Leisure in Brighton

Dear Brighton, you’re beautiful. Here’s why:

  1. There is always something to do — if it’s shopping in Churchill square centre, going through the lanes to find a unique shop, having a flight on the i360 or just walking along the beach, in Brighton, you’ll never get bored!

2. Friendly and tolerant people: Especially in Brighton, people have a cheerful and relaxed attitude. Here we say ‚thank you‘ to the bus drivers, we don’t judge peoples clothes, sexual orientation or religious views, we don’t rush like the Londoners. Brighton lets people be who they want to be. It’s a very liberal city and gives you a feel of freedom like nowhere else.

3. Discovering the surroundings — In Summer, Brighton can be very busy, especially on the weekends the city centre is filled with tourists! Then you might (like me) long for a quieter place outside of town. Here are some places I visited.

Devils Dyke / South Downs way — At the beginning of my stay I did a 5 hour cycling tour from Hove to Devils Dyke and back. I got to see the lovely countryside and was also lucky with the weather. The cycle trail was described as ‚medium‘ though I found it quite exhausting because some roads were very steep. Nevertheless, it was totally worth it!

Lewes — A very traditional English town just 45 minutes from Brighton. Here I visited a medieval castle from which I got an amazing overview of the town and houses around.

Eastbourne & Birling Gap — Another seaside town in the East, about an one hour drive from Brighton. Luckily, a friend of mine came along and so we went there by car. It’s not that touristy, not that overly cheerful as Brighton, but still nice. We then took the route next to the coast on our way back home and made a few stops to see the coastline and the viewpoint ‚Birling Gap‘.

Shoreham-by-sea — Right next to Brighton & Hove and only a 1 hour bus ride (or a 15 minutes train journey), you’ll get to Shoreham which I loved for it’s quiet and village-like atmosphere.

Chichester — Another old English town, between Portsmouth and Brighton. I loved seeing the huge cathedral and walking between little cafes and independent shops in the centre of the town.

Watching the English

I consider myself as an anglophile person, someone who admires England and has a deep interest for the country and its people. Due to that I visited the UK several times before and enjoyed it each time. One reason for that is the people that somehow seem to be particular lovely on this island.

As I mentioned in my first post, I find it exciting to discover cultural differences, especially in social interactions. Today I’d like to talk about what I observed in more detail.

Greeting Talk: While Germans are used to shake hands, handshaking is often considered as too formal or business-like in England. Instead, the English start their conversation without any hand gestures. Every greeting talk starts with the obligatory „how’re you? “ While both speakers usually answer „fine, alright“ or at least „okay“. Basically, both speakers expect the other person to give this answer. Even if you’re not feeling well, you wouldn’t bother the other person right away. Instead of How are you, the English greet one another with an „Alright?“ which mostly comes out as an “ ‚right ?“. This always sounds odd to me because people say it without showing any actual interest to know if you’re actually alright. It sounds more like a different way of saying „hi„.

Please & Thank you & Sorry: It may seem obvious because England is popular for its politeness but I honestly can’t count the amount of please & thank you I’m hearing everyday. At work, it’s like the most natural thing to do. Even for the normal work I do I’m receiving so much appreciation in form of a „Great! Thank you so much“ from my colleagues that it makes me feel very respected. In my opinion, it really makes an impact how you treat your colleagues and how are you being treated by your team. It positively influences your motivation and the work atmosphere very much. I always felt like this is missing in Germany and I would wish to hear that more often back home. I’m sure this is the main thing I’m going to miss when I’m back home.

Being friendly: Maybe it’s because Brighton is such a happy place that people here are overall happier than elsewhere. Though I think it’s more a way of thinking or lifestyle. To my surprise, people always put on a smile when I come to work in the morning. Now matter how stressful a day at work can be and everyone is feeling weary: Friendliness is what comes first whether it is a colleague or a costumer/student asking for help. Plus, there is always time to joke around. Apart from work, the people I talk to in the city are friendly and easy-going, too. I often was astonished how less stressful life can be when cashiers or bus drivers (generally people in costumer service roles) are more patient and friendly.

Weekly work procedures

As an intern at BSC I’ve got work duties that repeat week after week. However, each day of the week brings new tasks. It’s now summer term at language schools — which means that there is a big influx of new arrivals every Monday. Because there is so much to do, it doesn’t feel like a routine (yet). There is rarely a moment where I haven’t got something to do. I can say I’m busy from 9 to 5 which is good because that’s when time flies. Every morning and in each break time, we have got many students coming into our office asking about changing their course, their accommodation and host family, taking a holiday, printing something and much more. I’ve now tried to break down the main duties I’m doing for each day of the week.

My weekly timetable roughly looks like this:

Monday

  • Welcome new arrivals, check and tick students on the arrivals list, take photocopies of students‘ passports/ID-cards/Visas, hand-out welcome packs, the ‚first day schedule‘, the ‚First Week Questionnaire‘ and ask them to fill in the information (such as emergency contact details, medical information etc.) and explain if the student understand what is written on the papers.
  • Give a tour of the school for a group of students and show them around, explain where to find everything, explain door codes, how to read timetables, show them the assembly point.
  • In the afternoon, create new students files on the computer, file and rename passport scans.
  • Enter all data from the first week questionnaires on the school management software. Scan the all Questionnaires and create a new file for the scans on the computer.

Tuesday

  • Staff meeting: While the colleagues are having their meeting, my task is to take care of the reception, answer incoming calls, take notes and welcome visitors.
  • Checking the Under 18s sign-in sheet: Underage students have to sign in before their classes and sign out before leaving the school on every day of the week. If a student hasn’t signed in and hasn’t called in sick, I’ll go into the class to check whether the student is attentand and simply forgot to sign in. To admit, I don’t like interrupting classes but unfortunately it’s something I have to do on a daily basis because they are always students that fail to remember. If the student isn’t in class, I’ll phone him/her and ask the reason for his/her absence. If I can’t get the student on the phone I’ll ring HostInternational, the provider of homestay accommodation. Then, I’ll ask them to phone the student’s host family to check if the student is home and feeling well. This procedures take a lot of time and can be annoying because in most cases the student is just too lazy to come to school or contact us.
  • During breaks I work in „the shop“ – a room where bus tickets, trips & tours and stationary is sold. It’s also where the schools social activities are advertised and pinned-up. On my first day, the social activity leader explained to me that this was his last day and I will help out running the shop in break times until a new social activity leader is hired. I was told to just focus on selling stationary, bus tickets and booking bus tours. HOWEVER, while I was there, I had many students approaching me and asking me about the weekly social activities (obviously there were none!). I often got into awkward situations where I had to find a nice way to express that I’m just filling in the gap until a new social activity leader is hired and students reacted quite disappointed because they had been excited to join social activities that had been advertised by the school! I also felt a bit insecure when managing the till. I was surprised that I was trusted with handling money from the very first day. Working in the shop also meant giving information about bus routes, how to get from one place to another or recommend places to visit in and around Brighton. It was a bit odd for me, who just arrived a few days ago, to help people with that, since I was still learning about Brighton myself. Nevertheless, I managed to help students by simply using google maps!
  • Creating leavers reports: Students that finish their courses have their ‚graduation‘ on Fridays. They’re given a certificate and a report about their language skills. My job is to prepare the leavers reports by filling in names and courses in the template and give them to the teachers who will then make their final evaluation.

Wednesday

  • Check U18 sign-in sheet and chase students that haven’t signed-in.
  • Work in the shop.
  • Social media: Manage the schools Facebook and Instagram Account
  • Prepare leavers questionnaires: create a questionnaire for every student that leaves on Friday, print out and give them the teachers.
  • Chase students that haven’t filled in the first week questionnaire. It happens that students handwriting is unreadable and therefore, phone numbers and e-mail addresses won’t work. I have to chase the student during break times to get the necessary information.

Thursday

  • Prepare envelopes for certificates and print name stickers
  • create and print certificates and check course start and end date, language level and let the school director sign them
  • Social media: Manage the schools Facebook and Instagram Account

Friday

  • Check U18 Sign-in sheet
  • preparing everything for Monday: print out all first day documents, prepare information packs
  • Create a new U18 Sign-In Sheet with the help of the new arrivals list and identify the underage students
  • Graduation time: With the school director, take all the graduate envelopes to the garden and take photos of each student that is given their certificate!
  • Check attendance: take all teachers‘ course files (about 30!) and enter the data on the school software
  • pin-up the new timetables throughout the school

First day at BSC Brighton

Today, I’m going to tell about my start as Student Services Intern at British Study Centers (BSC) Brighton.

BSC is a English language school that offers a wide range of language courses such as General English, Speaking & Listening, IELTS preparation courses and Business English courses. Students also have the option to book an accommodation in a student house or home stay. Besides, students can take part in social activities, like tours & trips or events organised by the teachers. There are about 120 students and even 250 students during peak season, during summer holidays. The average student’s age is 25 although the minimum age is 16. The school is situated in an old building with 3 floors. Classrooms are in the upper floors. On the ground floor there is the study centre, where students can use computer and books to study, the reception / administration office, the staff room where teachers prepare their lessons, a cafeteria where they can order lunch and a garden. The school is quite small and makes a very cosy impression.

On my very first day of work, I was sat on the bus and had a little chat with the woman sitting next to me. As it turned out, she was language teacher at BSC and was so nice to introduce me to the staff when we arrived. Lucky me!

Unfortunately, I arrived in the administration office at a very busy time. Mondays are always busy at BSC because in the morning all the new students arrive (normally about 10, in peak season about 30-40!) So after my supervisor checked my documents (passport etc), I had to wait until all of the students had been registered. After that, I got to know my colleagues that will be working with me within the next weeks. Everyone seemed so friendly and I felt very welcome from the very first start.

Afterwards, my supervisor showed me around in the school and introduced me to the safeguarding manager with whom I had a little chat about safeguarding procedures. Even before my internship started, I had to do some „onboard training“ on the HR platform as I will be working with underage students. That means, I had to learn about safeguarding procedures and what do bear in mind when working with U18s. Students, especially those under 18 are regarded as vulnerable and the staff must be aware and responsible of students‘ health, well-being or changes in behaviour.

The day went on with some admin duties that I will be describing in my next post.

Bye-Bye Berlin, Hello Brighton

At the beginning of June, a couple of days before my internship was about to start, I moved over to Brighton. I flew from Berlin Schönefeld Airport to London Stansted (Ryanair prices were too tempting) and decided to take the buses heading down South. However, I don’t recommend this route to anyone. It took me about 6 hours to get there from Stansted.

After a short stay at a hostel, I met up with my host. I arranged a single room in a family household. Unfortunately, this was not the accommodation I had planned. Initially, I had been promised to get a room in a shared house, organised by the company I am going to work for. At short notice, this offer had been cancelled since there was no room left which eventually, led to searching for accommodation myself 2 weeks before my internship started.

In the end, this wasn’t too bad. I’m now paying half of the price because staying in a family household came out a lot cheaper. The family I am staying with (mother, father and three daughters around my age) are easy to get along with. Plus, our place is just a 5 minute walk from the sea! – Blessing in disguise probably.

On the first days I wanted to become familiar with the city by just walking around. It turned out that Brighton is a nice city to go on foot. It is about a tenth of Berlins size only. Also, they’re several buses running across the city at different times so it’s very convenient to get from A to B.

Going abroad – why?

Hello there,

on this blog I will be sharing my personal experiences during my internship and life abroad in Brighton, England in the summer of 2019.

Originally, I’m training to be come management assistant in public administration in my home town Berlin. From an early point, I had been interested in taking part in the Erasmus + programme to do an internship in an English speaking country. Even though a stay abroad is not particularly scheduled in the course of the training, there are still various reasons to do it.

Firstly, you’ll improve your language skills considerably and get better in actively using a foreign language. Most students hardly ever get the possibility to actually make use of what they have learnt in school. Living abroad forces you to speak and listen intensively and soon you’ll get to a point where you realise that you made a lot of progress in a few weeks only. That will be a fantastic feeling.

Secondly, living in a different country usually is about experiencing a different culture. You’ll become aware that people from other countries, live their lives differently and moreover, have different opinions on certain aspect in life. With this, you’ll expand your horizon and learn to put yourself in the position of other people. Even though England isn’t geographically far away from Germany, things tend to go a little different here – That I can tell from my previous visits to England. I am looking forward to experiencing many more quirks during my stay.

And thirdly, in a globalised world, intercultural competence becomes more and more important. When working in a foreign country, you’ll learn to adapt to new customs. It also enhances your communication skills because you’ll talk to a variety of new people. But principally, in a foreign working culture you’ll be exposed to new ways of processing work. Later on, you might pass on your gained knowledge in your home job. Thus, it’s even beneficial for your workplace back home.

There are many more advantages of going abroad, though these are the ones that motivated me the most. Perhaps I will encourage you to go abroad with my upcoming posts, as well 🙂

http://www.osz-louise-schroeder.de/html/-_wahrend_d__ausbildg_.htm

https://www.na-bibb.de/erasmus-berufsbildung/