When I started studying a Resort Rep course at college I immediately knew there was a bigger world out there for me. England was never meant to be my home–I was clearly born in the wrong country. Before I was born my Aunt married a Spanish man and had 3 children, who all live in Spain. I spent many years as a child flying back and forward to visit and flew on my own at the age of 12! I grew up with a massive love for Europe.
In 2010 my family and I went on holiday to Calella de Palafrugell in Spain. We stayed on a campsite with Keycamp and within the first hour my of our stay my nan managed to trip over and break her hip. Unbelievable. The holiday reps were amazing, they took us to and from the hospital and made our stay incredible–not for nan, though, who spent the whole week in the hospital until she was air ambulanced back to the UK.
I spent the week with the campsite staff partying in different towns and visiting landmarks it was great fun and that was when I realised how free and independent their job was.
I carried on at college and a year later my nan was involved in yet another accident. Actually, a pretty serious one which left her disabled and in a critical condition in hospital. She had to move in with us, in our tiny little house. I love my nan–but 3 generations of women in the house was too much. I had to move out.
A few weeks later I was offered a job to work for Eurocamp. I had an interview on Monday, offered the job on Tuesday and took a plane on Friday. Yes, I realise this sounds like a Craig David song.
I arrived in Italy on the 27th of August 2011. In a town called Caorle–near Venice. It was surreal, just last week I was sat at home arguing with my mum about mundane issues and now I’m sat outside a tent with complete strangers playing ring of fire. Safe to say, the season life hit me hard–I spent the next two months drinking most nights and exploring or working most days.
It was such a free lifestyle. I met new people from all different countries, all different walks of life and of all different ages.
After my first season, I did another 4. The next year I worked in the Loire Valley and Paris from mid-February until November. The next year I did Salou, which was good at first but soon changed. I worked there from March 2013 – July 2013. After deciding that would be my last season I got convinced into working another year, which happened to be the best of them all in the French Riviera from March 2014 – October 2014.
Over the course of my 4 years, I had some of the best years of my life. But with everything, it’s not always perfect. There were some pretty bad times. Here’s the best and the worst of working abroad.
I met so many great people, made so many friends and I learnt so much. After deciding to hold off university for a year to work abroad–It was only going to be a one season kinda thing, it’s what I imagined university to be, you live with people who “usually” have pretty similar interests to you. Obviously, you’re not going to be BFFs with the person you just met but you soon will be. The atmosphere you live in, where you work with and live with the same people, is unbelievable magnified. Relationships develop quickly and I can only compare it to the big brother house, without the public watching.
The Exploring and Freedom
Working for Eurocamp I had one and a half days off a week and in the final 2 seasons our working hours were limited to 35 hours a week. So there was plenty of time to get off the campsite and explore. I went to Venice, Barcelona, St Tropez, Nice, Cannes, Paris, I climbed mountains, cycled miles, went on boats, trains and planes. I did absolutely loads. In 2014 I had a car too, so I managed to explore the south of France even easier.
I can’t write a post about the best things from working abroad and not mention Mike. I met Mike while working in Frejus and after a few late night spoons and hair holding pukes, we decided to label it. So I spent the last 4 months of my French season tied down to my “ginger prince” (not a nickname I gave him!). Actually, being in a relationship in that job was surprisingly better than being single. It gave me a whole new outlook and someone to share my experiences with.
Living on a campsite with a bar and a nightclub is good, but even better than that is living in a tourist hotspot. It’s like a 9 month holiday. With plenty of British, dutch, German and Polish holidaymakers the streets are alive and buzzing with bars, music festivals and markets. When I worked in Spain our campsite was a short cycle or bus journey from Salou. Salou is notorious for the university sports tour, where thousands of British sports students spend a week partying, drinking and getting themselves papped by the daily mail. So there’s a bit of a party lifestyle. Not for everyone though, some campsites are out in the sticks so your social life involves drinking with customers, your colleagues or the other campsite staff–It’s still pretty awesome!
The job and the lifestyle are unbelievably active. Some of the campsites are over 100 acres long. Walking around all day working, talking to customers and running errands keep your steps up and your heart healthy. Dependent on where you are, you live in a tent, which can get pretty boiling in the middle of Summer. So you’re pretty much always outside and active.
for the first time in my life I had a job I enjoyed. I actually don’t know why because the job itself was cleaning and pretty shitty, but there was something that kept me happy and motivated. Maybe it was the lifestyle I enjoyed.
You don’t need money or possessions
You’ll learn how to live on a budget, how buying crap is pointless and how easy it is to live out of a suitcase. Material goods really mean nothing when living out of your suitcase. Sure, a few photos of friends and family make your tent look a bit more homely and a laptop is good for watching a film, reading the news or skyping home but it’s not a necessity. In fact, you’ll probably learn to live without Facebook and other social media. Your money is literally spent on food, alcohol, transport and days out. I used to get paid less than £1000 a month, but I had no bills to pay either, so I was probably better off than I am now.
I really hate that phrase, but unfortunately, it’s true. I spent many years before season work drinking, partying and being a nob. It was depressing. But, doing that abroad was fun but in the end pretty repetitive and boring. It’s the perfect way to become independent and get the partying out of your system. Be respectful, though. No one likes the dick who starts fights in French bars. But it is the time in your life you can say “fuck it”, have fun and not really worry too much about the consequences.
Nobody knows you
If you were a bit if a twat back home, you have the time to recover your image. Be who you want to be — generally, yourself works well. Nobody has any preconceptions about you but think about your first impressions, making a good one is obviously best.
Some people get homesick. When I worked in Spain, I didn’t really get on with a few members of my team and the rest had all coupled off. I hated it. I felt lonely and sad and all I wanted was my friends back home. It was pretty horrible, I felt at one of my lowest points in my life and no amount of tattoos or hair dying was going to cheer me up. So I booked a flight home mid-season.
So, in the best section I put the people, which is true, but the chances are you’re going to fall out of contact. Sure, you still like each others posts on FB or Instagram and write the occasional comment. but how long’s it been since you last saw them, or had a proper conversation, 2 years? 3 years? exactly….The magnified relationships can easily fizzle out in the real world.
The real world
One day you have to come back home and put all that independence into practice. Once you leave the season workers bubble, life is never quite the same as it was before. I’ve been living back in the UK for 2 years now and I still have to resist the urge to fill in a returners form every year. If Mike and I were to break up, I would seriously consider doing it again, but currently the future with the one I love is the priority. How do you expect to buy a house, have babies, get married, etc and still do that job? Some do. But, it’s not easy.
You will never want to live in England again. Once you’ve had that sunshine and the lazy lifestyle, England sucks. Mike and I have been planning and saving to move back to the south of France. As I said before, this country’s just not for me. Especially now we are out of The EU – sorry brexiters!
Sometimes it gets too much. I didn’t work for club 18-30, thankfully, but some people acted like they did. From pissing themselves during ring of fire to pooping themselves in the sea, some things are too much for family holiday reps. Now I’m older I think I would struggle to keep up with the young energetic 18-year-olds who insist on drinking “shit mixes” every night.
This is the worst part. The job itself. My job title was campsite courier, sounds like a campsite delivery driver but It’s Eurocamps way of saying all rounder. Some days would be good, a few afternoon visits, chatting to customers, having bbq’s with them, sports days and reception duties. Other days I would be cleaning shit off a toilet seat and removing nappies customers left wrapped in a bed sheet. Honestly the British, Polish and Irish can be the most disgusting holidaymakers ever. The Dutch and German customers were never really an issue and were actually super tidy. But, I have been scarred for life by some of the things I’ve seen in cleans.
So, you’ll probably end up smoking and drinking even if you’d never considered it before. Don’t ask me why it just seems to happen a lot. You’ll also probably eat a lot of crap. Living in a tent meant a tiny fridge and hob without an oven. I think I lived on baguettes, croissants and grilled pizzas for most of those 4 years.
So why do I still recommend working abroad?
I’ve realised over the years that I’m one of these introverted extroverts. In England, I struggle to make phone calls without being shy or worried. Yet working abroad totally brought me out my shell and made me the best version of myself. It was great for my mental health, although, not so great for my physical. I gained loads of weight and smoked more cigarettes than I thought humanly possible. But taking all that into considerations, I will still recommend a season or two abroad to everyone. I even managed to get my brother to do it for a few months. So take the plunge, work a season abroad and “find yourself” #vom!
Have you ever worked abroad? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to see your posts about season work!