Imogen Page-Jarrett case study
Last month, I was lucky enough to participate in the Halsbury Work Experience Programme in France. I spent five days working in a crêperie in the city of Rouen, northern France. The people I met, the things I saw and skills I learnt definitely made it one of the best weeks of my life; I not only vastly improved my French skills, but also developed as a person.
I first heard about the programme as an alternative to the French exchange. What really attracted me to it was the sense of adventure and the chance to explore a foreign culture in a more independent way than on a family holiday or school trip. The organisation was really helpful, offering a wide range of different work placements, from art galleries and cafés to radio stations and even an ice rink. Moreover, it was reassuring to know 40 other students from other schools would be joining me on the trip.
On the first day it was really intimidating to have to introduce myself alone to my new employers, but after the initial nerves, the owners of the crêperie turned out to be really welcoming and friendly. I would work around six hours a day, and helped out by welcoming customers, laying tables, taking orders and pouring drinks. I was even allowed to try to make a crêpe myself, but this turned out to be more difficult than it looked! When it was quiet, I had the opportunity to ask the other staff questions about life in France, which was really revealing and interesting. It may have been a challenge at times to depend on my French, especially when service was busy, but I found my aptitude improved extremely quickly. By the end of the week it was very emotional to leave the owners and their family who I had grown so close to!
Aside from work, there was also the opportunity to explore the city and socialise. The group leaders organised several activities such as the cinema, bowling, meals out and even a tour of Rouen. During the afternoon I would go with other students and walk round the streets looking at shops and the river, but the city’s best attraction was undoubtedly the cathedral. During the evenings we would go out and enjoy the French culture in one of the many cafés and restaurants. The trip definitely made me more sociable and I made many new friends who I hope to keep in contact with for a long time.
Overall, I really cannot fault the work experience programme. Everything, from the comfortable hotel room to the delicious French cuisine was unbeatable. I have brought so many things away from this; I now feel so much more positive about my French exams, I have gained confidence and independence, not to mention improving my job prospects in the future, as well as gaining a detailed insight into French culture. I would definitely recommend this experience to anybody considering it.