Ok so this title is half a lie, I didn’t stay working in Zante for a season, I lasted two months. As a first timer I can say it was definitely an experience which I’m glad I spent my summer doing, but it wasn’t the long holiday I had originally imagined. Whether it’s Malia, Magaluf, Ayia Napa or Zante, if you want to work a season abroad here’s what you should know first –
Job Hunt – Starting with a positive! It is extremely easy to get a job. I went out at the beginning of June to meet friends who had been there since May and who had already worked at various bars and ticket selling venues. That’s one thing I noticed over there; a lot of workers change jobs every week! If you don’t like it, it is that easy to quit. Most bars have the same routine – once you’ve gone in and asked for a job they’ll most likely give you a trial the next night, then let you know if you’re wanted or not. Managers probably won’t be too pleased if you quit after a week or two but if it’s really not for you, it’s that simple to move onto a different venue. Personally I stayed at the same bar the whole time I was there because I got on with the other workers and loved the atmosphere. The earlier you go the better to find work, but when I left at the end of July places were still hiring.
You will miss home more than you expect – I’m used to living away from home anyway because of Uni but for some reason homesickness hit me so much harder abroad. A lot of workers who had planned to stay the whole season were leaving around the end of July saying they miss home and they’d just had enough of being away – apparently this happens every year and they call it mid-season blues! Even if the moment you come home to British summer you want to go straight back again, you will never appreciate home comforts so much.
Drinking becomes a chore – I never thought I’d use those words. I go out most weekends at home and at least twice a week at Uni, but after two straight months of it I got fed up. Obviously I was grateful for the free drinks at work, but the fact that it was literally impossible to get through a 9pm-4am shift without a drink made it seem like a chore. It makes you so much more talkative with customers and when everyone around you is drunk you realise that working sober drags! I got so fed up with the taste of cheap foreign vodka but almost forced myself so I would stay upbeat through work. You will never look forward to a detox so much.
No such thing as a night off – This isn’t like your average job in the UK. Once you start work that’s it, you won’t get a night off until you quit. It only seems fair though as the locals don’t get a day/night off for the whole season. It is tiring to get used to at first but after the first few weeks it will feel normal!
It’s true what you’ve heard – When it comes to the subject of sex, everyone has an idea of what working on a party island is like – thanks to the likes of ‘Sun, sex and suspicious parents’ and ‘What happens in Kavos’. Unfortunately I have to admit, what you’ve heard is true. It is the most talked about topic. I was the only girl at my workplace for a few weeks, working with six boys, who I did get on with but when it came to their conversations about the night before I avoided the lad talk and prayed for a girl colleague! It would be uncommon to not know a worker who had coupled up with another worker. Although apparently if you got caught out you could get fired – the Greek bosses had a motto ‘don’t screw the crew’!
Days are for sleeping – So you’ve escaped the miserable British summer and are living in tropical heat for months… Any normal holiday you’d be up at the same time as the sun to enjoy it and top up the tan – not on this holiday! Working every night and not getting in until 5am most days, we found ourselves wasting half of the days sleeping. You will literally become nocturnal – nights are for work, days are for sleep. But don’t panic, it was possible to force ourselves out of bed for trips such as the waterpark or to desperately get a tan so we didn’t return home months later still pale!
Workers benefits – Wherever you go on the island – from a boat trip, to a restaurant to a waterpark – always mention that you are a worker and you will get a discount literally everywhere! This is something I wasn’t expecting before I went. Cooking will seem like the last thing you want to do everyday and the fact that you can eat out for under €10 gives you no excuse to say no! And if you get a job in a restaurant you’re likely to get a free meal, likewise with a bar – free drinks! Nights out are even cheaper than what us students are used too, with €1 drinks for workers in most bars.
Although working a summer abroad messed with my emotions more than expected and made me feel like I hadn’t slept for years I would still recommend it to anyone. You’re only this age once and have the opportunity to experience working in a different country before being tied down in a ‘proper job’ for the rest of your life. It will be the most memorable summer (the nights you do actually remember) and the fellow workers become like your second family.