So before reading this post make sure you check out parts 1 and 2 of my Denmark trilogy entitled My placement and Downtime. This post is just going to summarise my trip and hopefully urge Level 3 chefs to apply for this opportunity.
Imagine me in April 2016, a Yr 11 student at Aldridge School, Walsall, studying for my GCSEs. The next thing I know after wanting to pick A-levels in Law, Economics, Government and Policy and Food Technology is that two of the four were cancelled which just left me in blind panic. It was through this weirdly productive blind panic I ended up at a UCB open day where Chef Davidson showed me around the facilities. I remember passing a student in the corridor and chef stopping the tour to introduce us to her saying she had taken her to Denmark that year as part of a UCB trip. They laughed and joked then said goodbye and carried on the tour. At that point my mum nudged me and said ‘that could be you in Denmark in a few years’ and I laughed and shook my head.
So skip to me in November 2017, the applications had now opened for that same Denmark trip and I was trying to nervously write an expression of interest for that very same trip. Desperate for the opportunity I rephrased, rewrote and re-read my application countless times trying not to sound too boastful, too humble, too shy or too anything really.
On to January 2018 when I was ecstatic to receive news that I had secured an interview for the Leonardo Denmark or France trip. The upcoming days were nerve-wracking as I did practice interviews and tried to think of every question I could get asked (none of which helped because they ask very un-expected questions!) I selected my interview outfit – very important I think – plum-coloured trousers and a lace shirt. The interview went well but I think they could tell I was nervous throughout; at least nice I was looking at friendly faces willing me to do well.
So on the 31st January 2018 during a kitchen and larder class (apologies for not really listening in this class since I was checking my emails every 30 seconds) we started receiving the emails telling us if we had been selected to go to Denmark or France. I have never been so nervous. But I received my email telling me I was going to Denmark (where I’d actually wanted to go all along) so for the duration of this class I texted my family the good news and my excitement (sorry again chef!).
Now in August 2018 I am writing a blog post all about how much I enjoyed the experience and how worthwhile I think it is for chef and bakery students to apply.
All I’m trying to illustrate through that timeline is that two years ago I would never have comprehended being chosen to go on an all paid for three week placement abroad. Back in 2016 I don’t think I would have expected I could have learned to use a knife or cook anything but I did. So one of the things I gained from this trip is it really started to show me how far I’ve come in two years.
This trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity, financially never in a million years is anyone ever going to pay for me to go to somewhere like Denmark for three weeks, food and accommodation all covered. It’s a bit of a rare opportunity.
Secondly, working abroad is often what attracts a lot of chef’s to the industry and even though it’s always been a dream of mine, the idea is very different to the reality. Getting to do a mini taster really gave me an appetite for this type of work. Instead of making me homesick or scared it just made me want to see more of the world, experience different cultures and work with more talented chefs.
Another thing I also found amazing on thetrip was the idea that hard work really does pay off. Everyone on the trip had worked hard at college over the previous two years and being chosen for the trip really does make it all worth it.
Anyway, thank you for letting me tell you about my Denmark trip and I hope prospective and current students see what UCB has to offer with a little hard work. You can also check out my post about opportunities at UCB as well to see what UCB offers a little closer to home.
Also make sure you’ve checked out parts 1 and 2 of this blog trilogy!
If you’ve got any questions or comments please comment below or follow, tweet or Instagram the bloggers at @UCBloggers!