Torquay/Eng­land: Wirt­schafts­prak­tikum 2017

We used the opportunity to do our work experience in Torquay, in the south-western part of England. Located in the county Devon, Torquay is at the sea side with a little bay.

On Sunday the 26th of March, we met at the airport in Hamburg early in the morning. We took the plane to London and our journey started! We drove with the bus from London Gatwick to Torquay and arrived in the afternoon. Our host families and some members of our agency “TTPL” received us at the Coach Station and took us to our new homes for the next two weeks. Most of us lived in the host families with another student.

The next morning we got some introductions into the British style and manners and we finally got to know our work placement. We were divided up into the towns Torquay, Paignton, Totnes and Brixham, an area also called Torbay, and most of us were employed in a little shop or café.

One half of us lived in Torquay, the other half in Paignton, a city a 15-minute bus ride away from Torquay. The places were chosen differently in order to let us have the shortest way to our work placements.

While we were in Torquay, I worked as a waiter in a café at the port. I wiped tables and took out the meals or made drinks. As it was a self-service restaurant I didn't take any orders and had not much time to actually speak to customers. Most of my talks were with my bosses or the other employee.

We had ups and downs in this week as the weather is playing a major role in the quantity of people around at the port. Sometimes I had no tasks to do and sometimes I was overtaxed as I had to bring out 6 drinks, clean up and wipe the tables at best all at once.

All in all, I don't see a big gastronomy career in front of me, but in a decent café it can be a great placement for improving your language skills. (Pascal)

I was employed in the little café “The Galley” near the harbour in Torquay. The first days were not easy, because I learned all the processes and regulations in the café and everybody was speaking English. But after some days I understood most of the instructions and I was allowed to do little exercises on my own, for example serve the customers and prepare the different drinks.

Many of the customers were older people and they were really interested in where I came from and what I was doing in Torquay. It was nice to work in the café with my workmates and to get to know the South-west coast of England. (Martje)

My placement was located in Totnes, a hippie town which was a 20-minute-ride from Paignton. The shop is called Salago LLP. It has a huge product range from shoes to toys and candles.

The colleagues were very friendly and helpful, encouraging one to fulfil new tasks and become more confident. At first you get little tasks for example hanging up scarfs or socks, so you get to know the surroundings and people and they can get to know you.

After one to three days you get more and more, sometimes challenging, tasks but even if you didn’t know what to do, there was always someone to ask for help. After two or three days I was shown how to use the till and from time to time I got to know the product range more and more, so I could answer questions or look up some items in the register.

Besides that there was only cleaning to do, which was not very interesting but you always had a colleague to talk to and could improve your language skills. (Sharleen)

Besides working, our agency organised a bus-tour and an afternoon cream tea and we spent much time getting to know Torquay and its neighbourhood.

We spent some evenings in British pubs and bars, for example the Rock Garden or the Spinning Wheel and had a good time with other exchange students from Europe. On the weekends we discovered the surrounding towns, for example Exeter, and nature, though we spent a lot of time sitting by the sea.  On 9th April, it was unfortunately already time to go and we had to fly back to Germany.

Personally, the trip helped us being more self-confident with ourselves while speaking a foreign language, as we were understood the whole time and the people were very patient with us.

We can recommend the trip to anyone, who struggles with a lack of self-confidence, wants to learn everyday-vocabulary, get more confident in free speech or who likes to adapt some British pronunciation.

It does not even matter whether you are very shy or totally outgoing, there is always someone to talk to and help you out or someone who gives you a good piece of advice. But don’t be too naïve thinking that a job, that gives you the opportunity to lots of dialogues will do the work for you. Make sure, that you engage in as many talks as possible and use the time you have there.

If you respect these tips and if you have the will to achieve something, then the trip should be perfect for you.

All in all it was an exciting experience with a great number of laughter and beautiful cities to discover. Besides this we got to get to know a completely new side of ourselves and got more confident and open-minded.

Written by Sharleen Fichtner, Pascal Giese and Martje Hüttmann (Q1sw)