As I said in my previous post, I had some stomach problems on Wednesday and it did not really get better so I had to stay home on Thursday. I think in general I was having trouble digesting food, but the added stress just made it worse so I took one day off.
I was able to go to work today (Friday) and although my stomach felt pretty bad after lunch, I was okay afterwards and was able to finish the normal work day.
I am getting better at understanding longer conversations and requests with Japanese guests, and my accent is starting to improve too. The challenge is to understand everything properly and to try to ask follow-up questions if I do not understand something instead of just automatically asking someone else for help. I think asking follow-up questions is somewhat scary to me because I feel like I should be a native speaker to work here and I do not want the guest to have to "dumb down" their Japanese just for me, the intern.
The most successful thing I did today was give outside directions (places outside the hotel) with the map in Japanese, even though I definitely think I used some awkward phrases. When you give directions you have to make sure the map is facing the guest instead of yourself. I'm not good at drawing and recognizing things upside down yet so I cheat by making the notes first and then explaining it to them after. I also walk people to many places within the hotel if I feel that explaining it is too difficult or if they look really confused and worried they will get lost. With foreigners it is easy because I can just make some small talk in English and it is whatever, but in Japanese there is less small talk, but with the older people who are especially nice I try to talk to them to make them feel welcome, even though I cannot always understand everything they say back to me perfectly.
The most amusing thing about my job to me is when people are either checking in or out. When you see someone with luggage, you say チェックアウト・インでございますか。"Are you checking in/out?" Then you say 鍵をお預かり致します。"May I have your key?" And then finally, お荷物を持ち致しましょうか。"May I help you with your luggage?" Since I stand next to the concierge desk, by the time I spot the clients with the luggage there is approximately a ten second walk or less from the concierge to the front desk, so it is always super awkward to rush to say everything and then hold someone's luggage for like five seconds, but that is good service!!! I actually end up only touching the luggage and then a bell boy or something else comes because our hotel is traditional and usually only men handle luggage. I find this really funny and I think some of the guests who are not used to this service find it amusing as well.
After work I got to try some dessert from one of the hotel restaurants with some of the other concierge staff for free. Now we can fully recommend the dessert to our clients!
At night I met up with my friend from college (she graduated and has been working for a bit now) and it was fun eating and walking around Ginza. I really like city life and I love that I feel safe enough to explore at night. I cannot say the same about my hometown or in most places in the U.S. Tomorrow I meet with another friend to eat some more food; I hope my stomach can handle it.