So today was possibly the most challenging and frightening day of my French Work Placement so far, but now that it is over I am pleased to announce that it has been my favorite day here so far! 7:30am-4:00pm does not sound like an appealing shift to work, but once I have told you all about it I am sure that you will understand how it has been my favorite day (despite the hair raising moments!).
So having spent the last six weeks working alongside experienced receptionists,the moment of truth came when I saw that I was down to work at the Hostels reception for eight and a half hours today alone! Having had a taste of what life as a receptionist is like, I can tell you that it is not an easy job! The computer system is highly complicated and there are many difficult situations that receptionists have to deal with on a daily basis. I think that this is because people presume that receptionists are the source of all knowledge and will be able to help them with everything easily and efficiently. However, for me, this is not the case as I am not only foreign, but I have also never experienced this type of work before and have therefore found it very hard to get my head around all of the things that I need to know in order to work independently. So today was the day that I put everything to the test and was pleasantly surprised with how it went!
When I opened up the reception desk at 7:30am, I started off by trying to get the jobs done that I knew needed doing such as counting up the money in the till from the night before and phoning the Boulangerie down the round to order baguettes for the restaurant. I also made the rota for the cleaners so that they knew which rooms would need cleaning throughout the day. As the shift went on, the phone started to ring literally every five minutes, I had numerous clients arriving at the desk to check in and out of rooms, and a few deliveries arrived such as new bed sheets and mail for the hostel. Once I had done all of that it was lunchtime (to my relief) but I had to keep the phone with me the whole time I was eating and answer it if it rang. As you can imagine, speaking on the phone in French as an English speaker is very daunting, but I developed so much confidence with it today as it rang so many times! I even found that I was starting not to tense up whenever I had to pick it up which is a really good sign! After lunch, I continued with the phone calls and serving clients at the desk but I also put a list of bank transfers into the computer system which was a new and exciting experience for me (I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon!). I was pretty relieved when the evening receptionist arrived to take over as the rush of adrenaline that had been running through me all day suddenly wore off and I began to feel very tired. However, I cannot begin to describe how relieved I feel to have got through a shift that long without making any big mistakes. Now that I have done it once, I am really determined to do it again as I think that being thrown into the deep end and having to think on your feet is the very best way to get better at something. My aims are to become a good receptionist and also to improve my French as much as possible by the time I return to the UK at the end of December and I think today has given me the confidence to really go for it and get the absolute best linguistic and life experience from this placement possible!
I am going to finish this post now as I am very tired after all of the excitement and nerves that I felt today. I start at 7:30am at reception again tomorrow and will be doing another eight and a half hours so I think a good nights sleep is much needed!