Planning a Trip to Europe

In a few months, I will be going back to Europe for the third time! The past two times I went to Europe, I traveled to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark. This time I will be going to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Italy, Luxembourg, and France. 

So far, I’ve traveled to 13 countries. After this trip, though, I will have traveled 17 countries in total. Right now, I’m still currently in the process of planning the trip. Some of the places I’ll be revisiting and some of the places are going to be completely new to me. I’m not going to say exactly where I’m going just yet. I’ll leave that for after I come back and can post pictures. 

Advertisements

Japanese Bento Boxes

Japanese bento boxes are packed lunch boxes or takeaway containers that are made out of wood, plastic, or metal. Bento boxes are often filled with cooked rice, meats, fish, pickled and/or cooked vegetables, and egg. They are usually made by parents to give to their children for lunch in school or sold as takeaway foods from restaurants or train stations. These bento boxes are often nicely decorated and look very cute. I’m not exactly sure if I would be able to eat from the bento boxes if they looked this cute!

Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead

From November 1 to November 2, the people of Mexico celebrate Dia de los Muertos, otherwise known as day of the dead. During Dia de los Muertos, people celebrate the lives of the deceased. It is said that on November 1 the spirits of deceased children come down to reunite with their families, while on November 2 the spirits of deceased adults come down. 

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated first in each family’s home. An altar, called an ofrenda, made for the deceased and then decorated. The altar is decorated with candles, flowers, foods such as tortilla and Day of the Dead-bread, drinks, toys and candies for the children, cigarettes and alcohol for the adults, skeletons and sugar skulls, and favorite memories or things of the deceased. They leave these things for the deceased, because it is said that the deceased’s spirit will come down and enjoy these things when they come down to reunite with their families.

On the afternoon of November 2, families go to the cemetary to their loved ones’ graves. They clean the graves, play games, listen to music, and celebrate the lives and memories of their deceased loved ones. 

The Difference Between Korean Kimbap and Japanese Sushi

Korean kimbap and Japanese sushi look the same, but are they really the same thing? The answer is yes and no.

Japanese sushi consists of vinegared rice, which is combined with other ingredients like raw seafood and vegetables. Japanese sushi has various types. Some of these include:

makizushi, also known as norimaki (rolled sushi)              makizushi

nigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi)                                                      nigirizushi

chirashizushi (scattered sushi)                                        chirashizushi

inarisushi (pouch sushi) -fried tofu pouch filled with cooked vinegared riceinarizushi

oshizushi (box sushi)                                                   oshizushi

Korean kimbap is like a variant of Japanese norimaki. In kimbap, however, the rice is usually mixed with sesame oil. Kimbap usually contains rice, vegetables (carrots, kimchi, pickled radish, etc.), meat (beef, ham, crab, etc), and fried egg.

kimbap

 

 

Adventures to Nagoya and Kyoto

It’s been about a few weeks since I’ve came back from my trip to Japan and since school is canceled again because of the recent snowstorm, I decided to write about my trip.

Before even going to Japan, I had a layover in Beijing, China for 2 hours. Well that was a trip itself…While I was on my flight to Beijing, they decided to cancel my flight from Beijing to Nagoya due to the lack of people. So you can pretty much understand how worried and confused I was when I arrived to Japan. First off, you are not even allowed to stay in China for more than 3 days without a visa. Second off, I had to explain my situation to customs and the ticketing officers with the basic Chinese
I know which still led to confusion from the language barrier. And third off, trying to figure how and when I would be able to get to Japan while trying to find my suitcase.

All in all, after a few hours everything worked out. I found my suitcase, the airplane carrier I was traveling on was able to book me a (free) ticket and hotel room, and the next day I was able to fly to Nagoya.

*Note: when traveling, expect the unexpected. You’ll never know what will happen. Make sure you have enough money, a way to contact someone from home, and keep track of your belongings at all times.

When I finally made it to Japan and my friend picked me up, I felt like I was in a whole new world. Everything was in Japanese, smaller, and the very best-cuter. You could see mascots and pictures of famous anime characters from e.g. Pokemon or Love Live!

image

We were around Nagoya for about a week and then spent about 2 days in Kyoto. Even though I was only there for about a week and a half, we were still able to see and plenty of things.

The first day we went to the aquarium in Nagoya. There I was able to see not only fish but seals, turtles, penguins, whales, dolphins, and some really ugly fish (and I mean ugly).

image

image

Throughout the days in Nagoya, we did a lot of shopping, went to Nagoya castle, Nabana no Sato (a winter wonderland of lights, a science museum, and one of my all time favorites-the Pokemon Center.

image

image

image

image

Before New Years, we visited Kyoto for about 2 days. Each day we went to about 3 different sites. This included Kiyomizu temple, Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kinkakuji temple, and Sanjusangendo (Buddhist temple with 1000 statues). On the way to all the places, there were vendors and souvenir shops all over the place. One of my favorite things I saw at most of the shops were the amount of kokeshi dolls. If you’re not sure what kokeshi dolls are then you can read about them in my blog post here:

https://christinathepolyglot.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/kokeshi-dolls/

image

image

image

image

Visiting all the places was definitely a lot of fun. Another thing I enjoyed about being in Japan was the food. I was able to try so many different foods and desserts while I was there. And there’s so many I already miss eating. I tried tonkatsu (pork cutlet), okonomiyaki (vegetable pancake with meat and sauce), fried shrimp, loco moco (even though it’s technically Hawaiian), kishimen noodles with miso, different types of soups, real ramen with dumplings and rice, melon bread ice cream, cakes, strawberry cheesecake kit kat, and so much more!

image

All in all you can say I had a great trip. I’m so lucky and thankful to have such a good friend (who’s like my twin) to allow me to stay with her and her family and show me around like she did.

Japan is definitely a great place to visit and I highly recommend to go if you ever get the chance!

First Two Weeks

Tomorrow is the two week mark since I’ve been in Germany. Before I came here, I thought the German culture and American culture/lifestyle were at least a little bit similar. Well, I was wrong. The food/meals, school, transportation, etc. are a lot different.My life here is completely different than my life in America.

Food/Meals: The meat and other foods are a lot larger here than I expected. The food is always fresh, and almost always prepared-unlike in America where we seem to just grab something out of the freezer and cook in the microwave. For Fruhstuck (breakfast), I normally eat muesli on schooldays and eggs or bread with meat, cheese, and meat on weekends. During school, I’ll have Pausenbrot (bread or a sandwich eaten during breaks). Then after that is Mittagsessen (lunch), which is the largest meal of the day. Lunch for me is always something different: Maultaschen (my favorite), spaghetti, pizza, cordon bleu with french fries, sausage, doner, etc. And then is Abendsessen (dinner), which is usually just bread or brezel with meat, cheese, butter, etc. German food is delicious, especially the desserts.

ImageImage

School: The school I am attending is called a Gymnasium. In the Gymnasium that I’m attending, there are Grades 5 through 12 (I believe). My classes change everyday, and each class (or lesson) is 90 minutes long. 3 days a week I have 3 classes (or blocks) and I get to leave at 1 pm. In between each period is a 15 minute break. On Monday, I have 4 blocks and I get to leave at 3:30 pm. After the third block, there is a 30 or 45 minute break for lunch. On Thursday, I have 5 blocks..which means I don’t get to leave school until 5 pm. Leaving at 5 pm isn’t actually all that bad. The class subjects are almost all the same like in America except for Religion. All my classes (except for English and Spanish), are taught in German (of course). The first couple days, I didn’t understand at all. But everyday, I learn more German and understand more and more. Something else that is different is that we are allowed to leave the school during the breaks (well, not leave leave), to enjoy the fresh air or go into town to get food.

Transportation and Punctuality: I go to school everyday by bus, however, not a “school bus.” Every school morning and afternoon, I get on the public bus and it is always packed of school kids-so it seems like a school bus. But on the bus are kids from different schools and can get off wherever they want to. Public buses here are really convenient, you can pretty much go anywhere by bus-but you have to wait sometimes awhile for them to come. The cars here, I was told, are mostly manual and not automatic. And the trains and subways..can’t say anything about them yet because I haven’t been on any so far. As for punctuality, when the bus is scheduled to come at a certain time-it will be there exactly at that time. If you have plans to meet someone, always be there at the schedule time.

Environment: The Germans definitely care about the environment. The streets and sidewalks are always clean, and never littered with trash. They recycle and have individuals recycling bins for paper, glass, plastic, etc. And they conserve water. I really wish we did this in the United States. I never really realized how much we’re wasting until coming here.

So far, I like my new life in Germany. Like I said, it is definitely different. Sometimes it can be a little difficult being in a new culture. So far, I made a lot of mistakes and mispronounced a lot of words. But it’s from these mistakes, that we learn the most.

Below are some pictures of Wertheim, two of the castles in my area, the Main and Tauber rivers, etc.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Chinese Dumplings

I have less than one week until I depart for Germany, and in exactly one week I will arrive in Germany! To keep my mind off my anxiousness, I decided to write about Chinese dumplings. Why? I absolutely love dumplings, and I especially love Chinese dumplings.

So today I will be writing about the five types of Chinese dumplings (and buns) I mostly came across (and ate) while I was in China: baozi, tangbao, xiaolongbao, jiaozi, hundun (aka wonton).

包子 Baozi is a steam filled bun. Baozi is filled with either meat or vegetable fillings. Two types of baozi are 大包 dabao (big dumplings) and 小包 xiaobao (small dumplings).

baozi

汤包 Tangbao (“soup dumping”) is a large baozi filled with soup and meat (usually). There are two forms of tangbao. The first (traditional) looks like a regular baozi, and is directly bitten into and drunken. The second (modern) is that the soup liquid is drunken by a straw and the skin is eaten afterwards. Tangbao is my favorite Chinese dish. 我要吃汤包!

soup dumpling

小笼包 Xiaolongbao (small basket buns) is a small baozi that is steamed in a small bamboo basket.

xiaolongbao

校子 Jiaozi is a dumpling that is filled with meat and vegetable filling. It is wrapped with a thin piece of dough, and is compressed and compressed with the fingers. There are three types of jiaozi: steamed, boiled, pan fried.

jiaozi

馄炖 Hundun (wonton-Cantonese) is a type of dumpling usually filled with meat. It is usually mixed with spices, salt, and garlic or green onion. Wontons are boiled or deep-fried. In China, each region has its own variation (Beijing, Sichuan, Ningbo, Shanghai, Cantonese..).

wonton