St. James' Park

Wake up to new perspectives

It’s my birthday today. I’m typing this while sitting on the bed of my Airbnb, a place I’m staying at temporarily until my new flatshare is ready for me to move in.

It’s been a hectic couple of months. It feels like a lot has happened.

I got a new supervisor at work, so there’s been some adjustment around there. I finally moved out of my terrible houseshare, so I feel like I can finally breathe now. I also found a consistent group of friends I could rely on for chill times. It’s getting better.

The important point though is that today has been the first day I’ve had off from work since January. I don’t know how full-time salaried workers in London do it. Especially those who work in far more stressful occupations than I do. I don’t know how they can survive from the beginning of January until the Easter bank holiday long weekend without taking a single full-day off from work. That just sounds unhealthy to me.

Speaking of work culture, I had a nice chat the other day with a guy who used to live in Toronto about the differences between the job markets in Toronto and London. The summary of that conversation is that it’s way more difficult to find a job in Toronto than in London. In London, there are more jobs than there are people. You’re paid a bit less in London, but it’s easier to find a job; in Toronto, it’s the opposite. Salary aside though, company cultures in London are a tad better than in Toronto. It’s not uncommon to find someone working at the headquarters of a major company, so because of this, these companies actually treat their employees pretty well; their HR departments care more than just filling in the next hole.

So anyway. I feel like I’ve finally settled in London. The first six or seven months were actually really difficult; it wasn’t until I looked back did I realize that it really was a challenging time for me. There were so many things I needed to adjust to, so many things I needed to realize that “that’s just how things work around here”, so many cultural things I needed to peacefully acknowledge… Some things you just can’t argue or fight over, because that’s how things always were. I just needed to stop and realize there is a difference between “peacefully acknowledging” and “accepting”.

Now that I’ve settled in London, I finally want to take the time to open up my mind to start on what I came here to do – to learn about different perspectives.

Toronto is arguably the most multicultural city in the world. Over 50% of the city population identify themselves as a visible minority. But if you grew up in the city, unless you really push yourself to immerse yourself in other cultures, you’re kinda just stuck in the culture you grew up in. And by that, I mean that personally, I limited my own thinking by not making a more conscious effort to learn more about people outside of the East Asian ethnicities. I was comfortable, and I knew it. So I made the decision to physically move out of the city and to move outside of my comfort zone. I was tired of hanging around East Asian people all the time. If we, as East Asian people, want more people to see us as regular human beings, we have to make a conscious effort to expand our networks too. To show that we’re all just regular joe’s, and we deserve to be seen as humans and not some sort of exotic being.

All that said though, I don’t know if I’m only saying all of this because I’m on my day off from work, and my mind is finally relaxed enough to think about life, or because I actually mean it.

I guess we’ll see. I’ll check in with myself a month from now to see if I really did mean what I said.

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  • This looks like the most unappetizing dish of food ever, but it's got an amusing story behind it. (Well, I think it's amusing anyway.) So I'm a solo East Asian female traveller, right? Imagine me walking into a Spanish tapas pub of sorts by myself, not knowing a lick of Spanish and trying to understand how this pub works. (It was highly recommended on @foursquare.) ⁣
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I stood at the bar for like, 10 minutes trying to get the attention of one of the bartenders, but he just continued to look over my head. It was packed in this pub – at least two groups of #RealMadrid fans hanging around, decked out in full gear! – so what with busy bartenders and waiters, no one gave a two-shits about this East Asian girl standing and looking helplessly at the bar. Fair enough.⁣
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Finally though, I managed to get the bartender's attention and ordered a mojito. (Also recommended on @foursquare.) The bartender yells at his co-bartender buddy, and I apparently have to wait some more for this mojito to arrive. After a bit, I'm tired of standing around, and walks over to his buddy's side of the bar and looks at him expectantly.⁣
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This guy is cuuute. The top half of his face reminds me of @oscar_emboaba – the eyebrows, the eyes, the hair. But he still takes ages to give me this damn mojito and the free plate of tapas that comes with it. The whole meal cost only €6, but I still want my food, thanks.⁣
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Anyways, after what must've been 15 minutes since walking through the door of this tapas pub, I'm finally served my food and drink. The mojito turns out to be way bigger than the #Foursquare tips said; it's about maybe 3 to 5 times the size of a normal glass of mojito in London or Toronto. The free tapas were decent, but nothing to shout about.⁣
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While I was eating and drinking though, I had to entertain myself with either my phone or the hustle bustle of the venue. That meant a lot of people watching. A lot of people watching that included the groups of local Real Madrid fans – figured that  I should leave for the stadium relatively the same time as they do – and the cute bartender.⁣
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(Continued below...)
  • Looming history. 🇪🇺 #Brexit
  • Seoul's gate to its soul... 🏯🇰🇷
  • One of my least favourite things about London is the tiny train carriages. When you're underground, the last thing you want to do is also be crammed in a tiny carriage with a bunch of strangers, cringing at the intimate butt-to-butt contact when the train is in motion.

So when I arrived to Seoul and saw these beautiful and spacious subway trains, I knew that I needed to take a photo before I left the country. 4G/LTE data service! Heated seats! Room to stand! Plenty of dangling straps (at different heights)! Big fat clean windows! Designated seats for elders and pregnant women! Designated seating areas for wheelchair users!

Fuck, as I'm writing this, I feel a slight flu of "TTC isn't too bad" coming on. 😕
  • A little bit of Bavaria before the London winter ends. 🌲🐕
  • This photo turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. I took it just before I sat down for a dumplings and noodle soup meal at one of the stalls. The market was supremely busy during the last few days of the year. It's also probably the only venue I went to in Korea that wasn't very friendly to English speakers. Many of these stalls are managed by ahjummas (grandmas), and their English skills aren't very good, so it's a bit difficult to ask them questions about the food or about your order. There are translated menus you can take a look at though, so if it's just a matter of ordering and eating, English speakers will do just fine!