Monday, February 6, 2012

City Travel Review

I thought I should write an informative post rather than whinge about how much I can't stand people who fly with Garuda and how beautiful Ryan Gosling is. So here's an explanation for the "whole Berlin thing."

A couple of months ago, after a particularly shitty day at work, I went home and looked on gumtree, determined to find something that wouldn't make me constantly see the worst in everyone (I have become mildly racist). Because I went on gumtree so often in London, my google chrome automatically took me to the UK website. I looked under the job link and there was a section for "travel/writing/journalism," wondering if this was some kind of advanced personalised ad, I clicked on it. The first post on the page described a gap programme in a number of different European cities where a group of young people work together to write a travel guide. Here's the website if you're interested (I think there are still a few vacancies).

I had the option to choose from Berlin, Madrid, Edinburgh, Lyon and Miami, I think. At first I considered Madrid because I've already been to Berlin and I really want to learn Spanish. But I know I couldn't cope with the Spanish summer. I also considered Edinburgh because the programme is during the Edinburgh Fringe which is something I've wanted to go to since I learnt the second meaning of "fringe", but it was the shortest project at only two and a half weeks. I soon realised that Berlin's three month project was the clear winner.

I had to send them my resume and a cover letter explaining why I wanted to go the city I chose. I was then given a Provisional Position before I had a "phone interview" (which was more the guy telling me what I already knew, and what I was about to know in an upcoming email) then I paid a deposit and hey presto! I was definitely in.

So come June, I will be in Berlin for three months doing all the filthy tourist things and turning it into a Lonely Planet-esque guide. We're also given language lessons every day, which I'm looking forward to, despite how ridiculous German sounds.

I've started to realise how busy I'm going to be in those three months. Given that I currently get paid to nap for five hours a day and my degree in Unprofitable Skills had an average of fourteen contact hours a week (several of those I didn't bother to make contact with), this is going to be the busiest I've been since high school and it scares the shit out of me. But I'm looking forward to the challenge, I think. Although the level of group work I'm about to have to do is truly terrifying. Group work is more painful that ice skating with ingrown toenails so be prepared for some posts on how much I hate the dud member. I am actually looking forward to the whole thing, though. I'm hoping that because we're all paying for it there will be a different mentality behind working together, rather than "I have to take this unit to pass second year but I actually think it's bullshit."

It's quite a lot of money (about $4000) but the fees include all the tutors and teachers and tour guides as well as accommodation in a shared apartment somewhere in central Berlin. I also have to save up for the airfares and spending (beer/Mauer Park) money.

I recently found out that my highly paid fence post job has been extended so I'm fairly sure I can save up enough money to travel around Europe after August as well. So far I really want to go to Spain and Eastern Europe but don't have any solid plans. I know a few people who want to go to Europe around the same time and would love to meet up with them (let me know what you're doing if you're reading this!).

I've read a few reviews by people who have done this City Travel Review in previous years and have been offered or found decent journalist positions by using this experience as a reference, which I think is something I would be interested in doing. I don't really know, though. I'll just see how it goes.