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Marika Cash case study

In February, I went with about 15 other people from my school to Montpellier, France. I worked for a week in a pub-restaurant called ‘Irish Corner’. All the other employees were very patient and understanding when I couldn’t express myself in French very well to start with and were quick to help me out whenever I had any trouble with anything.

I started out with a few simple jobs, such as carrying food and clearing up but, by the end of the week, I had grown in confidence; I was able to welcome customers and take orders! At the end of the week, as I grew used to the work, there was a strong sense of teamwork between us. There were even two occasions where I was tipped which, for me, was a great achievement.

One of the best things about my job was that lunch was provided - I basically tested out the dish of the day, every day! There was real variety and it was always amazingly tasty.

The couple I stayed with were unimaginably lovely – always friendly and enjoyed playing the guitar and listening to music in the evenings. They were very helpful in telling us how to navigate the tram system to work – the trams were always efficient and easy to use. Their two daughters, aged 11 and 12, came home halfway through the week and were more than happy to help us practise our French. The food, as in the pub, was fantastic, as both of the parents loved cooking. On one of the evenings, we were even taken to a crêpe shop – we each had one savoury and one sweet crêpe. I discovered the amazingness of camembert crêpes! The sweet one was crème de marron flavour (strongly recommended!). Everyone treated us as part of the family and the house had such a nice atmosphere.

In my spare time, I went to the Olympic pool (Piscine Olympique d’Antigone), which was a beautiful pool with great facilities. I also practised my French while buying chocolates, pastries and hot chocolate. On one of the days, I went to visit a friend who lives on the outskirts of Montpellier and we had a long chat in French. When I was at home, I chatted with the little girls and the parents – all in all, my French improved massively, and I can now speak more smoothly.

I have also become more outgoing and feel confident when trying out new tasks. Furthermore, the feeling of independence in finding your way around a new town in a foreign country is really liberating. There is an enormous sense of achievement in surviving a week of speaking a foreign language and I cannot recommend this experience enough!