This is it - my final post of this blog!
I've been back in the UK for 4 days now... as I mentioned, it's been snowing a lot so I haven't ventured out in the car yet. I've managed to unpack two out of three suitcases and have filled in my US taxes, told the Student Loans Company where I'm at and already got addicted to a couple of UK tv shows.
So basically, I just wanted to make a final post to sum up this epically long blog.
The Cultural Representative Program is an amazing experience no matter whether you're in Merchandise or Food & Beverage. The program is a year long but I was lucky enough to extend an extra 10 weeks to actually be there around 14 months in total... I can only talk for F&B because that was my role but it was such a varied year and I gained experience in so many different things - starting out seating & greeting guests, pulling pints on the beer cart, working quick-service in the chippy, stocking (i.e. learning how to change kegs!), then moving into food running, dabbling in bar tending and obviously becoming a server. The unexpected things I learnt from this program was things like all the different types of alcohol I'd never tried, how steaks are cooked, how to get through a 12 hour shift with a 5 minute break, the geography of the US and the type of people from the different places (!) and how to explain what bubble and squeak was.
Obviously a great advantage to F&B is that you can potentially earn a lot of money - dependent of course on what time of year you start (if you're in service for Christmas you'll earn more... so you'd have to start around July-September time), how soon you go into service (normally 3-4 months into the program) and once you're in service - how hard you work and how much you ER! I personally think the best time to start the program (money wise) is in the summer because you get lots of hours on podium in the busy summer months (even though you have to put up with being outside in 35 degrees for three months) but then you'd go into service in the autumn and be able to benefit from Food & Wine, Christmas and then still be in service for Spring Break and Easter before finishing your program.
But the most important thing is to make the most of being there!! Some people see this as spending as much time as possible out getting drunk, some people work every hour under the sun and take home $20,000 and some people try to get as much time off as possible to travel.... well if you've read this blog you'll know which I fall into!
Over the last 14.5 months I've been to California (twice!), Nevada, Arizona, Ohio, Georgia (multiple times!), South Carolina, the Bahamas, Canada, Washington DC, I've skydived at 18,000ft and bought an iPhone 4S handset outright... so I definitely didn't bring home $20,000! However, I have brought home some amazing memories, in the region of 8000 photos and I've seen some things I've always wanted to see. I pretty much achieved most things on my Bucket List plus much more... I managed to go backstage at Expedition Everest and Spaceship Earth, I saw TWO new years in at the Rose & Crown, I saw IllumiNations probably 350 times (not even kidding), I made a lot of magic and was even half-decent at my job ;-)
On a serious note, there are some people that I want to thank (even if they'll never see this)... my arrival group of AWESOME firstly, which was Sam, Paul, Sophie, Dan, Steffie, Anastasia, Tyler and Clare (01.11.11 forever!) who I had some great experiences with - staying in the cabins and in Bay Lake Tower come to mind, being drunk at Magic Kingdom at 4am on leap year, group dinners all over WDW, Jellyrolls, Secret Santa, celebrating Thanksgiving & Christmas 2011 all together, helping each other into service and most of all - none of us getting termed or self-terming!!
Nick - thoroughly mentioned throughout this blog, I'm sure he's a figment of imagination for many people by now... he's just my best friend who I will miss awfully now I am home. I'm hoping to see him again soon but I know at some point this year we will hang out again. We will be friends for life that is without doubt. We've had our ups and downs throughout the year but the ups just rule over everything - seeing Las Vegas appear over the crest of a hill in the middle of the desert was a highlight of my LIFE, seeing my first shooting star at 4000ft up a mountain in the pitch dark (on the same night funnily enough), freezing to death on a boat in San Francisco, endless hours of driving together, spending Christmas as a part of his family in 2012, living it up and spending $400 on alcohol on a 4-day cruise (!!), getting time off just to spend lazy days napping whilst it rains outside or going to the cinema, seeing the WORST movies from Red Box, endless tickling competitions... the list goes on and on. <3
My Managers - Whitney, Cari, Kevin, Joe and Anny - I had a couple of other managers but these were the ones who were there to chat to whether it was about work or socialising, playing games in the kitchen, screaming "WHO'S ON RACKS?!" or "I NEED FOOD RUNNERS!!!!", Whitney got me the ability to stay for an extra 10 weeks in my extension and without her I would have been writing this 3 months ago. All in all, my managers were the best I've had at Disney World - overall they were supportive and it was a pleasure to work with them.
All my other friends - everyone I worked with at the Rose & Crown were like my Disney Family. When your real family are 4000 miles away these people are there to see you laugh, cry, give you support when you're sick/hungover, mess around with you, help you out and most of all - swap shifts with you!
I'm going to sign off now because I think I've pretty much covered everything. It's onwards and upwards for me... I'm hoping to stay with the Disney company and I have a few plans in the pipeline so we shall see. Thank you everyone for reading - please contact me if you have any questions! Feel free to leave comments, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or stalk me out on Facebook!
Have a magical day everybody!