Date: 2 November 2017
"Congratulations! We can confirm your base is Paris CDG!"...oh. It's not that I didn't want to be based abroad - in fact quite the opposite - but I didn't actually know which base I wanted!
As was highlighted in the recent "easyJet: Inside The Cockpit" show on ITV (broadcast in the UK), after finishing training there is a huge degree of flexibility expected when receiving your initial base: you need to be pretty much willing to go anywhere! I was, of course...but I didn't really have a preference. Anywhere was good with me! I fancied an adventure abroad...but didn't know where!
Born and raised in Cumbria, I'd already spent a significant period of time away from home for training at L3 Airline Academy - doing Groundschool at the Southampton training centre and then heading out to Phoenix AZ for the flying. At age 18 packing up and moving to Southampton felt massive at the time but, with the support of fellow cadets and of course the huge distraction that was ATPL Groundschool, there was very little time to think about being away from home. Phoenix was another huge adventure - and an incredibly enjoyable one at that. The difference with Paris, though, was that this time it was permanent. Southampton, Phoenix and the locations of the training journey at L3 had an end date - a coming home day. Paris wasn't just an adventure, it was a permanent move with a one way ticket.
Nine months in to flying out of CDG and I really love it. Despite being a very complex airport – with four runways, 75km of taxiway and over 100 different airlines - I soon got used to the buzz of the place...and the French accent! As an airline our operation from here is very mixed with a huge amount of both business and leisure flights. The captains and crew are absolutely awesome, even if I do still get jeers of "You're that one from the TV" almost every day...
My advice to anyone who is moving abroad in whatever circumstance within aviation is that the base is absolutely what you make of it. There are bound to be likeminded people wherever you end up - so enjoy every moment! The training journey is hugely enjoyable throughout and, when you get the job at the end, even if you're not happy with where you're put or don't know anyone there, there's absolutely going to be people to get to know and enjoy your time with.
However all good things have to come to an end and this was never going to be a permanent adventure. After a bit of patient waiting on a transfer list, I'm very much looking forward to being based in Manchester from next March. Paris has been a blast but there's absolutely no place like home. Or nearly home, in my case.
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