Emma in Euroland

Tea, Cake and Travel: a year abroad in Germany

A Misspent Holiday and Many Well-Deserved Thank Yous.

Whilst at university this year, I worked very very hard. That work paid off and I was glad that I did it. I looked forward to the holidays where I could relax and get ready for my year abroad in my own time: research where I was going, construct poorly written emails in German, try to get in contact with people who will be nearby, slowly reduce the size of my wardrobe and sort through all the boxes I (and my mother!) have been wanting to get through for years.

Instead though, the first thing I did when I got home was try to get a job. I asked at a local restaurant if they had any work and luckily, they did and took me on. I was amazed at how much waitresses could earn: I would at least double my wages every shift from tips. Unfortunately I was only covering holiday so they moved me after a few weeks to a local wine bar owned by the same company. It is a cafe during the day and a bar at night. More recently, I have also been working in the restaurant next door to the bar aswell and I’ve been helping a new dance school with promotion and bookings. I have worked really hard this summer and I don’t regret it at all. I have earnt a lot of money, far more than I might have hoped for and that has put me in really good stead for next year. I am going to have to support myself for my first month in Germany without any help from wages and now I am in a good position to do that. Work is work though and whilst there were many parts of the job that I genuinely enjoyed, I was always eager to go home.

There are many things I have missed out on this summer. The university summer is so long, it’s felt good to do something productive with it. But there are lots of friends that I haven’t seen who I wish I had. There are far more things that Ramsey and I talked about doing and haven’t had the time (let’s go to Legoland, yes?) and I feel as though the summer has run away from me. But isn’t that always the case? September comes knocking and without you even noticing, August has been and gone. Before you know it, it’s January and you’ve misspent your Christmas holiday too and aren’t ready for exams. It seems easy to let life pass you by. That’s why I’ve finally plucked up the courage to let them know that my last day of work is Friday 7th September, a few weeks earlier than I had originally thought. I found that I couldn’t help take shifts when they were offered to me and I felt as though I would be working right up to my last day in the country if I wasn’t careful. I will be sad to leave in many ways, but I know it’s the right thing and hopefully I’ll be able to go back and work with them in other holidays.

I have always known that I don’t think that money’s everything. There were things I wanted far more in life. But then, I found myself accepting shifts left, right and centre, sacrificing days out or nights in, leaving what I was doing at the drop of a hat to go into work when I was asked. There’s a line, the point where you decide what you are sacrificing is worth more than what you’re earning. I’ve reached that now. I have loved having a job this summer and ironically, the freedom that has brought with it. I do, in general, enjoy working. I don’t think I could just sit around for another summer without doing anything that I felt was worthwhile. But the time has come now to have the holiday that I think I deserve. A couple of weeks to sleep in, meet with friends, stay up late or get an early night, organise myself  so that when I go to Germany, I’m ready.

So now I can see the end of my working summer. I have 6 shifts left: 1 tonight, 3 next week, 1 the week after and 1 the week after that which I have agreed to fulfill because it was already allocated to me. I cannot wait to have each morning to myself and be able to crawl into bed whenever I like. I am also a little daunted about how I shall fill my days and how much I will actually get done when I have all the time I should need to do it. But right now I just need to say thank you. Thank you to Ben for having faith and giving me a job. Thank you to Charlotte, Sophie and Tony for welcoming me into the team so easily. Thank you to Quim, Stacey and Anna for making me feel so at home and for offering me work when I had none. Thank you to Mum, Dad and Matthew for reorganising dinner many times so I could get to work in time. Thank you to Tracey for trusting me so quickly to get on with things independently and giving me autonomy over my work. Thank you to Richard for letting me test out all his lovely new desserts. Thank you to everyone else at The Plough, Lot 75 and Lot 73 for being so nice and including me in everything immediately, for making me feel welcome and for answering all my stupid questions without making me feel stupid and thank you to anyone else I may have forgotten. And most importantly, thank you to Ramsey for just accepting my need to work and making it work, for being so understanding when I suddenly accepted an extra shift and had to drop what we were doing, for listening to all my stories and my moaning and encouraging me to carry on when I found things difficult, for picking me up from work in the middle of the night or waiting up for me until I got home and for adapting things so that I could work when I was offered shifts and not complaining, not even once. Thank you to you all. I hope you know how grateful I am. Hopefully I’ll see you all next summer, or even before :).


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