A 6-year-old American girl impresses her cab driver by speaking fluent Korean

Next Shark:

A 6-year-old American girl who spoke fluent Korean to a taxi driver impressed not only the Korean driver but is impressing netizens as well.

In a video posted to Youtube and Reddit by her mother, Anaya, a U.S.-born citizen, speaks fluent Korean to a cab driver in the country, where both her parents work teaching English.

Among the topics of conversation with the driver is that her parents call her a “princess,” to which the driver replies that those called princesses in the country are considered pretty.

At one point in the clip, Anaya’s mother says, “Korean little,” to express her inability to speak the language fluently. Her young daughter steps right in, however, to tell the driver that her mother is pregnant with a “little big sister,” to which the driver corrects her Korean to “a little sister.”

In the video’s description, Anaya’s mother writes that her daughter’s conversation is awesome because “Korean is one of the top 3 hardest languages for English speakers to learn.” and “How many little black girls do you know personally that can speak Korean?”

The video of Anaya, now aged 8, was taken from two years ago. She moved to Korea when she was 1 and currently attends a Korean elementary school.

She adds:

“We put this video up as a way to show the benefits of raising your children abroad. This is meant to be a positive video to promote awareness that black people are traveling the world and our children are the products of our travels. We want to encourage others that it is possible!”

Five things expats wish Japan had, and why it’s sometimes a good thing it doesn’t

NN 0

RocketNews 24:

For the most part, Japan is a pretty great country to live in. Among a host of other positives, it’s clean and safe, with good infrastructure and reliable transportation.

Still, some people move to Japan and find that even if they like the overall package, it doesn’t quite have all the comforts of home. Today, we’re taking a look at a list compiled by blogger and internationalist Madame Riri of five things expats wish Japan had, plus adding our own explanation of why it’s sometimes a good thing that it doesn’t.

1. More convenient ATMs

NN 1

Starting off with the most legitimate complaint, and one that featured on our own list of 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong a while back, Japan does lag pretty far behind many other countries as far as letting you get to your cash. As you can see in the above photo, ATMs are often located inside banks, meaning that once the building closes up for the day, there’s no way to get to the machines. And while 24-hour ATMs are slowly becoming more common, you’ll often be charged a service fee if you make a withdrawal outside of normal business hours, even if you’re using your own bank’s machines.

So how do Japanese people deal with this? They just carry a lot of cash. The laughably low crime rate means there’s very little chance of someone swiping the yen you’ve got in your pocket, and the ubiquity of cash payments means you can walk into any convenience store, whip out a 10,000-yen (US$84) bill to pay for a 100-yen bottle of tea, and no one will ever make a fuss about making change for it.

As an added bonus, using cash comes with a couple of psychological influences that can help you make more responsible spending choices. It makes the financial ramifications of a purchase feel much more immediate, and can act as a safeguard against the sort of irresponsible splurging that many feel illogically comfortable engaging in with a credit card. Likewise, not being able to draw money out of your bank account whenever and wherever the impulse strikes you can be helpful if you’re trying to stick to a budget, since you can’t spend any more than have on hand until the next time you’re able to get to one of Japan’s less-than-convenient ATMs.

2. Central heating and air conditioning

NN 2

Another major complaint from expats living in Japan is that homes aren’t designed with central heating and air conditioning. If you’re used to the convenience and uniform temperatures of such systems, it can be a shock when you’re relaxing comfortably in your toasty living room with the heater on full blast, then get up to grab a snack and discover that your kitchen is freezing cold.

Except, centralized heating is really only a plus when everyone in the home wants it the same temperature. Got a house with one side that gets a lot of sun, and the other that’s shady during the winter? Sorry, with centralized heating that pumps the same temperature air into both areas, one of them is always going to be too hot or too cold.

While Japanese homes do have the drawback of needing to install a separate compact unit for each room, the upside is that you can set each one to whatever temperature you want, independent the others. The smaller, non-connected units also mean you’re not wasting energy (and money) heating a room no one’s currently using, and many Japanese homes are designed so that rooms can be completely closed off from one another. Not only does that make them easier to defend in the case of a zombie outbreak, it also means you can heat a smaller room up pretty easily with a compact space heater, since the warm air isn’t seeping out into the rest of the house.

3. “Skinship”

NN 3

Japan isn’t a touchy-feely society, so it’s kind of strange that it has its own catch-all term for signs of physical affection, “skinship.” For foreigners dating a Japanese national, the skinship discrepancy isn’t much of a problem, as most international couples establish a mutually amicable middle ground during the early stages of their relationship.

Where the real complaint comes in is the almost complete lack of casual physical contact between platonic friends. Used to giving your pals a hug when you see them for the first time in months? Feel like that awesome home run the Hiroshima Carps’ cleanup batter just hit deserves a high-five with your buddies you’re watching the game with? Probably not going to happen in Japan.

On the other hand, this cuts both ways. So while you may feel a little lonely at not having the skinship from friends you’d welcome it from, it also means your creepy, perpetually sweaty coworker probably won’t be looking for a good-bye squeeze at the end of the company New Year’s party.

4. A bigger selection of large-size clothing and shoes

NN 4

Obviously, not everyone in Japan is the same height and weight. Walk into Uniqlo, Beams, or any other clothing store, and you’ll find the standard small, medium, and large options.

On average, though, these tend to be smaller than their equivalents in the west. And while there are retailers that specialize in extra-large fashion (which in the case of men is often given the regal-sounding title “king-size”), they’re not as numerous, nor their options as diverse, as similar outlets overseas. If your need for large sizes is the result of being, by Japanese standards, particularly tall or muscular, or in possession of a large skeletal frame, this can make shopping tough, especially when buying business wear, as the fitted look is generally the most popular in Japan.

On the other hand, if you’re having trouble fitting into Japanese clothing options not because of your height or bulging biceps, but because you could stand to lose a few pounds, having your clothing options otherwise become severely limited is a pretty good incentive for getting in shape. And if everything still feels snug, you can at least take solace that once summer comes, you’ll be able to spend at least some of your time in a light, loose-fitting summer kimono, provided you brush up on how to tie the sash.

5. Inexpensive pizza

NN 5

Finally, we come to the last item on the list. Pizza is actually pretty popular in Japan, and you’re unlikely to find anyone outside the elderly who actually dislikes it. That said, pizza, and Italian food in general, occupies a slightly different part of the culinary landscape in Japan than it does in, say, the U.S.

While Italian food isn’t considered full-on ethnic cuisine in Japan, there’s a certain Continental cachet Italian restaurants enjoy here. This can in turn translate to higher prices, albeit with the payoff of high-quality pizza, often prepared by chefs who trained in Italy before coming back to Japan and opening their own restaurants.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have delivery outfits like Domino’s and Pizza-La. While neither tastes bad for delivery food, here the price can be a deal-breaker, with large pizzas often costing over 3,000 yen (US$25) a pie. So why are Japanese customers willing to pay so much? Well, pizza, especially in the home, is considered sort of a special occasion food. It’s much more likely that a Japanese family is calling up Domino’s because it’s someone’s birthday or some other celebration is going on than because no one wants to cook, which makes them that much more willing to splurge.

But while Japan may often assume that high price must equal high quality, the stigma that low price is the sign of a poor product is rapidly eroding. In recent years, a number of budget-priced casual pizzerias have opened up, such as Sempre Pizza and Napoli’s. Both have a wide variety of perfectly tasty individual-sized pizzas costing less than 1,000 yen, with Sempre’s starting at an amazingly low 380 yen.

Still, it’s true that finding reasonably priced pizza can require a bit of searching in Japan. Of course, while you’re searching, you’re also going to be surrounded by the biggest selection of authentic, inexpensive, and delicious Japanese food on the planet, and the fact that your go-to comfort food is looking a little pricy can just the push that gets you out of your dining rut and lets you discover a new favorite dish.

So to recap, would we sometimes prefer if these five things were more common in Japan? Sure, but with a willingness to adapt and look at things from a new perspective, sometimes you’re better off without them. Besides, if your primary goal was to get some cheap pizza and you ended up in Japan, we’re pretty sure you got on the wrong plane at the airport.

Moving to Tokyo? Real estate agent picks five best neighborhoods for single residents

real estate

RocketNews 24:

Tokyo is a big place, both in terms of population and area, and if you’re moving here from anywhere else, you might be at a bit of a loss in terms of where to look for an apartment. Obviously, a large part of that decisions is up to personal preference, but we do happen to have some advice for areas to look at if this will be your first time living alone!

These five areas were selected by a local real estate agent, so you know they must be good, right?

1. Nakano

Nakano_Oka1

For a lot of youngsters moving to (or already living in) Tokyo, Kichijoji is the place to be, but it’s also fairly expensive. So, our real estate friend said, “If you want to live in Kichijoji no matter what, I would definitely recommend the Nakano area, as it’s on the same train line as Kichijoji. The neighborhood gives you access to not only JR train lines but also subways, making it a really convenient place. It’s been popular with students for a long time, and there are a lot of treasures to be dug up if you look.”

Rents in the Nakano area tend to range from quite high to extremely cheap, so you can be sure to find something that fits your budget. There are also plenty of shops and supermarkets in the area, making it all the more convenient. Similar places would be Koenji, Ogikubo, Asagaya, and Higashi-nakano.

2. Komagome and Tabata

Komagome Station

Generally, living near the JR Yamanote Line, which circles the heart of downtown Tokyo, means paying a lot in rent, but the Komagome and Tabata areas are (relatively) inexpensive. People generally don’t think of either area when they think of the Yamanote Line, but they do, in fact, have stations on it. Also, they’re close to lively Shinjuku, making it easier to go out for a drink whenever you feel like!

Our real estate agent told us, “They’re not the most glamorous areas, but they have plenty of shops and supermarkets, so they’re by no means inconvenient. And they’re not too expensive either. Komagome in particular has green spaces like Rikugien and Kyu-Furukawa gardens, in addition to temples and shrines, making it a good place to take a stroll on your days off.”

3. Sumiyoshi

MA321765

Apparently people aren’t too familiar with the Sumiyoshi area, even people living in Tokyo. However, it has stations on both the Hanzomon and Shinjuku lines, so you can get wherever you want to go pretty easily. Even better, you can get to Otemachi, Shibuya, and Shinjuku without changing trains!

Like most of the places on this list, the Sumiyoshi area has supermarkets and shops, as well as lots of greenery in places like Sarueonshi Park. “It’s a popular area for families,” the real estate agent told us, “but there are also a variety of places for people living alone.”

It’s apparently gotten a bit more expensive in the last few years as its popularity has grown, but it’s still reasonable and convenient.

4. Kamata

Kamata_Station_East_Entrance_Rotary

This area is kind of close to Kanagawa Prefecture (which is actually a plus if you’re keen to spend your weekends at the temples of Kamakura or seaside parks in Yokohama), but access to the Tokyo city center isn’t too bad. The area right around the station feels fairly busy but not so far away from it things are pretty quiet and rents aren’t too expensive. There are a lot of inexpensive but good restaurants around the station, so it’s pretty convenient for people living alone.

Access to the city center isn’t the best, but Ikegami and Hasunuma, which are accessible from Kamata on the Tokyu Ikegami line, are worth checking out. Due to the less-than-ideal public transportation options, rent is cheaper, so if you can’t find what you want in Kamata, these two areas might be worth a look.

5. Asakusa

Hozomon_and_pagoda,_Sensoji_Temple,_Asakusa,_Tokyo

People tend to think of Asakusa as a tourist area, but it does also have a lot of residences. As you might expect, rent around Sensoji temple and the station is expensive, but if you head towards Tawaramachi or Iriya, there are plenty of inexpensive places,” we were told. And, in addition to Sensoji and the shopping/dining area around it, there are also plenty of restaurants elsewhere in Asakusa, too.

Apparently there isn’t much in the north part of the Asakusa area, so if you want to make the most of living in Asakusa, our real estate friend told us that places close to Asakusa, Tawaramachi, Inaricho, and Iriya stations are highly recommended.

Final thoughts

Our real estate agent left us with some good general advice. While people moving to Tokyo probably want to live in the famous places they’ve already heard of, they’re also the most expensive. If your selected area has a mixture of JR lines and subway lines, it probably won’t be inconvenient at all to get to those glamorous high-rent districts for a day out (or a day in the office), and you will have an easier time living in the city when you rent isn’t through the roof.

Other recommended locations were: Kotake-mukaehara, Machiya, Koiwa, Akabane, and Kiba. Also, we were told that places like Nezu and Sendagi, which have a lot of history and older shops and temples, are places where you can enjoy putting down roots of your own.

American expat shares habits she lost after moving to Japan

shinjuku

RocketNews 24:

When moving overseas, especially when moving between countries with as cultures as different as the United States and Japan have, adjusting to your new life abroad can take a bit of time. But once you’ve settled in to your life in your new home, the customs you had to be so mindful of in the beginning become second nature, to the point you may even find yourself having a bit of reverse culture shock when you go back to your home country.

Amie, an American who lived for some time in Japan, shared some of the “American habits” she lost, or conversely, some of the “Japanese habits” she picked up from her time living abroad, as shared by blogger of all things Japan-and-foreigner related, Madame Riri.

Any time living or traveling abroad can change one’s outlook on life and the world around them. These are just some personal habits that Amie noticed had changed from her time in Japan.

genkan

1. She stopped wearing shoes indoors

If this isn’t a custom you’re familiar with, it is one you will quickly learn when coming to Japan. For many American families, it is normal to wear your outdoor footwear into the house, but at the same time, every family is different. I have been to plenty of homes in the US where everyone takes their shoes off just inside the entrance, but Amie states that after living in Japan for a while she just can’t bear to keep her shoes on while inside her home.

2. She stopped worrying about being naked in front of others

This one I can personally agree with. Bathing together is not a custom that carries on past childhood in the US. Even changing in the P.E. locker room in high school can be a bit uncomfortable for some. For years I turned down opportunities to go to Japanese hot springs because the thought of stripping down to my birthday suit and sitting around in the bath with close friends, classmates, teachers, and all the other naked people was too awkward to even want to think about. But then one day I finally gave in, took the literal plunge, and realized there’s really nothing weird or awkward to it at all. Now I’m wishing I had all those missed hot-spring opportunities back!

ID-100183975

3. She stopped being “late”

Amie relates a story of how she got lost and ended up being only five minutes early to work, to which she was scolded by her superiors for being “late” since she was not at least 15 minutes early. It is true that the Japanese have a reputation for punctuality, and it is generally expected of you to show up to work early in order to be considered “on time”. For personal affairs, however, such as meeting up with friends, you may not always see the same punctuality. (Or at least that’s the case in my personal experience, but I could also just have very flaky friends!)

4. She stopped sitting in chairs at the table

Traditionally, Japanese use tables low to the floor and sit on zabuton cushions. There are zaisu as well, which are essentially legless chairs used for sitting at low tables or those heavenly kotatsu you hear residents of Japan going on about each winter. However, regular tall tables and chairs are just as common in Japanese homes too, so it’s not like you’ll never sit in a chair again when you go to Japan.

5. She stopped talking to strangers

The author talks about her experience of being a friendly, approachable person in a town where people would walk across to the other side of the street when she would come by. Again, I think everything is relevant, and everyone’s experiences will be different. True, I don’t feel I’m approached as much by friendly strangers wanting to chat to the extent I was when I lived in the States, but to say it doesn’t happen in Japan would be a big lie.

bikes

6. She stopped driving a car

Japan has excellent public transportation, that is for sure, and with limited land available, the cities on this island nation tend to be built more compacted than cities in the US, which makes getting to places on foot or by bike much more feasible. Owning a car in the city can actually be more of a nuisance than anything, what with the narrow roads, traffic congestion, and the limited and expensive parking. However, if you move out to the inaka (countryside) you’ll probably be wanting that car, unless you don’t mind walking for miles through the mountains and rice paddies to get anywhere. And by the same token, depending on where you live in the US, you can get along pretty well without a car too.

Everyone’s experiences are different, depending on how they were raised, their personalities, and what sort of environment they moved in to. So we ask you, American expats in Japan, can you relate to anything on this list? Are there any other customs you picked up or lost since coming here? We’d love to hear from expats in Japan from other countries as well!

Link

12 rules for expat life in Korea

You’ve moved to Seoul and on your first day at work you end up in a karaoke joint till 3 a.m. surrounded by girls pointing V signs into their faces while they pose for photos singing ‘classics’ from the Backstreet Boys.

That’s just a regular day at the office. Avoid the culture shock with our quick guide to acclimatizing in Seoul.

1. Learn to drink like a fish

Your work contract might say 9-5 but you forgot to read the fine print. Birthday parties, staff dinners and other work functions will keep you going late into the night. Just remember that in the South Korean workplace, an invitation is an obligation.

2. Try not to get ‘celebrified’

Just because you get cat calls on the street from students who are surprised to see a foreigner does not mean you are famous. There might be a certain novelty to being a visible minority here, but try not to let it get to your head.

3. Bring your own clothing

 If you have broad shoulders, big feet, a big chest or a big anything, forget looking for something that fits in Korea because you probably won’t find it without a hunt. And don’t trick yourself into thinking you can pull off Korean style because you definitely can’t (this isn’t a challenge).

Korean students

Students by day, photo bombers by night.

4. Learn to dance K-Pop

 It doesn’t matter how straight you are, your pre-pubescent love for boy or girl pop groups (remember the Spice Girls and N’Sync?) will come rushing back with the hottest sounds from 2 p.m. and Big Bang to The Wondergirls and Girls Generation. And don’t feel ashamed that you know all the dance moves; your Korean friends will love it.

5. Put the gay away

Korea has its own “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, and although gay rights have come a long way in the last 10 years, there remains a strong prejudice in this uber-conservative society. So, if you are one of the many queer expats in South Korea, keep your homo on the hill.

6. Buy good face cream

 I’m not sure if it’s the pollution, the stress, or the water, but living in Korea will age you, and your pimples and wrinkles will battle it out to see who can destroy your face the quickest. No wonder there’s a cosmetic surgery shop on every corner.

karaoke in Seoul

She’s singing her Seoul out.

7. Embrace your inner diva

 The best night out is one that involves a visit to a nore-bang or “singing room,” where you and a few friends can rent a private room and sing, or rather shout, your favourite pop songs at each other.

8. Don’t tip

 The first time this happened, I was chased down the street by a waiter who thought I overpaid him. Taxi drivers, hairdressers, and waiters don’t expect a tip, so save some extra cash for those long nights out.

9. Don’t have a coffee addiction

Koreans brew a pot of coffee with a teaspoon of grinds, so you will end up drinking six cups just to get a small buzz. And it’s not cheap — a regular cup of java can cost up to three times more than what you’d pay back home. If you are desperate, try the popular instant coffee sticks.

kimchi in SeoulFood porn pics are obligatory if you really want to blend.

10. Take pictures of your food

It’s okay to lug around your DSLR camera to snap pictures of your favourite Korean dishes from steaming kimchi soup and barbecued meat to a cup of tea or rice cake. Everybody does it and how else are you going to remember what you ate after those seven shots of tequila?

11. Adjust your diet

Goodbye gluten, hello spice and rice. Your grubbery will complete a 180-degrees spin as you transition into the world of Korean cuisine. Not to worry, as most of the food is healthy and dining out can be pretty cheap. For the incorrigibly Western though there’s a slew of international restaurants too.

12. Strike an Asian pose

When getting your photo taken, a simple smile is not going to cut it. Make a peace sign with your fingers or a heart with your arms, show your claws or look surprised. The zanier the better! For some posing tips, check out asianposes.com.

Check out this link:

12 rules for expat life in Korea