2019 Ends but the Climate Crisis Continues

I’m no Greta Thurnberg. I don’t have the courage to stand up and speak to the whole world, nor do I quite know how to radically change my life. My main conundrum is that I want to make a difference, I want to save the world as we all do, but what slows my motivation is that distant voice telling me that I’m simply too small. On one side I have friends thinking that I should do more and on the other, family who think I’m being ridiculous. This is why I have decided that 2020 is the year that I focus on changing my habits. I’ve accepted that I’m not going to instantly become vegan, lead a zero waste lifestyle and leave no carbon footprint. Our societies have raised us and geared us in the opposite direction. However, I am determined to maintain small differences. If we all make small differences, that makes a bigger difference than one vegan, than one person who is zero waste.

I want to start off my mentioning the brands that have inspired me this year. I highly recommend checking them out, you’ll thank me later!

  • Sancho’s Dress, a beautiful sustainable fashion & lifestyle shop in Exeter. 
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Photo by Olivia Riley, taken from Sancho’s Dress website.
  • Lucy & Yak, sustainable dungarees capital, possible one of the greatest comfort discoveries ever!
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These dungas were my first Lucy & Yak purchase and I’m still in love!
  • Peace With The Wild, check out their easy-to-follow videos on Instagram

I am open to an feedback on my thoughts, but these are the small changes I intend to make in the new year :

1. Reduce my meat consumption. I grew up with a Spanish mother who instilled in us the central values of food and family. I developed a deep-rooted love of food, but also an expectation that all meals contain meat. I intend to reduce my meat intake by 50%… Which is a lot, believe me!

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Photo by Maddie Bazzocco

2. Reduce my waste. This aspect I’m splitting into two parts. Firstly, reducing my use of packaging and not just assuming that everything can be recycled. Carrying a Tupperware box for takeaway food, always carrying a water bottle, etc. We all know these new tricks but remembering to integrate them into our daily routines is a whole other story! Secondly, my boyfriend and I have made a pact: no fast-fashion for the year. Only second-hand or sustainable garments.

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Photo by Becca McHaffie

3. Reduce my carbon footprint. This not only includes reducing flights, so taking the Eurostar instead of a plane to the UK etc, etc. This also means the carbon dioxide emitted from what I buy. Buying locally and sustainably, and supporting those who aren’t transporting their products from the other side of the world.

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Photo by Sergio Locatelli

I know I should have implemented these changes a long time ago, but better late than never, right? I’ll write follow-up post later on in 2020 and let you know how these changes went and any tricks I’ve learnt. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips or questions, or if you simply, completely, and utterly disagree, I’m keen to improve so let me know!

(Less than) 24 Hours in Stockholm

On my way to Åland last August, I travelled via Stockholm and so instead of trying to fit my flight, train, bus, and ferry into the same day, I decided to break it up a bit by spending one night in Stockholm, my first ever experience of the famous city!

My flight arrived very late in the evening, so I took the Arlanda Express to the city centre, and then headed straight to my hostel, Birka Hostel in Luntmakargatan, to get to bed as soon as I could! In true Swedish style, I was kept up late because of a group of people singling ABBA really loudly outside!

The next day I was then heading to Grisslehamn to catch the ferry at 5, so it was going to require some planning to make the most of my time there…

I’m not the kind of person to try and squeeze in a million activities in a single day because I honestly don’t think that allows you to appreciate your trip, so I started off my sightseeing with a lot of walking, from the central station where I left my luggage in a locker, through Gamla Stan to see the palace, and then onto the docks.

For lunch, I really couldn’t imagine anything more typical than Swedish meatballs (I mean, can you?), so I went on the hunt for the best meatball place for lunch and was not disappointed! I found a little corner restaurant called Meatballs for the People, so yes, it was indeed exactly what I was looking for! Each day they have a selection of 5 different meats, and I went for the venison ones, in a deluxe meal which included mash, red wine sauce, bacon, pink pickled onion and, of course, lingonberries. For anyone who wishes to taste some too, it was on Nytorgsgatan, so get google maps out and hunt down those meatballs!

Heading off with a full belly and smile on my face, I wandered through a lovely residential area with cute colourful houses and then headed to the docks to check out the well-reputed Fotografiska, a photography museum. The permanent exhibition there is fascinating and really draws you in, but what blew me away was their temporary Turning the Tide exhibition. The photos were incredible, and set out with dimmed lights and film projections all around that allowed you to become totally immersed! They even had beanbags out in front of the bigger projections on the walls so that you could sit and gaze in awe for as long as you wanted. The photos were by photographers Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen (check out their instas, I highly recommend!), and they do a huge amount for animal conservation, raising awareness of the climate crisis.

For anyone who knows me, you’ll know how much I love penguins, so I’d have to call the photo above my exhibition favourite!

After all that, my time in Stockholm was almost up, so I headed back to collect my suitcase from the train station and waited in the bus station next door for my coach with Eckerö Linjen to Grisslehamn, to catch the ferry… an adventure in Åland awaited.

Middle Eastern Lamb Stew

I’m not usually one to cook much Middle-Eastern food but this was honestly delicious. I surprised myself by making something so tasty despite its simplicity. No fancy cooking skills required!

[Serves 2]

Ingredients:

300ml water

2tbsp stock powder (I use chicken)

150g couscous

250g lamb mince (or quorn mince)

1 courgette

50ml tagine paste

2tbsp tagine garnish

1 carton chopped tomatoes

A handful of coriander

Method:

1. Boil the water in a pan, dissolving in gradually half the stock and then remove it from the heat to add the couscous.

2. Cook the mince in a pan until browned, breaking up and removing any excess fat.

3. Chop the courgette lengthways then in 1cm slices widthways, then chop the coriander.

4. Lower the meat to medium heat and add the courgette for 2 minutes, then adding the rest of the stock, tagine paste, garnish, and chopped tomatoes until you bring it to the boil.

5. The reduce to a medium heat for 10 minutes until the courgette is soft, stirring every now and then before adding the coriander.

6. Now all you have left to do is fluff up the cous cous before serving into onto plates and adding the tagine on top, on the side, mixed in… it’s up to you!

And voilà, chef in no time!

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Let me know in the comments how yours turns out 🙂

Escape Down the Road: Eden Project

We tend to forget the amazing things that lie just on our doorstep, and in amongst my travels abroad, I want to do a few posts on a more local scale – so here I present to you the first post for ‘Escape Down The Road’.

Two weeks ago I went to Eden Project with my boyfriend for a little weekend get away, and I’m so glad I have somewhere to rave about it! Paying about £60 each, we booked our trains, overnight stay, and Eden Project entry just the day before the trip. Studying in Exeter, I’ve been meaning to go to Eden Project for so long, but never really got round to it, and I can honestly say it was incredible! But anyway, I’ll start from the beginning before I get carried away…

The train journey was beautiful; the tracks through Dawlish felt like we were genuinely in the sea. An 8am train, you can imagine the stunning sky, with mist hiding behind the cliffs. My plan had been to sleep on the train but that simply wasn’t possible. The train from Exeter took us directly to St. Austell in Cornwall where a regular bus takes you straight to Eden Project itself.

The grounds were breathtaking with their huge biomes, bubbles surrounded by green. From the entrance you’re taken down a windy path through the gardens and up to the entrance of the biomes. We started with the rainforest one, having to stop at the door to remove coats, scarves, jumpers, etc, leaving us to walk around in t-shirts despite it being the middle of January (I recommend heading to the free cloakroom beforehand, which we completely missed on our way in!). We took the whole tour round, travelling through several continents as we got closer to the lookout, which is about 100m high and gives an incredible view of the whole dome. On the way back down we stopped by the smoothie bar serving £1 baobab smoothies and, oh my, I’m still dreaming about it…

The Mediterranean biome had the most ideal climate, I could have sat in there all day. It was like Spring back in Seville where my family is from. We sat with our sandwiches on the decked patio in just a jumper – as my mum would say, “en la gloria”. The colours in this biome are completely different to the rainforest one, but with their own charm.

By about 4:30pm we made our way to our way to the hostel, which was a huge part of the reason I was so happy with the trip. The rooms are made from old shipping containers, but had all we needed (except towels, I guess we’ve learnt for next time) : comfy beds, warm duvets, en-suite bathroom, TV, plugs… However we spent almost all of the evening in the common room, pictured above. There’s loads of tables, a self-catering area with lots of fridge space, some sofas, and a very efficient heater which we made sure to strategically place ourselves next to! I can’t stress how friendly the staff were, at check-in, when we ordered dinner, and when we asked for suggestions for the following day. Now picture this, both of us sat in armchairs, in front of the heater, with pizza and a bottle of wine, surrounded by friendly people… Exactly my point!

After a good night’s sleep, we had the continental breakfast buffet (only a fiver each) and took the bus that stops just outside the hostel, back to St. Austell Station. We had an open return train ticket so we decided to have a wander round the town and then head down to Charlestown Beach – a key landmark for any Poldark fans out there! After a carvery at The Rashleigh Arms we headed down to the beach for a walk. It was a lovely beach but we were unfortunate enough to come across a deceased dolphin which had washed up onto the sand… It was an awful thing to witness and as we all crowded round it there was a mixture of sadness and confusion as to what to do. I called up the Cornwall Wildlife Trust to report the stranding, but there wasn’t really much else any of us could do. Despite the poor dolphin, it is indeed a lovely beach, with lots of dog walkers. It was quite a walk back to St. Austell and of course there was some train disruption as there often is in Cornwall, but overall it was the perfect getaway! Let me know in the comments below if you’ve been to these places or if I’ve inspired you to go! Are there any other places ‘down the road’ you’d recommend?

24-Hours in Hakone

A stone’s throw away from Mount Fuji, Hakone is a popular hub for visitors of this world-renowned volcano. Unfortunately it’s a notoriously shy mountain so we didn’t get to see it this time, but we had a great tour of the surroundings areas of Hakone. We used the Hakone Transport Pass and followed the set route, which was exhausting but allows you to get lots done in one day.

Train

Take the winding train up the mountain, with stunning views as you pass popular landmarks such as the Open Air Museum.

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Luscious green views from the mountain train

The Cable Cars

The first cable car will take you up to the starting point of the Mount Owakudani cable car, which is the world’s second longest cable car. This distinctive journey not only allows for views of Mount Fuji during clear weather but also a journey over sulphurous fumes and hot springs. At the halfway point, the peak of the mountain, we got out to take photos of the fumes and were greeted with THE STRONGEST SMELL OF EGG. It was unbelievable, but surprisingly I didn’t pass out – worth it for some impressive views though! A stunning view of luscious green ensued as we descended the mountain, which was so bright that it almost didn’t look real! As we neared the bottom we could see a pirate boat in the distance… Our next mode of transport.

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Trying to seem cool despite an inability to breathe…

All Buccaneers Aboard!

After a delicious katsu curry at the terminal, we boarded a huge replica pirate ship to take us across Lake Ashinoko, which was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. I can’t say that this was one of my highlights of the trip as it was swarming with tourists rushing to the sides for photos, but had some lovely views nonetheless.

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The Last Leg…

Docking at Hakonemachi-ko, we had a browse in the souvenir shops and bought some very tasty iced mochas to slightly alleviate the build-up of heat throughout the day, before waiting for the return bus to the Hakone-Yumoto. We walked back to our hotel, the traditional Pax-Yoshino, and bought snacks for dinner on the way because our energy levels were seriously dwindling…

One train, two cable cars, a pirate ship, and a bus later, we’d completed the tour of Hakone.

Top 5 Places to Visit in Kyoto

As one of the biggest tourist destinations in Japan, there’s an endless number of things to do, so I’ve put together some of my favourites from this summer to help fellow travellers out. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so don’t hesitate to add any more suggestions in the comments setion below!

1. Rokuon-ji (also known as Kinkaku-ji) / The Golden Temple:

This was honestly one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen! The Zen Buddhist temple was entirely coated in gold, and surrounded by beautiful forest and gardens. The first floor was used by the emperors to host foreign visitors and other influential leaders, the second was entirely black and for use by samurais, and the top floor was fully gold. The walls, the ceiling, the furniture, even the floor is coated in gold leaf. Understandably visitors cannot step inside, but there are some beautiful photos! After taking plenty of photos of the temple itself, take a stroll around the grounds, tossing a coin into the well-known wishing well.

2. Ryōan-ji

This was a large monastery for Zen Buddhists. It was required, as with most sacred buildings, to take shoes off before walking around the inside of the building. The atmosphere was incredible. It’s hard to explain quite how peaceful it was to sit along the edge of the beautifully raked stone garden, but the only way I can describe it is as an overwhelming calm. We had a tourguide, but if not I could have easily sat there for much longer! For this visit I would really recommend a tourguide to understand the meanings behind the rock garden, each room and the surrounding greenery and fountains.

3. Gion

A street famous for its Geiko (Geishas) and Maiko (apprentice Geishas), it’s right in the heart of Kyoto. The street is lined with geiko noarding houses and, as recently as 10 years ago, you were able to see geiko and maiko walking the streets. Unfortunately they are now quite difficult to come across as they avoid walking amongst tourists because they intimidated by the constant photos and unwanted touching from tourists. There are even sign illustrating not to touch the Geiko! What you do see is plenty of Chinese tourists walking down the street in rented kimonos. Despite all this, it’s a must-see! At the end you will join onto the Higashiyama district which is a mecca of souvenir shops and hand-made gifts. Before you do reach here though, make sure to stop for a delicious cream puffs in the small café near the end of Hanamikoji Dori street.

4. Gion Corner

Still in the same area and keeping with the inculturation of tourists is Gion Corner. This theatre offers show for tourists, with small performances of different aspects of Japanese cultures. It’s not to say that these will be the best Geiko dances, best puppet performances or best tea rituals in Kyoto, but for a reasonable price, it allows you to get a taste for a little bit of everything. I particularly enjoyed th puppet performance at the end, dramatic but humorous. Prior booking isn’t required but it’s worth arriving considerably early, maybe about half an hour in peak tourism season, to get in.

5. Teramachi and Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades

Staying in the Hotel Gracery Kyoto Sanjo, we stepped out into this shopping area everyday and it became our go-to for anything we needed. From a delicious Donburi for lunch, some beautifully handpainted fans as gifts for friends, more suncream, or even just a few snacks for the hotel room, this arcade has anything you coud possibly need. Stepping just outside the arcade you have even more shops, department stores and restaurants, so a great place to spend the day. The great thing is that it’s covered, so during a storm we were hit by halfway through our stay, we could still go out, and during the midday heat, we were out of the sun.

I have to say that Kyoto was an amazing place and I really don’t think I saw enough of it! Although this was probably mostly down to the heatwave as much as time restraints. It’s a great city which is very different to Tokyo and Hiroshima. It has a very traditional but buzzing atmosphere, so I’m not surprised by the number of tourists. I would say to anyone visiting though, please be culturally respectful.

Hello Hiroshima

The visit to Hiroshima included my favourite single day of the whole trip! The city itself is a stunning set of contrasts, and a complete change of pace from Tokyo. The roads aren’t busy, there’s very little noise, but it’s still an incredibly urban place to be.

I have to admit that my initial expectations were totally different to what I found. As a city which was completely and utterly dessimated by the nuclear bomb in 1945, which, let’s be realistic, was pretty recent, it’s entirely rebuilt itself. Because of the story we all associate with Hiroshima, I think I just expected it to have a sadder ambience… but it’s so vibrant! It’s a place which actively promotes happiness and peace, which you feel just from walking its streets.

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The Peace Memorial Museum

This is ofcourse a fundamental part of any visit to Hiroshima. Just a few hundred metres from the epicentre, this interactive museum tells the heartbreaking story of the 6th August 1945. You learn about the United States’ nuclear programme, their criteria for choosing Hiroshima (its valleys meant that the bomb could obliterate the area), the Japanese peace talks which were infact ongoing during the time of the attack, and then the almost unfathomable aftermath. The information is all presented in a subjective manner, you see that the Japanese committed atrocities during the war just like all other countries involved, but I still find it bewildering that a nuclear bomb was ever considered a solution. However, what is then completely incomprehensible was that, after seeing the effects of the attack, another was carried out just three days later in Nagasaki…

That said, this museum’s overarching message was one of peace and moving forward. It’s not about pointing fingers or retaining that resent. Thousands of origami cranes are made each year as a symbol for peace, which are then recycled and used to make products sold in the shop, such as postcards. There was also a handwritten message from Obama and two paper cranes that he had made, as well as an urge for visitors to sign the petition for nuclear disarmament.

We then took a walk through the memorial gardens… Albeit a short one because of the fiery heatwave which awaited us once we stepped out of the blissful airconditioned building.

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Miyajima Island

Another must if you’re in Hiroshima, Miyajima Island is a small haven just off the coast with a stunning and world-famous ‘floating’ Torii gate. We went in the evening, just before sunset and it was the ideal time because the view was absolutely breathtaking. We took a short boat ride over to the island then took a stroll filled with curious deer and adorable souvenir shops.  We got to the Torii gate at sunset and it was an amazing sight! It’s in shallow water, which makes it look as if it’s floating.I do need a moan though… While we were all standing there in awe at the view, some tourists decided it would be a good idea to get into bikinis and swim underneath the gate for their instagrams… Aside from people complaining that these people had now ruined everyone else’s photos, I couldn’t believe how ignorant it was. In the whole time I was in Japan I didn’t even see any Japanese people in spaghetti straps (which is something you absolutely notice when you’re in 42 Celsius heat), and these people decided to swim, half naked, under a sacred monument. It’s like the equivalent of sitting in just swimwear in the Vatican… everyone would be outraged. So why do these tourists feel so almighty that they can claim this gate for their holiday photos, irregardless of any cultural sensitivity. I was just amazed that they either hadn’t thought of that, or worse, knew what they were doing and did it anyway!

Anyway, rant over, Miyajima was magical.

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Experiencing Cultural Traditions

Another two Japanese traditions which we were lucky enough to experience while we were in Hiroshima were to eat in a restaurant with private tatami rooms (an experience which I totally want to repeat!) and visit a small neighbourhood’s shrine festival. We came across it by chance, stumbling through some events on Facebook and so went to go and find it. The had plenty of food stalls with delicious-looking skewers, some possibly more questionable ingredient choices too.. and we got to see a perfomance of Kagura, a story-telling dance to the strong beat of drums and other instruments. It was incredible experience to see something completely local and void of any tourist influence.

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Walking back to the hotel was so peaceful and beautiful with trees lining the river. I’d love to come back and spend more time here in Hiroshima. It’s definitely a place of positivity and you can feel that; it makes you feel good in yourself too.

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Tokyo Travel Tips

I’ve been to London, Paris, New York, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer number of people in Tokyo. Our local station, Shinjuku, has the Guinness World Record for most visitors in a day… 3 million!

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Shinjuku, Tokyo.

There was so much going on all the time – so many lights, colours, noises – it’s amazing how disorientated you feel when you can’t even read road signs! Here we made our way round recognising much more visual things like the colours of signs and the shapes of buildings we’d seen before.

From Tokyo Haneda airport we got the bus to Shinjuku Bus Station and then, somehow found our way walking to the Gracery Shinjuku Hotel (known for its model Godzilla peering out of the 8th floor). This is when it hit me that we were going to spend much of this trip feeling lost… Even the zebra crossings were crazy. At just one junction you could find yourself facing about 6 crossings in the middle or a huge one made up of them all merged together like in the photo above. There was so much to take in all at once, and when paired with jetlag, I collapsed on arrival to the room.

What to Visit:

1. Meiji Jingu Shrine:

The Meiji Jingu Shrine is a huge and beautiful shinto shrine in Tokyo, known for being one of the only shrines to offer beer and wine to the gods. Basically, if I were a shinto god, this is where I’d hang out.

We went through the cleansing ritual with water before going in and, like with many shrines, there were some small wooden tablets you could buy and hang on the tree with a written wish. If it comes true, the tradition is to come back to thank the gods. I recommend coming with  guide to really understand the Shinto religion and the importance of this shrine in particular.

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Beer offerings at Meiji Jingu from brands all over Japan.

Harajuku:

This area is the one for you if you’ve ever been curious about Japanese street style. Takeshita Street, also known as the ‘teen street’, is a fashion capital in its own right. It’s known for having one of Lady Gaga’s favourite shops! From cutesy tutus to grunge, and second-hand shops to full-on costumes, this area is unmissable if you’re visiting Tokyo.

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Takshita Street, Harajuku.

Asakusa:

Asakusa, only a short subway trip from Harajuku, is the oldest Geisha district in Tokyo and home to vibrant Sensoji, a buddhist temple. With bright red lanterns and figures of gods, this temple had a completely different feel to the shinto Meiji Jingu Shrine. Once you’ve finished your visit at the temple, follow the long lines of market stalls with endless handmade clothing, decorations, lucky charms, pastries…

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The Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo.

Hamarikyu Gardens:

I absolutely recommend coming here if you’re looking for somewhere calm, away from the hussle and bussle of city life. Formerly a noble’s garden from the Edo period, it’s a small and surprisingly silent haven in the middle of the city. We stopped in a small tea house (pictured below) to experience the ritual of drinking matcha tea. We did, however, go with the option of ice tea because of the heat! This tradition is hugely important, with very strict rules, so it was such as shame to see other tourists completely disrespecting this cultural practice. From throwing things around, to making lots of noise and laying across the area where the tea is served, as opposed to te seating around the edge. It frankly made me embarrassed to be put in the same category of ‘tourist’ as them.

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The tea house in the Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo.

Tokyu Hands:

Now, this shopping centre has just about everything. I don’t want to admit how many hours flew by while we were in there, but even so, we didn’t manage to get through all 6 floors. I spent particularly long examining every single aisle of the stationary floor. I suddenly became obsessive over washi tape, stickers, and calligraphy pens. The kitchen floor is also a must if you want to check out plenty of cool gadgets!

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THE BEST cheesecake I’ve ever had, so make a stop in the cafe in the Takashiyama department store next door!

Tokyo was a massive eye-openerand much more varied than I ever expected. When people think of Tokyo, a common image is of skyscrapers and neon lights, and don’t get me wrong, the city is briming with that, but there’s so many calm green spaces or shrines which make you feel as though you’re in the countryside.

“I left my heart in Tokyo…” – Mini Viva

Wandering Japan

My first trip to Japan and I’ve learnt an incredible amount! This summer I visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hakone, and I’ve returned in love with the country (despite arriving in the midst of their hottest heatwave in 130 years!).

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Deers roaming the streets of Miyajima Island, Hiroshima.

The landscape varied from huge skyscrapers with streets filled with neon lights, to roaming rice fields which were greener than anything I’d ever seen. The people, however, didn’t change. They were beyond friendly wherever we went, even if they knew no English. I think this is the main thing I’ve taken away with me. We didn’t meet a single Japanese person who was rude or unpleasant. They would go out of their way to help us and make us feel welcome. One day, in Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, we were completely lost looking for the Shinkansen (bullet train) and a man approached us out of the blue to ask where we were going. We showed him our tickets and he sped off, with the four of us in tow. Winding through a shopping quarter and round various corners, we emerged at the Shinkansen entrance. We barely had enough time to say thank you to this gentleman before he shot off. He didn’t even work at the station!

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A fruity snack on the Shinkansen.

Another aspect to really catch my attention was the thoroughness and organisation; it was like every eventuality had been covered and there’d still been time for great presentation. With regards to the latter, I was so impressed with how beautifully they wrapped anything you bought. Just a scarf was wrapped in printed paper with a cute sticker, then placed in a box which was then also wrapped and placed in a lovely bag, then placed in yet another bag. It sounds excessive but it did make everything feel special. In this thoroughness is where you really see many people’s strong work ethic, but also the fact that they fully understand the phrase “you eat with your eyes”, and this is most definitely true (particularly when you can’t read the language on the label!).

When talking about organisation, all you need to do is show someone the Tokyo subway. With lines drawn on the floor for queuing, which everyone follows diligently, the passengers getting off are always given space before new passengers get on. For someone who’s just spent a year living in Paris, this was fascinating! In Paris there were plenty of situations in which I didn’t think I’d be able to get off at my stop, whereas in Japan, particularly once we’d mastered the phrase “Semimasen” (excuse me), people would move aside and let you off without a fuss.

Now, there’s one thing in Japan which absolutely couldn’t go unmentioned: the toilets! Wow, these are incredible. I felt like I found a new function in every toilet I came across. Have you ever seen a toilet with multiple ways of washing your behind? Or how about a dryer? Or a deoderiser? Or even a button to play music so that your neighbour can’t hear you while you go about your business? We came across ones which played applause, jungle sounds, symphonies… And oh how clean! I’ve never felt so relaxed to use a public toilet, and especially not a major train station toilet! They must be so shocked when they come over to Europe and find themselves in a McDonald’s… I know it sounds ridiculous to mention, but I was honestly baffled at how well everything is kept, not just by staff, but the general public too.

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The fact that they need to offer people instructions says it all…

These are all things that really stuck with me from the trip, but I’m conscious that I can’t fit everything into one blog post, so make sure to keep up with the next few posts to read about the individual cities!

 

So… What do you want to do once you graduate? The never-ending story of the pressure to have a plan.

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I’m sure most uni students will agree with me that this question is constant and, for a lot of us, really quite irritating. I had so much trouble choosing my A-Levels that I did one more than most… You know, to keep my options open.

Personally, I think this should be celebrated in graduates, it should be accepted that being open to multiple paths when you start your degree is as positive as it is negative. Not having a clear vocation in mind from Day 1 has encouraged me to sit down and analyse two big questions:

  1. What do I enjoy?
  2. What am I good at?

If you find some options that overlap both questions, you’re onto a winner. It would be a refreshing change to see schools encourage more students to leave their options open. A vocational degree isn’t the only option, and it definitely isn’t what everyone should be striving for. Students should be allowed to research all their options and be given plenty of information before becoming set on a specific career.  It might not just be a matter of choosing the right degree, but of choosing the right style of institution. In certain industries, an apprenticeship could get you just as far as a degree.

As a student majoring in Modern Languages, I can assure you that gone are the days of studying a language purely for teaching or translation. I have gained transferable skills in cultural awareness, analysis, reasoning, effective communication, research, and presenting, which can be adapted to an endless number of jobs, many of which may not have even been invented yet!

After putting together all these puzzle pieces, I’ve started to see that Marketing is where I’m most suited, and I’m not embarrassed to say that, when I left school, I had no idea what marketing even was. Only now do I realise that it’s everywhere. So don’t give in to the pressure fellow students. You do you, and if you can’t find the right job for you, invent one!

“Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.” – Ann Patchett

Wandering this world in search of great people and great food.

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