Remember that time I lived in Australia? And I briefly worked in a hostel? You can read my rant here, but today I’m looking back and sharing what lessons I learned from that experience.
I started out working for accommodation in a hostel and a week later, the job turned into a full-time paid cleaner position with accommodation. While this job temporarily gave me a sense of relief since I was pretty stressed out, the job wasn’t ideal.
Between the 5 work days and 40 hours, I was hopping around the two sister hostels on the same block, scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets, carrying heavy mop buckets up and down stairs, deep cleaning rooms, and finding one too many condoms in the bathrooms (gross).
After a day of cleaning, all I wanted to do was take a shower, relax with a good book and drink tea before sleeping at a reasonable hour. However, two of my roommates seemed to have a problem with who I was and it turned into a form of bullying.
It started out with asking me what my plans were for the night. My answer wouldn’t be too exciting given that I had early morning shifts. These two roommates, however, didn’t really have physically draining jobs. One – a boy from Holland – worked in the hostel’s cafe all day and sat in a chair and read a book. The other – a girl from England – washed windows for two hours a day in exchange for accommodation and spent the rest of the time partying. I found that my job was a lot more demanding. (There was also a German couple living in the room but they were very friendly and minded their own business.)
The bullying first portrayed to be innocent but when it turned into something that was consistent, I knew it was a problem. Still, I didn’t say anything or report them. Sometimes I’d pretend to be asleep in attempt to actually fall asleep even though I knew my they were talking about me. One night, the boy from Holland pushed me to my breaking point when he came in the room in the middle of the night and purposely woke me up by shining his phone light in my face and asked me how I was doing. Jerk!
It had been exactly one week since I moved into the staff room and about 3 weeks since I started the job. I was sleep deprived, bullied and exhausted. So on this night, somehow, I found myself getting out of my bottom bunk bed and walking over to the rubbish bin. I picked it up and walked over to the boy’s bed and threw it at him. (Oh, yes I did. *snaps finger*)
Needless to say, this was not my proudest moment. I completely lost my temper. The two roommates (bullies) and I got into an argument. I cried. I yelled. I got the night manager who moved me into a private room for the rest of the night.
After a night of arguing and crying, it was time to move on.
That night trying to get any sleep was out of the question. My mind was scattered with thoughts, and I couldn’t turn my thoughts off even if I tried. My face was dry, my body ached from being physically and emotionally drained, and random thoughts popped into my head. At this moment, I wanted to give up and fly home to America.
I tried to calm down a bit and think a bit more clearly. No one forced me to work there; I was the one who willingly accepted the job offer without giving it a second thought.
The next day I went to cleaning manager (in tears), gave a week’s notice, and told her that I refused to live in the staff room any longer. I decided that it was time to move to a new city in Australia and start fresh. I had only been in OZ for three months at that time (this was in 2014!) and it was too soon to give up. Eventually I moved to Melbourne and found a decent well-paying job and lived and traveled in OZ (and bit outside of OZ) for one year as I planned.
One of my favorite things about travel is meeting new people. But sometimes you’ll run into jerks. My roommates were bullies and looking back, I could’ve handled the situation better (without throwing things!). Here’s what I learned.
Never Let Others Make You Doubt Yourself
My roommates thought I was strange for not partying every night and drinking like a fish.
Travelers come in all shapes, sizes, and personality types. Some are quieter than others. Some want to spend their energy exploring new places. Others party every night and get drunk. To each their own. If I’m going to make any changes in my lifestyle and habits, it’s going to be for me.
Ask For Help
When I went to the cleaning manager (in tears – it was awful, you guys) to quit the job, she said something that stuck with me. She asked me why I didn’t come to her and ask for help.
The thought of asking for help never occurred to me. I wasn’t in grade school. I was an adult and I thought I could handle the situation alone.
Of course, now I realize that throwing a rubbish bin at someone wasn’t exactly what an adult would have done. It felt like – in the moment – I was defending myself (and maybe I was) but I actually looked crazy to my peers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s one of the greatest abilities we have as humans.
You are in charge of your life. Never forget that. In my particular case, I was lucky enough to just pick up and leave. I wasn’t enjoying the job. And I couldn’t stand my roommates.
There was a moment between throwing a tantrum and bawling my eyes out that I thought, “What the hell I am doing?” No one was making me stay somewhere where I clearly didn’t want to be. All I had to do was leave.
Note: If you’re ever in a situation like this, try to talk it out. Report whoever is making you feel uncomfortable and if you’re really unhappy, quit/leave.
Also, please note that obviously all hostels, people, and experiences are different. I’m not saying that all hostel jobs are like this unfortunate experience. I’ve met a ton of travelers who are introverts and have worked in hostels (some have even had their own private rooms). In my particular case, I was in more of a party hostel and wasn’t sure what to expect and the situation was really unsuccessful. And, sometimes, you have to go through such experiences to get to a better place in your life.
Have you ever worked in a hostel or been in a work experience were you were being bullied?