What are you laughing at?
Where was this picture taken?
To find out, read my reply to Atsumi in Comments corner...
How was your high school reunion Jiae? I hope you had a great time reliving your school days. Did you feel nostalgic talking to your old friends? Don’t you think that as adults we forget about so many things that seemed vitally important when we were growing up? You mentioned ghost stories as one example, and it’s true. I remember, as a kid being told ghost stories and feeling that kind of deliciously spine-tingling fear that terrifies and thrills at the same time. Sometimes I think it’s the same with laughter. As a kid, and then a teenager, I remember having fits of giggles, laughing uncontrollably till my stomach hurt about silly things – at the time they seemed hilarious, but as an adult it seems to happen much less frequently. The stresses and worries of life take over, and we forget what it’s like to be a child.
When was the last time you laughed so much your stomach hurt, you couldn't breathe and tears rolled down your cheeks?
nostalgia - a pleasurable but also sometimes sad feeling you get when thinking about things which happened in the past
spine-tingling - something very frightening or exciting
fits of giggles - periods of uncontrollable laughter
hilarious - extremely funny
Today I’m starting a new month of pre-sessional classes. The main focus this month is on writing research reports and giving a group presentation. For their report my students have to create a questionnaire about university life in London which they will give to other students on the course.
What kind of questions would you ask if you were creating a questionnaire for students in London?
Atsumi – I travelled in Japan last year and I, like other people it seems, found the trains incredibly efficient and punctual, particularly the ‘shinkansen’ (bullet trains). I expect that it really depends on what you are used to. In the UK, trains, tubes and buses are often delayed quite severely, so a 3-minute delay for a train would hardly count as a delay (in fact, it would almost seem early). What are the reasons for this? Well, I think it’s mainly to do with the age of some of the infrastructure here. The underground (subway/metro) is the oldest in the world, so when it was built, it wasn’t really designed to carry such a vast number of people as it does today. Our rail system developed fairly early also, so it is quite dilapidated and requires a lot of maintenance. By the way, I remember Shibuya in Tokyo and its’ famous pedestrian crossing. (That's where the picture was taken) In London, there is a very busy intersection at Oxford Circus which is currently being redesigned to imitate the Shibuya model - the idea is to stop the traffic from all directions for a minute or two to let everybody across, rather than halting traffic from first one direction then the other. Have a look here to get the idea. It remains to be seen if this will work in London – does it take into account cultural differences I wonder??
Leila, I hope you have a wonderful time in Greece. I’m lucky enough to go to Greece quite often as my sister lives in Thessaloniki. I think the idea of taking off your shoes when going into a house is widespread in many Asian countries. A few people do it here, but it’s not particularly common. I think it makes sense in terms of hygiene and keeping your house clean.
Paulraj, although where you live is not a multi-ethnic society, at least we all have this opportunity to meet online and you can, to a certain extent, get to know about other countries and cultures here. Of course, it’s not the same as a face to face meeting, but a few years ago, it would have been impossible.
Benka, was that the Exit festival? Sounds like it’s a really great event, and getting bigger all the time. I hope that commercialism doesn’t destroy it’s spirit, something which seems to happen to a lot of festivals once all the marketing people get involved and the media take over.
Ana Paola, nice to hear such positive words about your country. Does the large Japanese community in Brazil mean that it's easy to find nice Japanese food over there?
Joe, I think you’re right that people’s ideas of a place are often determined by what they see and hear in the media. It's hard to remember specifically what impression I first had of South Korea originally. I guess my first impressions were of students I taught in language schools. I was always amazed by how tough the secondary education system seemed to be compared to the UK system. I always wanted to ask about the situation with North Korea, but found that many of them didn't really want to talk about it very much. I met some really nice students though, and was able to visit some of them when I visited Seoul last year.
Hyoshil, I like your story about seeing a foreign soldier for the first time. I was surprised to find that there is a US military base in the middle of Seoul. I think that it may soon be moving, or perhaps it has moved already. My friends told me that the presence of US soldiers had caused some problems in the past. It seems really strange to have that kind of base right in the middle of a city.
Ramilton, you’re right that there is a big Brazilian community in the UK. I do know some Brazilians here, and they do a variety of jobs, form cleaner to office manager. I heard that at one point there were worries about a 'brain drain' as many graduates were leaving Brazil to work in other countries, including the UK. I don't think it's particularly easy to get a job in the UK, but language skills are one very important factor. With good language skills and relevant work experience, a Brazilian should have the same opportunity to find a job as a native speaker.
Toni, I have to agree with you about bullfighting – for me it’s barbaric, as is fox-hunting in the UK. Many people say that it is traditional and part of the culture but the question is, does that mean that it’s right? Human history has countless examples of traditions and cultural norms which most ‘civilised’ people would not accept now.
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