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Linkies VALENTINE’S DAY

This Valentine’s day, just like Ralf, I’d like you to choo choo choose me to be your valentine. Then we can all have a happy day and feel the love in every corner of our hearts. I love you, blog readers!

Tonight I’m playing cards with my friends in an “anti-valentine’s day card night”. My plans are to get drunk on red wine and try not to do/say anything inappropriate and still be up on time for play rehearsal tomorrow.

My character in the play is a very sexual 19 year old. She’s very coy and flirty, and my idea of flirting with a guy involves me throwing innuendo or puns at him. Thus, I’m not doing very well at this. Plus, one of the guys I need to seduce in the play is my colleague and very good friend. I’m planning to watch clips of Cruel Intentions tomorrow morning to try and absorb some of the energy from the gals there.

LET’S LINKIE

I was meant to link this last week, I have no idea why I didn’t. Here is an awesome blog post giving advice on how to write a thesis statement. This is one of my favourite blogs out there so have a little click around and see what else she writes!

GIRLS is back on (YAYAYAY) and what better way to celebrate than to watch the Shoshi Games. I think Shoshi is my favourite Girls girl.

I’m very excited to be meeting up with my favourite fellow expat-in-germany blogger buddy Steven on Sunday. He has written a great post on Valentine’s day in Germany, so check it out! I always wondered what all the frogs were about…

Speaking of blogging buddies, Jon from Things I’ve Done to Impress Women is frickin’ awesome. Check out this post of his on what sounds to be a very silly dating advice book.

Here are some people who are confused about the difference between Cologne and colons. The last one is my favourite…

I love it when mountains correct people’s spelling…

Also, here is a no-longer-updated twitter feed about a guy who takes townie kids to the countryside. I spent way longer than I care to admit to laughing at these. (These last two links came to me thanks to Sean who is slightly less bad than the worst person in the world)

Do you German? Here’s some German so you can German at work!

Perhaps this is a little old now but let’s all take the time out to wonder what is hiding under Pharrel’s hat.

I am not man enough to own this car. (This blog is my favourite blog of the week. Yay for someone else in the world who can’t stop thinking about linguistics!!)

This burger sounds cool but it’s made my Lotteria and so it will no doubt be disgusting.

To end, here is a song which I would like to play for all of you. Would you all be my fucking boyfriend?

 

How to Win at OK Cupid

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I am by no means an expert on dating site OK Cupid. I have used it for a long time, on and off (when I’m single, of course), and I think I have a fairly successful history on it. I’m fairly blasé about it all – long gone are the days when I get excited over every new message. Most messages I get are pure rubbish, with a few good ones, and a few that are so bad they’re good.

But how do you become “good” at OK Cupid? How do you make a profile that makes people want to message you, write messages that make people want to reply to you? Here’s some advice from little old me, on how to work this very handy social tool. Mainly aimed at men, since it seems that mainly men complain about how they’re not getting anything from using the site.

1. Your photo.

This should be a simple thing, but since we judge on the photo before anything else, it’s a very important part of winning at OK Cupid. If you’re using Tinder, then it pretty much is the ONLY thing people are judging you on. So you have to get it right.

Your photo needs to say a lot about you – a selfie may be attractive on a girl’s profile, but on guys it looks a little lame. If you are posing with a member of the opposite sex, it could look like it’s a photo of you and your ex, so it should be avoided. A guy might think it’d be cool to use a photo of them posing with a model in a bikini, but (for me at least) that would be a turn off and I wouldn’t really read much more into their profile.

Photos that look like they are model shoots are also a turn off – I’d be willing to say that a guy with a photo like that would be far too high maintenance to date. A photo taken on your laptop’s camera often gives the image that you don’t do much with your life. SO what kind of photo IS a good photo?

Photos that show a person’s character are the best. If a guy has a photo of himself hanging out with friends, at a party, in a different country, or doing something silly (like sitting in a ball-pool) then this says to me that the guy has a life and has a lot to say for himself. And it has to show your face! That’s a nice 6 pack you have there, but your phone is covering your face…and what’s with that photo of you standing with your back to the camera? As shallow as it may be, we need to see each other’s faces to be able to see if we’re attracted to each other. If you don’t feel so confident, then get a photo of you having fun – that’s way more attractive than that photo of the guy with his shirt off.

2. Your first message.

So, you found someone you like the look of. Now, how to contact her…

Here are some examples of terrible messages I’ve had from guys:

“Who are your lovers?”

“Are you a cat?”

“Fuck me”

“Do German girls love anal as much as I heard they do?”

I don’t think I need to explain why these are just wrong. None of these are getting replies. The next category of messages are those that sound desperate, or assuming. The guy will tell me about himself, and I’ll be thinking “sure, sounds nice” but then they end with them asking me to reply, or telling me they’re waiting for a reply. Usually, it’s written in a really desperate sounding way. Sure, I’m flattered that you’re excited for my reply but it goes back to the same thing – having things other than OK Cupid in your life. You have a photo of you doing something fun and exciting in the real world, so you should be off doing exciting real world things and not waiting on me to reply.

Another thing along these lines is something I really REALLY hate. A good example of this happened the other day. A guy sent me a message. It was good, so I wanted to reply, but it was Friday night and I was having a meal with my friends, and then on Saturday I had rehearsal for the play. I got home Saturday night to find another message from him reminding me to reply to him, saying “I guess you decided not to reply then”. I did want to reply! But I just have a life! It’s not cool to try to nag someone into replying. You can see when they were online last, if they’ve not replies then they just aren’t that into you. Go scrolling through your matches and find someone different.

What’s a good way to message someone, then? Well first of all READ their profile. If they’ve said they like a certain kind of film, and you also like those films, then talk to them about it! If they say they speak a certain language and you’re interested in that language as well, then ask them about it! In my profile, I say something stupid like “I spend a lot of time thinking about how ducks communicate with each other”. It’s lame, sure. But it’s a handle on which guys can message me…and they do – I get a couple a week telling me how ducks communicate. This shows that they’ve read my profile AND they are interesting and clever. Reply necessary!

3. Timeline.

When is it best to ask for a date? TBH it really depends. If you’re both out there looking for something quick and easy then it could happen in the second round of replies. I usually spend 2 weeks or so messaging them, making sure they’re the kind of person I want to meet up with, before going for a coffee or something. There’s no rule – just play it by ear.

4. OK Cupid’s Rating.

If you’ve been on there a while and are unhappy with the people you’re seeing, it may be because OK Cupid has given you a low attractiveness score. I heard there’s a TED Talk about the science they use to find this out, but basically, I’ve found that the more clicks I have, the more new (and better-looking) guys I get. How do you get more clicks? Well, you could update your photo – that way even people who’ve visited before might think you’re a new person and click again. You could also try answering more questions, which will put your answer on the homepage and get more international clicks.

You could also use the app. The app used to have a great feature where you could find people within metres of you – and that’s how I ended up dating one person from there. This has been changed now to a “locals” feature that works much like Tinder – you are shown photos of people in your area and you swipe left for no and right for yes. I find I’m shown many more guys through this than I am in the website’s matches.

So there are my tips! Do you have any OK Cupid tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Transport in Frankfurt

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Last night on my way home from having some drinks with some friends, I planned out this blog post about transport. I feel I have to go through with it now or the tipsy me from last night would be sad. Besides, I rarely know what do write on the weekends since I always get a massive dip in the amount of people who come to read this blog. The numbers game doesn’t affect me much (ok, I lied) but I’d rather not put my heart and soul into a post to only have a fraction of the people I usually get reading it.

I’ve already posted a little about how trains work here in Germany, as well as some bad things that may happen when you ride them. But here’s a list of other things that you may like to know about traveling in Frankfurt.

1. There are weird people on trains.

I think that Frankfurt is just an open air funny farm because there are so many strange people around. Most of the time it just makes for interesting stories but occasionally it’s pretty annoying and/or scary. The other day I caught the S Bahn train from Niederrad to go back to the main station and I was stood by the door listening to some music. I noticed a man sat nearby who was waving his arms around…I took an earphone out to listen to see if he was in trouble or something but he was shouting at me! It was in German but I understood that he was explaining how much money he would pay to have me, and saying that I probably have lots of young men around me. It was pretty intimidating and the train ride seemed to go on for ever. There were people – including a train company worker and one of my colleagues – around but no one really did anything. It would have been nice for someone to at least come and stand by me or block the man’s view of me.

2. Beware of escalators.

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This escalator is special, because it goes both up and down! (You can tell by the triangle on the right.) You are basically in a race with the people at the other end because if they get on first you have to use the stairs. It happened to tipsy me last night only I was the winner and shouted an apology to the lads who had to take the stairs. HA. 

3. Sometimes trams don’t go where you thought they’d go.

Probably the most annoying thing about Frankfurt is when you get on a tram and think you’re going somewhere but then they take a different turn and you end up in a completely different part of town. 80% of the time the driver will “GERMAN GERMAN GERMAN” and you’ll see all the people groan and get off and so you’ll work it out. But the other day I didn’t hear the GERMAN GERMAN GERMAN over my earphones and no one grumbled and got out so I was stuck on there until I could get to a place with a train station.

4. If the tram is cancelled, taxis around you become free.

It’s only happened to me once. The trams were frozen to the tracks (don’t EVER let a German person tell you that in Germany they are sorted with the seasons and the public transport network never breaks down in the snow!!) and I was trying to get home from work. Suddenly loads of taxis turned up and they said they they’d take me to the nearest working tram stop for free. Awesome!

5. There is no logic to ticket checking.

There are machines upstairs in train stations and you’re expected to buy a ticket (or a monthly ticket) before you go down to the platform. There are random checks to see if people bought tickets or not but there is no easy way to cheat the system as the timing and placement of these people is completely random. On the way home last night a woman on the train told me she had no ticket and asked whether she could ride with me (you can take one person with you if you have a monthly ticket) but as I was getting off at the next stop, she asked whether I knew if the people would come check. I replied in better than normal German (thanks, beers) and told her that I don’t think they’d come around so late at night but it’s probably not worth risking it.

So that’s my funny little post about travel in Frankfurt. Are there funny quirks about traveling about where you are?

Things I Wish People Had Told Me About Studying Abroad

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The other day I read quite a nice article on “Things I Wish People Told Me While Studying Abroad“. A lot of what that website posts is pretty brain draining but it was a nice article and I thought I’d throw my 5p into the pot as well.

In 2007/08 I studied at a girls’ university in Nagoya, Japan. Coming from a class of mainly boys, it was a parallel universe for me, and that’s not even factoring that it’s a Christian university! Nevertheless, it was possibly the best year of my life so far.

So, now that you have my exchange student backstory, here is my list!

1. Do your research.

There are certain things that you may not be able to get in the place you’re going to study in. For example, the Japanese don’t sweat so much and so deodorant isn’t so common. So, if you are going to live there for a while, you should take enough to last you through. It’s always better to do some research so you end up taking with you the right things, even if it means you sound a little silly; I can’t remember how many times I’ve been asked if they have tampons in Japan (the answer is yes – they do. And yes, they ‘fit’ western women, too. They’re just a little expensive.)

2. Shun your countryfolk.

This is going to be controversial.

When I went to Japan, I went there wanting to learn as much Japanese as humanly possible. In my uni course it was common for our weekly test scores to be read out loud to us all by the teacher, and I wanted to come back and be at the top of the class so I’d never feel the embarrassment of having low scores again.

In my class in Liverpool, I was pretty much the only girl, and so I was sent by myself to the girls’ university, while everyone else was paired off and sent away. It was hard because at times I felt real pangs of loneliness, but it was awesome at the same time because I made friends mainly with people who weren’t from English speaking countries. When I visited my classmates in Fukuoka at the end of October I saw that they had a great community of English and American people to enjoy Japan with. It seemed really nice and friendly, and that was great, but I was kind of glad that at my university my friendship circle were Korean, Thai and Japanese people, and that I was forced to speak only in Japanese with them.

If you are studying abroad to learn a language, I highly recommend being stuck up and shunning people who are also native in English. You won’t be popular, you will be looked down upon by others, but you will make that language your default language and improve at a much higher rate.

Living in Germany and trying to learn German now, I really wish I could have a situation like I did back in Japan.

3. Do all the things.

Being an exchange student is very different to being a working expat. As a working expat, and as an adult, not only do I work full time but there’s all this horrid grown-up stuff like life admin. Taxes, student loan forms, papers for this and signatures needed for that…it’s all a massive faff. And all this faff and all this work means that it’s hard to just enjoy all the things your adoptive home has to offer. Lots of people I know go off at the weekends to various German places but I never get round to doing that.

As an exchange student, nothing much is expected from you. You have a few hours’ classes a day, maybe a part time job to keep the beer money flowing, but that’s it. I did SO much in that one year in Nagoya. It was awesome, and I recommend that anyone going to study abroad just does ALL the things. Not only all the touristy things, but also regular things like going to the hairdressers, eating the local speciality, eating the craziest food you can find, perhaps even dating a local. Make a bucket list and tick all the things off. They all make for amazing stories.

4. Culture shock IS going to happen.

I talk about culture shock in a lot more detail in this other post I wrote about living abroad in general, but it still applies to studying abroad as well. It’s good to keep in mind that you will have days when you feel really negative towards the country, and days when you just can’t get your head around why something is done a certain way there when it’s so much better/different back home. It’s completely ok to be like this – it doesn’t make you racist or a bad person. It’s simply the process you go through when spending time abroad.

5. Don’t forget to take a slice of home with you.

Life as an exchange student is probably the first time living abroad for many people. It can be a very challenging experience, though it’s one I wish more people would go through. It depends on the person, but it’s usually a good idea to take with you things that remind you of home. I have a stash of photos of my friends from school and of my family that I take with me and pin on my bedroom wall wherever I am in the world. It’s also a good idea to take with you some comfort food with you like your favourite chocolate or cookies, and save it for a day when you wish you were back home. Music is also a good idea as well – I never really listened to UB40 or Fairground Attraction until I lived abroad; now I listen to them when I miss my family because that’s the music my mum listens to.

There is probably lots and lots more advice for exchange students out there, so please get in the comments if you have something that I missed! And just in case you have no extra advice to add – when/if you live abroad, do you prefer to go out of your way in making friends with the locals? Or do you prefer to surround yourself with people from your home country?

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