TRAINING

Obviously I can’t go into detail, but training was tiring, it was brutal.

Mentally and physically I was tested to breaking point.

This is why…

Transport picked us up at 5:40.  Then we drive to the Etihad Training Academy for 40 minutes.  When we get there, we have time for coffee, checking our classroom for the day and we go sit down.  We were given rules to live by, how to dress, how to walk, how to act.  Smile ALWAYS.  We go from classroom to classroom week by week and we fall asleep on the bus ride home.  Then we get home and we eat.  And then we study, we do our homework and prep for the next day.  Then we sleep and it all starts over again.

We were taught that daily we needed to look immaculate.  Dressed in black and white, everyone at the academy knew that we were the new kids.  Everyone is always smiling, happy and laughing.  The trainers are awesome.

Our Induction Trainers in the first week taught us about the company, about who to contact when, how to access our new email accounts and see our rosters.  We went for a thorough medical examination, vaccinations (ouch) and x-rays.  We had our picture taken for our company ID’s and we were fitted for our new uniforms.10615973_10204026463437784_2944012621983304802_n

10610831_10204026464877820_8949746154935174755_nIn the second week we met our Safety Trainers.  They were excellent.  Spending two weeks in their loving care and having them cram a million pages of information into our brains was insane.  We had simulation sessions, to simulate emergency situations.  We fought real fires and shouted our lungs out.  We learned how to be assertive in stressful situations and we were moulded into not only immaculately looking, but also calm and well trained cabin crew.  10457204_10204026465597838_4932413954439685362_n

Followed by making sure our aircraft is kept safe, we were given First Aid Training.  We were taught how to handle severe medical situations, including childbirth and anaphylaxis.  We 10599646_10204052042197237_1983368745982504832_nare able to handle just about any medical emergency while still keeping our aircraft safe and looking perfect while doing so.

After that we were given over to the Service Trainers, they stopped at nothing to make sure we knew everything about every ingredient and every wine and every piece of linen on the aircraft.  They polished us.  We were explained how to use all the equipment on board, from oven to skillet to toaster and even the coffee maker.  And then there was the ‘How to speak’ lesson, explaining to us how to address VVIP’s and end even children.  Working in First Class takes dedication.10592903_10204218041187108_7506882113877500624_n

Honestly after seven weeks of little sleep, lots of study, and information overload to the point of mushy-brain syndrome, I am confidently walking into briefings and onto aircraft with my head held high, feeling safe and capable.  The training was intense, but thorough and an incredible amount of fun and laughter.

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GETTING THERE

After all the insanity of packing and running around to find the right shoes and stockings and hairnets (believe me you need loads) I finally am driving to the airport.  Saying my goodbyes have been sad, but so much fun.  I made the most of the time I had with my friend and family.  Now I’m driving, SO many things in the car, and I’ve never been more excited, but I’m scared.  My gran is with me and my mom, and she’s telling me to remember all the tidbits of information on how to stay healthy.  My mom is quiet, I think it just hit her that I’m moving to another country.  In the last couple of weeks, I was home. 10250264_10203882139629779_3405472158812587282_n

We get to the airport and I mission my massive luggage out of the car and onto a trolley.  We weave through hundreds of people on the same mission as me.  People are crying and laughing and having lunch and dinner and calling each other and running and sitting and unpacking and repacking.  Its chaos.

I’m standing in line, wearing a black dress with my hair dead straight and my jacket draped over my arm.  At the check-in counter the lady is so friendly, she addresses me by my last name (I am now Miss Meintjes) and asks if I’m ready for the ride of my life.  Now I’m hoping she’s talking about the new job and not the plane I’m boarding in a couple of hours.  I smile, but I’m sure I’ll cry soon.  I ran through the airport looking for the other guy joining with me, Gareth, also a chef.  Finally, I cant find him and I HAVE to go through security or I’ll miss my flight.

I10616524_10203882138189743_2412267355963217261_n look over to my mom, my gran and my two friends.  And I instantly burst into tears.  Goodbyes suck, but I have to go.  So I swallow my tears, I hu10376135_10203882137629729_3050738839027695298_ng them as tight as I can and I walk ever confidently head he10616047_10203882138949762_7884355014242802945_nld high with my heart stuck in my throat, through to security.  Then I get called back.  “Miss Meintjes?”  Yeah that’s me? “You have a new ticket, we’ve upgraded you to Business Class” 🙂 Thank you very much! “Enjoy”

Boarded, and seated next to Gareth (haha found him!) we’re off to Abu Dhabi.  The Food And Beverage Manager comes over, offers me a glass of Champagne, I happily accept and Gareth and I cheers to our new future.

We’ve taken off and I’m being offered a menu.  Service is perfect.  The F&B Manager is amazing, he makes us feel as if we’ve been part of the company for years!  Settling into my new life, one massage option at a time and 600 hours of entertainment on EBox, lets do this.

After landing, the madnes10562939_10203882140349797_1421022367388535236_ns starts.  We walk into the unknown oven.  Good grief its hot and humid.  Down the steps to the bus, past loads of Etihad planes standing in a row.  We get out of the bus, into the lovely air conditioned airport (phew!) and mission our way through all the people.  We have fast track cards, so we get helped along the way, shown where to go and soon we’re standing in a line with two people in front of us.  At the counter, we’re asked for our passports and visas, and we receive our original visa.  Then we walk around the corner to the eye-scan (it really happens) and we get greeted and our passports get stamped.  Walk through more security and WELCOME TO ABU DHABI!

As soon as we get our baggage, we walk down a ramp and say hello to our new home.  We’re greeted by a driver shouting our names and escorted back into the heat of the outside.  3 minutes later a Mercedes drives up and the driver smiles says Hayyakum and starts packing our bags into the back of the car.  After about 40 minutes we arrive at our hotel.  My baggage is taken away to who knows where, and we go to check in.

Room 408.  I have a kitchen in my hotel room, someone must have told them I’m a chef.  I connected to the wifi and I called my mom.  Sleep time.  Exhausted.  So happy.