Montag, 30. April 2012

golden week (not mine though)

It's golden week in japan, but not for me! I work/ed on all days of Golden Week except today (30th April).
I started working part-time at IKEA Kobe. It's interesting to have an insight in their work culture etc. After my group interview for IKEA some weeks ago, I received an offer to work only during Golden Week. However, on the training day, I received a six month part-time contract. What a change of events!

The next surprise, unfortunately a bad one, came a few hours later at work (hotel). The girl in charge of the shift-scheduling and my direct boss quits after golden week. Actually she quits by today, but they have no one to replace her yet and Golden Week will be quite busy. I almost cried. I admire her because she treats me and everyone else with the right mix of respect and authority. Even though she is very young, she's able and doing a great job.

Yesterday I worked at IKEA only for a few hours, but it was so exhausting I was wet of sweat :D. I showered and changed clothes etc. within 10 minutes and rushed to my next work.... There was a flea market at IKEA but I couldn’t even spare 5 minutes for it :( What a pity..from passing by, I could spot some cute looking things.

Today Dai and me went to Kobe Harborland, where the OKTOBERFEST takes place. Yes right, you can enjoy the custom of a Oktoberfest in April / May. Everything’s possible in Japan ;)
It was super tiny and everything was expensive. I bought a Bretzel for 200 Yen (about 2 Euro) which was micro-sized and did not have salt and tasted kinda bland. 2 minutes later I found out, there also was a normal sized, salted Bretzel available... However double the price.
Dai had no school, but work and therefore he did not drink beer. He wanted to, but stayed strong. My poor boy :/

Me being pissed off about the size of my "bretzel", Dai longing for good german beer and the Oktoberfest in April. The ferris wheel in the background is not part of the event, it's always there.

We took purikura at Mosaic (shopping mall)...

... and shopped a bit at Seria (another 100Yen chain store).
I got a hairband for showering/bathing :D

and those pretty chopsticks:
 You always end up buying random unnecessary things at 100yen shops....argh ^^.

I also browsed a few shops at Kosokukobe Station and bought this on sale for 1095 Yen:

We went home, did some shopping, ate seven eleven o-bentos and watched GANTZ – Perfect Answer (Part 2).

Gosh, I love GANTZ movies. The fighting scenes are extremely well coordinated and the whole atmosphere is so exciting. I love those bodycon suits too :P

Oh and I want to share this cake with you :D
Went to Doutor with Sunao-chan on Thursday (got to know her through ikea) and had a azuki-matcha cake. I love anko/azuki beans and I love matcha flavored stuff. This was the perfect mix for me and I wasn't disappointed:

Doutor starts to grow on me. I think they are reasonable priced/sized (cheaper than starbucks) and have tasty stuff!

Dienstag, 24. April 2012

Catching up

basically I didn’t do much past days except working. Even though I only work 5,5 hours and about 4 days a week, it's still pretty much occupying me. I guess it is because the work schedule itself sucks. Working from 5pm to 22.30 or almost 23.00 makes me going to bed laaaate. When I come home, I cannot sleep immediately and usually stay up some hours. The next day I wake up early because my boyfriend makes noises at 5:30am or the sun is shining too brightly. I don’t get up and try to sleep in again, but usually I end up being quite tired during day time.

Before I started working at the Hotel-restaurant, I said I wanted to work 2 or 3 days a week. First they scheduled my shifts that way, but then I was asked to come in for additional shifts... It's not like I don’t wanna work and be lazy. I just don’t want to work THERE so much. I rather want more free days in order to find another part time job.

I am supposed to work one week for IKEA Kobe during Golden Week. I have no clue how many days and hours Ikea wants me to work. Most likely I will receive this information tomorrow! However my regular part-time job wants to know TODAY when I can work and when not. I have no clue what to answer them today. I guess I have to beg, to get one more day to think about my schedule... or say I cannot work at all during Golden Week. Either way sucks.

Except working; I met another woman called Yukiko-san, who once spend a year doing Working Holiday in Canada, where she met german people. So she was interested to meet me for language/cultural exchange. She is really nice and showed me a lovely Cafe in Kobe (Sannomiya) and we talked about general stuff and girly things. We already figured out some stuff we would like to do together like shopping and going to a spa or onsen. 
I choose a classic ice coffee, but the way it was arranged and served was very nice!! The syrup was really nice, maybe it was honey...not sure Oo; 

At my workplace we chat quite casually during work and it's funny, but unfortunately everyone is always tired and worn out after work. Therefore I only once went out for drinking so far. With the manager of the second restaurant and my boss. My „boss“ is a 22years old girl, one of the rare shain (regular employee, most staff are part-timers like me) and entered directly after graduation last year into the company. Typical for the japanese hiring system she has to work unhuman hours. I seriously admire her for keeping this up. (She spends 10-12 hours a day in the hotel, 6 days a week).
So we went to some izakaya at Motomachi train station, that was supposed to resemble a german bar or something. They offered dishes like „Eisbein“ and german beer. But in the end nothing was really very german... I accidentally deleted the photo of their „Eisbein“, that’s all I can share of the outing:

After my bosses left, I walked to my station...a little bit TOO SLOWLY and missed the last train. Of course I could have taken a taxi, but I was being stingy me and decided to go for a looong walk.
Well it took about 45 minutes to walk home and I arrived a bit past 1 am at my place. Luckily the way back home is routed on big main streets, so it is quite safe. Every 50 meters or so there’s a shop like a conbini with lights on and normal people in there. The only downside of this were muscle pains the next day :D

Yesterday was one of the rare days where neither me nor my bf had to work in the late afternoon/ evening. After my bf came back from school, we rode by bike to the DOCOMO Shop. I had to cancel some options of my cell phone plan. In order to get my phone for „free“, I had to sign up for a package of random options services I never use or need and could cancel them after one month. So we went there in order to do so. Then we were told, I had to sign up for some insurance if I cancel these options... what? You always end up paying more than you expect I suppose. It's not much though. It's ok, but yeah... japanese cell phone plans in general suck big ass IMO.
My cell phone plan is paying 1200yen (about 10 euro) monthly for the contract, phone and sending emails (to japanese cellphones and to normal e-mail addresses). Everything else costs fees, therefore I try not to call anyone and only use my phone for mails. I also locked options on my phone that connect to the internet, so that I don’t accidentally connect.

I was looking forward to spend some free time with my boyfriend, but while we were waiting at docomo he got a call from the conbini he works for. He was asked to help out immediately.. So after finishing business at docomo he left for work again. :/

Today a package by my lovely grandparents arrived ! Awww Im a happy girl now.(DANKE OMA UND OPA :*) It's not like japanese products are bad, but I'd say that japanese and german drugstore products have about the same quality. However german products are about HALF THE PRICE. And there is some stuff you don’t find in japan, and of course the other way around things you wont find in Germany.
Japanese do not use as much day-creams/facial creams as Europeans. Asian woman stick to lotions and toners that are liquid/watery. I just don’t know how to use them or which would be fitting to my I rather stick to mattifying day creams etc.

Also there are hardly any affordable body lotions. The type of body lotions that I want cost at least 900yen or more, while I get the equivalent in bigger size in Germany for 250 yen. I could imagine it's because japanese woman may invest more money into bathing products and face care, so there is no big demand for body lotions/milks etc.

There are also products in Japan that are „better“, for example I find make up remove sheets and washing foams/gels to be better. Probably mascara is better too. I cant really tell, since my lashes are naturally long and I have no need for super high-quality mascara.

So far I haven’t had many opportunities to wear much make up, my work requires me to look „natural“ (so I only use make up/foundation, blush and mascara) and can't wear any accessories.

So I have to get ready for work....

Samstag, 14. April 2012

Mentally arrived in japan

Tomorrow will be my fourth shift at the dinner buffet within this week. The original work schedule said only three shifts, but the girl supervising the restaurant asked me to come in for another shift. Happily I agreed! I constantly worry, that I don't do things well or quick enough. I am really slow with most of the tasks... I hope I become better at everything soon. The job starts to grow on me. Everyone (waiters, cooks, kitchen staff, etc) is friendly. The atmosphere among the staff is very casual and co-operative. However everyone is very professional/reliable in his/her designated work.

So yesterday (Friday) I was asked to come in spontaneously because a group of 60 chinese hotel guests reserved Hall B of the restaurant. I was totally scared of the number of people... in the end in turned out alright, it was just a lot of cleaning left to do afterwards ^^''

The chinese group stormed in MASSES the tiny buffet and were rude to each other and did some stuff with the food/buffet, that I regard as disgusting.
But I have to say SOMETIMES this also applies to some japanese guests as well. It is indeed quite interesting to see how people behave with food. Or what their manners are like and how they react to us, the service staff.

Most customers are very forgiving to me. Ignoring my bad japanese or me being slow with picking up their used dishes. At least one time per evening I am asked where I am from and what I am doing in Japan. Usually this is followed by an encouraging „Ganbattekudasai!“ (means something between „hang in there“ and „Do your best!“)

A downside of my work is that, when I come home from work at around 11pm my boyfriend is already asleep! Our schedules are totally different now and we hardly have time to do something nice together. He works from 6am to 9am and then goes to school til afternoon. However things will settle soon and I will probably usually only get two or three shifts a week anyway.

Today (Saturday) I met up with Naoko-san again. I also met one of her „students“ she teaches japanese to as a volunteer. She introduced an indonesian girl to me (muslim), while talking I realized, she was a „woman“. Married and already has a two years old kid. She wasn’t the age she looked liked. Unfortunately she had to leave very soon again.

Naoko-san and me stuck to our original plan and went for a walk to the Ikutagawa (生田川). We walked a while along the river until we found a really nice spot to sit down. We talked and talked and watched the sakura trees. When some wind came up, the petals were beautifully blowing in the wind. It was my first official hanami in Japan. I enjoyed a can of CALPIS SOUR I had picked up at Lawson before. Calpis with a little shot of vodka.
OMG calpis sour is so TASTY. This might turn into my favorite alcoholic beverage in Japan :D
(calpis is some milky/yoghurtsy kind of soft drink/ beverage)

After a while we headed back to sannomiya and paid a short visit to Ikutajinja:

At the same time there was some traditional procession going on. Apparently celebrating „spring“.

Oh btw if you're a poor bimbo like me but don’t want to feel like this, go to Daimaru's food floor (basement). Naoko-san and me went only for a few minutes but were able to try out various things. You can have a taste of great food for free that way ;)

I finally bought make up. I ended up with KATE'S Mineral Cover BB Gel Cream in the lightest shade:

It feels good on the skin and it is mattifying. The coverage is very little though. For me that’s no matter of concern. If I want to cover up spots, I use an additional concealer. Highly covering products are usually heavy and greasy, so I rather use a light make up. So far it seems like  a good match for my combination skin.

Sonntag, 8. April 2012

one week summary

ok... uhm where to start? Don't know how to summarize the last week properly, but I give my best.

On Sunday (1st April) I had a job interview at another hotel in Kobe. Once I arrived and entered the lobby, I was shocked to see what a big and quite fancy hotel it was. My self-confidence vanished. Already before the actual interview started, I was kinda „tested“. I was supposed to write some stuff in Japanese on an application form. It was clearly a test, all the things asked on the sheet where things usually asked within the interview or that can be found on your CV. So when the actual interview started I was told right away to study more Japanese and that my Japanese is not sufficient for the position. It would be necessary to be able to write Japanese by hand not only on the computer.
I got her point and I agree with her, but then again I wonder why I was invited. I was sad to have wasted time and money on this, but I kept smiling. The woman in charge continued to talk to me for about half an hour and tried to encourage me.
Anyway, another lesson learned.

when u ride the JR Port Liner from Sannomiya to Port Island, you get a very nice view

some part of the hotel lobby

On Monday I had a meeting back at the Hotel I was interviewed by two weeks ago! After two weeks they decided to contact me and re-invite me. Actually I didn't want to work there, because the hourly pay is little and I won't be able to work many hours a week. However, I have no right to be picky. I said yes to everything and was scheduled to work my first shift the next day (Tuesday).

I actually worked three times at the Hotel Restaurant that week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Each evening got busier and more exhausting, but then again my co-workers are really nice. My shift starts at 5pm and so far always ended around 10:30pm.
It's a buffet and I do not have to take orders. My tasks are to prepare the buffet, make sure things look nice etc., refill food, pick up used dishware, clean tables and so on. I also cleaned the toilets -_-

We can also take a break and eat from the buffet. When taking down the buffet and cleaning there's also always a chance to eat some leftovers.

On Thursday I had another Interview at a big company, but also only for a part-time / temporary position. It was a group interview. I sat at a table with 9 other people, everyone Japanese and we were asked questions by the Interviewers. Luckily, it wasn't a competitive group interview, but aimed to provide a friendly, open and casual atmosphere. Half of the people were dressed in suits and the other half wore very casual outfits. The company is not Japanese and this was also conveyed during the interview. It felt rather „european“ except, that everyone besides me was Japanese.

I got through the whole thing somehow and I was always able to say at least „something“ to the questions, but of course I couldn’t provide interesting answers and stories as the japanese candidates. It was alright though. After the Interview one girl approached me and asked me to be friends with her. I thought it was really cute of her and we spend some time together talking and took purikura.

On Saturday I met Naoko-san. I posted on some message board, that I was looking for japanese language exchange partners and got a nice reply from her. She teaches Japanese at KICC as a volunteer and therefore we met up at the KICC (at KICC foreigners living in Kobe can receive consultation, help, free lessons etc.). We left there immediately and headed for a lovely cafe called Nishimura:
It was a little on the expensive side, but you can sit there for hours without being bothered to order more and more. My tiny nuts-coffee was 650Yen (about 6 Euro) and extremely tasty. After about two hours in the Cafe, we went out for a little window shopping and all in all we met for about 4 hours. It was really nice to meet her and talk so much in japanese (also some german and english).

On Sunday I didn’t do much and used the day to relax. I also got randomly an offer for an internship. Before I came to japan I applied to various companies and only got rejections back. One of them contacted me now again and offered a telephone interview for an internship in Tokyo starting from July for 12 months. The position is a dream, but now that I am renting an apartment and got used to the life here, I can't and don’t want to leave so early again. I tried my best to write a diplomatic reply and asked if it's possible to start later or to do a short-term internship.

It's really sad: I don't get to do any girly shopping ! All I bought so far, was stuff for interviews/work: black pants, blazer, blouses, black shoes and a black hand bag.
At the Hotel Restaurant, I have to wear my own black pants and black shoes. Additionally, I got a white shirt, an apron and a neck ribbon from the hotel. : )

I actually went to a number of malls and places, but only for window shopping (or buying the formal stuff I mentioned). Also I am still struggling to find matching make up and skin care products.
I bought another washing foam by „naive“. It's actually a cheap sub-brand by Kanebo:

and I like it so far. It's nothing special, but considering the price it's a good solution.

I will do the laundry now and go to Chuo-ku by bike later on. I wanna check out the kobe-donki hote store and maybe finally buy new make up today...

random illumination of the canal garden building in harbour island