With the expansion of the European Union to 25 countries in 2004, the possibilities for working in Europe are better than ever. Western European countries have long held appeal for those working in the hospitality industry, with Germany, France, Austria and Spain popular destinations for Britons working abroad. However, now the likes of Estonia, Slovenia and Poland are also open to those with EU passports.
The land of food and wine, France has to be one of the top destinations for Britons wishing to work abroad. Whether it's in a high-class hotel in Paris, in the kitchens of a Michelin-starred restaurant, or in a ski chalet for a few months during the winter, there are plenty of options for working in France.
- The French certainly have flair when it comes to food, and some classic French training will stand any chef in good stead
- Learning about wine in the vineyards of France will also be an asset for those working in the kitchen and front of house
- You can try out the way of life for a season by working for one of the British ski companies that operate in France during the winter months
- You can still find warmth by heading for southern France and the Riviera
- If you don't learn at least a little bit of French, you could find yourself feeling isolated rather quickly, unless you are working with a team that speaks English
- Like any job abroad, you're away from family and friends - but at least it's not too far away if you really have to come home.
Official name: French Republic
Capital: Paris (metropolitan population, 10,150,000)
Major cities: (by population) Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nice, Strasbourg, Nantes, Bordeaux
Languages: French (official)
Official currency: Euro
Religions: Catholic (major), others
Area: 550,100sq km (212,394sq miles)
Climate: Generally, cool winters and mild summers throughout the centre and north. Colder conditions (and snow) in the Alps. The Mediterranean coast has mild winters and hot summers.
Where to find out more: Tourism: www.francetourism.com/
General facts: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/fr.html
Guide to French Riviera: www.amb-cotedazur.com
Cultural and educational association for expatriates in Paris: www.wice-paris.org
A site for English-speaking expatriates living in France: www.angloinfo.com/
In 2002, there were almost 115,000 Britons working in Germany. It's a big draw for hospitality workers - there's the chance to work on your German and also see how the stereotypically efficient Germans run their hotels. But don't think it's all business-focused hotels in major cities such as Frankfurt and Dusseldorf, as there are some wonderful luxury leisure properties in the German countryside and spa towns.
- Mastering German could be your ticket to other jobs around the world. Germans travel widely, so your skills with their language could set you apart from a local worker in, say, Thailand and land you that next job.
- Germany offers a great base from which to explore Europe, being virtually in the centre, so plan your time off well and you could really benefit.
- There's skiing in the winter in the Bavarian alps, or climbing in the summer
- Of course, living in another culture is always going to be hard - in some ways, it may be more difficult because you think it won't be that different to Britain, so there are bound to be cultural misunderstandings.
- While many Germans are fluent in English, there will be times when you'll find yourself surrounded by German speakers and feeling a little left out - pick up that phrasebook and get learning.
Official name: Federal Republic of Germany
Capital: Berlin (population: 3.94 million)
Languages: German (official)
Religions: Christian (Protestant, Catholic), others
Land area: 349,520 sq km (134,910 sq miles)
Climate: summers and winters are generally mild, cloudy and wet in centre and north of the country. Winters are cold and snowy in the Bavarian Alps in the south-west.
Where to find out more: General facts: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gm.html
Living and moving to Frankfurt: www.naughtons.de/expat/index.html
A site for English-speaking expatriates moving to or living in Germany: www.howtogermany.com
Events in the Bonn and Cologne areas and other info: www.english-network.de/bencms
A Frankfurt-based site for connecting expatriate women and providing info about living in the city: www.wow-net.org/
Tourism site: www.germany-tourism.de
Viva Espana! Sunshine, friendly people, wonderful food and wine - it's no wonder so many Britons retire to Spain in their later years. But the Spanish resorts, particularly those on the Canary and Balearic islands, are also popular destinations for hospitality workers. For some, it is a great way to spend the summer before returning to a winter season on the slopes. For others, it's a year-round job that they love.
- Sunshine, great food, wonderful wine, beautiful cities, sandy beaches, the azure blue of the Mediterranean Sea and the relaxed attitude of the Spanish - maÁ±ana, maÁ±ana - what more can we say?
- Learning Spanish could also be helpful for later jobs - don't forget that most of South and Central America speak the language, so it may be your ticket to a job there in the future.
- You may find the maÁ±ana attitude more than a little irritating, especially if you're in a managerial position with targets to achieve
- Too much of a good thing may leave you feeling a little jaded at times - don't forget, you're not on holiday with the rest of the Britons in the resort.
Official name: Kingdom of Spain
Capital: Madrid (population: 5.13 million)
Languages: Castilian (official), plus the three recognised regional languages of Basque, Catalan and Galician
Religions: Catholic Christian
Land area: 499,440 sq km (192,584 sq miles)
Climate: Expect cold winters and warm summers on mainland Spain, although the southern coastal areas benefit from the mild Mediterranean climate.
The Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands, an autonomous division of Spain, consist of five major islands of which Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza are the best known. Here, the weather is warm, with the sea breezes moderating the summer high temperatures. The winters are mild and dry.
The Canary Islands
Off the northwest coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are among the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, especially with Europeans. The archipelago consists of seven major islands including Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. The weather conditions here are considered perfect, and the beaches are some of the best anywhere in the world.
Where can I find out more? General facts: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/sp.html
Guide to the Costa del Sol: www.costaguide.com/
Website for Balearic islands: www.spaintour.com/baleares.htm
www.spainexpats.com - set up to help British people live their dream in Spain, this site provides practical information and allows expatriates to help newcomers to the country
www.absolutebarcelona.com - international business directory for Barcelona
www.barcelonaconnect.com - for information on the nightlife, living in and enjoying Barecelona
www.xbarcelona.com - everything for expatriates living and working in Barcelona
www.spainexpat.com -for anyone heading to Spain on posting
www.exploreseville.com - for anyone moving to or living in Seville
www.justlanded.com - extensive information and services for foreigners coming to Spain, including information on legal issues such as visas and residencies, accommodation, banking, the internet and more.
Austria and Italy
The chances are that jobs in these countries will be connected with the winter ski season, with UK operators running chalets and hotels in resorts in the mountains. In some cases, resorts stay open year-round, offering summer walking tours as well.
Official name: Republic of Austria
Language: (major) German
Population: 8,037,400 (2003)
Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic, 78%; Protestant, 5%), Muslim and other, 17%
Area: 83,858 sq km (32,377 sq miles). Note that Austria is a landlocked, central European country with eight bordering countries.
Climate: There are three distinct climate zones, of which the central region has a typical Alpine climate with high precipitation and short summers. Winters are long, with plenty of snow in the mountains.
Where can I find out more?www.virtualvienna.net - this site has resources on Vienna and is a virtual community for English speaking expatriates in the city
Tourism in Austria: www.austria-tourism.com
General information, with lots of links: worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/europe/at.htm
Official name: Italian Republic
Religions: Catholic Christian, others
Land area: 294,060 sq km (116,334 sq miles). Note: the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily are off the western coast.
Climate: Predominantly Mediterranean weather, hot and dry in the south, with cool winters. In the far north, Alpine winter conditions, with very pleasant summers.
Where can I find out more? General information: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/it.html
www.informer.it - subscription online guide to living in Italy, with particular emphasis on resolving problems with Italian bureaucracy
www.whatsoninrome.com - an English-language guide to events in Rome, started by an expatriate living there.
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