In Year 7 of high school I failed a subject: Japanese. It was the only subject I ever failed in my educational career (though I walked on a philosophical knife’s edge when I attempted Existential Literary Arse-Cramp 101 at uni). So I suppose it’s ironic or perhaps just fitting that on our ski trip to Japan I failed at a few things there as well. I completely A+’ed a few don’t get me wrong, but let’s face it, talking about my failings is a lot more entertaining than my ability to use TripAdvisor and source a few awesome places to eat.
Here’ s my Report Card from our very recent holiday to Niseko and Tokyo:
Subject: International travel without children: skiing in Hirafu and sightseeing in Tokyo.
Travel Arrangements: A
Melinda made judicious choices in her Team Captain and travel agent who together sourced excellent accommodation and flights. It should be noted this result has been awarded because of her delegatory skills rather than any effort or expertise on her part.
Ski Performance: D-
Whilst she tries hard, Melinda is unable to apply herself fully to hurtling down a steep hill at speed. She needs to focus on overcoming her fear of lofty terrains and being a better ‘sport’ when she is led down precipitious intermediate ski runs (or even beginner runs which are a bit steep in parts). Further to this, Melinda must be reminded that screaming out colourful language when descending a mountain on slippery skis is never appropriate no matter how she may fear for her life, especially in a family ski resort such as this where small children may shoot past at speed like ninja-ski-devils. She seems more interested in when and where she will be eating lunch, having hot chocolate and drinking beer in an onsen (hot spring) than improving her skiing ability.
Cultural Awareness: B-
Melinda adhered to cultural traditions during her time in Japan satisfactorily. At times she was very respectful (removing shoes where appropriate, bowing as a sign of respect) and in others stayed true to the stereotypical Australian yobbo way of being (drinking beer in onsens). Her continuous commentary of, interactions with and attempts at understanding the differing workings of Japanese toilets was both commendable and tenacious
Social Skills: C-
Melinda’s ability to socialise appropriately with others continues to be an issue. Unseemly behaviours such as pushing others into snow banks (especially after alcohol has been imbibed), glaring at children who ski better than her, interrupting others relaxation time in onsens to ask about where the best bars were, an inability to speak positively to ski instructors and her use of salty language on the slopes during times of perceived danger (on the baby ski run) have affected her mark adversely here.
Language Skills: E+
As mentioned extensively already, whilst Melinda’s reliance on the ‘F’ word to convey emotion may be contextually correct, it is continuously inappropriate.Perhaps a thesaurus would help her to extend her vocabulary. In regards to the Japanese language, she was fortunate in only really needing to use this whilst in Tokyo, (since the resort of Niseko is staffed and occupied mostly by Australians and New Zealanders) since her grasp of even simple phrases was woeful. Perhaps the best example of this was her quite literal inability to navigate her way out of a train station and the ordering of unidentifiable food at restaurants despite having a picture menu translated into English to help her.
Application of Parenting Skills: A+
A very pleasing result here from an organised parent. Not only is Melinda able to coerce others into looking after her children for 11 days she also instils such confidence in these people that her offspring hardly notice her absence. She was diligent in calling, skyping and sending photos to her small children who in return, were barely interested, preferring to finish the icecream cone their grandparents had given them than speak to their mother. It is unsure whether this is simply because she never gives her children icecream or that her children just don’t like their mother all that much.
Whilst Melinda’s skiing abilities actually got worse during the course of the week, her foul mouth was unparalleled and her use of the Japanese language useless, she seemed to enjoy herself immensely. Full marks for a an awesome holiday!