Sure that she wanted to go someplace far, far away, and to Asia if possible, Natacha Thevenot nonetheless hesitated between Vatel Bangkok and Vatel Manila when she was applying for the Marco Polo program in her second year.
“I ended up choosing Manila because for me, it was less known to the general public and would be an occasion for me to stand out. When you’re a student and can live for several months in a new country, it’s fantastic.
It’s much better than being on vacation because you’ve got the time to fully comprehend the local culture and to learn how to work with other nationalities and at the same time, it takes less time, meaning less stress, than being hired for a job on the other side of the word without a return ticket.”
Once her application had been accepted, Natacha started the administrative work and quickly received her visa for the Philippines. At the same time, Vatel Manila sent her a very detailed student guide book, which reassured her.
“A Spanish inn” or when you find what you bring...
Natacha understood this concept quickly: she would have to be very open-minded and be able to adapt herself if she wanted to succeed.
“I’m pretty much like a chameleon who changes colors to adapt itself to its environment. Everyone is not so lucky, as I’ve met other students who were more withdrawn and who weren’t able to blend into this new environment and culture. That’s a mistake, in my opinion, as I’m always the one who takes the first step to get the ball rolling.
Of course, Manila can be very disconcerting with its over-population and its Asian customs that are very different from ours, but Filipinos are always very warm and friendly to anyone who gives them a big smile.”
Thanks, but no thanks: an internship at Sofitel that taught her a lot
“A great opportunity that I immediately accepted. But to be frank with you, I hated it. Working all day in an office in a 600-room hotel, that’s just not my cup of tea at all.
What I learned from this is that my professional projects must target operational functions and in particular, managing small to medium sized restaurants.”