Category Archives: England

Asian adventures

Whew. The past year has been a whirlwind of travel craziness, even moreso if you stretch it a bit further and count summer 2014. I’ve headed from the US to Norway, to England, Poland, and the Czech Republic, and back to Norway before flying back to the US, whereupon I took a detour to Puerto Rico over the winter, returned to Miami for spring break, and went to New York for the first time. Then, after moving three times since returning from Europe to the US and finishing my Bachelor’s in Computer Science in spring 2015 – along with meeting a whole lot of fun and interesting new people along the way – I sold or gave away most of my possessions, said “Bye” to the country I’ve lived in for ~22 years, and purchased a one-way ticket to Norway, but not before popping over to Colombia to see South America at least once before leaving the western hemisphere.

After spending only a week in Norway, I hopped over to the Netherlands where I had an absolute blast with old and new friends for about a month before going for my first time to Belgium. From Belgium, I bought a ticket to South Korea and commenced my teaching job here, learning a lot of Korean and about the country’s culture from one of its very own, small cities.

And now, in approximately one-and-a-half months, I’ll be on the move again. Where to this time? Well, first I will go around Korea to the places I haven’t seen yet but want to before I leave, such as Jeju Island, Daejeon, more of Seoul, the Demilitarized Zone (between North and South Korea), Gangwon province, Daegu, and more of Busan. After that, I will close out my apartment here in Gochang, say “See ya later!” to the friends I’ve made here, and head to…

Japan!

And I can say I’m quite excited! The destination is not so much of a surprise if you’re somewhat familiar with Asia’s geography, but it will be the first time I’ve set foot in a place where so much of the media I’ve watched and played over the years originates from, and I have to say I’m pretty happy. Both to see Japan, and to leave Korea as Korea has been kind of a drag. More on that in another article, but to sum it up, the job and benefits are great, but the country, people, and largely the food do not suit me. But I’m satisfied: I’ve met plenty of great people here and learned a lot about myself. I’m just happy to be getting to the relative beauty and politeness of Japan, and see some friends that I’ve had there for awhile.

The rest of my plans thus far are pretty tentative, but the current plan goes somewhat like this: I’ll spend three or so months in Japan, going to at least Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo (if not more), then head to Taiwan, Hong Kong, maybe Vietnam (if I bother to get a visa for it, which is a somewhat annoying requirement), maybe Laos or Cambodia, but then definitely Thailand and down to Singapore.

After that, the current plan is to head back to the place where I’ve decided I want to get a residence permit and branch off from there in the future. I’ll espouse more on which country that is in another article! For now, I wonder: can you guess?

Stereotypes of countries around the world

Keep in mind these are tidbits and/or very generalizing and playful stereotypes I’ve come up with by going to these countries and meeting people from them.

Americans:
– Blunt as a knife.
– Describe distances in driving time.
– Describe time in numbers (5:50 is most times “five fifty”, not “ten to six” or “five after quarter to six”).
– Devout (comparatively to other [especially European] countries).
– Friendly.
– Loud.
– Main exports are obesity and friendliness.
– Mediocre drivers due to medium-priced driver’s tests and licenses.
– Notable music genres include rock and jazz.
– Out of shape.
– Patriotic.
– Slogan: Add sugar to everything!
– Tip most everyone.
– Use big adjectives generously (“Wow!” “That’s great!” “That sounds awesome!”).
– Use the imperial measuring system, often leading to confusion with the metric system.

The British:
– Clever.
– Crazy about gardens, just like the Dutch.
– Cynical.
– Pessimistic.
– Sarcastic.
– Sardonic.
– Tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

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Exploring England

England is a funny country. Between using the metric and imperial systems simultaneously (miles, anyone?), speaking like, well, Brits, not being able to decide if they’re a country (The UK is a country! No, England is a country! No, one is a constituent country and the other is a country! Oh, bollocks.), and driving on the left side (ha-ha), they’re quite charming. I jest, of course (but not about the charming bit).

My first experience in the country was a silly one: when my friend came to pick me up from the Stansted airport, I walked around his car, much to his confusion: I had forgotten England drives on the left side! This seemed so ridiculous to me considering I had known this fact nearly all of my teen-and-beyond years, and of course my friend just had to make fun of me for it. So I pouted and stalked to the left side of the car – the passenger’s side – and got in. From the airport, he took me on the not-too-long ride back to his place in a London suburb where I would spend the next eight or so days.

The place in the outer London.
The place in outer London.

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Going to the UK, Poland, and Czech Republic

So the UK is a place I’ve heard about for all of my life, and I’ve seen a number of movies that took place inside of it. Finally, it won’t be just a place I’ve heard of anymore!

I’ll be arriving in the Stansted airport of London tomorrow, June 11th, and staying with a friend until June 22nd. I’ll be spending most of this time in London, with perhaps a short trip up to Cambridge. I have a couple of things I definitely want to do or see, but I’m also in no rush to catch them all in one go, partly because I’m fairly certain I’ll be back – there are many reasons to go to London! Besides that, I’m more of a stay-in-one-country-for-a-long-time person, and even though this trip will be rather short, not seeing too many tourist attractions wouldn’t bother me all that much. Wait, though, there’s more in store for me yet! On June 22nd, I’ll then be heading to Poland, where I’ll see a few separate cities before likely visiting the Czech Republic. I’ll return to Bergen in Norway on the 2nd of July.

There is so much exploration to be done and so many new experiences to be had! This will be my first multi-country hop (not including those times I just hopped airports), and also my first time taking Ryanair (from Oslo to London and London to Katowice), the budget airline known for its extra fees. From what I’ve seen so far, though, as long as you’re fine with no extras whatsoever, such as no checked bag, no choosing your seat, and also having to print your boarding pass yourself, then they don’t add anything to your fee. I actually am excited to have my first experience where all I can bring is one backpack; it’ll test my ability to know what I use and what I need on my travels. A bit of mind-stretching is never a bad thing. 🙂

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Pros and cons of different countries I’ve been to so far

I’ve found a lot of differences between England, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the US in my travels, and I’d like to espouse on those here. Every place has its advantages and disadvantages, some more obvious than the others:

England

England walk

Default grocery stores: Sainsbury’s, Tesco.
Payment:
Visa, MasterCard, and other major debit and credit cards; cash.

Pros

  • Good food selection: There’s a huge selection of food here, much like in the US, and especially when you go to Sainsbury’s.
  • Fair number of places to find cheap things: England has a lot of different shops, but even though they can be quite expensive, you can usually find another shop with a cheaper version of exactly what you were looking for.

Continue reading Pros and cons of different countries I’ve been to so far