Catching the Flu

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I don’t know the last time I got the flu, it was years ago anyway. I even forgot what the symptoms were! Until now that is!

Last week on Tuesday night I slept terribly; I was shivery, I had a headache and just couldn’t sleep well. Then on Wednesday during class I just didn’t feel right at all. Again I was shivery, had a bad headache, tired, and I just wasn’t well. I was thinking I was getting a cold but I’ve had enough of them to know that these weren’t the right symptoms.

So anyway I was delighted when Thursday came and I was better again! I even went to the Belfast Christmas Market with my husband, my sister and her fiancé. We got home at about 10pm and I had a great evening there. I had mulled wine and it was delicious! I’ll definitely have to learn how to make that!

So Friday I woke up and again I was fine. I didn’t have college that day so I was going to clean the mobile home and do a bit of a an essay that I had. But at about 9am I just started feeling iffy. I went over to Mum and said to her that I was going to lie down for a while because I just felt like I was getting worse. I got into bed at 10:30am and that was that!

The flu hit me so hard then! I was shivering constantly, my head was in bits, my body was all achy even my lungs were sore. I just felt absolutely terrible. I realised that what I have isn’t a cold but it must be a flu. I tried to sleep but I just couldn’t.

I was just so shocked at how fast I declined. When I got up on Friday I was fine, I got dressed and everything. But then once I got to bed I stayed there the whole day, I couldn’t even manage to take my jeans off me.

From Friday to about Monday I literally stayed in bed and didn’t do anything. I was just so weak it felt like I didn’t sleep for days. I was hobbling around with my achy body, feeling dizzy and just drained. One night I slept for 10 hours and I STILL felt drained and tired. I wasn’t able to go to college Monday or Tuesday but thankfully on Wednesday I felt a big difference. I was afraid in case I just wouldn’t be able to concentrate or do anything, but when I went in I didn’t have that drained out feeling so I was able to do a bit of work that day. But honestly I just felt terrible. And the thing is you can’t do anything about it but let it run it’s course.

By Tuesday I really was getting annoyed; I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do my exams that I have next week, that I won’t be able to go to college and I will miss loads, and I’ll be stuck feeling dreadful and tired for weeks. I knew all I could do is rest but I felt even resting wasn’t helping the flu to go. Usually with a cold you feel yourself getting better each day, but with the flu everyday was the exact same, I felt I was never getting any better.

I kind of thought that the flu was the same as a cold but worse. Oh how I know the truth now! It’s crazy though how Thursday I felt great, even going to Belfast! I did read though that there is like a delayed reaction with the flu. Now I’m more aware of the symptoms and that I definitely do not want to get it again!

‘Your health is your wealth’ is something I say, and it really is. I wish I had loads of money, but this past week taught me that even if I was a millionaire it still wouldn’t have helped me with that flu I had.

And it also made me think about getting the flu vaccine for next winter!

Aisling

 

 

Work Experience Week 2

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After a long two weeks, my work experience is finally done! Well actually the first week was the longest ever, the second did speed up a bit which I was glad of! On Friday I finished at 3 instead of 5 because I worked two extra hours the first week. I’m back to college tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it!

I enjoyed the work experience and I actually learned a tonne, like how to answer the phone in a professional manner, how to transfer calls to other departments, how to check rates for rooms, how to book reservations, how to use the credit card machine. I really am stunned at how much I learned in two short weeks.

They offered me a part time job but I decided to turn it down. There are a few reasons for this, and I did think long and hard about it, but I just feel it was the right decision for me.

First was the wage. For the amount of things that the hotel receptionists do there they are paid horrifically. Like minimum wage bad. They have to put up with so much crap from guests and they really don’t get paid well for it. If the wage was higher and was appropriate for the work that they do then I would consider again.

Second was the hours. Because I would be the newbie I would end up working from 3pm until 11pm. And from 5pm I would be on my own until the night porter came in. I know that the Duty Managers are there but they could be in the restaurant or in an office or god knows where, and I would have to sort out drunk/ angry guests on my own. Last Friday the Duty Manager left so one of the girls who was on until 11pm had no one to help her if she had a problem!

Third I just don’t know if I would like to do the job. I really enjoyed chatting to the customers and what not but I just feel that If I did take it then I just wouldn’t enjoy it and I would dread having to go in every weekend. For me I struggle to be happy so I feel that taking the job would exacerbate this problem of mine so that’s another real reason.

I know people will be thinking that I should have taken the job so I could gain experience and what not, but to be honest I would rather sacrifice money and experience to be happy. That’s honestly how I feel. If I was happier I wouldn’t worry so much. We lived in Mexico for 9 months jobless so we got used to scrimping on money so me not having a job isn’t a drastic change. I know it could be the wrong choice but for now I just feel that it was right for me.

My husband is supportive of my decision as he knows how much I stress over things, but I know there are other people (like my Dad) who think I made the wrong decision. It annoys me that I have to frequently argue my reasons for not taking it. It’s easy for people to say ‘Oh just take it, it’ll be good work experience for you’ when they aren’t the ones who are going to work for minimum wage, until 11pm and having to be bombarded with insults and curses by guests. People should just respect my decision and leave it at that.

I’m loving college right now and I’ve been getting good grades, so I hope that when the course is done then I will have a much better chance at getting a job that I would enjoy doing. I struggled with my BA degree years ago so I just want to concentrate and apply myself 100% to the course I’m doing now so that I can gain as much out of it as possible. I want to prove to myself that If I work hard I can get the grades that I want.

I wonder how all my other classmates got on with their work experience?

Aisling

Work Experience Week 1

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A posted here that I had to do 2 weeks of work experience related to customer service for my course, and I was worried that I wouldn’t get anywhere. Thankfully the hotel where my sister works accepted me to do the 2 weeks so I started there last Monday. And I have to say…. It was the LONGEST week of my entire life!

I don’t even know why!! It just dragged. I woke up on Wednesday and my heart dropped when I realised that it was only Wednesday, and that I had another 2 days to do. I work 9-5 Monday to Friday so during the week it’s quiet, so that is probably why it just seemed to drag. Then on Friday it was mad because a lot were checking in for the weekend. I work as a receptionist there.

The first day I really didn’t do much at all. The other receptionist did everything and I just kind of looked and listened to her, so that day was rather long!

Tuesday the front house manager was in and he got stuck into showing me things and getting me to practice how to use the hotel operating system. I never answered the phone but he was in the office talking to another person and to my HORROR the phone rang! I was looking at it thinking “Oh god I don’t want to answer it!” I ran into where he was and he was still talking and I thought “Oh I better answer it!” So I did and I was so nervous! I forget what the phone call was about and I probably didn’t have a clue what to say but I did it anyway. The front house manager came out to me and he said he was very surprised that I answered it on my second day. He trained other people and they didn’t answer it at all during their first week. He said that they just let it ring!

Now the only reason I answered it was because there was literally no one else to do it, so I felt I had to! I thought that if a person came over to the desk and there’s me standing next to a ringing phone then it wouldn’t look good. So for the past few days I was answering phones and usually passing it on to another receptionist or just asking them to call back. I successfully reserved a room for a lady though which I was so happy about. Usually I get flustered but I calmed down and took all her details and the room type and everything so when I put the phone down the manager came out and he said I did very well. Apparently he was listening in the office.

But if anyone who has worked with the Opera system in a hotel knows how difficult it is to use. This is the system that the hotel uses and it’s just so complicated. I can’t describe how hard it is, but I was shocked at the amount of things I have to learn. The special rates for rooms, special rates for different businesses, how to do multiple bookings in one persons name, printing out VAT receipts, loads of different billing payments for the different ways that people booked such as through booking.com, expedia.com, companies who pay their employees to stay at the hotel. The list is really endless! I thought it would be much simpler!

So for the past week I’ve been trying to get my head around the system but it’s very difficult. And the thing is If someone asks about something specific I can’t even try and guess because I’ll get it wrong. You either know it or you don’t, which made me feel very helpless.

Simple things I didn’t know, like what food is served in the restaurant, what time the gym closes at, but I’m slowly learning the basics of the job.

On Friday I learned how to book taxis and even that isn’t straightforward. I was trying to call a local taxi and it just wasn’t working. So I had to ask one of the receptionists and she said “Oh you have to put 9 at the beginning of the number”. Like how could I have known that!? Something simple like calling a number and I needed help.

I’ve another week to do and I really do wish that it was only for 1 week! It’s just so long and I actually miss going to school! I’ve learned a lot and met some lovely people but I’d rather go back to school now. I don’t get paid which doesn’t help!

I realise that I am good at talking to guests and I do have good people skills, but I’ve also realised how much I don’t know, that receptionists have to put up with a lot of sh*t from guests, and they really should be paid more than what they do. (I’ll talk about that in another post)

I hope next week goes faster and before I know it it will be 5 o clock on Friday!

Aisling

Learning How To Deal With A Complaint

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One of my modules in my course is Customer Service, so for my latest assignment I had to learn how to deal with a complaint! First the teacher told us to write down a scenario where you had to pick 3 complaints. Mine was at a shoe shop and I bought a pair of expensive waterproof shoes. The first complaint was that after a week the shoes were letting in water. The second complaint was when I went back to the shop the staff member was rude to me, and finally after I got a replacement the soles of the new shoes were coming off. So my teacher had to choose someone who would deal with my complaint from a bag. Then I had to pretend to be the customer and the other student had to try to sort out my problem.

So as usual I was quite nervous about this! We were also being recorded by audio which made it worse! So for the complaint that I had to deal with was that the customer was in my chemist and the staff members were talking and ignoring her, then when she got their attention the staff member didn’t have a clue about the products, and finally the item she asked them to put away for her couldn’t be found. So I was the manager and I had to sort out the issue for her!

Our teacher told to do it in stages: first we had to introduce ourselves to the customer and that we were the manager/supervisor. Then the customer/student had to tell us their complaints and we had to quickly jot down the 3 main points. Then I had to say the 3 items back to her. (To make sure I was correct). After this I had to explain to her how sorry I was that all that happened to her. Basically I had to sympathise with her and tell her I understand why she is so upset. I then had to thank her and appreciate that they told me. Finally I had to offer solutions. For my complaint I said that I will do more customer service training with my staff, I will show the staff member around the chemist and spend an hour explaining the products to her so she will know more about them, then finally I said I would make the staff member aware where to put the items for collection, and then I offered a 10% discount to the customer for her next item she buys.

So I had to hit all of those points to get a perfect score, and I did! I was nervous because I never really had to deal with a complaint before, and I was afraid that I would get the information wrong and all that, but thankfully I did well!

I think this was really good practise for the real thing. Now I know how to approach a complaint and how to handle it well! I also had to do a phone call where me and another partner had to make up a phone call and then we had to be recorded and tested on how we handle it. I had to answer the phone promptly, professionally and give relevant answers and information to the caller. Then I had to end it correctly. That one was much easier because we could just read our dialogue.

So for the past week I was stressing over that so now I’m glad that it’s done. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and once I started I was fine. Everybody else was nervous too but I think we all did well. Everyone was there while we were doing it so that was nerve wracking, but it’s nice to know that everyone is in the same boat and there’s no competition or anything. Everyone clapped when each person finished too.

I’ve a few more of those types of assessments but at least now I know that I can do them now. I just need more confidence in myself!

Aisling

Being A Mature Student

When I was 18 I started a 4 year course and there were a few Mature Students with me. They were about 29 years old, with one being in his late 40’s I think. I remember thinking “Oh they are way older than me… 29 years old and they are doing a course with me!” I wouldn’t say that I thought they were ‘old’; just way older than me. They were ‘mature’ and ‘knew what they were doing’ kind of people.

Now 9 years later I’m one of these ‘way older people’. It’s crazy how life kind of repeats itself but in a different way. Back then I never thought that I would be a mature student. My plan was to have a house, be married and have children by 30. Well, I got the husband part right anyway!

Because I left Ireland I’ve lost touch with all of my friends from the course except for one. So I decided to search their names on Facebook to see what they were at and I realised that they have now aged and don’t look like their 29 year old self that I remember! One has receding hair, more wrinkles and just looks more like his age now, of about 40 years old. I’m in his position after 9 years, so in another 9 years I’ll be more like him. The students that are in my class are 18 and 19 years old. So in 9 years I’ll be 39 and they’ll be my age! I suppose when you are surrounded by people your own age you don’t realise that you are growing older. It’s only really when you are with younger and older people that you notice more.

One of my classmates was shocked when she heard I was 29 and married! She said “You don’t look 29 at all! You look like our age!” I was chuffed to hear that actually! Theres also some bad things about being a mature student like having to listen to some students that think they are deadly and give cheek to the teachers. There is one girl in my class and she curses, talks loudly, is brash, gives cheek to teachers and just thinks she is deadly. I just have to sit and ignore her because she could easily say “Wha are yeu lookin at? I’ll kick yeu in da face” if you look at her wrong.

Then there is the fact that I can’t have any deep conversations about literally anything. They are more concerned about going out every weekend and talking about a girl that they hate. I once mentioned about Trump and something that he did and one girl just replied “Oh I don’t know about that”….. So that was that!

Many of the students don’t really take the course seriously. Back then I was the same. But now I’m on limited time! I need to get my act together and sort out my life. They have another 5 years to do nothing but now I do need to knuckle down and just get this course done. They can afford to do nothing right now, oh and eat rubbish! Give it another 6 years and they won’t be able to eat all those crisps and chocolate!

One of the students told me “You always eat so healthily”. And I thought ‘Yeah, because if I don’t then I’ll get fat.’  

There is also one more thing that I never thought of when I became a mature student…… some teachers are younger than me! A new teacher started teaching us and she walked in and she was about 27/28…. and she was teaching me.

I got pretty upset about this to be honest. She sorted her life out pretty well and she’s now a full time teacher, whereas I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do in life and here I am stuck with 18 year olds with a girl younger than me teaching me.

I really was upset. If only I knew what I wanted to do when I was 18. I could have studied hard and now I could have had a good job with a house…. or at least have a car! Instead I decided to do a course that had literally no job prospects and basically chose a bad course to do. (For 4 years mind you). I have to try and let it go though. I have to concentrate on myself and getting myself on the right path and try to ignore others. It’s very hard though, and I do regret a lot of things that I didn’t do. It’s a pity you can’t start life over again!

But anyway. I’ll get this course done and hopefully it will lead me in the right direction, preferably one with like loads of money so I can retire at 60. haha

Aisling.

Finding Work Experience

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As part of my course, I have to find 2 weeks of work experience. We need to find somewhere where we are dealing with customers so I applied for 5 places over a week ago.

I applied for one in a tourist information centre, and a few days ago I received an email saying that the dates I was looking for were booked up. I then received another email from another place and said that they were also full! I went into the local library and they said that I have to go to the council and apply through them because its a public building and it’s a big hassle now with insurance and that! So I decided not to go to the council because I”m sure it would take weeks! I haven’t heard from a Pharmacy or a hotel so I’m still waiting from them.

It’s very annoying at the moment because this was the whole reason why I done my course. I couldn’t get a job. And now I’m back looking for work experience which I’m not even getting paid for. Because the town where I live is small, there’s not many places to choose from. Then we have secondary schools and they send their Transition Year (TY) students on work experience also, which doesn’t help us. Transition Year is a year in the middle of Secondary School where students don’t really do much. They do work experience, set up a small business, go on trips and other stuff. It’s a relaxing year before they go into 5th year and study for their big exams. In my area it’s optional to do but I think in other schools it’s mandatory (I’m not 100% sure on this though). My sister did it but I didn’t. That means that that the TY’s will then join the class that was a year behind them instead of continuing on with their own class. With all the trips and things that they do my Mum found out that it was a very expensive year!

I may have to go to Dublin to do it but I don’t want to have to spend a day going up, handing out CV’s and Cover Letters and then none of them reply to me. And because I currently don’t have a car, my Dad would have to drop me to the bus station really early if I was to start at 9am in Dublin.

I just thought that it wouldn’t be this hard. And it’s times like these that I really don’t like living where I do right now.

I’ll start re-writing my Cover Letters again for more places and hopefully something will come up.

Aisling.

 

I’ve Been Busy

Since I’ve started writing this blog years ago, I’ve been trying to hit a target of 4 blogs or more per month… and this month I’ve just hadn’t had the time to write anything!

I’ve been busy writing writing essays, going to class, and usually I wake up tired because my mind just doesn’t stop racing when I go to bed, so it’s been hard to write anything here. So I do need to try and start writing something on this blog of mine!

Anyway, my course is going fine. I’ve noticed how a few of my classmates have been asking me for advice for things for the assignments. They would come over with their assignment brief and I think “Oh they want to ask me something about the assignment”. I don’t mind though at all, I know for others it’s a struggle to come up with things and they might not understand something, so I’ll try and help them if I can. I suppose because I’m the oldest as well they think “oh well she’s the oldest she’ll know”. I think I was like that too. When I was doing my degree from the age of 18 I remember I kept asking the mature students to help me with my work. I remember thinking “Well they seem to know what they are doing so I’ll get them to help me!”

I think now I’ve realised that I don’t want to stress about the essays that are due and I’d rather just get them done, so I do them. When I was younger though I always left things to the last minute, but now I just couldn’t do that! Unfortunately I get stressed much more now than when I was in college, so I want to alleviate that as much as possible! But I still like the course and I don’t mind going in so that’s good!

With regards to the weather-it’s getting colder now. Especially in the morning I really dislike having to get up in the freezing cold to get dressed. As we live in a mobile home this means when we wake up we can see our breath. I even woke up once because my ears were ice cold! We’ve taken to getting dressed in front of our gas heater; huddling together to get as much warmth as possible. haha. So this will definitely be a test of our endurance with the cold! At one stage I actually tried to get dressed while I was in the bed but that was a disaster and I took about 15 minutes. So that didn’t work at all!

I’ve started to keep the electric blanket turned on at my feet during the nights because they were very cold some nights. Thankfully the blanket allows us to turn it on only at our feet so that’s great for us. So yeah… it’s quite cold here in the mobile home!

And Halloween is just around the corner! I only just realised that I’ve never had a Halloween with my youngest nephew! It just hit me when I was watching TV that this will be my first Halloween with him, and he’s 4 already! It’s actually my first Halloween in Ireland since I left for China, so about 6 years ago I think. It’s mad how time just flies.

I also realised another thing…… I have to buy Christmas presents!!! In China we didn’t buy Christmas presents. Maybe I would buy something small for my husband (boyfriend at the time). But because of the language barrier in China, we didn’t really go out and buy things for each other. Then in Mexico my husbands family don’t really celebrate Christmas ( I know, it’s shocking!) so again we didn’t really buy presents for each other.

But now…… I have to buy them for my whole family…. and my two nephews. . . So that’s something that I will have to think about once more.

And thankfully now my husband has been working since September so we finally have money coming in. I don’t have a job at the moment but I don’t mind because I’m actually busy with my college work and I know I would just be extra stressed if I took on a job. Plus many only want full timers which I can’t do at the moment. Maybe after Christmas I will find some work in something that is beneficial to me. I’d like to get a job dealing with customers so I can get more experience working with customers. Through my course I’ve realised that customer service skills is great to have on a CV.

So anyway there’s an update on my life so far. I’ve been watching ‘Bates Motel’ on Netflix with Vera Farmiga (she’s a great actress) for the past couple of weeks before I’ve gone to sleep. I’ve been watching it in Spanish and I understand pretty much all of it. (I’ll write another post on the disappearance of my Spanish). I’ve enjoyed it so far but the last season hasn’t been great unfortunately. I’ll have to take an hour out to look at another show I can watch in Spanish when I’m finished ‘Bates Motel’.

Aisling