Study Abroad Blog by Pavel Vassiljev

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My first job in UK



Finding a job in Luton was a headache. I guess now it is kind of easier to set up bank accounts and get your insurance numbers in order to start working. But 4 years ago it was a pain… And yes employers don’t like fresh emigrants J. First job to find is always the hardest… I got lucky to be employed at a local pub where the management had a certain view on East European workers, which was: “You guys come here and work a lot harder, than us… and I like it”. So most of the staff were East Europeans. It was easy to adapt and become friends with people at work. But making friends was never a problem, the problem was adapting to English drinking habits.

The first problem was the accent and pub slang… “Can I get a pint of lager?” – I had no idea what’s a pint and what’s lager… We have litres and light beer back home J

I previously worked a couple of shifts in bars back home and knew how to make some drinks… BUT I was astonished by how and what people drink there… Of course later I got used to it and some of the drinks I like now. A few examples that blew my mind away:

Lager Shandy – half a pint of light beer mixed with half a pint of lemonade
Bitter Shandy – half a pint of ale mixed with half a pint of lemonade
Cider and Black – apple cider with a shot of blackcurrant cordial
Guinness and Black – Guinness with a shot of cordial
Vodka Lime and Soda – vodka with extremely sour lime cordial and soda water
Vodka Soda – a shot of vodka with tasteless soda water                                           WHAAAAT !?!?! O.o

(I mean some of them sound not bad and maybe are consumed in other countries as well but vodka soda is not how you should treat vodka! Every single Estonian will say so! J)


Once when working  a shift at the front bar with Alex (My housemate) we met two crazy guys. They were drunk and made the funniest jokes ever. Suddenly they started dissin’ Alex and buying drinks from me saying I’m the real bartender and giving me more tip. After another joke Alex smiled and those guys gave him something like 10 GBP and said: “Here ye go mate, that is for you not to smile anymore!” Later that night they asked me to “hit them with a manly drink”, so I decided to make a double b-52… Both guys almost puked and asked for a Sambuca afterwards... “Since when Sambuca is a manly drink?” Me and Alex were wondering…

As you can guess it took me a while before I got used to local drinking habits and mixtures. Insane amounts of beers were miss poured and beverages mixed not right. However, eventually I got there… But I still was freaking out when customers said: “Can I have a pint of lager?”. THERE ARE 10 DIFFERENT LAGERS ON DRAFT… WHICH ONE YOU WANT… CAN’T YOU READ? (I thoughtJ) Occasional snaps like that were only in my mind of course.

Later on you get used to the pub life and start liking it. Pubs have mostly same clients all the time so you become buddies and while talking to them time flies quicker. Working in a pub rather, than in a restaurant takes some responsibilities off. The atmosphere is much more laid back and customers do not expect exceptional service skills (Thus, when you provide a great service the customers are a lot more happier and tip you). Another great thing is that pub customers offer bartenders drinks! And at the end of the shift you may have an impressive “portfolio” of receipts with earned drinks to enjoy.

Working abroad in a pub is sometimes heaven and sometimes hell... But I think it is still one of the most fun places to work, while studying.

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