I didn’t just take photos of cats, OK?!
I usually pride myself in how long it’s been since I’ve had proper nasty fast food. Like Mc Donalds, or KFC and stuff. But ever since I lived in Japan I’ve been keen to try out speciality burgers. In Japan I loved Mc Donalds’ limited edition stuff, and in general I do like trying a Mc Donalds in every country I go to. It’s lame, I know, but I think it’s an interesting cultural point in each place.
I noticed that Burger King has two Christmas burgers and I really couldn’t let them go untried. I do like Burger King – in the UK they’re pretty good. But I’ve only had it once before here in Germany. The Claus burger is a traditional beef burger, with some kind of cheese on top. I’m not sure what made it Christmasy (in any case, it said “Merry Cheesemas” on the box so I guess it wasn’t meant to be?) but it was good. The emmental cheese bites with cranberry sauce were pretty crap and plasticy. They weren’t my favourite thing. I’m not sure whether it was those or the cheese that came with the burger but something gave me a terrible migraine for the rest of the day
Overall, the burger was ok. A little dry. But I can’t expect perfection here. It could have done with a little something extra, like bacon or even stuffing. I find that western fast food joints aren’t as creative as Japanese ones.
The Santa was a chicken burger with cheese on it as well. My friend said that she enjoyed it quite a lot – perhaps this is the better of the two. I don’t think I’ll be going to try it out, though…
Are there are specials at fast food places near you?
It’s the last day of November and NaBloPoMo! Wheeeeee!
Goodness me, it’s been a roller coaster of a month. I started off with a very small blog with a few awesome people always reading it, then I signed up to NaBloPoMo and WordPress promoted me as a NaBloPoMoer and I got lots of awesome new followers. Then, because I had to post every day, I realised that the things people like to read aren’t really the things I thought they like to read and a few of my posts that I thought were naff did really well. THEN, as I said yesterday, there was an avalanche of new people coming to my blog after I posted about CATS!
It’s been SO much fun this year and I’m glad I had a few blogging chummies doing it with me. Thanks to everyone who came along for the ride, and I’ll be resuming my normal every other day posting from today onwards!
To celebrate the start of December, here are some photos I took of the Christmas market this week in Frankfurt! It’s my FAVOURITE thing in the world so I hope you like them!
AHHHHHH Feuerzangenbowle!!!! My favourite thing!!!
Dear blog, there have been a few times when I’ve been willing to give up on you, saying that you’re too hard. But this week, when Turkish author Elif Shafak tweeted about you it was so incredible. Note to self: do more posts about cats. Cats mean stats.
Dear Haagen-Dazs hot chocolate, you weren’t really worth the calories. I’ll stick to Starbucks’ lebkuchen late in the future.
Dear beer advent calendar, what? I just. What? Oh, Germany.
Here’s the thing about my weekly links – I read blogs and stuff both at home and at work so I alternate between linking to things I’ve saved at work and things I’ve saved at home. These are the things I saved at home, so some may be a little old now…
I really enjoyed this post about the differences between Ireland and America. It seems there are a lot of expats out there weighing up their adopted country with their home country right now. I guess it’s just that time of year when you assess everything.
I just…I find this hilarious. I’m sorry. I can’t even tell you why it’s funny, but it makes me cry every time I see it.
How about some tourism slogans that were full of fail?
Thought Catalog were pretty thoughtful once more and had a post on things to consider before living abroad. I agree with a lot of these. Expat life certainly isn’t for everyone.
This link on things an expat has learnt about German people has been making the rounds this week. I sent it to my flatmates and they agreed that they are all very true. I was on the floor laughing at some of them!
This secret cinema event in London sounds amazing – you get to LIVE the cinema experience! I wonder if they’ll do any of my favourite films.
Still looking for stocking fillers for Christmas? How about your loved one’s name written in beautiful Japanese calligraphy? My friend Jo is doing them and she’s SO good at it! She makes such gorgeous creations!
Last link – Bo En has been my soundtrack for the past week. I LOVE his stuff – and Miss You is my tune right now. He also does amazing video game music so if you like electronic music then make sure you have a click around.
No video this week. I seem to be missing all the good ones!
I have half a dozen posts half written in my drafts but a link on Facebook has fired me up to write about something else completely. A Japanese friend posted a Japanese news link about the town I lived in, Ise. In Ise there’s a traditional shopping street with lots of traditional street food and crafts for sale. It leads up to Naiku, a very holy shrine that’s absolutely gorgeous and the main pulling point for the city. The king of that traditional shopping street is the “Akafuku” rice cake shop. Rice that has been hammered into little blobs are covered in red azuki beans and sold in little wooden boxes. Once a month they sell special edition cakes that we used to get up at 5am and queue for 2 hours to buy.
This was all part of the charm of the place I consider to be my home town. I spent just two years there, but I loved it with all my heart. It’s a gorgeous place, and the locals are so welcoming. Some days I completely forgot that I was different from most of the people I saw around me.
But the owners of that cake shop, the shop that dominates that whole street, think that Ise would be a lot better off without foreigners there. The former head of the company, Mr Hamada, was recently at a conference in Tsu and said such things as “with foreigners here, it’s just not right… Ise is the soul of Japan, so it should be a place that makes Japanese people happy. It’s not there for foreigners”.
On one hand, this isn’t surprising at all as this douche (whoops did I say that?!) is 79 years old and old people tend to be more racist than the norm, no matter which country you’re in. On the other hand, the people of Ise, people of all ages, were really supportive of myself and the other non-Japanese in the town. After all, there were only a handful of us there and it was very rare that you’d get a non-Japanese tourist in the town. It was the kind of place where, if I saw another non-Japanese person, I’d narrow my eyes and demand to know who they were and why they were in “our town”.
I’d say that outright dumb racism like this is pretty rare in Japan (unless it’s against Chinese or Korean people in which case you’d be swimming in it there). I’d even say that outright dumb racism is more visible in the UK; just today I was listening to the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 and even though I knew that every day he picks a stupid racist topic, I still was shocked when he had a whole section which could be labelled as “OH NO don’t let the Romanians in they’ll take all our jobs and we’ll die!” It was really ridiculous – and even though people were phoning in saying that Polish people in the UK do the jobs Brits don’t want to do and that Romanians don’t want to go to the UK (they’ve been able to come to Germany for ages and there’s not a problem here), Jeremy was still spouting out loads of racist crap.
I can’t imagine what life as a foreigner (or even a non-white person) must be like in Britain. But I guess I have a little idea from living in Japan, as it was eventually the racism that got to me and made me want to leave. There was nothing telling me to go home (I was there, after all, on the taxpayer’s dime teaching their kids) but there were people who refused to sit next to me on the train, women who held their handbags a bit tighter when they saw me, colleagues who spoke to me like I had some kind of mental problem when I can understand Japanese perfectly fine.
On top of that you have all the innocent bits of racism “oh, can you use chopsticks?” “you can’t probably eat this because your stomach is foreign”, “look mum! That person’s nose is so tall!!”
I could sit here and type about all the different kinds of racism that happen in Japan and in Britain until the cows come home. The fact is that I really wonder if there will ever be a day when humans will be seen as humans and not a threat or a hinderance or dumb just because of the skin they’re in. What’s great about the JET Programme is that it puts people like myself in little towns like Ise and forces people like Mr Hamada to come face to face with people from other countries. It’s so much easier to hate on a certain kind of person when you’ve never met a person like that before. The world is getting smaller and so many people are living abroad that I hope that one day people are less afraid of people they’re not familiar with and that we can all live with a heck of a lot less racism.
I’d like to end with a letter one of my students wrote to me when I left Japan. She was in the 1st grade so started school in the April and I left in the July to start my new life in Frankfurt. I hope people like Mr Hamada and Jeremy Vine become “able to like” foreigners as well soon, too.
“Thank you for the past three months. Of course, my best memory of you will be the fun games you did with us in class, and also when you passed by me in the hall. I was always really happy when you spoke to me and smiled at me. I wasn’t too keen on foreigners before. But because of the classes with you I’m able to like them now. It was only 3 short months but thank you so much!”
Since I don’t really have anything for today, here are some photos I’ve taken around Frankfurt in the past few weeks!
Along Leipzigerstreaße there seem to be lots of really cool graffiti on the closed shop fronts. I really love asian goldfish so this one above was my favourite.
As crappy as the main station in Frankfurt is, I LOVE it around Christmas. They really make a lot of effort to make it smell less of pee so that it’s a nice place to be. There’s usually a massive advent calendar towards the middle, with lots of stalls selling wooden toys, crepes and roasted nuts along the main part of the station. For the past few years (well, the two that I’ve been here for Christmas) there’s been some kind of televised event in the front part of the station. I always seem to catch it on that day and the mass of people make it so difficult to get to where I want to go!
Along Bockenheimer Warte station’s platforms, they have these cool photos of the university in the 80′s (70′s?). This photo is my favourite. The woman in the front is all excited about the baby, as are most of the men. But the woman to the left of the centre couldn’t care less – she’s looking at her watch wondering what to have for dinner. The woman on the right is just looking down her nose at it – babies are gross.
The main station renovated the little “market” area and it looks super nice now. It’s really cute with all the signs and stuff…almost makes you forget that it’s an area for Burger King, Coffee Fellows and some other fast food places.
Sorry for the lame post today! Hopefully I’ll have enough time to finish one of my real posts for tomorrow!
Here’s one other thing no one tells you about living abroad – your skin and your hair will NOT thank you for it! Your skin and hair are both used to the water you’ve been using, so when you move abroad many people experience problems in these areas.
When I lived in Japan, my skin was pretty happy, but my hair was curly because it just couldn’t cope. Seeing my strong, straight hair today, it’s hard to imagine how my hair used to be, but it’s really surprising how much a change in water can change how you look. Like I said, my skin was happy and I didn’t have too much acne but in Japan it’s really hard to find a face soap that doesn’t contain skin whitener. Once I found a brand I could trust, everything was smooth sailing from there.
In Germany, my hair is a little worse than it should be but my skin isn’t happy at all. I have terrible acne here that I just can’t get rid of. I’ve been on the Nutregina course for about a month now and it’s made a littttle difference, but not cleared up the problem all together. I’m considering using bottled water to wash my face with…
With hair, it’s so much easier now I have short hair. When I had long hair I used to spend a great deal of money on expensive shampoos and conditoners. Now I use a lot of organic stuff, and it seems to work.
Even in the week that I was in Turkey, my skin wasn’t happy at all. I became more spotty than I’ve been in years while I was there (perhaps a sign that I shouldn’t move there after all???)
Fellow expats! When you’ve lived abroad, did you have trouble with your skin and hair? If so, how did you tackle the problems?