Last week I came across a wonderful link listing reasons why Japanese people felt glad to be born in Japan. The number one answer was that there are 4 seasons in Japan, which is a common joke within people who have lived in Japan. When Japanese people say this, they mean that there are 4 distinct seasons and that they enjoy each one to the fullest. I must admit, I have never experienced such amazing Autumns as I did in Japan, but that doesn’t mean that other countries don’t have the same (last Autumn was also pretty awesome, for example). Other answers are also typically “Japanese”, like “drinkable tap water” at number 2. A lot of Japanese people believe that their stomachs are different to those of non-Japanese people and refuse to drink tap-water outside of Japan, as I did in India. On a side note, when I was at uni in Liverpool I noticed that the tap water there tasted horrible, but it’s pretty nice in my hometown of Bury St Edmunds. In Frankfurt, too, the water is pretty good, but has a lot of stuff in it that isn’t so good for your hair.
The list got me thinking about what makes me feel glad to have been born in the UK, and even what makes me glad to be in Germany. When I came back from studying in Japan, my mum told me that I’d become racist against my own people as I was just tired of how tired and unhealthy British people look, but really I was just missing Japan. Here in Germany I shock people by saying that I would much prefer to be here right now than in the UK, but rather than me being “racist” against the UK, Germany just offers a lot more for me than I could get back home.
ANYWAY I think I’d like to make two short lists – one for the UK and one in another post for Germany. If you’d like to make your own lists then please let me know in the comments section!
Reasons to be glad to be born in the UK -
1. The NHS.
When I was in Japan every time I got sick I felt that I was being forced to have extras even though I didn’t need them, just to bump up the price. While it’s the opposite in the UK and you may have hospitals being stingy with you, I have never had this experience personally and neither has anyone I know. I had extensive braces (think along these lines…) and it was all free. There’s no worrying about being able to afford these kinds of things, and it’s all available to everyone.
2. The food.
Yes, I can hear you laughing. Seriously, British food is really great. I mean, we’re not the fattest people in Europe for nothing, right? Cornish pasties are pretty much the yummiest things in the world. I miss Sunday roasts so much, but they take so much effort to cook for just one person. On the healthier end of the spectrum, there are shops like Eat which sell amazing healthy options at lunchtime. Supermarkets are full of healthier options and inspiration for better eating with locally sourced (not to be confused with locally horsed… fnar fnar…) items. This is something I’ve not experienced in either Japan or Germany. And if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, an American friend recently begged me to bring him back “some of those sugar coated gummies you guys have… fruit pasTILLES?” So apparently our sweets are pretty awesome, too!
There is a lot wrong with the British education system, least of all that your experience depends greatly on where you live. You can be in the catchment area for the best school around but someone a mile down the road is in the catchment area for an under-achieving school. We may not get the best scores on tests, or create the brightest children but what our education system does is teach children how to THINK. Again, I wasn’t really aware of this until I went to Japan and saw that everything is multiple choice in tests there. I explained to the teachers that in the UK even maths and science questions come in essay format – why won’t this experiment work? How would you improve on it next time? – there are so many ways in which we are asked to think and not regurgitate. So many times I asked my Japanese students to give their opinions, and every time it failed. When I was back home last, my youngest sister who is in year 10 right now was writing a complex essay in French on her thoughts about smoking. Britain creates independent thinkers, young people who go out and get what they want, people who think of ways to make things better. And with the bleak job prospects right now, we need these kinds of people.
4. It’s easier to “settle down” there.
I look back at people I went to school with and I see them buying houses and securing a good life for themselves. I look back at myself, living in a flatshare drowning rent money each month that won’t go towards anything. I would *love* to buy myself a house right now. To put money on a mortgage and work on a home, not a place to stay. But Germany (or Frankfurt at least) is a “rent for life” kind of place. And don’t even let me get started on Japan, where it’s impossible to even rent if you’re not a Japanese male. They will often turn away people for not being Japanese, from being a solo female and for other ridiculous reasons. When I left Japan I said I’d love to go back when I’m retired and live in a lovely old wooden Japanese house. I’d still like to do this if I could. But I doubt they’d let me.
5. British people are awesome.
Recently I’ve been feeling really sad about British people in general, mainly because I keep on making the mistake of listening to the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 every day, which is the audio version of The Daily Mail. There is SO MUCH racism on there that I decided to not put the BBC in this list. But I was speaking with some people who had studied in the UK and they reminded me how friendly people are there. If you are on your own, you can just go to a pub and you’ll have friends in minutes. People will strike up conversations with you on the London Underground. People will be concerned for your safety even though they are complete strangers. Sure there is a cesspool of people who don’t want any foreigners “coming in and stealing our jobs” but the majority of British people love Britain being so multicultural and welcome visitors and long-term stayers alike. We will even complain along with you when you moan about the UK. The friendliness of British people is something that surprises me every time I go home – and I am not the only one who has this as we talk about this regularly here.
So please let me know what reasons you have to be proud to be from where you are from! I’m really looking forward to comparing answers!