned it in school. I just switch it from left-right-left to right-left-right or back if necessary.

I am still delighted at every single animal I see on the street. Whether if it is a dove, a dog or a cat. I don’t know if that means that there are a lot more animals on the streets of Berlin.

3.2 People
I love the way people treat each other. I didn’t experience any violent act at all. Everybody smiles at each other. People smile first at me before I do. And I smile a lot. They give their seats to others in the tube without being asked. I feel that people care for other people even though they are strangers.

My colleagues are open with their private life. I meet some of them in the evening to hang out from time to time.

3.3 Food
Maybe I will try some more vegetarian restaurants. But since I am cooking for myself and don’t want to spend so much money on dining out I am not trying specific typical British meals.

3.4 Weather
The weather all in all wasn’t wonderful but far from what I used to think the weather would be in London. There were some rainy days but the weather is totally comparable to Berlin weather. This time was even worse in Germany. With all that snow during Easter time. From Easter on spring returned to London and I enjoy the nice weather.

3.5 Tubes, Oyster card
I can’t believe how I would feel as an old having problems with walking when I think of all these stairs in the tube stations. However there are usually several lifts.

To move underground feels like a mole blazing a trail through the tunnel system. It’s a big maze. The colour system is really helpful, though. But you have to get used to terms like “Southbound” or “Northbound” which tells you in which direction you are going by tube. Actually it isn’t that complicated as long as you know the four cardinal directions.

I tried hard to get the student tariff to buy a cheaper Oyster card. By the end of January I applied. The school needed to confirm me being a student and my colleagues didn’t know that TFL would not contact them therefore.

Finally I got my student Oyster card by the end of March. It took so long because nobody of my colleagues dealt with this before. I asked for help at the help desks in the tube stations several times and called TFL to ask for support.

One of our colleagues from the partner school OISE could finally help and confirmed by the mid of March. Schools have to confirm through a system. OISE and Central School of English used to be one school. So somebody else used to be in charge of this. Fortunately I can now save some money with my student Oyster photocard.

TFL (Transport for London, comparable to BVG) gives service updates several times a day. You can inform yourself on the website, read updates on boards in the tube stations or even let TFL send you text messages with updates on certain tube lines.

Whenever the tube stops in a tunnel someone immediately speaks to you through a speaker telling you why the tube stopped. You won’t be only informed about traffic disruptions but also about good service. This seemed to me unnecessary in the beginning. Now I recognised it gives me a good feeling to know my line has no delays.

The assistants at the help desks are patient and hand out good advice. So all in all the costumer service is brilliant.

Watching people in tubes they always seem to be really tired. They yawn, sleep, cuddle up in their seats. I saw several advertisements promoting drugs against fatigue.

I have learnt to stand as closely as possible to the track so I have a realistic chance to get a seat. The grabpoles in the tubes are almost always in the colour of the tube line.

3.6 Sights
Since the weather turned nice I have started to do some sightseeing. A few places I have been before I visited now another time with way better weather and totally different atmosphere. A few days ago I took a long walk along the Thames past the London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I also went to the Tower Bridge and enjoyed the view. It’s worth to go there again at night, I suppose.

3.7 City
Since London is a big city I didn’t explore all areas and I won’t. Everyone who plans a weekend trip should have certain plans what to visit. London gives you numerous options to enjoy your leisure time.

3.8 Life
I can imagine to live in London. Life feels so much easier. There is positivity everywhere. I feel happy being here and I feel healthier. Although I had a little cold when I started my internship I didn’t feel bad for a long time now. Colleagues told me everyone new to London first gets ill but then will be fine.

I stopped using my asthma inhaler right in the beginning. Maybe I don’t have any symptoms because I don’t have my cat around which I am allergic to. I also think being really close with people (which you are especially in the tubes) toughens people up.

3.9 Keep calm and carry on
Although I am having one of my best times in life it is also not easy. Knowing that I only stay for a period of time and I am not building up a new life feels strange. I bought some kitchen stuff, things I need during my stay in London. Built up relationships. But I know I will leave everything behind me soon. Even though I can stay in contact with people in London and visit London from time to time it feels strange to know I will be leaving soon. It would be totally different if I would stay here and invest in the future.

I do miss my family, friends and home. But still I am not suffering and I still don’t want to leave. Not a single second I thought I would rather be home. Time goes by too fast and I appreciate the time I have in this wonderful city London.
5.4.13 18:03
 
Letzte Einträge: London - April 2013, Die letzten zwei Wochen...


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