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This summer I worked as a ‘cast-member’ in Disneyland Paris. Having attended an interview and being told I was working in ‘restauration’ (catering), when I arrived in Paris at the end of July I didn’t know what to expect. Disney recommends that anyone on a ‘CDD’ (Contrat à Durée Déterminée) live in their accommodation, (which you have to pay for) in the quiet village of Magny-le-Hongre, a fifteen minute bus ride from the park itself.
Everyone has a roommate. I was lucky because I knew mine already, but most do not. I lived with a couple of other English girls also hoping to improve their French, and a French boy called Maxime who was on a ‘stage’. The flat was miniscule with two chairs in a tiny kitchen for five of us, but the newer apartments were more spacious.
Once we had settled in, the first week at Disney was quite intense training: learning about the values, traditions and ways of the company. It seemed quite unnecessary when I found out I was going to be on carts selling ice cream or crêpes! On my first day of work I met lots of people from France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Greece… Many had already worked for a month or so before so were eager to help and show me the ropes: where to ‘badge’ in, where to have lunch etc. This was where I spoke the most French: in a professional environment at the daily briefings and with other colleagues.
The system of the carts was easy to pick up, but as with any job involving sales and the general public, you must expect rude people, this time from all over the world! I had to deal with people who couldn’t speak English or French and try my best to answer all questions as well as I could.
If you’re looking for a placement abroad I would recommend Disneyland but try not to let the paperwork put you off on arrival and be prepared: it’s easy to forget it is a job that you’re being paid for so you must stay professional even if being in Disneyland every day does seem surreal! Socially, I made lots of friends, as where we lived was quite similar to halls at university, but more international. We were in a great location to visit Paris on our days off and at night-time, but we also went clubbing in ‘Disney Village’ which was surprisingly good! Not only did I practice my French, but other languages as this is an international company with employees from all over the world, and also gained valuable insight into how a large business works!
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham