Life has been ever-changing since I moved back from Taiwan. It was definitely weird coming back and returning to driving cars everywhere and experiencing glorious 80 degree weather. I was a little unsure about what I was going to do with my life. College was never really a part of my game plan, so that wasn’t at the top of the list. I got a job at a Chinese restaurant nearby so my Chinese didn’t go to waste. I made some new friends. I went to Thailand for a week with my mom to volunteer at a retreat. And then I got an email saying I had a video interview for an airline company I had recently applied to.
If anyone knows me, I’ve wanted to be a flight attendant for a while. I’ve applied to airlines back in Taiwan, I’ve applied to some in the States, but most airlines require you to be 21. I was starting to accept that this wasn’t going to be a possibility until I turned 21, so I decided to get related work experience (hence the restaurant job). Then the interview came. The interviewing process was fairly simple and straightforward. I know there are tons of blogs and articles on tips for flight attendant interviews, but I can’t say mine was particularly difficult or special. As long as you present yourself professionally and play the part they want to see, you’ll be good. Two days after interviewing I got a call saying I was offered the job and called to go to training! I flew out to Phoenix, Arizona in mid October to attend training at the company’s headquarters.
My trip to Arizona was my first time going out west. From the moment the plane started circling over Phoenix, I knew it was going to be different. Gone were the lush green East Coast mountains full of trees. Instead everything was flat and brown, kind of like a makeup palette. At the Sky Harbor Airport in downtown Phoenix, I was greeted by sunny 90-degree skies, waving palm trees, and cacti growing left and right, higher than telephone poles. The buildings that whizzed by me on the way to the hotel were all dusty pink adobe with Pueblo-esque architecture. All the houses were squat and flat, no more than two floors. If you have that much land, you might as well build out.
In the following 3 weeks, I got to know a bit about Arizona. The land of Arizona is one where the weather never wavers below 90 degrees, even when it’s 6am in the morning. The major traffic lights are a mile apart so you should just give up walking. It is the only state that does not observe daylight savings due to farming. I can’t say I would ever want to live here.
I roomed at hotel near the airport with 30 other classmates (mostly girls), mainly from Texas, Arizona, and California. We spent 3 weeks in a classroom together at the training center learning all the information we needed to be flight attendants.
I knew that there was a lot to becoming a flight attendant. I had done a lot of research when I first started getting interested in this job. I read lots of articles and blogs written by flight attendants. But it still wasn’t enough to make me realize just how much cabin crew workers have to do from the minute they step on that aircraft.
The range of information we covered was astonishing, actually. The number of oxygen masks on one side of the aircraft, how to close the flight deck door, what the different lights on the cabin control panel mean, do we have to clean up vomit? (no, thank God), how to deliver a baby inflight, how to tell if someone “appears to be intoxicated”, how to give someone CPR, and how to defend yourself if a passenger goes rogue. There were times when I wondered “Am I becoming a firefighter or a flight attendant?”
We also learned the extremely complicated ins and outs of flight attendant scheduling, aviation laws, policies to follow, security protocols, and more. We watched videos of historic plane crashes, including 9/11, a reminder to us all of how important our roles were. And in between lectures, exams, and all that, we were out in our cabin trainer, an old CRJ 200 50-seater that served as our classroom for opening 40-pound cabin doors, enacting emergency evacuations, and doing exit seat briefings.
All of this was crammed into our heads in the jam-packed three weeks at the training center. We went to class 6 times a week for 10 hours at a time, and then were sent home with homework and exams to study for. There were lots of long nights, fast food runs, and study sessions. We forgot which day of the week it was. We forgot what weekends were.
But it all paid off in the end. Three long weeks of training ended with a little graduation at the company headquarters. My classmates and I cheered as we got our wings pinned by our instructors. We were so relieved it was finally over, but we were mostly just brain dead and exhausted.
Me and two of my classmates from Oklahoma and Hawaii on our graduation day.
Within 3 hours of finishing my last day of ground training, I got word that I was heading back to D.C. the next day. Not just D.C my home, but D.C. my base for work now. I was so lucky to be awarded the base that I wanted in a seniority-driven job. I’m so happy that I get to live at home to start off this job. It’s a tough job, it’s a tiring job, and it’s a very important job. But it all pays off and I can’t wait for the adventures to begin. I’m so thankful for this opportunity.
It’s crazy to think just two months ago, I was unsure about my future and didn’t know how soon it would take to be where I wanted. I missed the life I had left in Taiwan. But so much can change in two months. Don’t just wait for opportunities to present themselves. Go after them. Grow some wings and chase your dreams. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that life is waiting for you to leave your comfort zone.