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Interview with a Flight Attendant

Many twenty-somethings will have spent some time abroad but only a relative few will have spent much of their lives on the move, living in a number of countries whilst growing up and experiencing many different education systems. i-studentglobal spoke to Evelyn, a flight attendant for a major airline, about how her life of international education led to one of international travel.

1. Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about your education background and studying abroad in the UK?

We moved around a LOT when I was a kid, so I went to primary school in Botswana and the United Arab Emirates, middle school in Vietnam and India through correspondence homeschooling courses and finally secondary school in the UK. I didn't appreciate all the moving around when I was a kid/teenager, but as an adult, it has really enriched how I interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds.


London, with mum and auntie

2. How did your education at secondary school in the UK differ to high school in the US?

So we moved to the US when I was 17 and I had already finished secondary school in the UK at 16. This meant, according to the US, I needed to go back to high school, to which I replied "There is no way in (insert bad word) I'm doing high school twice in one lifetime!" So it was a tough choice for my parents and I but I ended up going to community college and starting on my 4-year degree. Ultimately, if I had gone back to high school I would have saved myself a lot of time and money and possibly fostered more relationships that may have helped me later on but the community college had better opportunities for internships and work-study programs which sent me straight to the University of Arizona.

3. What made you decide to study your degree in the US and why the University of Arizona?

Well when we moved, I was a minor and had no choice about being in the US, however I did have a choice of university. When I finally settled on a major, I had applied to a few different schools: University of California Berkeley, Northwestern University in Chicago and finally the University of Arizona. U of A was my last choice until I toured the campus and you can't beat 35c (95f) year round in Arizona. California didn't have enough mountains for me and Chicago was too cold! The University of Arizona also offered much more to me in my decision of major and is highly accredited.

4. What was your favourite part of studying in the US?

The US gets a bad rep for a lot of things but ultimately, the people are very nice, culture can be found anywhere and the teachers really want you to succeed. The teachers themselves have come from all walks of life and will be more than happy to point you in the right direction for internships and work-study programs pertaining to your possible career. And the bars are right next to the campus so it's not unusual to meet a professor for a beer and a burger!

5. Where did the idea of working for an airline first arise from?

Once I graduated, the government shut down twice that same year and my majors were Political Science and Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS) with minors in French and Arabic. I was putting in about 30 to 40 applications a week and heard nothing from potential employers. The airline was the only company that got back to me and they have a lower acceptance rate than Harvard University. That was when I really started thinking about it.

Jet engine

Jet Evelyn (Engine)

6. Can you tell us a little bit about the application process and training before your first flight?

Every airline is different but the application process is the same; extensive background checks, physical exams and copious amounts of training. In training you learn how to evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds, you learn CPR and various symptoms to help people when they are sick, how to work your sleep deficit to your advantage due to the odd hours and how to be a part of a crew. 

7. What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I love the hours of my job. One month I can work 8 days, and the next month I can work 20 days. This month, I'm working 8 days and I'm trying to change my schedule around so I can have a stretch of 7 days off and then I'm going to throw a dart at a map and go! The flexibility is amazing. I can stay involved in other things that I love such as tutoring when I have days off or volunteering.


Work in Austin, US

8. What type of person do you think makes a good flight attendant?

Anyone who truly loves people and meeting new people can do this. You don't often get to work with the same crew so even your co-workers are new to you. If you have a passion for travelling on your time off, this is definitely a job to consider.


Aphrodite's Temple, Greece



South Point, Hawaii Big Island


9. Have you been on any exotic holidays since working for an airline?

I spend most of my time visiting family and friends since we're so spread out across the globe. I just got back from 10 days in Australia with my cousins, I've gone back to visit friends in Arizona and Texas, made my way back to England at least 4 times, spent some more time with my other cousins in Greece, rode (albeit on the back) a Harley all over the Big Island of Hawaii and jumped off a 40 ft cliff at South Point. And yes, I pet a koala and hung out with kangaroos!


Big Island, Hawaii



Kangaroo Dinner Time in Australia 


10. Finally, what is the strangest request that you’ve had on a flight?

The strangest request I've ever had is a passenger who asked us "Who's cat is this?" It turns out, the passenger who brought the pet on board did not properly close the kennel and the cat had escaped, picked a person whose lap looked comfortable and curled up for the flight. Although it was my job to relay information to the captain, such as "We have a random cat running around, don't take off yet," the other flight attendant had to do it because I was laughing too hard. We took off without incident and the cat was returned unharmed to his kennel.

Please note: The views expressed in this interview are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect her employer's views. The interviewee is not speaking on behalf of the company.


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