Life of a Traveling Hotelier Student
By Alexis Moore of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management 11/26/14
3 Internships, 5 Different Countries and 3 Different Continents
A hotelier student, what does that mean? A hotelier is a short term for people working in the hospitality industry. What’s the hospitality industry you might ask? You know when you stay in hotels or hostels, when you eat in restaurants, or when you attend a special event? Guess what, the people serving you are a part of the hospitality industry.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering how I reached the point that I wanted to be in the same industry as a waitress, so let me start from the beginning. When I was a junior in high school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life of what career I wanted. As I was walking around a college convention I found a stand which I was immediately drawn to that said Switzerland, Australia, China, and Spain…and I knew I had to go find out what this was all about. Little did I know this conversation was going to lead to me living and working in 4 different countries of the world.
A month after graduating high school in 2011, at 17 years old, I packed up my suitcases, said goodbye to my parents at the airport and began the journey of a lifetime in Switzerland.
My school, Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, is in the top 3 schools in the world for hotel management. With the hospitality industry focusing on real life experience, the layout of studies is very different from normal colleges or universities.
The layout is: 5 months of schooling in Switzerland and 6 months of internship anywhere in the world for the first three years with the final year of studies in Switzerland. Throughout my studies I also had the opportunity to work as a waitress and chef in the restaurants on campus. My final semester will consist of a specialization, which is similar to a minor. Mine will be event management.
Although I was very busy with my studies, I made time to travel! Just to name a few places: France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Germany
As I mentioned, I had the opportunity to do 3 different internships, so what did I do and where did I go?
Internship #1 – Hong Kong
At 18 years old, being the first person in my family to go to Asia, I moved to Hong Kong on my own ready for a new experience. First things first, CULTURE SHOCK, Asia is so different from the states but also fascinating. I began my internship working 6 days a week 9 hours a day which was exhausting. With the time difference being 15 hours, my poor parents got woken up at the most random of times to Skype.
When people ask me about Hong Kong, I like to describe it as being the stepping stone into Asia as it is very westernized and you can get by with speaking English. After a month or so, I finally adjusted to the long work hours and was able to explore more of Hong Kong.
A definite must see is Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island. If you like amusement parks you have to go check out Ocean Park and take the cable car ride to the opposite side of the park. If you enjoy people watching as much as I do, going out in Lan Kwai Fong on a Friday night is one of the best times to do it.
Now I was a bit worried about the food as I cannot eat seafood, but I was always able to find something yummy. However, I did get food poisoning three times…not fun at all.
My hotel caught on fire (don’t worry, no one was hurt!). That was definitely an experience I will never forget.
Internship #2 – Dublin, Ireland
My mom and I had always wanted to go to Ireland and I was ecstatic when I found out that’s where my next internship was. Once again I moved on my own to live in Dublin not knowing anyone, but I was ready for my next experience in the land of Guinness.
Unlike my previous internship working 6 days a week, I worked in more of an office setting where I worked Monday to Friday 9-5. I still had some overtime, but not nearly as bad as it was in Hong Kong. Moving to Ireland was not as big of culture shock with English being the main language.
The highlight of my time in Ireland was St. Paddy’s Day…really St. Paddy’s Weekend. St. Patrick’s Day parade took over the streets, and even though it was raining, that didn’t stop anyone. The next day was a public holiday and I didn’t have to work, so it was a fun-filled weekend of celebrations.
Ireland has my heart and I will be moving back again. Although there are lots of rainy days, it’s the only complaint I have and I think it’s worth it.
Internship #3 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Arab culture is something so different and there are many adjustments that you must make when living there. Once again….CULTURE SHOCK, women dressed in their Abayas and men in their Kanduras, prayers five times a day heard everywhere, the need for a liquor license just to purchase alcohol, and their weekend’s being Friday and Saturday. It was definitely something I had never experienced before, but it was such an interesting culture to learn about.
I was supposed to work 5 days a week 9-6, however, this did not happen as I worked all of the time which was draining. I did manage to have a few brunches with friends, see the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, and go to Atlantis Aquaventure amongst other things.
Dubai is definitely in a different area in the world which I highly recommend people to visit. As it is so different, it must be seen by your own eyes in order to understand their culture.
The hospitality industry has honestly changed my life and moving to Switzerland has been the best decision I’ve made thus far. It makes me happy to say that if I travel anywhere in the world I probably know someone from there who I can meet up with or who can tell me all I need to know about the place. How many 21 year old Americans can say that they have lived in 5 different countries and 3 different continents?
5 years after going to that college convention, I am looking forward to graduating in less than 7 months in an industry that allows me to travel the world. Don’t read these travel blogs and be hopeful that one day you will see what’s out there, make it happen and go create some experiences to inspire someone else to explore.