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This week Dunkin’ Donuts opened in Frankfurt. My wonderful colleague queued up before work and brought us a big box of brightly coloured doughnuts. This whole concept brought me a bit of Japan-nostalgia since the city I lived in, Ise, had special mochi sweets on sale on the first day of every month. People would go down to the old district at 4am and queue up for some of these rare sweets.

My friends always went and I scoffed at them, but towards the end of my time in Japan I realised I’d regret it if I didn’t start going to buy these mochi. I went about 3 or 4 times in the end and it was really amazing because I could zip through a completely empty city on my moped at 4am, and then when we got to the line we always met really great people which made the (often) 2 hour wait completely worth it. Then after buying the mochi we’d queue again (above) for the special breakfast that was available at the restaurant next door. That breakfast was one of the best I’ve ever had. Hmm… I wonder if I have a photo of that too…


Look what I found!

But thinking about queuing up for stuff in Japan and in Frankfurt got me thinking about queuing up in general. You may think this is not so much a topic interesting enough to blog about but actually, as a British person, I think about queuing a lot. These crazy 3 hour long queues are not a thing for me. In Japan they will queue for anything, and they have NO limit to their patience. If it says in a magazine that such-and-such a place has good cakes, they will wait for 3 hours to try one – even if they know the article is sponsored and probably a lie. At any given time on Japanese tv there will be crazy tv shows where minor celebrities go to some restaurant in some town and try some food, announce that it’s the softest, juiciest  tastiest thing they have ever eaten and afterwards that restaurant won’t be able to move for customers – they will be spending the whole day queuing outside to taste this soft juicy tasty thing. (Please click on the “crazy tv shows” link to watch the video… it’s SUCH a typical Japanese tv show…)

For me, I think my limit would be 40 minutes. When Krispy Kremes opened in Osaka I did wait for 40 minutes to get some (and boy were they worth it…) but when it opened in Nagoya I saw people waiting for 4 hours and said to my friend that they could go to the airport, fly to Korea (where they have had Krispy Kremes for years), walk into a shop and buy doughnuts, fly back and they would still beat the people in the queue.

As an expat, queue methods can also be pretty confusing. In Japan they have pretty much the same queuing system as in Britain, but with one added rule – old women can break all the rules and it’s ok. I remember this one time when I was in Japan I went to an illuminations event. When it was over, the route back to the exit was ridiculously crowded and so we had to wait in a long crowd-queue to get out. I was waiting patiently with everyone else until these old ladies started jabbing me in the stomach to get past me. They really had no shame. They will also push in front of you when you’re waiting for a bus or train as well. I’d gladly let elderly people through but I get annoyed when they are rude about it.

Here in Germany there is a slightly different queue style. Where in the UK we form one line that feeds multiple cashiers in a shop, in Germany they form one like per cashier. This means that you can easily be served first if you just join the right queue. German people are a lot less angry at people who push in, as well. In Britain, we are REALLY angry when people push in. But most of the time we just tut and glare and do no more. A few times I have had people ignore the line and wait at the side of the counter to push in but where German queuers are ok with this, German shop staff are thankfully strict.

Where German people are TERRIBLE, though isn’t technically a queue but it’s a related form of waiting; when the train is coming into a station and people need to get out. Instead of waiting to see who else is getting out, each person assumes automatically that they will be the only person and as soon as the platform is in sight, they will push to get to the front of the door so that they can be the person to press the button and exit the train first. And then people rarely let you off the train before they cram on it. I guess German people just get stuff done.

I find peoples’ queuing styles say a lot about their culture and way of life. British people get angry a lot but don’t say anything out right. German people are harsh and abrupt but get what they want in the end.

How does queuing happen where you’re from?

Thoughts about Bravery


Me, as a 20 year old girl ready to take on Japan without fear. 

I’ve been having problems with my confidence recently. People who know me will see me as outgoing and someone who is everywhere at once, doing all the meetups and friends with everyone. But I used to be so much more. I think there’s a better word for it, but I used to be brave when I was younger. I used to do a lot of drama, I loved to be on stage and when I went to Japan to study I didn’t care if my Japanese was good or not, I just used it.

But I have found that I’m not that person anymore, I seem to have lost that side of me. My German friends constantly ask me to speak in German with them… I guess I could and it would be ok but there’s an element of “losing face” involved that’s just too risky… or scary for me. Every German I know speaks amazing English. It would just be embarrassing to let them see just how little German I speak. And also when we speak in English we can have amazing conversations but if we spoke in German we’d be reduced to boring, simple stuff. But I can’t ever remember feeling this way with Japanese. Maybe it’s because I was a cocky little shit, but this time round I just can’t get the German out, even though I know my friends won’t judge me and I know it’ll only make my German better.

I finished the advanced improv course a few weeks ago and I noticed in that area too I’d become a lot more withdrawn. I love improv – I love being on stage. When I was younger I used to do SO much theatre; regular stuff, improv contests, I was a dame in the village panto (meaning I was 16 year old girl pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman…) and I even entered a solo theatre contest in a division 2 years older than my age (and still won). I was this girl, but now I am not, and I think it’s holding me back.

When you’re an expat or just a regular language learner, I think you need to be super outgoing to be able to get the most out of your life in your adoptive country. Langauge-wise it’s pretty straight forward – you need to be brave enough to just go for it and you’ll get the hang of the language. As an expat it’s best if you just throw yourself into various situations and go to random meetups because you never know what will happen. Of course, it’s also ok to not be outgoing and an expat, but you won’t have as many crazy stories to tell your grandchildren 😉

I guess this lack of bravery has been bugging me for a while. I guess various things happened and I lost the drive I used to have to be like this, but I’m taking steps to get it back. Improv helps me a lot, but I’m *thinking* of maybe dabbling in stand-up comedy. A comedian friend of mine who I admire very much came over the other week so I could road test my routine on him but I just clammed up. I’d like to work myself to the stage where I’m able to do this – even if I’m not funny I think the experience will be good for me.

During the first week of April I’m going to do a German homestay. It’ll be in Frankfurt so I’m not going far at all, but I’m actually really nervous about it. I have no idea where the 16 year old who went off to Japan to do homestays is, but she’s not here right now. I feel nervous about speaking German to someone other than the few people I share my terrible skills with and I feel nervous that it’ll be a whole week of me and the teacher – her teaching me in intensive lessons during the day and cooking and hanging out together in the evenings. This all seems very daunting to me.

But I think once I’ve taken these steps I’ll feel a lot better about myself, so I need to take them. Do you take steps to put yourself in different and daunting situations?

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