Friday Links 18/04

 

The gif will never not be funny.

YAY for Easter! I shall be spending my Easter time sitting around reading, blogging and spending a ridiculous amount of time on Instagram and Twitter. HAZZAH.

I started doing couch to 5k this week. After two running sessions, I feel pretty good but on Wednesday night when I ran outside for the first time the cold air was really hard to deal with.

 

LET’S LINKIES

Firstly, I was asked to write a little something for Tipsylit, a great blog I linked to last week. Check out my post on the value of travel blogging here!

Here’s a really great blog post about anxiety and the importance of letting ourselves play.

A school in Japan removed a boy with Down’s syndrome from their school photo. Sigh.

An open letter to people who write open letters. So perfect.

After a funny comment left here on this blog made me laugh, I checked out the guy’s blog and found these really funny Shakespeare comics.

I met up with my blogger friend Laura while in New York and this week she wrote a great post on some theatre she saw there. As if to make me jealous…

Some anime/manga redrawn in western comic styles. I love the Death Note ones…but not sure about the Naruto…

I feel your pain mr Japanese baseball man. Hang in there, you’ll be able to speak English soon! [Video]

Venture Village has some great ways to find a place to live in Berlin.

These condoms seem amazing. Delivery, good materials AND they give condoms to developing countries? Also, the advert is hilarious.

I should really go and make myself some breakfast now. Have a good Easter everyone! I’ll leave you with the question – why do Germans dig holes in The Netherlands?

Germany Expat Blogger Meetup!

Just a quick post to say -

I am trying to arrange a Germany expat meetup in Heidelberg on April the 26th. Any blogger living (or visiting!) Germany who is able to get to Heidelberg on that day is more than welcome to come. Join in the chat on Twitter with the hashtag #hbergmeetup!

 

Today also marks 3 years since the tsunami in Japan. I was living in Japan at the time and although I wasn’t right in the action as I was living more centrally, I will never remember the fear I felt around that time. Coming home straight after work and sobbing on the phone to my parents, not knowing what I could do to help.

Here’s a blog post I wrote at the time.

Expat Life = Neverland

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My first day in London. I sat down for lunch with 5 guys who were working in relation to the gaming business. When I’m not with my Nintendo colleagues, Crytek  is the next place I am likely to find good people to be friends with – gamers are awesome. So, I thought I’d be fitting right in with these 5 guys. I grabbed a gaming magazine from the table and flicked through it while they started talking. However, what they all wanted to talk about wasn’t games and geekery – the wanted to talk about their babies and toddlers! They’re not so much older than myself, but they have real lives, with houses and marriages and babies. I have StreetPass hits and an impressive collection of gifs.

I’m planning to move back to the UK in June. I’ve been feeling tired of the expat life for a little while now and my time in London has only made me even more sure that I need to go back home. A lot of expats move away because they are escaping something – I was purely bored of everything the UK had to offer, but now I am very much a foreigner in my own country. The lunch the runner boy brought us was from a place called Leon, which, apparently, is the new big thing as it does healthy fast food. I had no idea. I also have no idea about TV shows, music, fashion (I really stick out like a sore thumb on the streets here and had to do a mad shopping dash on my first night).

More than that, being an expat seems to hold people back. Of course, living abroad is amazing for your career – whether it’s that you have a great job in your expat country, or the experience gained abroad helping you bag that amazing job back home. But I’ve slowly realised that living abroad has hindered me in growing up; in progressing in life.

The truth is, expat life kinda is like living in Neverland. As much as you grow while living abroad, you also stunt your own growth as it’s kinda like you’re living a dumbed down version of life. Life lite, if you will. Allow me to explain.

1. People back home are getting married, having babies, doing grownup things while you’re derping around being an expat.

It’s hard to make friends abroad – and even harder to find someone to love. Sure, you have to find someone attractive and interesting as you would in your home country, but you have to find someone who matches your future plans as well – if you’re sick of life there and want to leave but they want to stay for 5 more years then things are going to get tricky. Put on top of that the fact that expats all have varying degrees of craziness…it’s no wonder the love life of an expat is a sorry affair.

But click onto facebook and…what’s that? Your best friend from school is engaged? That boy you once snogged on the football pitch now has a baby? That guy from your year 8 science class bought a house with his girlfriend?

Wow, all of that seem like very big steps. I can barely commit to which event to go to on a Friday night, let alone find someone to commit MYSELF to! I can’t imagine a life committed to one person, or a small person, or a pile of bricks. That’s just mental.

2. Speaking of family, since you’re never around, you lose contact with most family members.

My dad’s cousin is really close to the family. He’s been voted one of our favourite family members, and no Christmas day is complete without him sticking wine corks up his nose and running around like he’s 5 years old. But, he’s not exactly the kind of person I’d skype each week. My aunt and uncle are the same – some of my most favourite people in the world, but aside from the odd facebook comment, I never speak with them any more. In fact, my family life has been downgraded to an hour on skype to my mum (with probably 15 minutes with my dad) a week. My sisters, brother… I have no idea what’s going on in their life. I had no idea when older relatives were about to pass away. I missed their last moments, the chance to tell them how much they meant to me. Like I said recently, I missed my sisters becoming young women.

They say that you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, but I think as an expat it may even be the complete opposite. You can’t choose your friends as the pool from which to choose them is so small but you are easily able to choose which family members to keep in touch with. It just takes a lot of effort to make sure you stay in touch.

3. Since it’s a new language and a new culture, you pretty much feel like a teenager anyway.

You’re plonked in your new country but you don’t speak the language – but you want to! After learning how to order a beer and some food, the next step in your language journey is with children’s books. You learn basic words and pick up how to have basic conversations, so you decide to go out and use your language with real people – only, you can’t. I mean, you can say where you’re from and how old you are and whether you like dogs or cats, but real people like to talk about politics and tv and real life things.

So then you want to speak your native language. You try with those same local people but find that their English ability means that they can only talk about Scrubs (that’s how they learnt English).

So you speak with other expats. But they’ve lived in that foreign country for such a long time, their English is weird. You start mixing the local language with English and then the next time you speak on Skype with your family you find that you can’t English anymore. You’ve forgotten words for normal things because you’ve not used that word in over a year. You start to wonder if you can class yourself as fluent in your native language anymore. You decide to stick to talking about which animal you like and leave it at that.

4. And when you don’t like the rules, it’s often possible to “gaijin smash” them.

‘Gaijin smash’ is an awesome phrase. Gaijin means non-Japanese people in Japanese (and is often seen as a derogatory word). The term gaijin smash means when an expat knowingly breaks the rules and if they get caught, they play ignorant and pretend they just had no idea that the rule existed. I gaijin smashed in Japan when I kept a cat in my flat. The Korean students I studied with gaijin smashed when they found a great way to cheat the train ticket system.

Depending on the country, it may be a little difficult to gaijin smash. Asia is awesome. I can’t think of a way I’ve gaijin smashed in Germany.

But if you gaijin smash too much, you run the risk of forgetting what it’s like to have to follow rules in life…like a proper adult. You feel like a cheeky kid, like you can get away with anything you like.

5. Expat life is way more fun than home life.

My Japanese friends always used to laugh and say that all the expats know more about what’s going on in the town than the Japanese people there.

As an expat it’s often easy to lead a life where you do ALL THE THINGS. I don’t know if it’s because the salary may be better than locals’, or because you want to enjoy that country for as long as you’re there, but expats are often the ones who know about all the events, know all the new restaurants, go to all the new places.

Without tv in my life, I can easily fill my days with comedy, improv classes, meetups, events, restaurants…life is simply fun. So fun, in fact, that I wonder if I’ll be as satisfied with a life where I have a long term, loving relationship and small feet to chase around the pile of bricks I’ve used up all my savings on. Hmm.

As Wendy discovered in Neverland, sometimes it’s nice to be in a magical, exciting place for a little while. But, like Wendy, I feel it’s time to me to go back home and move out of the nursery.

Do you know any other ways in which expat life is like living in Neverland? I’d love to read about them in the comments!

Linkies 06/12

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Just links this week. This has been my last week in Frankfurt before I go to London for two weeks for work. It was a tiiiiny bit last minute so I’ve had to cancel a few things that I had planned and also had to squeeze in all the things I wanted to do into this one short week.

On Monday I went to Sneak Preview with a friend and we ended drinking at a nice cocktail bar beforehand. I can’t wait to go there again in the new year so I can blog about it! Tuesday saw me at the Christmas market again with a different group of friends. Wednesday was Christmas karaoke and last night I was on stage doing standup again. PHEW! (Imagine me as this Japanese power ranger doing all that…)

LINKIES!

Here’s an explanation of food and drink you should try at German Christmas markets – with a gorgeous photo of Frankfurt’s market. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I was in that photo somewhere… Sadly they don’t have Feuerzangenbowle…

Lady of the Cakes wrote something that I really connected with this week. With Christmas coming up, I know I will go home and have the same question “so…how’s the German coming on?!” You can’t “just” pick up a language. Languages are HARD to learn. I’ve been studying Japanese for over 10 years now! Sure, when you live in the country you can pick up certain words easily and if you’re studying hard like I did Japanese, it speeds things up. But for German, it’s so hard because very few people will speak with me in German. Having German flatmates is great because my listening has come on in leaps and bounds. But I still can’t have much more of a conversation than I could this time last year. GAH.

My friend Breaking Moulds posted an excellent post on gender of characters in video games. Girls come in all types and I’m the type of girl who will pick the cutest, pinkest character available, so sometimes I’m a little sad that I can’t choose something like this. There was an interesting review of Nintendo Presents: New Style Boutique where the male reviewer said that it was weird being made to play as a girl. I guess I just accept having to play as guys most of the time now. I still feel that women are just house guests of guys in the gaming world, but there are lots of people out there pushing for a more female-friendly environment which is awesome.

Who needs robots delivering your books when there are owls?!

The Piri-Piri Lexicon wrote a great post about food shopping in Germany – and I very much agree with her! I hate food shopping here, it’s such a pain.

One for my fellow NaBloPoMo graduates – 8 lessons learnt from doing NaBloPoMo. Again, so much I agree with!

And lastly, a friend of mine wrote for an anthology of horror stories! It looks really amazing, so if horror is your kind of thing, check it out!

This is how Germany Loves Me

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When I was little, I’d look in my little planner I’d always see that my birthday – October 3rd – is a national holiday in Germany. I’d always think to myself that that fact would never really affect me…but how wrong I was!

Now I enjoy a national holiday (reunification day) on my birthday every year! Last year, I went on a cheeky day trip to Cologne, but this year I went bigger, better. I’d read about a palace in Berlin called Charlottenburg Palace. There it was – the place I had to go to on my birthday.


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After months of careful planning, boyfriend and I booked a bus from Frankfurt to Berlin and back, so we could spend a long weekend in Berlin, to go to my palace, on my birthday, which is a holiday.

After 7 long hours in the bus we dumped our stuff at our hotel and went to find my palace. After what felt like hours of walking due to hanger, we finally found it. It was beautiful.

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The palace was made for Sophia Charlotte, who was a pretty big deal back in the day. She was queen consort of Prussia, and her big brother was King George 1st. Myself and my two sisters were all named after queens or princesses, but I’m not sure if this is the exact person I was named after. I’ll have to check with mum…

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We didn’t go inside because we were both pretty exhausted and hungry. It’s got a gorgeous garden out the back, and I’d love to see it again when Autumn is in full swing.

And for one day, after spending 7 hours in my coach, I felt like a German princess for one day.

The Liebster Award

Over a month ago, Wie Sagt Man gave me the Liebster award and because I’m crap, I forgot to pass it on. This seems to be one of the less time-consuming awards and all I have to do it pass it on to 5 more people.

These kinds of awards can be annoying and seen as chain letters in the blogging world, but I think it’s a nice way for me to show off some blogs that I’m really fond of.

I did a little googling and found a nice post that explains the origins of the Liebster Award – funnily enough, it came from Germany!

So here are the five bloggers I tag!

Confuzzledom – This is not a pity vote since she had some scary dentistry done recently! This blogger has a really nice way of writing about her experiences in Germany and often I’m sat here nodding furiously because I know just what she’s talking about!

Claireabelle Makes – I’m not crafty in the slightest to I live vicariously through her crafty blog. Plus, she’s in Cambridge so her photos are great for me – feels like I’m back near home again!

Deecoded – A gorgeous Filipino lady living in Singapore whose blog I only just found recently. Sometimes I find a blog and just think that if we met up, we’d be super best friends instantly. I feel that way with Dee. Hopefully I can make my way over to Singapore again soon so we can hang out!

Beauty Expressions by Luchessa – I started following Luchessa a while back, when I was very into beauty blogging. Since then I’ve sort of cooled down and stopped following most of the bloggers, but Luchessa is much warmer, lovelier and friendlier than most beauty bloggers so I always take time out to read what she’s been trying out. Not only does she know a LOT about beauty, but she’s also a leading example of how to get your blog out there and she makes me want to try harder with my own and make more of it.

And lastly, Diaries of an Essex Girl – I’m sponsoring Kate’s blog this month because I randomly found her – another British blogger in Frankfurt – and decided that it would be a real shame to not reach out and become friends with her. I love the sheer variety of posts she writes; there’s something for everyone, and although her expat posts are the ones that speak to me the most, I really appreciate how honest and open she is with her story of weight loss.

The reason why I pass forward these awards is so that I can share a little slice of the blogs I love right now. I hope it can be passed on some more so we can share our favourite reads! <3

Friday’s Letters 20/09/13

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Dear soba noodles in tomato sauce, I’m sorry I shunned you for so long. You have taught me that even things that are not authentic can be extremely delicious.

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Dear Princess Nerina, no, my black tshirt didn’t look much better with your fur all over it, but I appreciate your efforts in trying to make me look nicer.

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Dear noodle shop, thank you for reminding me that translators shouldn’t worry about being replaced by Google Translate. Yet.

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Dear Heath bar, why why why are you not sold in Europe? In fact, I can answer my own question. It’s probably because of all the corn syrup, right? Either way, you are DELICIOUS and I very much enjoyed eating you.

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Linkies!

Wait But Why has a great article about generation Y and why we have such high expectations in life. I agree with a lot of what the post says, but it doesn’t take into consideration that life has been ruined somewhat by the previous generation. In fact, here is a great video that expresses all of my opinions on the subject…

Miss America isn’t white and this caused low-life racists to come crawling out from under their bridges to tweet ridiculous things.

The Telegraph tried to put people off becoming expats. Haha, nice try.

Living in Another Language posted a great piece about having the expat blues. I’ve written many times about “stage 2″ in culture shock and she has some great ways to get out of that!

Here’s a cool map with boundaries drawn to provide equal populations. Pretty cool, huh!

Finally, my favourite site of the week is Taste Spotting. This is where I go to when I need food inspiration. It’s like Pinterest, but just for food. Warning – it’s a dangerous place to go when you’re hungry!!!

Frankfurt/Nintendo Q&A

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Recently I have had an increase in the amount of people finding me on Facebook/Linkedin to ask me questions about working for Nintendo and living in Frankfurt. I write this blog because I want to help people, and while I don’t mind the odd person contacting me, I would prefer it if people used the things on my blog before going out to find me.

I have decided to write a post with all the most common questions I get asked, so hopefully this will get found before people click on the “send message” button!!

How do I get a job at Nintendo of Europe?

Have a look at this site for all the latest positions available and apply through that site. As much as I’d love to help everyone who applies, I actually can’t and it’s not fair if I do. Plus the fact I’m not really comfortable talking about work related things to people who randomly find me on the net. I’m sorry. Nintendo is a normal work place and so you should just treat this application as you would any other regular job out there.

What’s it like living in Germany?

It’s probably one of the best places to be in Europe right now. It’s pretty safe, clean and financially secure. German people are funny and interesting to observe and live amongst. It’s easy to find gluten free products, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place that’s more open to vegetarians and vegans. Organic is a complete way of life here and it’s easy to live a healthy life.

Advice from other posts:

4 Frustrating things bout Germany.

5 Things No One Told Me About Living Abroad.

Gluten Free in Frankfurt.

But aren’t the taxes super high there? Can I live a good life there?

Well, yes. I think I pay something like 45% in taxes (I may be wrong in that). I know working as an English teacher here is often a financially tough career, but most company workers are paid enough for the net salary to be enough to live well in Frankfurt. Some things are much cheaper here, like I don’t pay much on rent because I live in a great flatshare, and I don’t find food to be that expensive here. German supermarkets have fewer offers than, for example, British supermarkets. Don’t expect to fill your trolley with “buy one get one free” offers. But the overall price of food does tend to be cheaper. I tend to avoid the main supermarket, Rewe, and shop at Indian, Chinese and Turkish shops instead.

Eating out can get expensive. You can expect to pay around 10 euros for a meal, a beer is about 3 euros (here is a typical German restaurant’s menu) but soft drinks like coke can be the expensive part of the meal.

Mobile phone contracts vary greatly in price. I pay quite a lot for mine (around 50 a month) but asking around, most people pay much less than that for their smart phones. A lot of people use pay-as-you-go phones, as well. Check out this site for a list of mobile/cell phone companies.

The company has offered me a ___________ salary/What salary should I ask for?

I can’t really talk much about this. Luckily, Toytown forum has lots of advice!

Can I get home comforts easily?

Well, it depends what you want. I can get pretty much anything I crave from Japan (though not the magazines and books any more since the Japanese book shop closed). There are various Japanese and Chinese supermarkets around that can sell you anything from Calpis to natto. There are also a LOT of great Japanese restaurants around. For British things, British sauces and branded food items can be found in the department stores Galeria and Karstadt. Aldi also does “British week” sometimes, too. There are a lot of American expats here and you can find lots of American foods in the Rewe in the basement of My Zeil.

German clothes shopping is pretty crappy, but we have H&M, Zara and Primark here. ASOS.com has free international delivery so I use that most of the time.

What about finding a place to live?!

I wrote a very detailed post about this some time ago. It should cover everything you could ever need to know about finding a place to live in Germany. LINK HERE!

From my recent messages, these seem to be all the most common questions. If I haven’t answered something that you want to know, check out Toytown for lots and lots of German life info, or just pop the question in the comments of this post.

Plank Bar

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There’s a new little bar that’s popped up near the main station in Frankfurt. It’s called Plank, and it is THE hipster place to be right now.

What is it? It’s a signless corner bar on Elbestraße that is always full of smartly dressed young people and a few crates to sit at.

What’s so great about it? Firstly, their wine is amazing. They have specially selected wines for each season and when I spoke (in German!!) to the barman he told me (also in German!!! – No replying in English here!) all about the wine; he was clearly very passionate about it. They also have a nice selection of selected beers, whiskeys and other drinks.

The barman is very dapper in his bow tie and shirt, which sets the tone for the people drinking there too. I may be going way too far into it, but I think Plank is the spirit of the area around the main station right now. Sure, there are still the druggies and the sex shops but there’s a real sense of hipstery with lots of new, cool shops springing up and lots of young cool folk living there.

There’s no food sold at Plank, except for those expensive British crisps which I’ve never seen before in the UK but taste like home.

And here is the website. Make sure to stick around there long enough to watch the video embedded in the background. It’s pretty special.

Find Plank (look for a brown bar on the corner of the street – it’s not got a sign) at Elbestraße 15, 60329 Frankfurt.

Awesome things to do in Japan – Become a Geisha!

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I have always been a fan of geisha. As a teen, I’d lap up every geisha related book that had been translated into English. Back in the day, being a geisha wasn’t exactly the life of luxury and often girls would be sold by their families and live a life where they are forced into doing slave labour and prostitution. However, I love the tales of the strong women working through this life.

Towards the end of my stay in Japan, I made a small bucket list of things I wanted to do in Japan before I left. One of the things on my list was to go on one of these “geisha experience days” where you get dressed up like a geisha or maiko. The photo above is of me.

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I went with a group of friends and while my girlfriend and I got ready, the two boys waited in the other room. The process of getting us two ready took a LONG time. Firstly, we had to choose which kimono we wanted to wear. Geisha are older and more experienced and tend to wear more simple kimono, whereas the younger maiko wear brighter kimono with loud patterns on them. We both chose to be maiko as the kimono suited us a lot more. It took me SO long to choose which one to wear but in the end I chose a red-ish one since it was Autumn.

Then we were sat down and had our makeup put and wigs put on. The Japanese staff kept asking us if the kimono were too heavy for us as they have so many layers and make it very hard to stand up straight in. But actually, it was the wig, with all its metal underneath, that was the most uncomfortable.

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We each had a professional photo shoot then we walked up the hill to take our own photos outside. Walking in the shoes was super hard, especially going up hill. It was a gorgeous Autumn day and so our photos were really great. I’d love to show you more but all my others have my friends in and I wouldn’t like to put them on my blog without their permission.

You can expect to pay anything from 6000 yen to over 10,000 yen, and although the professional shoot was really nice, being dorks outside dressed as maiko with my friends was the part that was the most fun, so I would recommend paying the little extra to be able to walk around outside.

The studio we used was in Kyoto and on the way up to Kiyomizu-dera temple. I can’t remember the exact one we used but here are some links to some that may be there same, and of one in Gion that might be better because that’s the home of geisha.

Studio Shiki

Yume Koubou

Aya (Gion)