Hey everyone, I'm in the process of organising a WH to the UK starting in late September. I'm doing it alone, and I must say, I'm somewhat nervous having never travelled, let alone by myself before and I'm only 20!!! I'm using all possible funds to get there (including selling my beloved car), so I'm hoping everything goes OK!
Anyway, I'll have a job in a pub and will live-in upstairs at the pub (free accom.). I'm told to expect a 45hr week of work for about 140 pounds per week....Am I being ripped off? Or is that standard for pub jobs in London? Has anyone else out there had a live-in pub job before? I'm told to expect to be living with 5-6 other guys which is Ok...I just hope there's going to some girls living there as well!
My next concern in London itself. I live in a city of 150 000, and have never even been in a city bigger than 2million before! I don't know how I'll cope. What areas of London should I avoid? Should I not go anywhere in London by myself? How is transportation...I've heard big wraps about the tube system?
I'm told I should expect a job in Zone 2 or 3. Are these area's 'happening'? Or are they out in the 'burbs? Having no bar experience before means I will be placed in a bar in one of these outer zones...I hope I'm still close to central London!
Ok, the weather. How cold does it get in England in mid-dec? Now I consider anything under 20degrees rather chilly (im from nth qld).
I thinks that's enough questions for, but I have tonnes more. Please help to put my mind a ease!
OK, let's deal with ur questions one at a time!
Minimum wage in the UK is currently £3.80 per hour for workers aged 18-21. For a 45 hour week, which means 40 hours plus 5 hours unpaid lunch break, you should expect at least 152 pounds. Most London bars pay 4 pounds per hour - certainly the ones I have worked in - and up to 5 or 6 pounds an hour. Free accommodation is good in london though! Once you are over here it is very easy to get different bar jobs however - chains like the Weatherspoons pay very well. It is also easy to do extra night time shifts in night clubs and earn another 20-30 quid (pounds!) per night.
You'll have no problems in london - it's as safe as any other city in the western world. You just have to use common sense - don't go walking around dodgy areas at midnight on your own on a saturday night for instance! There aren't really any no-go areas like in New York or LA for example. Seriously - don't worry about it at all, I am from a smaller city originally and London wasn't a shock in any way. It's a great city if you let yourself really enjoy it. The tube system is the oldest and biggest in the world - hence lots of it needs upgrading. It is very safe and very reliable however, despite what you might have heard. We just like moaning in Britain! The buses are also excellent, and the trains are pretty good. London has six zones, with zone 1 being the very central area from Chelsea in the west to the City in the east, Waterloo in the south and Camden in the north. Zone 2 contains most of the exciting boroughs which have a lot of life and buzz. Clapham in the south is the best known and is one of the most happening areas. Shepherds Bush in the west is not very nice but the BBC is based there which is cool. Zone 3 is a little more suburban, but still very London - Wimbledon is in this zone. Zone 4 (where i live) is more suburban, and 5 and 6 are about ten-15 miles out from the centre. If you're in zone 2 or 3 you will not be in "outer" zone at all - still very central and only 10-20 minutes from the West End (which isn't really west london at all - very central, Covent Garden, Oxford Street etc - where it all happens!). In December the weather will usually be around 10-15 degrees - not really cold but usually pretty wet and windy. Jumpers and coats are needed. London is typically warmer than the rest of the uk (the traffic and smog and concentration of buildings and people cause this). Above all - make sure you enjoy it - the big city is very exciting, and London is larger than any European capital, larger even than New York in terms of area. Christmas in London is superb! hope that helps!
Let me answer you in point form:
- there are literally loads of pub jobs in London, os if the one you have lined up is no good, I almost guarantee you could get another one by simply walking into a few pubs and asking.
- with pub jobs, you can pretty much get work anywhere in London, so you are not limited to certain areas or suburbs.
- the pay sounds about right. It's crap money but if you get accommodation and perhaps a few meals thrown in, it's not that bad. I think the pay is about 3.50 pounds per hour, or something like that.
- you could probably get a job in zone 1 or 2 no problems. Zone 3 is not that far out really, but as I said, there's so much pub work that you can almost pick your "zone".
- with your lack of bar work experience, try to push the positive aspects of previous jobs you've had. Tell them that you've handled money, worked with customers, worked in trustworthy position, etc. and try to get some sort of reference.
- once you score your first pub job, you're laughing in getting more work.
- London itself is a very big, crowded, almost "tough" sort of place. it's fairly dog-eat-dog and it can be quite difficult to start with. Having said that, it's relatively safe, and there's not too many places I wouldn't go to. Just be careful like you would anywhere. There are a few scams that get people in; accommodation scams, stuff sold on the street that is shoddy; just that sort of thing.
- the weather is cold in mid December, but everything is centrally heated, so the cold's not really a problem. What I found difficult was the very short and dark days; it can be quite depressing.
- mate, to sum it up, London is a party town where anything and everything goes. It's tough at first but once you settle in, you'll live life like you never had before. You will have memories for the rest of your life, and find that you become very fond of the place.
- as Oscar Wilde once said, "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life itself.
- enjoy and best of luck!