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Expectations and the Bitterly Cold* Realities of Working at a Ski Resort Hotel in Japan

** in reference to the weather

Expectation and Reality sometimes overlap, maybe a little or maybe a lot. Most often, the aspects of Reality that end up being most significant are what you never even considered when conjuring Expectations in the first place. Oh, the Unexpected!

Now, I am comfortably once again situated with my relatives in Tokyo after a winter of working at a ski resort hotel in Hakuba. I have been reflecting about Expectations, Reality, and the Unexpected from this experience, mainly because I went in not knowing what to expect. In this day and age, you can find blogs about how to prepare for just about anything, whether it be college, travel, retirement, or retiling your bathroom. But you can’t find much (in English) about working a resort job in Japan, in particular as someone from overseas.

Expectations and Corresponding Realities From Hakuba

1. Having never lived somewhere with so much snow, I thought I would be cold all the time and that I would really hate it.

    The cold hardly bothered me. Proper clothing and footwear made all the difference. Even on the windiest, snowiest days, I was toasty while outside Indoors, the there was always a heater running whether inside the hotel or at the dorm.

    2. There would be many fun coworkers to become friends with.

      People who work seasonal resort jobs are pretty chill, and befriending coworkers was easy (if I could be sneaky about it.) At work, if I became too wrapped up in conversation with coworkers, even during the most boring task (primarily wiping the endless piles of dishes and cutlery), a supervisor would appear with a new task to ask specifically me to do. Always, the task_ happened_ to take me far from the people I had been getting to know. This happened regularly, and not only to me. At least when not clocked in, all I needed to do was wander around the hotel or over to the staff canteen to find someone to hang out with.

      3. Japanese would be spoken most of the time, and I would never have much chance to speak English.

        I spoke a lot of Japanese… but also so much English. Many hotel guests were from Japan, but also from abroad. Knowing Japanese, even if not that well, and English was handy. In free time, I could also speak English a lot with my new friends because… let’s go to the next point!

        4. My sister and I would sorely stick out from the rest of the staff as the only people from overseas.

          The ski resort hotel staff was far more international than I could have ever hoped for! I was so excited to meet met the Nikkei girl from the U.K., and then the Nikkei Canadian guy within the first week. My second week, the interns from Indonesia and China arrived! As weeks flew by, I met other seasonal and full-time staff who were from other parts of the world or were Japanese and had lived in other parts of the world.

          Of course, we stood out, both in appearance and anytime we didn’t speak Japanese. The importance was, we were not alone!

          5. In every minute of my free time, I would be skiing and snowboarding endlessly. Duuuuh, that’s mostly why I went for this job.

            I didn’t ski or snowboard that much. My last month on the resort, I only skiied once. Work exhausted me, and my preferred free-time activities were sleeping and eating. The remote location of the hotel also meant that if there was something I needed to do in town (mail something, grocery shopping, etc.) then it would take most of the day, leaving no time for the slopes. Still, I skiied and snowboarded far more in those 3.5 months in Hakuba than I had than in the last ten years, and that was good enough for me.


            The Curveballs: What I Didn’t See Coming

            1. The deliciously greasy staff canteen food made me bloated and fatally gassy. (As in, fatal to the lungs of those around me. Mine too.) I was constantly farting. Tums provided a little relief, but not as much as finding out that I wasn’t the only one having this issue.

            2. When the new U.S. president took office in late January, the resulting changes hit me far harder than I expected. Those first weeks were rough, even from across the ocean. It still sucks, though I suppose I’ve gotten used to it grudgingly.

            3. Even though I enjoyed the experience overall, with just three days left in my contract, I woke up totally unable to stand the place AT ALL. I went to the office to cut my contract that day and was on a train to Tokyo the next. I liked the job, and I had good friends. So what was wrong? As mentioned, the resort was remotely located atop a mountain and was hard to leave without a personal car. Aside from being almost inescapable, I found living and working every day in the size of an area that takes not even ten minutes to walk across to be suffocating. I got along unexpectedly well with all my roommates, but sharing a small room with 2-3 other people meant no privacy. Most deeply, I missed unwinding by hopping on my bicycle or skateboard to ride somewhere, anywhere in the anonymity of the city. Even if I had brought my skateboard or bicycle to the resort, it was too snowy and icy for either anyways. I had wanted to try a ski resort job for years, so I didn’t expect to feel this way so strongly. That was the most unexpected of all.


            For My Nikkei Readers

            Though I am a quitter, I still HIGHLY recommend working on a resort in Japan if you have the proper visa or citizenship. If your Japanese is not great, it’s a good chance for you to improve. And I promise, there is a position you can do even with really basic Japanese ability and no work experience. A lot of resorts receive international guests, so workers who can speak foreign languages (especially Chinese, English, and Korean) are definitely wanted. During the busiest holidays periods of the year, positions can be as short as even just two weeks.

            Most of all though, it honestly is a fun and unique experience. You will befriend so many types of people, and make memories living somewhere most people only travel to. I’ll write more about how to find resort jobs at some point.

            If I were a university student still, I would have worked a summer or winter position in Japan in lieu of studying abroad in Japan. And so I make up for lost time now! Since I now know I really dislike snowy and remote areas, for my next resort job, I hope to work at a beach resort located an hour away from Osaka.

            anonymous asked:

            Since there are all these new admins, any of you have any fic recommendations? I would love to know you're faves (take this as a welcome. (*^▽^)/ )

            Well I have so many but I’ll try to keep it to 5 chaptered fics and 5 one-shots! Any other admins, feel free to add on! :)

            Misfit - Dan is different. He’s learned to accept that. I mean, what choice did he have? He’s been this way since he was a baby. People might not have questioned him about talking to things that weren’t really there at that age, but he can’t remember a time he didn’t have people that ‘weren’t really there’ dancing around him.

            (^^^ this is my #1 favourite fic of all time!!!! i love it so much it hurts)

            Memories - After an accident, Dan has memory loss. He forgets that Phil is his boyfriend, but remembers that Phil is his favourite Youtuber

            Two Roads Meet Phil Lester, a shy, poetic hipster, is talented at a lot of things; social interaction not being one of them. But when his best friend Tom, a popular socialite, wins a competition for a Road Trip, Phil suddenly finds himself meeting a whole new group of friends, including the total stud Dan Howell; a flirt-machine in a leather jacket. But will Phil’s awkwardly interesting personality intrigue Dan, or completely freak him out?

            Resistance  Daniel Howell is a rich posh boy whose life is entirely planned out for him. Phil is a depressed, anxiety ridden- boy with Mutism that only wants to draw.

            Our Threadbare Lies - Dan is eighteen years old and newly single. He’s ready to come out to his family but he thinks it would be a hell of a lot easier if he had a boyfriend to help him through it.

            I Dare You to Love Me - AU! Dan owns a popular flower shop and has more of a passion for flowers than he does for people. That is, until Phil stumbles into his shop - and consequently into his life as the two develop a fast friendship and Dan finds himself all but infatuated with him. But there’s a problem: Phil’s engaged and Dan is the florist for his wedding. And even more complications arise when Phil begins questioning everything he’s ever known about love - and himself - when he realizes that the path to true love isn’t always… straight.

            Blue - Dan is an artist who sees people as colours and Phil needs money.

            Love Them Forever and Never Let Go - Non-binary Dan tells Phil everything and it’s more than okay.

            Brown and Blue -  Dan’s wings prove to be sensitive.

            The Wanting Comes in Waves - After moving to the tiny Welsh coastal village of Rhagfyr, Phil struggles to find a new way of living, what with his new school and the decision of his future still on the table. Dan is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but perhaps there’s beauty inside destruction.

            - Gabriela

            ~

            (I’m just gonna add on, even tho most of these are my faves as well tbh)

            Pastels and Wedding Plans - Phil is the wedding planner for Dan’s brother’s wedding and Dan is the cynical brother who is forced to help in planning the wedding.

            Better With You By My Side Dan and Phil are both sons of rich families and are sent to ballroom dancing lessons. Because there is a shortage of girls, Dan and Phil end up as partners. Phil really doesn’t want to be there and Dan doesn’t either, but is so frustrated by the fact Phil doesn’t want to dance with him he is determined to get him to.

            Even Lovers Drown - Dan meets Phil when he’s nine and Phil’s thirteen, and he very quickly becomes the best thing in Dan’s life. But Phil’s a merman and no one else believes that he exists.

            Details of an Asteroid - When Dan and Phil keep bumping into each other, they eventually give in to chance and start talking. Soon enough, Dan makes a home at the library Phil works at, and they talk about nothing and everything so often that there is no going back. The two survive the future just fine, until they learn the flaws of leaning the weight of your existence on someone else’s shoulders.

            The Sirens - Dystopian AU

            Renegade (This fucked me up) - It’s World War 2. Phil, a young German soldier, is stationed in Denmark. There he meets Dan - a rebellious Danish school boy who is intent on making his job hell. But before long, they realise they have more in common than they’d have thought. How do you hide a friendship when you come from two different sides of a war?

            Chocolate Ice Cream and Bourbon - It’s not as if Dan doesn’t want to go to the parties that he’s obligated to go to as a university student. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and Dan knows that him and parties should not mix. That is, until he isn’t alone, and he meets a solemn writer named Phil.

            Four in the Morning Four in the morning is the poster child for loneliness, earth’s betrayal; Dan Howell’s never been good at falling asleep at night. Because being alone in an empty house becomes suffocating, Dan finds solace in a cashier working the night shift at a grocery who’s afraid to fall asleep: Phil Lester. Maybe some questions are better off unanswered, or maybe Dan’s just afraid of the response.

            Famous Last WordsIn a world where the last words your soulmate will say to you are written on your wrist, fearful and introverted Phil works in a bookstore. His greatest fear? The words counting down the seconds until he meet his soulmate, someone called ‘Dan.’ But it isn’t until he befriends a university student that he nicknames ‘Bear’ that Phil realizes that surviving through fear isn’t the same as living.

            -Rachel

            Final FAQin Hell

            Q: How does it feel to bring this era to a close? Do you think it will be weird taking a break?

            A: It feels very bittersweet ending this era because I’ve enjoyed it so much and it’s been so helpful for me, creatively. But in terms of taking a break: no, that doesn’t feel weird at all. I’ve been travelling for a year and a half, so it’s something that I need to do, creatively.

            Q: Are you supporting Bernie or Hillary to win the presidential election? xx presuming it won’t be any republican trash

            A: I am not supporting anyone in particular, but I feel like, from what I’ve seen so far, you know, Hillary Clinton does have her faults, she’s not perfect, but she’s way better than Donald Trump, who’s literally a cross between Peter Griffin from Family Guy and Ronald McDonald.

            Q: Where do you see yourself 15 years from now? Do you want a family?

            A: I don’t know where I see myself 15 years from now. I think one of the best things about life is that you have no idea what’s gonna happen, you know, particularly all the wonderful things that could happen to you. I like the element of surprise. In terms of family, you know, that’s a decision that you make when you come to it. So again, I don’t know.

            Q: Emotional intelligence vs Intellectual intelligence, which is more important?

            A: I love this question. I think emotional intelligence is more important, because it gives you an understanding of why people are the way they are and it’s also something that all of us can improve and develop.

            Q: Following Oxford do you plan on speaking at any other unis or colleges? x

            A: I don’t plan to at the moment, but I would certainly like to do more talks in the future. I think one element of the Oxford talk that I really loved was the discussion that we had afterwards, that’s something that really interests me. So, you know, if there’s a topic in which I feel like I can share information on, then I would definitely like to do more talks.

            Q: Would you ever write a book about your experiences as an artist?

            A: I wouldn’t write a book about my experiences as an artist, but I would be interested in writing a book about other topics. Something that I’m really passionate about is practical philosophy and how we can use philosophy and apply it to modern life. So yes.

            Q: Why don’t you come to Spain? We really want you 😣😘

            A: Spain, I’m so sorry that I didn’t come. I know you are incredibly upset. I would love to have come to Spain, Italy, Russia, Australia, but the fact is that planning a tour is never as simple as just wanting to go to a certain country, it’s incredibly complex and yeah, that’s all I can say.

            Q: How do you feel when fans give you letters or tell you you saved their life

            A: I feel very honoured and I also don’t take it literally, even though fans may want me to. I feel like when they say “You saved my life”, it’s more saying that I felt a certain way and I know that you did too at a certain point in your life, and then, you know, there’s a feeling of connectedness there, so I get it.

            Q: Why does human emotions and psychological nature catch your attention so much?

            A: I don’t know why, but it’s how I’m wired, and even as a songwriter what’s really inspired me is the human condition, why we are the way we are. So it’s almost trying to understand something or somebody without judgement and more trying to figure out what makes them tick. So, actually a lot of what I do in my spare time is geared towards that subject.

            Q: Do you have anything to say to us people who suffer with anxiety/depression?

            A: Yes, I do. I have suffered from both for long periods of time and I think one thing I would say is that I was never diagnosed for anxiety, which I definitely suffered from for close to a decade. I wouldn’t recommend going on medication personally, but I would recommend getting help with counseling, to see what the root of your problem is.

            Q: Are you afraid of being old?

            A: Absolutely not! I am going to relish it! I feel very strongly about the pros of aging. I really hate that we live in a culture where, you know, if you’re thirty years old and you have a wrinkle on your forehead - which I do have - you have to get Botox. I think it’s a really negative message. It’s not about being beautiful, it’s more about erasing your age, and you never look good after it.

            Q: Despite feeling so unhappy for most of your life, what gave you the motivation to turn it around and live life?

            A: I wouldn’t say I was unhappy for most of my life, but I had my moments. This question actually reminds me of something I heard on TV a few months ago. It was a guy on the news and he said “I’d always wanted to be happy my whole life, and so I chose to be.” And that just seemed so simple, but it was very profound for me, that you decide to be happy; it doesn’t just happen to you.

            Q: Did you ever feel like you had no one like at all, only yourself? How did you get through it?

            A: Yes, definitely. Sometimes it’s really hard to find like-minded individuals and that can make people feel lonely. But I think it’s really helpful to remember that the most important relationship you’re gonna have in your life is the one with yourself, and really you are your own best friend, and I think realizing that gave me a lot of strength and a lot of confidence too, actually.

            Q: What happened to MarinaMeets?

            A: This is a very popular question. I really have loved meeting fans and this time on tour I wanted to create an environment which was not chaotic and sometimes dangerous. So I met ten fans every night, cause I just don’t have the energy to meet more, that’s the truth, but it didn’t last cause it wasn’t an ideal system, but it was something that I wanted to try.

            Q: Did you believe in what Justin is saying? Did you considerate that important?

            A: Following on from the last question, I guess what I wanna say about this is that it’s never a given to meet an artist after a show and whilst we always recognize how much fans give and sacrifice, our responsibility is putting on an amazing show, that’s what we owe you through you buying a ticket to see us. So when I saw Justin Bieber’s post I totally understood and I think well-being is way more important than a –

            Q: When will Neon Nature merch be available online?

            A: So I am launching a FROOT Cyber Pop Up Stall next Tuesday. I know there are plenty of people across the globe that couldn’t make the show, I didn’t come to your city, so for the first time ever I’m putting my full range of merchandise online, it’s only gonna be available for seven days and once the stall goes out, it’s out. This is the last chance to buy FROOT gear.

            Q: Is there one book you’ve read as an adult that you wish you could share with your younger self?

            A: How to Develop Emotional Health, which is a book from a series by the School of Life, and also How To Stay Sane, by Philippa Perry, which is also a School of Life book.

            Q: What was the most important thing you learned about life this past year?

            A: The most important thing I learned this year was actually about stability and staying in one place. The year before FROOT came out I was in London for a whole year, sleeping in one bed, and I was surprised at how much it affected my mood and stabilized it. And I think going back on tour again I realized that it’s quite hard to stay in a certain frame of mind.

            Q: Any parting words for the FROOT era?

            A: Parting words, it’s been an absolute dream. I’ve achieved so many things that I’d been trying to for many years and now I’m gonna take a little break to do some different things. I’ve been on the road for seven years, I’ve had an amazing, amazing experience. So this isn’t goodbye for good, it’s just for a short while, but thank you so much.