Friday, September 16, 2011

Quick update

16th September 2011

It has been a really long time since I have written, and for that, I’m really sorry! A lot has happened since I wrote last; I left Prime Time and started at Pop Century Resort, I celebrated my 21st birthday, the amazing friends I made at Prime Time went home, I’ve made some more amazing friends at Pop Century and moved apartments just to name a few.

It was strange to leave Prime Time because I spent so much time with the people there. I still go back to pick up shifts occasionally, but with the new people there it is really weird. I don’t know if I like the new people yet, I guess it’s probably just because it’s not what I’m used to and it feels like they are taking our place. Now I feel like every other CPs’ before me.

The training for resort front desk took a week of classes at Disney University. This was surprisingly really fun and I made some great friends there. The training was basically sitting in a class going through the stuff we needed to know then going into a simulation front desk and putting it all to practice. After the end of that week I felt as though I had learnt it all but I was still terrified to actually serve real guests. My first day I was so nervous that I felt sick, there was so much that I needed to know but my trainer was great and really helped me through. I think I got off lucky because I started before most of the other new people so I had a lot of help and I got a trainer who really knew what she was doing. My first day out of training I got a guest compliment, it made me feel so much better about everything!

Things keep getting better from there, I love my job, the people I work with are great, I learn something new every day and my leaders and managers like what I’m doing. I’m hoping to get trained in other areas before I leave in January.

I moved apartments when I turned 21 which was extremely helpful because now I live right next to the bus stop. It is so convenient living close to the bus stop and also right next to the pool.

I’m planning a few holidays to go on as well. I fly to Cancun in 10 days which will be an amazing experience! I should really learn Spanish but I have my little phrase book which will hopefully get me through. There is a group of 14 of us going and we are staying at all inclusive resort which my friend managed to get an amazing deal on so it’s a really cheap trip. It’s only 4 nights but I’m sure it will be one of the best holidays I will ever go on. I’m also planning a trip to California Disneyland with some of the girls I used to work with. We are going to Disneyland then I’m going to go to Arizona for a few days with one of the girls. I will see a few of the sights there which hopefully will include the Grand Canyon.

I have now been in the States for 8 months and only 4 to go. As much as I am enjoying it here, I’m really looking forward to getting back home to see everyone. It’s even better that one of my good friends here might be doing a semester abroad in New Zealand so it won’t be long till I see her again!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Long time, no see!

25th April 2011

It is coming up on three months since I last updated this blog. It is partly due to the fact I have been extremely busy but it is mostly because I have been lazy. Since it has been so long since I last updated this then a lot has happened, where do I start?

I got settled into work pretty quickly which was good and I wasn’t the newbie for long because another girl started two days after I did. I have become really good friends with the people I work with so it is going to be sad when two of them leave in three weeks. I decided I was going to try and bake a cake for them in their last week. The keyword being “try” as I don’t know how good my baking skills are and the oven in our apartment is a bit dodgy. I had my second round of training a few weeks ago. It was all basically a refresher of what we learnt at the start but it meant really early mornings!

I have now been to all of the parks. Animal Kingdom is my favourite even though I have only been there twice. It’s because there is so much to see and you don’t feel like you are in America anymore.

I celebrated my first Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day in the States, they both weren’t as big as I was expecting. This may have been because of the number of tourists in Florida and everyday is a holiday for them (oops sorry I should be saying vacation). Mardi Gras on the other hand was absolutely huge! There are Mardi Gras celebrations in Florida for about a month and on the actual day of it, so many people dress up. Most guests had beads and a lot were wearing at least the colours. It was an interesting month to say the least.

I went to IHOP for the first time. It stands for the International House of Pancakes but what confuses me, is it actually international? Because I have never heard of IHOP anywhere other than America. If this is the case then I think they should change the name to HOP. It would make much more sense.

Our apartment had its first inspection; we passed but the night before we were up late making sure it was completely clean. Some of the requirements for our apartments are ridiculous. We aren’t allowed anything on the walls, no clutter on any surfaces, everything must be spotless, no food packets on kitchen benches, dishwasher empty, bins empty, no smudges on mirrors, and the list goes on. All of this they expect perfect for our inspection which could happen anytime between the hours of 9am and 5pm. I think they are unrealistic of their expectations of us, especially when we live with six people in an apartment. Oh well we passed the first one and the next one is tomorrow sometime so hopefully we will pass that one too.

Mum and Dad came to visit a few weeks ago. It was great to see them because I had been feeling extremely homesick. When they were here I took them to all of the parks which I think they loved. I couldn’t be with them all day though because I had to go to work most afternoons. We also went to the Kennedy Space Centre, the best thing I have done since being in Orlando! On the way there the tour we went on took us on air boats, the type that you see in the movies in hick towns. It was exactly like this and we went out to find the alligators. We found a few but it was windy and overcast so they were hiding. I didn’t really like the boats and I wouldn’t go back on them but the space station was the most amazing thing ever. The space shuttle being launched on the 29th was on the launch pad getting ready to go so I got to see it. It was also the day that they found out the fate of the shuttles being retired and an anniversary for the shuttle program so there was a big event happening and I saw a real astronaut. Of course he wasn’t wearing a space suit but he had his blue overalls on. The whole experience blew me away!

I then met Mum and Dad in New York a few days after they left Orlando. We stayed at a place called Courtyard by Marriot in Manhattan. It was on the upper east side of Manhattan very close to Central Park. Even though we were so close we didn’t end up walking through Central Park which is disappointing but we were on the outskirts of the park. On our first day there we found an amazing Gluten Free restaurant called Peters which was just a few streets away. We ate there three times during the time we were there. I would recommend it to anyone! The rest of that first afternoon we walked around the area around us. It was so different to anywhere I have seen in New Zealand. I can’t even think of any aspects that are similar. It is really easy to find your way around because they use the grid system. It means that the streets and avenues look like a grid. Streets run one way and avenues the other. All of them are numbered. The only place we got lost one area which doesn’t use this system. I couldn’t imagine living in New York. It was exactly like what you see in the TV show “Friends.”

We had bus tickets which had different routes that took us to the attractions and showed us around the city. They were hop-on, hop-off busses which was what we used for two of the days we were there. It meant we got to see everything like Ground Zero, the Empire State Building, and Time Square. On the busses we went to the Canal Street and Little Italy, I won’t go back to Canal Street if I don’t have to. It’s in China Town and I felt like I was being harassed the whole time and the shops sold cheap imitations and I would rather spend more knowing that it was real and wasn’t going to fall apart. Little Italy was nice but it was really on a street of restaurants. The wait for the Statue of Liberty was freezing because we were right next to the river. It took 45 minutes to get to security which was worse than at the airport. After that we got on the ferry to go to the statue. We didn’t get off on that island because it was so cold, we got good photos from the ferry and the island is so small there isn’t anything to do on it. We stayed on until Ellis Island. This was basically quarantine and immigration back in the day. It had a really eerie feel to it, this could be because of how many people came on the ships and got extremely sick then couldn’t enter the country and were just left to die in the hospital. We spent quite a bit of time on the island because there was a lot to see and we also got souvenirs. I got the Ellis family crest which was cool. I only found out when I got home that I could have looked up our family history when we were there.

In New York we did a lot of shopping. 5th Avenue is the street with all the “fancy” shops and designer brands. We found an outlet store which was the first place we went and got heaps of new clothes, especially warm ones because New York was freezing. The prices were reasonable here and a lot of the other shops we went into had really good sale items. I would happily go back to that street after saving a lot of money!

On our last night in New York we went out to dinner to an Italian place that had Gluten Free pizza. I can’t remember what it was called but it was on our way home from sightseeing and it was really good. It was nice but sad because it was the last meal I would have with my parents until I come home. It was funny because Dad was planning what meals he was going to make me when I got back. Mum and Dad left really early that morning so I had to say goodbye to them, I kept thinking about the fact that time would go really fast from then on. Later on I went to the airport to catch my two flights; I had a layover in Detroit. Even though I didn’t leave the airport, I can still say I’ve been to Detroit!

I still haven’t completely gotten used to the food in America but it is getting better. One of my best friends over here decided to go home early so she left on the day I went to New York which is sad. I have to keep thinking about the good things to keep me going. I’m sure it will get better in about two months, I will turn 21, I change jobs into front desk or concierge at one of the resorts and I will move apartments which will mean I will meet new people. A lot of my friends leave soon but new people are coming all the time which makes it not so bad. Plus I will still keep in contact with everyone who leaves so it will all be ok.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Prime Time- starting work

2nd February 2011

It has been a while since I last wrote because there has been heaps going on. I have been really sick, so much so that I nearly called in to work yesterday. On my second day that wouldn’t have looked too good so I decided to go. Luckily I started feeling better throughout the day. I have slept a lot! I guess that has a lot to do with the fact that I have been sick. I haven’t been eating that much either so I have lost weight.

So I finished my orientation training stuff and started working. Hopefully this means the end of all my paperwork. I got my costume, it’s interesting.... although mine isn’t as bad as others so I shouldn’t complain. It is a pink, white and orange pinafore dress with white apron. You have to see the pictures to get the true effect of this.

My first day of work I did 2 hours of computer classes before getting thrown in. I met my trainer for the day and he showed me the table layout. It is so confusing! He drew a little book to help me remember but I’m still getting used to it. He showed me how to bring the guests to the tables. Prime Time is based in “Mom’s Kitchen” from the 50’s so we treat the guests that way. It’s quite fun. After a bit of practice doing that I had lunch. It was cool because I got free food because I had to try everything on the menu. It was a bit difficult for me because they had to adjust stuff to make it gluten free. The first day I got the insides of a chicken sandwich, the filling of a chicken pot pie, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots. It was amazing! They gave me so much that I couldn’t finish it all.

After lunch they put me in the kitchen to see what happened there. I moved through the stations which was cool because I got to meet everyone working and saw what happened. I was there for a while and was so pleased when they took me out because it was so hot and I was starting to feel dizzy and sick.

After coming out of the kitchen I got to be in the bar which was probably my favourite because you got to talk to so many different people. I went back to seating people for the last half hour of my shift and went home and went straight to bed. I felt so sick and tired and I was ready to sleep. I basically slept right through the night only waking up for work the next morning.

The next day was better because I learnt the computer part of seating which is fun, basically just checking people in for their meal. I pretty much did this all day as well as getting another free lunch which was salmon salad and a ham roll made with tapioca buns. They made it all especially for me because that’s not one of their lunch time meals. By the end of the day I was really looking forward to leaving because my feet were killing me! I ended up going to Epcot after work which was really cool. The fireworks were amazing!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Prime Time- so exciting!

27th January 2011

Today was a late start which was lucky, I only had something that started at 1.30pm and went for just over half an hour. It was pretty much more paperwork which they are absolutely obsessed about. I think I’m nearly done with the majority of it which is good because we have to carry it around in a huge envelope and it’s a pain. I found out today exactly where I’ll be working, I’ll be at Prime Time. I have been told it’s amazing! Also I might end up being on TV because whenever they film anything for Disney they always film stuff there. That is how amazing it is! I can’t wait to find out what my costume will be (costume is what our uniforms are called). I think it will be like a real costume because of where I’m working though. I think I will find out on Friday. After that I didn’t do much at all because I think I’m getting sick. I had a nap and felt heaps better after that. Since then I have lazed around the apartment because the weather is disgusting.

Oh yea and there was a tornado warning.... not a big deal.... Then they spotted one at Magic Kingdom, not really sure exactly how far away but it’s pretty close to where I am. We got told to stay indoors, hide in a closet and barricade the doors. I freaked out for a bit but nothing has really happened so it was like a waste of freaking out energy. We haven’t been told if the tornado has passed but there really hasn’t been anything to worry about.

Hollywood Studios

26th January 2011

Today we had our first official day of Disney stuff, starting with an early morning. I’m so glad I wasn’t hung over like most people were. It was kind of boring but we found out roughly where we were working and filled in a tonne of paperwork. I’m working in Hollywood Studios which will be so cool! That was basically what we did all day so we went back to Walmart and I finally got a cellphone. It’s really cool! For $40 a month I have unlimited texting and calling within America. The plans are really different compared to what I’m used to and nothing is really cheap which sucks but it’s good to have calling.

Going out and making friends

25th January 2011

I haven’t written in a while so I have a lot to update on. On Sunday my roommates and I went to Walmart again (apart from today I have been there every day), when we got back we had a massive struggle with our groceries because we got too much. A nice guy named Adrian offered to help us take them back to our apartment which is on the other side of the grounds. He was really nice and hung out for like six hours. He told us we should go to the House of Blues because Sunday nights have a cast member’s night and if you are under 21 you can still go just not drink. We decided to go so we got all dressed up and went to get red bull from across the road. When we came back in some guys started talking to us and invited us to go hang out with them beforehand. They were basically all Australian but that was alright. We bussed to the House of Blues and it is the most amazing bar I have ever been to! We are going to make it a regular Sunday night thing as long as we don’t have work. The guys we were with were really cool and we have hung out with them since.

Moving in and Walmart- best store on the planet

22nd January 2011

Today was the day that we moved into the Disney apartments. After freaking out because I slept in, Josh and I got ready and met the others for breakfast after checkout at 10am. It was good getting to know these other people and it meant there were nine of us arriving together.

We arrived at Disney and it was so exciting! We got welcome packets and then got a short seminar on life at Disney. After this we got taken to our rooms. All of us are at the Vista Way Apartments which are in the oldest complex and known as the “party” apartments. This could be interesting considering I’m not 21 yet and not legally allowed to drink.

No one was here when I arrived so I left my bags and went to find everyone else. We were off to Walmart! I can officially say my life is complete after going to Walmart. It is absolutely amazing! Think everything you need, all in one store, for ridiculously low prices. I got everything except a proper food shop for just over $100. This included a hair dryer, duvet, containers, everything! Getting our stuff back on the bus was an absolute mission! I have hopefully learnt my lesson and buy less next time.

We got back and I started unpacking my suitcases, it will be great to not live out of them anymore! I met some of my roommates then a group of us went to Wendys. They have baked potatoes there but it was impossible to find out if the filling were gluten free because the girl couldn’t understand a word I was saying. I opted for the safe option of hot chips instead. It seems as though I will be cooking for myself a lot rather than eating out. This probably won’t be a bad thing because I have a better chance of eating healthy this way.

Best steak ever!

21st January 2011

When I eventually woke up again at 11.30am I slowly got ready to start the day and explore Orlando. The exploring only really ended up being walking up the street then back down again and only going into three places on the way. Everything was just so supersized! The shops seemed huge and they were all the same things; souvenir shops, steakhouses and supermarkets with a few random shops in-between. 

During our exploring we got some lunch at a steakhouse. It was absolutely amazing!! We paid less than $20 for an all you can eat salad bar, a piece of steak and a massive drink. And by massive, I mean massive! I would definitely go back there.

That night I met up with a whole lot of Kiwis who had just flown in and were staying at the same place as us. I already knew a few of them but it was good to meet others. After helping them find their rooms, it was time for bed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thunder and Lightening

21st January 2011

There was the most incredible thunder storm last night. I was trying to get to sleep but I kept seeing flashes, even when my eyes were closed. The thunder does not even compare to the stuff we get in New Zealand! Next time there is a storm I will try to take some pictures.

We were hoping to get breakfast this morning but we woke up half an hour after the end of breakfast. It sucks because I was really looking forward to my omelette! It is insane though, if you add up my sleeping hours it comes to about.... 21 and a half hours! I don’t think I have ever slept that long and it feels really weird. Hopefully this means there is no jetlag although it does mean that I haven’t eaten in over 24 hours which can’t be good!

Fly time!

20th January 2011

Our flight was only 4 hours but it was overnight so I tried to sleep, not very easy at all! It was good to finally arrive in Orlando because this meant no more planes for a long time, but arriving at the airport at 7am doesn’t give you many options. We were both exhausted and just wanted to sleep but we had to wait. I tried to keep myself awake but it was basically impossible and I kept dozing off.

We got to the hotel at about 12.30pm and checked in early, I went straight to sleep and didn’t wake up until 2am. I can’t wait to explore.


19th January 2011

So I made it!

After 6 hours on a bus, 4 hours waiting and 12 hours on a plane, I finally made it to L.A.!

Getting through immigration wasn’t even close to as bad as I thought it would be, even after thinking I had lost one of the extremely important papers I needed for them to let me into the country. Customs was a breeze, all we had to do was show an officer the immigration card and he said “have a good trip.” Here I was thinking it would be horrible and as it turns out customs in Dunedin is more intense.

Josh and I had booked a tour of downtown LA the day before in Brisbane airport so our first mission was to find out how to get to the pickup point, this took a good hour and a lot of walking. Our tour was with Starline Tours in association with VIP Tours and we had the best driver called Eddie. He gave us inside information on the places we went and sites we drove past. We had 4 stops overall with the first being at Venice Beach, it was incredible! The street was filled with little shops, all selling the same things; sunglasses, bongs and weed. There were also a few tattoo/piercing parlours but by the state of the general area I wouldn’t go near them with a 10 foot pole. We went for a walk down to the beach as well but had to keep our shoes on so we didn’t stand on needles. A slightly scary thought but we got away needle free.

Our next stop was Rodeo Drive, seeing shops like Gucci, Dolce & Gabana, Chanel. It was honestly just like you see in the movies, everything was bright, shiny and oh so pretty! If only I could afford it....

We stopped at a place called Farmers Market for lunch which was basically a whole lot of different food places then shops on the other side. The last stop was the Chinese Theatre where we saw the Hollywood stars, hand and foot prints in the ground, Madame Tussoes Wax Museum and tons of people trying to rip you off. I had a woman come up to me who was dressed up and made me take a photo with her then wouldn’t leave till I gave her a tip. We also had heaps of hopeful rap artists trying to sell us their CD’s. It’s crazy how different it seems in comparison to what you imagine being the centre of Hollywood. Oh I can’t forget, we also took photos of the Hollywood sign.

So after the tour we headed back to the airport and basically just mucked around until our flight which was at 10.30pm. That was about 5 hours waiting, at an airport, with nothing to do. Lucky I came prepared with my laptop and magazines.