END OF NaPoBloMo!!!

[Pant, pant] it’s the end of NaBloPoMo!!!! I did it! I posted every single day!!

It’s been really awesome because I’ve met some awesome people along the way, and I’ve had some amazing feedback from you guys about the things I’ve been writing so it’s really given me a boost.

My grandparents are here right now so hopefully on Sunday I will post with some nice photos of the Christmas market and stuff, and I won’t have to feel guilty if I miss a day now!! Yippee!!

If you’re out there and you did the NaBloPoMo, or even NaNoWriMo then give yourself a huge pat on the back. WELL DONE, HAVE A GOLD STAR! ☆

Jumping Jumpers

 

As much as I don’t like haul posts (because it often leads me to wonder how on earth girls can afford all they buy… it’s totally OK not to spend so much money all the time, girls!!) I bought three jumpers at the weekend – all from Primark – and I wanted to share them with you!

The first is this owl jumper, which I bought a few sizes too big so it would be a baggy, cuddly fit. The owl bit of it is SO soft. Someone the other day said that people usually have one main sense – and I think mine is touch. When shopping I always go round feeling things even before properly looking at things.

 

I loved the speckled colours of this one, but then I saw the sleeves. And I fell in love. If I was a jumper, this would be me. AND I can say that I wear my heart on my sleeve!!

 

This last one is very bright. I think I’ll have to wear this on a Mutiger Montag or something!

None of these jumpers were more than 15 euros. I don’t like spending more than… say, 30 euros on a jumper. I don’t think it’s needed. On the other hand, I feel guilty about child labor and so on. But even the high end brands use sweat shops, so as a consumer, there’s not a lot we can do, I think. I would love for there to be a clear list of shops that treated its factory workers well, so I could know where is good to shop…

Woah, what a sad ending to a happy jumper post! Talk to me! Talk about jumpers, Primark, cheap jumpers and sweatshops!!

 

Things I Keep Close

 

When I am at home, I spend most of my time at my desk. I eat there (like a loser), do makeup there, blog there… so I like to keep this area full of things that keep me going. Things and people that are important to me. I thought I’d share some of these things with you.

Photos – I have a lot of them. I like to have the people who have touched my life close to me. My friends from school, exchange student friends in Japan, my friends from when I worked in Japan, and my english teacher coworkers from the school I taught at. These people are all so important to me.

 

I also have a photo of myself as a maiko! The postcard to the left was actually bought after I dressed up that day, so the similarity is a coincidence. It was an amazing day that I spent with some friends dressing up, but it’s there to remind me to keep my “excited spirit” about me. It may no be cool to dress up as a maiko, and it may be “weeaboo”-like, but I don’t care. I frickin’ love geisha and maiko and all that jazz. And it was awesome being a maiko for the day.

 

The map on the right was given to me when I left Ise. I think of it as much as my hometown as I do Bury St Emunds. On the left is the wall where I have all the messages my students wrote me when I let Japan. I have one board for each class I taught. They have such wonderful comments on them, whenever I feel like I’m not doing well in general, I like to read through them and remember that I am a great person and that I made a difference in their lives. I miss my students so much.

 

This last one is also from an old student of mine. This sweet little girl who used to make a beeline for me every day drew this lovely picture of me. I used to have a necklace with a fish on it, and she’d come up and play with it, so she drew it in the picture.

What things do you keep near you in your home?

 

More German Food!

 

The other week we went out for some German food to celebrate my friend’s birthday. I LOVE German food. I’ve already done a review on the place where we went, Apfelweinklaus, so I thought I’d just do a simple post on the types of things you can expect to see in a German/Frankfurt restaurant.

First up is the sweinhaxen, which is probably my favourite food in the whole of Germany. The ones at this restaurant aren’t that good, actually, but it’s still very yummy. I’ve just been fortunate enough to have much better ones.

 

Some fish – Germany isn’t all about pork, you know! They love their cold, pickled fish. I can’t stand it – even the thought of cold pickled fish makes me shudder. If you go to a German hotel, for breakfast you will probably see pickled fish as part of the breakfast.

 

This is very Frankfurt-y. Eggs, potatoes and green sauce. I don’t get it, really. But it’s good for vegetarians!!

That Awkward Moment When You’re Not Fluent

Back when I was an exchange student in Japan, I went to a small gathering at a friend’s house. The people there were a few Japanese girls, my Korean friend, and myself. I’d been dating a Japanese guy for a few months, so I was pretty good at conversation (if you don’t know the correlation, you’ve never tried dating someone from a different country ;) ) but I wasn’t fluent.

When people would aim conversations at me, I was ok and could answer. But when they spoke between themselves, I was lost and just shut off. Now this isn’t me saying my friends were bad – they weren’t. I had a lovely time, and they made a Japanese name for me (which is Sayuri), and taught me how to cook some Japanese food. But I just wasn’t quite at the level where I could be a proper member of the group. One girl next to me turned to me and said “I studied in London for a year. I can see the look on your face and I know that feeling. Don’t worry, you’ll get there.”

I mention this now, because I had the same feeling the other night. On Wednesday night, my German teacher put down the grammar book after half an hour, sat back and said “ok, let’s speak in German. Tell me about your week”. I spoke, in German, for the first time. Not just ordering a beer or some food, but actual conversation.

I don’t know if this is just me but I get a real rush from this. Speaking in another language… it’s just such a great feeling and I can’t describe it. So, naturally, I wanted more.

On Facebook I’m part of a number of Frankfurt groups, one of which is an all-German group. They had a meetup on Thursday, so I decided to go.

It’s one thing to click “I’ll join” on Facebook but it’s quite another to walk into a bar, see all these people you don’t know, speaking a language you don’t speak and just jump right in. I had a mini freak out inside, wondered what the hell I was doing, but then bought a massive beer and just stood at the side and looked awkward until two guys doing exactly the same started talking to me.

I did pretty well. I’m proud of myself. They didn’t realise I wasn’t German for quite a while, but that’s mainly because I answered with single words for a while until I got into the swing of it. But it was hard. I had to keep asking them to repeat stuff, and I got into the habit of repeating everything in English to make sure I had understood it before I answered. I didn’t initiate anything, because, quite frankly, I forgot how very tiring it was. But also because I felt so sorry for these two guys who got stuck with me. I wanted them to know they could escape at any point, so I kind of zoned out when they were talking to each other.

One guy left after a little while and the other sat down with me and we just spoke in English for the rest of the night. I’m pretty proud that I did such a long time in German. But it’s not a nice feeling to be a burden on someone in a conversation. I want to keep going to these meetups and trying again and again until I can speak German for real.

Language Findings…

 

Working in an international environment has many advantages, but one of the best ones for me is that you get to learn so many interesting things about different languages. Here are some of the things that I have collected from the past week or so -

In German, your fringe of your hair is called a “pony”. In British English at least, a “pony” would be thought to be a “ponytail” hairstyle.

In French, a “stamp” is a “tampon”. Snigger, snigger.

I was with an Italian colleague and his Japanese wife, who was trying to speak English. She said that her “branch hurts”. The husband scolded her – branch is Italian for arm, she should say “arm”. I told her that it’s ok, branches are the arms of trees so it’s ok.

Even in katakana, “ヒップ” (hip) means your bum as opposed to your hips in Japanese.

In German, you can call someone a “blind fish” to mean someone who can’t see stuff that’s right in front of them.

Do you have any language discoveries this week?

Products I’m Not So Sure About…

 

So here are some products that I’ve bought but I just don’t know whether I like them or not. The jury is still out on them. Maybe if you guys out there are using the same products, you can share your opinions, and help me decide if I like them or not!

The first is this Jergens Original Beauty Lotion, in cherry-almond scent. I bought this when I was back home, because one of the beauty bloggers was raving about it. The smell is nice (though very sweet – not for everyone, that’s for sure), but I don’t see any difference to my skin when I put it on. My skin isn’t softer, and the scent goes away after 10 mins or so. I don’t see the point, really. But maybe I’m missing something here?

 

This duo of That Gal Brightening Face Primer and Hello Flawless Oxygen Glow. I’m not a fan of Benefit products… I find them so thick and gunky. Like piling plastic onto my face. But I was in a rush and I needed something new (and someone to spruce up my makeup before an after-work coffee) so I bought these two that the woman had used on me.

I like them because they do give a pretty flawless coverage. They also last most of the day. I don’t like them because it’s just so heavy and fake. I’ve only used it a handful of times, so I guess I just need to get used to that kind of look.

 

This Redkin Protective Straightening Lotion isn’t something I bought, but I got it in a JollieBox a few months ago. You’re meant to put it in your hair and then blowdry as normal for gorgeous straight hair.

I don’t straighten my hair, ever. I like to have some volume so I like to keep it a little fluffy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want nice smooth hair. It made my hair a little heavier, but it’s not that sleek. Perhaps I’m doing it wrong…

Have you every tried any of these products? Let me know if you have!

My Foot Ordeal – German Healthcare

Ever since Halloween, my right foot has been really hurting. In a small space at the base of the toe next to my little toe there has been an agonising pain that sometimes comes avec a bruise, sometimes with swelling. Thinking I’d just pulled a muscle in my foot, and since it’s not sore every day, I didn’t think I needed to go to get it seen to.

After about two weeks, I woke up and found it really hard to walk on my foot so I thought the time had come – I must go see the doctor. I have a really nice GP that’s pretty much opposite my apartment, and they speak English too (the female doctor’s son is in Cambridge so we often talk about that, and she tells me every time I go about how terrible the NHS is and how her son always comes home to Frankfurt every time he is sick.)

So, here’s the first lesson about German healthcare – you have your private healthcare plan which you pay into every month, but every quarter, if you go to see the GP, you have to remember to take 10 euros in cash to pay. I don’t know what this is, or why it is. But it is. I have forgotten my 10 euros a few times. Once, they sent a letter to my house reminding me to pay it, and I had to do a bank transfer online. Other times, they just get me to pay it the next time I’m there. But it needs to be paid.

So my GP tells me I need to go see the orthopedic doctors the other side of town. I confirmed with her that in these cases, one must go to the GP first and not just straight to the specialist and she said that that was correct. It would be nice to cut out the middle man, but I guess it’s better this way. In Japan, you’d just go to the specialist. I don’t think they even have GPs there.. maybe general doctors, but no one who refers you as they do in Germany (or in the UK).

It is a massive white whine, but I was quite put out that I spent more than 3 hours waiting around in the doctors. I waited, then I was taken to a room where I spoke with a nurse, then waited in the room for the doctor, then waited in the waiting room again, then had my x-ray, then waited, then spoke with the nurse and then spoke with the doctor.

It’s a massive white whine because in the UK, this process would have taken 3 weeks, not 3 hours. I should have been happy, but I was grumpy. Sat looking at an x-ray of my own foot for 20 minutes, when the doctor came in I said about how my foot didn’t look broken as I’d feared. “Are you an expert?” he asked me. “Uhm… no…” “What is your job?” “Uhm… Japanese translator…”

He stared at the screen, enlarged the picture, and announced that my foot was not broken.

He made some vague gestures and talked about how his English wasn’t so good and that he didn’t know the technical term, but I had “flat feet”.

.. Flat feet.

All this pain, is because my feet are flat.

I looked down at my prized 10 euro Primark shoes – prized because it’s been a year since I bought them and they are still going strong. I knew in my heart how I had wrecked my feet. He turned to me again with a massive needle in his hand. While the nurse pinned me down and stroked my head, he stuck that needle in my foot and put what felt to be a burning acid in my foot.

My remedie is shoe insoles, which are (for 30 euros) being made specially for my feet.

On the whole, I like the German medical system. It works. There is no faffing around like in the UK, and I trust them not to rip me off with things I don’t need like in Japan. It’s one of the many things that makes me think that Germany is by far the best place to live right now.

Restaurant – Mosch Mosch

 

I don’t usually eat Asian food in Frankfurt, not unless it’s an actual Japanese/Chinese/whatever restaurant. I just don’t like this fusion Asian food stuff. BUT I was invited out by not one, but two sexy male colleagues of mine, so how could I refuse an invitation to go to Mosch Mosch?

Mosch Mosch is a place that I’d looked at in passing many times – I can’t really help it, since they really do the rounds and have stalls selling food whenever there’s a festival going on, and they have a few places around town, too. Not only that, but their great big signboard saying that they have “yaki soba” with a picture of moist looking soggy noodle gunk always made me want both cry inside and feel smug and happy that I know that that’s not really Japanese food.

 

But, you know what? It wasn’t bad. I had the “katsu curry” in the top photo and was sad to find it was a lemon grass based curry (I hate lemon grass, but I’m trying to train my tongue to like it. You can do that you know!) It wasn’t offensive. My two handsome colleagues both enjoyed their meals, though the owner of the meal above said that he felt it was a little bland. The waiter there was very enthusiastic and a little annoying in that he tried to get us to buy more than we wanted, asking if we wanted some wine or edamame and stuff. You don’t get that much in Germany, I think.

Overall, it was ok. For speedy service and pretty cheap Asian fusion food, it was a good choice. There are other choices available, but this is just as good as any of the others available.

There are many Mosch Mosch restaurants available in Frankfurt, so click here to take your pick!