Bonus Ep 56 - The English Explorer: Navigating Japan, Embracing Peru, Settling in Spain | Ft. Chris from Instant English

Join Charlie and Chris from Instant English as they explore language, culture, and history. Journey from Britain to Japan and Peru, ending in Madrid. Uncover Chris's global tales and transformations.
Mar 8 / Charlie Baxter

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Join Charlie and Chris from Instant English as they explore language, culture, and history. Journey from Britain to Japan and Peru, ending in Madrid. Uncover Chris's global tales and transformations.

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Transcript of Premium Bonus 056 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to the British English Podcast, the show that helps you better understand British culture and British English. And to do that regarding the culture, I often like to compare and contrast with other cultures, to see how far apart or not we are from one another. And for some reason today it compels me to say that deep down I believe as humans we all want the same things, right? We want to feel safe, feel loved, and perhaps appreciated. But the way in which we go about expressing that in our own little behaviours and quirks varies, in my opinion. And this, I believe, is influenced heavily by our cultural upbringing. And today we have a fascinating cultural exploration to unpack. Joining us is Chris from Instant English, whose remarkable travels have taken him from the UK through the bustling streets of Japan, the vibrant landscapes of Peru, and finally to the sunny shores of Spain. So without further ado, let's bring him on. Hello, Chris.

Chris:
Hello, Charlie. Hello, everyone. How are you doing?

Charlie:
I'm doing well, thank you. I'm three days through a cold, but I'm quite proud of it because normally I'd just accept man flu and just go to bed. But right this time, I've done what all the women in my life seem to do and just carry on with life. And it's been all right.

Chris:
Yeah, I'm still I'm on the latter still very much just, you know, sort of crawling up in bed. I have a cold as well, so.

Charlie:
Oh, really?

Chris:
So yeah, I'm struggling as well, but, um, I think it's good. Get it out of the way. Start the year, you know, do the hard stuff first and then the year will be easy. Hopefully.

Charlie:
Yeah. Nice. Nice approach to that. Um, fact that we're both feeling sick. Um, have you got any New Year's resolutions since this recording is January the 7th? Is that on your mind? Do you do that kind of thing?

Chris:
I'm. I think I'm trying to kick the alcohol a bit more. Not that I'm a massively heavy drinker, but, um, I think, for example, I want to do a few stretches like January. I would like to not have any alcohol and I've so far it's been seven days. [Well done] if you don't include the first, um..

Charlie:
If you don't include the first week.

Chris:
Yeah. Um, so it's going good so far. That would probably be about it. I'm not sure what else, really. Yeah. Just kind of have some healthier habits, like more fruit and the generic stuff. [Yeah] Is there anything you can inspire me with?

Charlie:
Um, well, I was just going to say about the gym kind of thing. Um, I, I joined a gym, a new gym in, um, earlier in last year, and I've finally found a habit that I really enjoy and finally feeling really good about, like, how my body is not aching every day. And, um, and then when we came back in the new year, this gym was full with people. The classes were just taken up. It's insane how many people go back in January. So yes, that's a cliche, one that you could perhaps add to the list if you wanted.

Chris:
Yeah, my my gym is still quite quiet. I was a bit sceptical going this week, but because, um, yesterday was a national holiday, uh, the Three Kings, um, in Spain, it's sort of like the second Christmas. So, um, it's been dead in the gym, so maybe next week will be horrendous, but so far, so good.

Charlie:
Okay, so people were busy celebrating the Three Kings. Is it the three wise men? Is that the the three Kings. Are they.

Chris:
Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. The three wise men, but they call it Los Los Reyes or something I think.

Charlie:
Yeah. No I imagine it's probably Kings, but we maybe have a different label for them. Maybe they're [Yeah] masquerading as wise and kings. Greedy. Greedy. Um, okay, well, we'll we'll talk about Spain in a bit, but we've got a lot of, um, cultural exploration to get through, so let's get on with it. Um, let's start with your origins. Um, you you mentioned in an email that you are from Oxford. Yes. Or near Oxford.

Chris:
Yeah. Well, I was I was born in Oxford and then, um, grew up outside in a village called Wroughton, which is not the prettiest name to pronounce, but Wroughton and, um. Yeah, sort of grew up sort of a very living, a very village lifestyle. I would say. It wasn't too far from bigger towns. But yeah, growing up as a child, you know, I had a lot of freedom. I could stay out until in the summer, you know, 11 p.m. or something, you know, nothing bad ever happened and that kind of thing. So. Had a lot of freedom.

Charlie:
That's nice. Yeah. So, um, can I ask your age? What generation are you?

Chris:
Yeah, I'm, uh, 91. I was born in 91, so I'm 32. Going on 33, unfortunately.

Charlie:
Okay, well, I'm one year your senior. You would be one year below me in school.

Chris:
Does it get better?

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah it does. Yeah. You you start to own the aches and pains. Yeah. Instead.

Chris:
For me, it's the grey hairs are killing me. I feel people say, oh, you'll be a silver fox. And I just, I'm like, well at the moment it's a patchy fox. So it's like, I don't, I don't like it. But you know what can you do?

Charlie:
No, I don't think that's too bad. Um, but yeah. So. So you were brought up in Oxford or near Oxford. Um, what would you say one of your earliest memories are that you can think of that really captures the the essence of growing up in the UK?

Chris:
It's hard to say because it's not hard to say, but I have well, my parents are Irish, so I sort of have a very I had a very Irish upbringing in that sense. I like, for example, I remember going to Irish dances in like big sort of school halls where my sister would dance first and, you know, they had a little shows and performances and then basically all the parents kind of get gradually more and more drunk. And then, um, and I just remember being there, not really having anything to do and just sort of hanging out and just sort of running around with other kids and there being loads of like, smoke as well, because you used to be able to smoke indoors.

Charlie:
Yeah. Right.

Chris:
So like everyone would be smoking. And so that's my earliest memory going to these dances and I always be like, ah, I hate them. They're so boring because I would do nothing. I'd just be there. But it was part of like, you know, um, that's accepting my culture. And.

Charlie:
Yeah. So everyone there was Irish?

Chris:
Yeah. Or of Irish descent. Yeah. Of some kind.

Charlie:
Okay.

Chris:
Uh, typically.

Charlie:
Yeah. And your accent, you pronounce things with the /a/ sound dance. Would you say /gras/ instead of /gra:s/?

Chris:
So this is the problem, right? Because I grew up in the South. However, my mum, she, she grew up in Liverpool. So she moved over and then she grew up. So she says stuff to me. I was with her over Christmas and then she would say bath and I'd be like, it's bath, mum. Like, let's not, you know, mix up my accent too much please. Because I didn't notice until I started teaching. And then I realised I'm sort of chopping and changing between the two because, you know, I listen to my mum, but also I have my friends and so on from the South. So yeah, it really depends.

Charlie:
Right. Okay. Because I was going to say, I would imagine the Oxford, um, the schools that you went to in Oxford would probably be the bath grass fast kind of accent. Is that is that accurate of me to assume that or not?

Chris:
No. It's true. Yeah, it is true. Um, it's just that I sort of chop and change between the two. Yeah. Unfortunately, I'm trying to, uh, be a bit more sort of regulated, but I blame my mum.

Charlie:
Oh, yeah. Well, I'm not here nor there. Just interested in why. So your mum from Liverpool. But you're. Is it your father's side that are Irish or your mum's parents are Irish? Perhaps.

Chris:
So. Yeah. So my mum's parents are Irish and then my, my dad is Irish.

Charlie:
Interesting. So I was speaking to some Irish people and they were, um, I knew of it. I knew of the famine in Ireland and the brutality that the British Empire or the English at that point was horrible to Irish people. And they they told me about it and reminded me of it. And they said, this is why we don't like English people. Um, do you do you feel that within your family? Is there any resentment there? Yeah.

Chris:
Um, yeah. I mean, so little things like it was, you know, watching football, for example, growing up, whenever England were on TV, my dad would always be like, oh, they're rubbish. Look at them. They're pathetic. They're, you know, are falling over each other or whatever. They could be winning or whatever. But he would always be very negative towards them. Not that he was a big football fan, but he still would watch it with me. And then whenever Ireland were playing, it was always like, ah yeah, come on boys, like they're doing great. And it was like they were like losing to I know Estonia or something. They were just terrible to watch. But it was always like.

Charlie:
Sorry Estonia.

Chris:
Yeah. Sorry. Estonia. I mean, just trying to trying to think of a smaller nation like Ireland.

Charlie:
Yeah. Right. Okay. So he was very loyal to Ireland. So the dances was a big thing. What about, um, talking about like, food and local cuisine? What was your favourite kind of dish growing up? Was it an Irish kind of based dish or an English one?

Chris:
Um, well, yeah. The other thing I remember playing, I used to play a lot of rugby and football, uh, you know, Sundays and Saturdays. So I remember being very excited about the, uh, the egg butties, um, after, like you used to get, you know, there'd be food. And I was a vegetarian growing up, so, um. I yeah, I used to remember the egg butties a lot.

Charlie:
And an egg butty. Just an egg in a bap, right? Yeah.

Chris:
Yeah, basically. Yeah. Egg in a bun. That's it. With brown sauce [Any bacon?] or whatever sauce of your choice. No, I was there was baking in the vicinity, but I was veggie so yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah yeah yeah. Fair. Any others?

Chris:
Yeah, a lot of spuds. So potatoes. Um, you know, I used to. I used to remember because I was vegetarian, my whole family were meat eaters. It was just me, um, because I was a little bit fussy as a child. So my mum got fed up and she said, well, if you want to just have vegetables, then okay. So I used to have like a whole plate of potatoes, like mashed potato and um, yeah. And then like, you know, pepper and salt and cheese and I would, I was very happy. Whereas my family would have meat and two veg, right. They'd have sort of mashed potato and then chicken or carrots, you know, whatever. So that was amazing for me.

Charlie:
Okay. And so, uh, did your desires change as you grew up with food? Did you want more than just mashed potato?

Chris:
Yeah. Um, yeah. I think as I got older, you know, you become a teenager and people would start or friends would start to ask me, like, do you want to share a pizza or something? And then I would say, well, yeah, sure. Let's, let's, you know, split our money and buy a pizza. Oh, let's get pepperoni. They would say to me, and then I would be like, well, I can only have Margherita. So the little awkward situation started to appear and it became more and more awkward. So then I eventually decided to, um, to go for it. So I went in the fridge and there was a sloppy Giuseppe from Pizza Express, and I never looked back. I honestly, I mean, that.

Charlie:
Is a good one to try for your first. I think that's quite a good one.

Chris:
Even i went back at Christmas and I was like, mum, get the sloppy Giuseppe. I'm craving it. So, um.

Charlie:
So how many years have you been a meat eater now?

Chris:
So I this was when I was like 15 or 16. So it's been a while now. Yeah.

Charlie:
I love that. Sloppy Giuseppe did it for you. That was really good. So that's. I think you just said Pizza Express. A Pizza Express is a brand, a chain of pizzas in the UK. Very, very, very popular. My sister likes to go to this restaurant every birthday. I'm a bit over it, to be honest. But, um, they do do good pizzas for the fridge at home.

Chris:
What did you grow up on then in terms of dishes?

Charlie:
Um, my mum would recycle kind of like 6 or 7 main ones, um, shepherd's pie. But, um, so she would put baked beans in this. Yeah. Your face says it all, so I didn't know that wasn't normal.

Chris:
I mean, you're talking to me who had a plate of potatoes, so it's.

Charlie:
Yeah, but you still judged it which is amazing. Yeah. My, my, um, my wife's family, they, um, said, no, that's really not normal recently, so. Yeah, she did that. She did a spaghetti bolognese. She would do she would do a chicken roast every Sunday, lasagne, a few others. Fish pie with tuna. Thoughts on that?

Chris:
Sounds appetising. Yeah, I like it.

Charlie:
Okay, okay. Yeah. Again, that was another one that people were like, you don't normally put tuna in a fish pie, but I don't really know.

Chris:
You can't really go wrong with tuna. It's lovely and everything really. You know, put it on pizza, whatever you want. Really. Yeah.

Charlie:
So that's your food. That's your food. And you're now full and ready to go to Japan. Although I did want to ask you about quick childhood games. Any childhood games that you remember?

Chris:
Um, yeah. So I think growing up in a village, it was very outdoorsy. Everything was outdoors. So and it was before phones and also computers as well. Um, so Heads and Volleys was a big one.

Charlie:
Okay.

Chris:
So basically yeah, we did we didn't have. So we wouldn't normally have enough to play a full match, uh, a full football match. So if there was like six of us, you know, we'd do heads and volleys, which basically was where one person was in goal, and then you had to score with either your head or a volley. So the ball in the air, if it touched the ground, um, or if you scored without a volley or a head, then the other person would go in goal. Um, yeah. And then after I think it five goals, you get 'stingers'. So you had to stand there and turn around and people would blast the ball at you.

Charlie:
Yeah. So you would sort of turn around and, and maybe bend over a bit in a sort of awkward position, ready for your arse to be spanked by a bottom or by a ball. By a ball. By a football. A football on the arse. Is that what you got?

Chris:
Yeah, I can confirm that was that was basically it. And, you know, playing in the winter as well because I remember going out into the park or the field near my house just not wearing anything basically like, you know, t shirt and shorts and it would be December or whatever. Okay. I'll just run around. So but then when you had. Stingers. It would be the most agonising pain because it was cold and.

Charlie:
Yeah. Then you wish you had triple-layered up for the padding. Yeah. That's true. Um, did you ever combine drinking with football with any kind of games like that?

Chris:
Um, no, I don't, I don't think I did. No, I always kept that separate really. And, uh..

Charlie:
Good to keep them separate.

Charlie:
I just remember a game. You just reminded me. We would go to the woods. This was about 14 years old, go to the woods and take a bottle of spirits from one of our family's sort of collections without them knowing, obviously. And we would take one person would have had a football, and then we would be round in a group and do keepy uppies. So trying to keep the ball up and passing it to each other, and then if it dropped, that person would take a swig of vodka. [Oof!] Did you did you do any of that?

Chris:
Uh, no. Didn't do that. No, no I didn't, but that does sound more. There's more jeopardy in that one than the Stingers, really, I think.

Charlie:
Yeah, well, I actually wasn't as good as my friends at Keepy Uppies, and they managed to make me almost not finish, but, you know, consume a lot of that vodka. And for years after, I couldn't go near the smell of it. Yeah, I forgot about that.

Chris:
I think just for me growing up, that sense of the alcohol, which was my sort of introduction to the, you know, the world of alcohol was cider; used to be able to buy like a big bottle of Strongbow. [Strongbow. Yes] even now I can't touch it because I just have those memories, you know, those sort of teen late teens drinking a lot of cider and that was horrific. Yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah. I'm thinking about the branding for Strongbow. Like, you know, McDonald's. I think they try to get us early with Happy Meals and make the parties all around the food and McDonald's and get us hooked for life. It's kind of like the opposite for Strongbow, isn't it? They need to sort that out because we we go too far, too soon with it and then we never go back.

Chris:
I think it's just the size of the bottle. They just make it massive. So then you end up drinking all of it, as you know, a 16 year old without any control. Not that I have much now, but, um, you know, less then.

Charlie:
Yeah. You're not picking up a three-litre bottle most days still are you?

Charlie:
Well you've done seven days of not, right?

Chris:
Yeah. Now we're talking about it, though Monday does sound like a good day to get back on the bottle.

Charlie:
Right. Okay. So that's your cultural upbringing in England, covered perfectly. Let's, um, let's ask you why. Why did you choose to fly off to Japan?

Chris:
Um, so I studied in Manchester and I did a lit or literature degree, and then I finished and I wanted to travel the world, and my heart was set on South America because I watched a movie called, uh, The Motorcycle Diaries about Che Guevara. So I kind of just fell in love with South America from the age of about 13. Um, so I was thinking, okay, how can I get there and live there forever? And I discovered that teaching could be an option because they need teachers, especially English teachers. Right? [Yeah] Um, so I applied everywhere, focusing mostly on South America. So I applied for a job in Iraq as well. Um, [right. Okay] because money was amazing, but you had to get a bodyguard and and so on, but it boiled down to, uh, had an offer for Madrid, an offer for Argentina, and an offer for Tokyo. Tokyo was sort of not really on my radar, really. I just thought, well, they're kind of going to pay for my visa. The flight. Um, but I didn't really want to go there. I had no sort of great feeling for it. But the other options I'd been to Madrid like X amount of times, so I kind of didn't want to go to Madrid, and then I wanted to go to Argentina, but it sounded really dodgy. Um, it was like, come here, train for two weeks. And then maybe if you, you know, if you're good, we'll give you a job. And I was like, well, I was 23 and I thought, I can't really do that. So I just basically flipped a coin in the end between Madrid and, uh, Tokyo and then Tokyo won. So.

Charlie:
Right. Okay.

Chris:
But it was a blessing in disguise. I loved it.

Charlie:
Okay. Yeah. So just how all of those lovely fairy tales start. Once upon a time, there was a guy that didn't want to go, but he flipped a coin, and he ended up going.

Chris:
I know. It's the classic.

Charlie:
Lovely, but it's, um. It proved a a successful experience. Yes?

Chris:
Yeah. I think it was better because looking back now, I didn't know anything. I didn't even bother looking in, you know, googling before I went, I was just like, I'll go there, make loads of money and then go to South America. Um, so when I got there, everything was new and fresh and I was like, you know, it was really nice. The fact that I just sort of was taking it in for the first time.

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you hadn't got any expectations in your mind before? Yeah. Was there were there any, um, like surprising aspects of the culture that you encountered?

Chris:
Everything. Yeah. I mean it is mad. It's a it's a different it is a different planet. Um, you know, I remember being there on my first, my first weekend. So I arrived at the end of October and I went out for Halloween in Shibuya. Shibuya is like the main, one of the biggest areas with the crossing, right? The the very famous sort of iconic crossing.

Charlie:
Oh, I think I know where you mean. Yeah.

Chris:
So they don't do it now. It got banned, uh, apparently so they used to be, uh, big parties in the streets for Halloween. So I went out there, um, with a girl from Mexico that I just met, and, um, we were walking around and little things like the bin men were dressed up as Mario, Mario and Luigi. [Nice] And they had the theme song. Every time they would get the rubbish, they had a little scooter. So they'd get out the van, get on their scooter, and then it would be like doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. And they'd pick up the rubbish and then throw it in the van. And then they would be like 'opaaa' and then they carry on.

Charlie:
Wow.

Chris:
So I was like..

Charlie:
With that 'woopaa' would that come out of the speaker, would they say it out loud?

Chris:
No, that was, that was them just shouting that that was them speaker music. Yeah.

Charlie:
But that's great that they you know, I would imagine the first couple of times. Sure. But then, you know, they've done that a thousand times that day. Dedication to [Their dedicated] mimicking. [Yeah]

Chris:
Loads of things like that were just yeah. Like even when you go to Shinjuku, another very um, popular sort of downtown or central area, um, all the lights are just take you back. Everything is lit up. I've never seen so many lights. And I don't know if you've. Have you ever been to Japan?

Charlie:
No. I mean, I've been as a child. I did a layover and we were there for one night, and I got a Coca-Cola for like £7, I think I remember my dad was outraged from a vending machine, but other than that, I have no memory of Tokyo. But I really do want to go. It is interesting. One of my aims this year is to do a live podcast in the top five cities that my listeners are in. [Oh wow] Number one is London, but number two is Tokyo. So I'd really like to try and, you know, call that a business trip and go and explore Tokyo. [That'd be great] that'd be really cool.

Chris:
That's a really good idea.

Charlie:
But yeah. So what were some of the cultural norms or practices in Japan that you found yourself adapting to? Was there anything particularly challenging or easy to embrace?

Chris:
Yeah, I think the thing I, I started to get used to quite a lot was how they eat. Um, so like when you're on the go and that kind of thing, you have a lot of restaurants or. Yeah, they are restaurants. I would, I want to say they're kind of like bars because basically you go in there and you put money into like a vending machine or like a ticket machine, then it gives you a ticket, then you give it to the server and then they bring your food over. So it's a very sort of streamlined, um, way to order. So you don't really have to interact too much with, you know, the waiter you're not there for like a sit-down meal. It's more like, okay, I want some nice food, but I want it quick. So I got used to that very quickly. Like one of my favourite dishes is soba. It's very nice. So it's like cold noodles on, sort of like a tatami, small tatami sort of plate. Um, and you, you dip them in a soy sauce kind of thing. So it's lovely and it's, you know, I think quite nutritious, but very quick.

Charlie:
Right. Okay. I've just googled it. It looks quite a difficult meal to eat on the go. It looks very plate-based. Can you do it from a packet or something?

Chris:
No, but it's more in terms of like the service is very. So you do sit down but it's not. [Oh, you do sit down]. It's not like um, in a restaurant where they come over and they have small talk and then you have to wait a while. It is very quick and right, and there's no talking. So that's what I got used to really. Like. You go and order food like sushi. There's no small talk, you know, you can just sit down, you get the iPad machine and you order quickly and you can have something nice, but without all the fluff of a restaurant.

Charlie:
Right, right. Taking the fluff out of it. Yeah. Good. And, uh, did that mean that you were able to cope at the beginning without having learned much about their language?

Chris:
Yeah, I think if you are there for a short time, you can get by, especially in the the central areas of Tokyo. Um, because you have a lot of these places where you you do, I mean, I suppose with the ticket machines, it is all in Japanese. So you do have to learn some of the characters for that. But over time, I kind of got used to which characters were for like, soba and stuff. But, um, yeah, it's interesting. The language was a big problem because I did go there quite ignorant, thinking, I don't need to learn Japanese, you know. I just go there and and be a Brit abroad. Um, but then I realised that that wasn't the case after about a week, and, um, I frantically started learning Japanese. And it was also, again, it was like a language that I, I discovered and started to love because it was completely different. You start from zero rather than, yeah, you learn French, you can read the letters or something you couldn't. You have to start from a baby sort of perspective. So it's nice.

Charlie:
Yeah, that is a mad shift, isn't it? How how good did you get?

Chris:
I would say yeah, I was intermediate level.

Charlie:
Oh, fantastic. Congratulations.

Chris:
Yeah, it was pretty good. I could have conversations. Had a long-time girlfriend for a while. Well for two years. So I was sort of speaking with her. We were talking more in English, but we would drop into Japanese every now and then.

Charlie:
Beautiful, beautiful. So very good. Another thing I wanted to touch on was the work culture. Stereotypically, they're known for their they're quite unique work ethic, being very diligent or very strict on themselves, working very hard, I'd say. Did you feel like you experienced that yourself? Did they expect more of you than you thought was the acceptable amount? As a Brit.

Chris:
I don't think so. Fortunately, I kind of was able to live there without kind of being integrated into that cultural norm specifically, which was quite nice. So. Yeah, I suppose I kind of worked for an English company that had two different sides. Um, one was the sort of the office area and one was the school. So the Japanese office area was - they had different rules to us. So.

Charlie:
Okay.

Chris:
We we kind of got the privilege of having a British working ethic. But in Japan, um, but the office area didn't have that. I don't believe.

Charlie:
So. Were they in like Monday to Saturday and you were rocking in late in the mornings and stuff? In comparison?

Chris:
Well, I had a really good schedule. The first job I had was terrible, but the second job, um, I had a really good schedule, so I was working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. [Okay] So I had three days off. [Yeah] And they would also do shifts so they would work. Some would work Saturday, some would work Sunday as well as during the week. But it was little things like they would work a lot longer so they would do more like 9 to 10 hour days, whereas we would maybe eight was my longest day. Um, but sometimes I did, uh, a six-hour day, depending on the classes.

Charlie:
And your partner did what was what was the industry that she worked in at the time?

Chris:
She started off. When I first met her, she was selling ATM machines. So it was a very sort of, wow, monotonous job, apparently, you know, how do you sell an ATM machine like, oh, it has good buttons, you know, what do you what's the upsell on that? Um, [it gives free cash] um, it has a colour screen. Um, yeah. So and then she, she quit because she was older than me and she, as I noticed a lot of, well, a lot of my friends who were British in the school, they, we all had Japanese girlfriends at some point and they were kind of all 30 plus. We were in the later 20s, so we were like 25 to 29. Right. And so my girlfriend at the time was she was I met her when she was 30 and until 32 and, um. She kind of had. Everyone seems to have that crisis of like, I've worked really hard after graduating from university in this quite dull job, but good money. And so she quit. She did the thing a lot of people did when she quit and she started working in a coffee shop. So she, she sort of decided that she didn't want to earn so much money, which was a, you know, pain for me because I was like, oh, here we go. You know, I'm going to be I'm going to be the main breadwinner. Um, but no, it was okay. Um, so I think that was a very common thing that a lot of people sort of jumped into working in a bar or coffee shop because they want to have more of a lifestyle rather than just working all the time.

Charlie:
Yeah. And those jobs required less time for them.

Chris:
The sort of the typical office job?

Charlie:
No, no, the job that she went into the coffee shop that didn't require as much time for her. Is that what you mean?

Chris:
Yeah. And also it was more of a an interesting job. So you would meet people, you would have a chat rather than it would be just about numbers and hitting your targets. I think office job in Japan is quite dull, right? I mean, in England it probably is quite dull as well, but I don't think there's much, let's say, banter in the office.

Charlie:
Okay. Yeah. No David Brent's walking around. [Unfortunately] Or fortunately. Yeah. Okay. Um, did you manage to get outside of the cities and, um, explore the wonderful landscapes that, uh, Japan has to offer?

Chris:
Uh, yeah. I think when when I saw this question, I thought, there's no need, like a whole podcast on this by itself because it is mad. Um, and again, this was something I just sort of discovered because I didn't Google, you know, what can you do in Tokyo or Japan? And, um, I discovered that you can sort of in one day. Well, maybe not in one day, but you can one day you can ski, and the next day you can surf. [Yeah. That's cool.] So there's a lot to do. [That is cool] Um, like on Sundays we'll get, get the bus with my friend and go to a place called Nagano or Niigata, which is like a ski resort area. And it would just be like three hours. You get a day pass, um, you had to get some rental gear as well, and then they bring you back. So it's lovely you could do that on your day off. [Really cool] And I would do the same on Tuesday. Uh, on Thursdays and Fridays I would go surfing in a place called Chiba, which was another two-hour drive, but someone would pick us up and so on.

Charlie:
Yeah, I assume in different seasons or the same season.

Chris:
No, I just yeah, put a wetsuit on and then, you know, it would be a little bit chilly, but it's very sunny in Tokyo.

Charlie:
Nice. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Cool.

Chris:
Yeah. Have you heard much about anything apart from Tokyo? In Japan.

Charlie:
My students would show me photos of the temples that they would go to. There's quite a few amazing ones throughout the whole country. I think there's the stereotypical one. I can't remember what it's.. the temple is called, but it's in front of Mount Fuji, isn't it?

Chris:
Yeah. I never actually went to Mount Fuji. Um, I used to just see it from afar. So when I was surfing in the winter, you could see it while you were surfing, which is really nice in a place called, um, Kamakura.

Charlie:
Oh, that is lovely.

Chris:
Um, which has a Buddha there, right. Um, a big, big Buddha. [Big Buddha] Which is cool.

Charlie:
Yeah, that is cool. Yeah. Okay. And did, um, the big Buddha teach you anything culturally that was worth taking away from the country?

Chris:
Yeah. So, uh, the, uh, the big Buddha. Yeah.

Charlie:
It doesn't have to be the big Buddha. I'm using him as a metaphor as Japan of Japan. There.

Chris:
Yeah. Sorry.

Chris:
Um, yeah. No, I think what I learned the most was like about being patient. Really kind of. It is very. It does sort of. You do take it on board quite a lot. How, for example, with the language, the language is backwards to us. So they would say, um, I cat bought or I go shop or sorry, I shop, go right. So naturally whenever someone talks you have to listen to them until the end of their sentence to understand what they're saying rather than, you know, in English you can kind of jump in.

Charlie:
Does that mean you can never finish somebody's sentence?

Chris:
I suppose you could, because maybe they might be. They might know that you you did something. But whenever I would talk with someone in Japanese or hear them talking, nobody ever interrupted somebody else. So that was very nice.

Charlie:
Right. Okay. That is nice. Yeah. And also,

Chris:
Like, I'm teaching you patience, you know.

Charlie:
Patience. And I was going to ask, did you ever share a silence with Japanese people? I've heard this is a cultural thing to to just share silence with one another.

Chris:
On the train every day. Yeah. I mean, the train is absolutely silent, so that's lovely. I do miss that. Um, because here in Barcelona it's not.

Charlie:
Okay. Um, there's a YouTuber that does a channel called Abroad in Japan. You may have come across him. Yeah. Chris. Um, and he said that when he went to Japan, he shared a silence with the headmaster of his school. He didn't really know what was going on until he understood it later. But the the headmaster just looked at him for about two minutes or maybe a minute, and they shared a silence. Was this..

Chris:
I was never fortunate to have one of those, but, um, not a formal one. Maybe. Sometimes I ran out of conversation and we just sit there, um, slurping our coffees. Um, I had.

Charlie:
I had loads of them on first dates. It was great. Yeah. Okay.

Chris:
But no. Yeah, there's a lot.

Charlie:
So patience.

Chris:
Patience and, um. Yeah, having a lot of respect for others. So tying in with silence and that kind of thing. I did learn a lot more about respecting people's space and, um, you know, and, you know, being quiet because other people might be, you know, like, especially living in housing, um, in Japan, it's it's the walls are quite thin. So you have to really be careful of how much noise you make at home because you don't want to annoy the neighbours and they don't do it to you either. So it's quite nice.

Chris:
Yeah, that would be something really shocking for a Japanese person to come to, maybe London and experience their neighbours being so rude.

Chris:
How are your neighbours?

Charlie:
Well, the other night they had a party until two in the morning and they had music on until like one or something, and I don't want to be that prick, but at the same time I don't want them to have fun. No, I do want them to have fun. I really want them to have fun. But I don't want to be suffering because of it.

Chris:
Just not more fun than you.

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I almost want them to invite me in, but I don't want to go. I don't want to go. I just want to be invited. No, I don't know. Um, but it would be shocking, I imagine, if, if you're used to being respectful for one another for that purpose. Um, okay, we've got more to carry on with and little time. So let's get into the next adventure. We have come to the end of part one, so feel free to take a break from your listening practice, but if you're happy to keep going, then we're now moving on to part two of this episode. Thanks so much for being a premium or Academy member and enjoy the rest of the show. So you went from Japan back to England, or did you go straight over to South America?

Chris:
I tried to, but I had to go back to the UK to submit my visa. So I actually went there, submitted my visa in the London embassy, and then I went to live with my parents for three months, or what I thought would be three months, but after two they rang me and said the visa is being cancelled because they've changed the law, so they have to resubmit the visa. Um, I think it was a bit of a swindle, to be honest, when I look back, but I didn't pay for it. The school did, so I don't mind too much. So at that point I was in the UK for six months, but I actually decided I'm not going to sit around in my parents house watching channel five, which is not the most respectable channel.

Charlie:
I'm going to watch channel four instead.

Chris:
I got I got really into the bailiffs, you know, the bailiffs program, they come round and.

Charlie:
Yeah. Can you explain it though, for the listeners.

Chris:
It's basically bailiffs are people that come around to collect debt from people who owe these debts and um, and they wear little cameras on their chest. And basically it's sort of a, a reality TV programme. And there would always be problems because people don't want to pay their debt, they don't want to leave the house. So I kind of got hooked on that for about a month. And then I realised, what am I doing? I can't do this for another three months. So I decided to book a flight to Colombia and I went to Colombia and started to learn Spanish. [Oh, nice] Yeah, it was really cool. It was really cool. And then when they told me the visa is ready, I just hopped on the flight back to London and picked up and then went back to Peru.

Charlie:
Oh, gosh. So you went all the way back rather than just down? [Yeah, yeah] Ah, okay. Did the experience in Colombia help you with your Spanish?

Chris:
Yeah, definitely. Um, because I went by myself. So I had to sort of talk to other people. Um, and I mean, there were times when I was in a hostel, um, and I would be talking with, you know, Australians or other Europeans, etc., in English, but a lot of the time, um, I did try to just walk around and sit in a plaza and just have a little chat to someone. And luckily Colombian people are very friendly, so it's quite easy and they're quite patient. Or they were quite patient with me in terms of listening to my terrible Spanish at the time. So it was good. It was really good.

Charlie:
Very nice. Okay, I wanted to start the Peruvian section off by reading a little excerpt from a book that I've mentioned in this podcast before called The Values Compass. A lady travelled around the world and she's got an opinion of quite a few countries. And I've summarised one of her points about Peru. So I'm going to read it out, and I'd like you to, um, reflect on it and tell me whether you agree or disagree or anything else. So [sure], let's see. Peru's return to the 2018 Football World Cup after 36 years showcased the unwavering positivity of its fans. Despite a long absence, their belief in victory was undiminished. Evident in thousands of motivational videos on YouTube and the dedication of over 15,000 fans who travelled to Russia. Many made great sacrifices with stories of quitting jobs, enduring multiple flights and selling belongings to support their team. This massive show of support reflects a broader cultural mindset in Peru, where positive energy and good vibes or buenas Vibras energia positiva are preferred over luck. This approach, encouraging personal effort and positive thinking permeates various aspects of life, including the self-help industry. High-profile figures like chef Gaston Acurio embody this spirit, championing Peruvian culture and positivity. A career renowned for popularising Peruvian cuisine globally exemplifies this national characteristic of relentless optimism. So her chapter is Positivity with Peru. What do you think about that excerpt? Do you think it's fairly similar to what you experienced? A bit different?

Chris:
Yeah, definitely. I was I was actually there during the World Cup. And people were flogging everything they could like. There was a, I think, a very famous story of a guy who had a mototaxi and he sold that. So he literally sold his most prized possession, the thing he used to make money to go to Russia and, and watch Peru. [Gosh] um, and even I think one for one match, it might have been against Australia. I was actually teaching and as you can imagine, nobody came. And so I was kind of like looking out the window and the streets were empty, like it was like a scene from 28 Days Later. Yeah. You know, when they're just like, you know. Zombie apocalypse. So no one was around everyone. Everybody was watching it. Literally everybody. So they take a huge pride in their culture, which is really cool.

Charlie:
Did you feel any resistance to the natural good luck kind of. I don't know if I would wish it on a day-to-day level in a foreign country, but it kind of slips out in conversation like, oh, good luck with that or something like that. Would they ever be like, no, don't say that.

Chris:
Um, no, I think they they are quite superstitious in that sense in terms of they, they do believe a lot in, in luck. At the same time, you know, if you if you think about New Year's, they wear, you know, different coloured underwear, for example, yellow for luck, green for money. Um, and there's another one, maybe red for love. I'm not sure. And even I think that's on one New Year's Day. I remember looking out the window and seeing people walking around the streets with suitcases. I was like, what is going on here? But apparently their idea is that if you walk around with a suitcase for for a long time, you will travel for a long time that year, you know, depending on how long you walk with your suitcase.

Charlie:
Ah.

Chris:
So they're quite superstitious in that sense. But they're very hard workers as well, so.

Charlie:
Right.

Charlie:
So the whole city people would be travelling with big suitcases that look like they're all going to the airport.

Chris:
Yeah, they kind of like just walk around their block. So it's kind of they just go around and around many times.

Charlie:
Wow.

Chris:
Yeah I mean yeah. So there's a lot of things like that that they, they believe in or they, they like to believe in, but I think I would call them grafters. They do like in terms of if they need to get something done, they will get it done and they will find a way. So it's really cool in that sense.

Charlie:
Okay. Yeah. That's good. I mean, yeah, dedication to walking around the block multiple times suggests that they're they've got a good work ethic and they would have good wheels I suppose. Do they have good roads, good pavements?

Chris:
Um, I wouldn't say so much to be honest. No unfortunately not. I mean it depends on the area, the, the area of Lima, but some are not great.

Charlie:
Yeah. Cusco is where the walk starts, right?

Chris:
Oh, yeah. The Inca Trail. Yeah.

Charlie:
The Inca Trail. Yeah. So I did that. So I went to Cusco once. [did ya?] Yeah I did, so I lived in Chile [oh amazing] in uh, 2015 and then went up through the salt flats to Bolivia and then over to Peru for the Salkantay trek rather than the Inca Trail. Um, and so we started off in Cusco, and I do remember actually very weird memory, but I do remember wheeling my suitcase and having trouble because I think there were like, quite aggressive, um, this is so pointless for me to say this, but such aggressive, like lines in the pavement that it was like. Wherever I went.

Chris:
Cobbled streets right there. Quite cobbled.

Charlie:
Yeah, the streets are cobbled, but I feel like the pavements were also. They also had lines. I'm going mental and.

Chris:
It's also it's uphill quite a lot as well, which can be hard. [Yes, yes, yes. But yeah] Not so much in Lima.

Chris:
Did you go to Lima?

Charlie:
No I didn't, I didn't have time actually. Was it, is it really nice?

Chris:
I love it, but people some people are not. Oh I mean..

Charlie:
Is it quite polluted?

Chris:
Yeah I mean yeah it's, it can be um in some areas because there's a lot of traffic. Um, but I quite like it because it feels like a real city, you know, like, I went there and I felt like in Japan, I made a little expat group, you know, like, it was very much, quite hard to infiltrate the culture 100% because people are just really especially guys. Japanese guys are really busy with their work [right]. Whereas so I thought, okay, when I go to when I go to Peru or the next place I go to, I want to just have friends from that culture. So that's why I went to Lima and I made friends sort of instantly, really after two weeks and I'm still quite close to them. Now they live some of them live here in Barcelona with me, not in the same building, but they live in the same area.

Charlie:
How did you, um, infiltrate that? How did you start that sort of non-expat friendship with people?

Chris:
Um, I got I suppose I got lucky really, because I was looking for a place to rent and the school where I was put, because I didn't, I didn't get to choose which school I went to. Um, they just put me in one and it wasn't in the most favourable area. So there weren't many options in terms of, um, renting. And I just put eventually I got a bit desperate. So I put a little message on Facebook and, um, someone got back to me saying, oh, we have a, a room in that area. So I went there and the guy that I rented it from, he was about my age as well. And um, I just sort of tagged on to his friends and then it kind of snowballed from there. You you meet one person, and he had well, he had like a group of six friends. And then through them they all had another group and it kind of just snowballed. [Yeah] luckily.

Charlie:
Yeah. That is that is a nice way to do it. You just need one. You just need one person to sort of find your way in if you're a likeable human like yourself, chris. Yes.

Chris:
How did you find it in Chile?

Charlie:
Um, well, I'm not a likeable person, so I, I had one person, but they didn't let me into their group. And that's actually true because I lived with a Chilean, but he didn't really introduce me to anyone. Um, we had a couple of barbecues, but they were all part of my expat groups, so he was very social with us, but he didn't. He was a bit older than me, to be fair. He was like 15 years older. [Okay] um, and he was very much my landlord.

Chris:
He didn't want to cross that, that bridge between, you know. [No]

Charlie:
So yeah, I didn't have loads of Chilean friends. I had a couple, but it wasn't it wasn't like how you described, um, did you integrate into the the music and dance part of Peru? Peruvian culture. Because in Chile that was a very obvious thing, actually going to the salsa clubs. That was fun. Loved that.

Chris:
Yeah, it is cool. Um, I didn't really know anything about I mean, I suppose you kind of hear about salsa and stuff like that, but you don't I don't really, I didn't really know any other variations. That was like merengue and, you know, reggaeton, for example. I didn't have any idea what was reggaeton. And then, yeah, people kind of show you like, oh, wow, this is quite nice. I don't understand what they're saying, but, you know, it seems quite happy beat. Um, so that was cool. And I, I really got into other things like cumbia. Did you have any cumbia in Chile?

Charlie:
No. What's that? Well, I don't know.

Chris:
Cumbia is like I'm not sure if it's in Chile, but I like a lot of cumbia from Peru, uh, from Colombia and from Argentina. So I'm not sure if they have it there, but, um, it's kind of like a folk music, I suppose. Um, but folk music kind of sounds quite dull, but it's more interesting than that. But it's very regional to those areas, and I loved it. It's really lots of cowbell.

Charlie:
Oh, I like a cowbell.

Chris:
Yeah, it is very nice.

Charlie:
I, uh, I used to drum when I was a teenager, and I used to really want a cowbell. I never got one.

Chris:
Oh, it's the best bit.

Charlie:
Yeah, it is, isn't it? [There's still time] Guns N Roses used to really advertise that really nicely. I think it was Night Train or something. Dong dong Dong really wanted that. Now I'm selling my drum kit 15 years later. Haven't played it in ten.

Chris:
Still get the cowbell. Just have to use that, like, you know, wake up for breakfast. Just ding ding ding. Central London. Uh, get the neighbours back, you know. From the noisy party.

Chris:
6 a.m. do do do!

Charlie:
And then I find out that a Japanese neighbour has moved in instead of them. She's like, what are you doing? So Cumbia music. Uh, Google tells me that Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian and Argentinian, um, cumbia exists. I'm sure it exists all over the world in some degree, but yeah, maybe it's not so Chilean. [Um, interesting] Do write in guys. If you are Chilean and you and you play cumbia music in Chile and they love it, let us know. Let us know. Um, okay. So you got involved with that a little bit. Um, did you find any of the community values or family dynamics in Peru different from, say, your British upbringing and Japan or the Japanese culture because you said that you actually managed to find some Peruvian friends. It's sometimes hard to know whether that exists in a culture without experiencing that, but maybe you you could shed some light on it.

Chris:
I think coming from my English or British and Irish background and also, yeah, the the Japanese experience, I noticed a lot that I had to get more in touch with my emotions, which is, you know, I suppose very sort of stereotypical, but it's very true, like people would say things to you and I didn't know how to take them as a British person, you know, like compliments and stuff. You always sort of bat them away and be like, oh, you know, are you really good at this. You're like, well, no, I didn't, I didn't do it all myself, but thank you. Whereas, you know, they kind of you have more of these 1 to 1 sentimental talks where it's like, you know, I really appreciate you. I love you, um, you know, things like this. So you, you know, you and even I started to become like that as well, which I think is good. And I remember specifically talking to my father a few years ago, um, and I messaged him saying, I love you. And then he just sent me back on Facebook. He sent me back the big thumb, you know, the you and you know, when you hold it down and it makes it bigger. He didn't even hold it down for that long. It was a little small one. So it was just like so like.

Chris:
Oh, that was for me. That was the clearest distinction between the two cultures, right. Like, you know, he just he they just. Well, my family's not like that. It's very much like, just get on with it.

Charlie:
Cheers, mate. Yeah. Good one. Oh, that's that is fantastic. That's a really good observation of cultural differences. Brilliant. Brilliant.

Chris:
I'm sure he does love me.

Charlie:
I'm sure he does too.

Chris:
Just his own in his own way.

Charlie:
Yeah in his own [thumb] through his thumb. Uh, okay. Um, I think we've got to move on to Spain already. I want to ask more about Peru, but we can't. We've got too much transcribing to do. So, um, I'd like to know what made you go from Peru to Spain? Firstly.

Chris:
We have come to the end of part two now. So again, feel free to pause the episode, to take a break from your listening practice and come back to the last part when you're ready. All right. So moving on to part three now - enjoy. I'd like to know what made you go from Peru to Spain firstly?

Chris:
Yeah, it's probably two things - pandemic and Brexit.

Charlie:
Okay.

Chris:
I think most people will know about those. Um, yeah. So I uh I slipped in the the back door of Spain in October 2020 and then Brexit, um, happened in January 2021. So I kind of I was I had to get there and um, but I was sort of stuck in Peru because there were no flights. So I was getting a bit desperate because I thought it was going to be just, you know, a month or two months. And then it kind of went from March 2020, and eventually I got a flight with the Dutch embassy in October to Amsterdam. And then from Amsterdam, I flew to Valencia and, uh, started looking for jobs. I couldn't find one. And then I ended up going to Marbella in the end and working in a university. So, um, [right], it was mainly just I wanted to live in Europe and I had to get European status before we left, basically. So the, the, the clock was ticking to be honest.

Charlie:
Okay. And you wanted to go back to Europe because the pandemic kept you away from family and you realised you wanted to be close to your dad giving you a thumbs up. You wanted more than that? Or what was the reason that you wanted to go back to Europe?

Chris:
Um, yeah. I think I just knew long term that it probably would be a better option as you get older. I was, I, I was about 29. So I was, you know, going into my 30s and I thought it would be good to be home or be able to get back in two hours like a flight to Bristol and then, you know, get a train over. Whereas in Peru it would be more like two flights and a minimum of 16 hours. So it's not ideal when you get older, you know, family.

Charlie:
Gets pricey. Yeah. Yeah. My biggest not my biggest, but one of my fears is that you'd have to pay for your whole family on the plane. Like if you want a big family, 5 or 6 tickets every time. That's crazy.

Chris:
Yeah, I was, I thought it was crazy that you want to have 5 or 6 children.

Charlie:
I don't I don't. I don't know. No, that'd be 3 or 4, but no, I just, I just want one little spoilt brat.

Chris:
Yeah that's true. It's quite, quite pricey. And also with children flying that long is.. Must be horrendous.

Charlie:
Oh yeah. Goodness me. Um, so I wanted to also ask you, um, Peru and Spain, they have a common language, but do they differ in their cultures? Um, is there a subtle difference, or do you feel like there's a big contrast there?

Chris:
Yeah, I think it's there. There is. And I've noticed it in the way that people interact with you. I feel like it's a lot. Maybe it's because I, I went to Peru first. Well, I did go to Spain before that, but just as a tourist and I didn't learn the language or anything like that. So I didn't really interact with Spanish people, whereas now I do, um, and I do notice there's a little bit easier to communicate with them. Maybe I feel like a little bit, a little bit more patient with my terrible Spanish in, um, in South America than here. I think in Spain you kind of it's more sink or swim, right?

Charlie:
Right. Right, right. And your Spanish has gotten better, so that's hard to measure. Do you know what I mean?

Chris:
Yeah, I think I had to. I mean, even now, I'm sort of in the process of changing my Spanish because I had to learn the way they talk here. Right. A lot of expressions with milk, for example, that I have to learn that, um [with milk?] Yeah. A lot of things with Leche. Yeah, they love it. They love expressions with leche, you know, um, cagar en la leche or, um, can't remember what else there isn't right now, but, um, yeah. Because, you know, I learned a lot of Peruvian expressions. And then now I have to change that for, uh, Spanish ones. So I'm still adapting really. [Yeah. Right] And yeah. So I think second hand what I've heard from South Americans here that I've met and Spanish people here like Spanish people say that South Americans sound like they're talking, um, they're using words from a novel, for example. They sound very eloquent, not eloquent. Well, maybe eloquent, but very sort of romantic or very, um, poetic, let's say poetic is probably the perfect word. [Right] And, um, and South Americans think the Spanish people sound a little bit more direct, a little bit harsher. But I suppose, again, I'm just hearing this second hand, so I'm not sure if it's actually true, but that's what I've heard from different parties. [Yeah. Right.] So.

Charlie:
Okay. And have you you said that some of your Peruvian friends came over to Spain, but have you made any at all locals in Spain? Have you made any of them?

Chris:
It has been a little bit hard here in Barcelona. I haven't really met too many. Um, actually I did. I was in Argentina in November, and I was with a Peruvian friend who has half of his family's Argentinian. So I went there to spend time with him because he was there to see his family. And while I was there, I was hanging out with his friends, and he had a friend also visiting from Barcelona. So I kind of met a Catalan in Argentina. So now we've been hanging out a little bit here in Barcelona. So I've got, I would probably say three friends from, from Barcelona. So it's not. [Yeah] Not a huge amount. But they have their cliques right. They have their groups already from school and stuff. So it's a little bit harder to to infiltrate. Really. [Yeah, definitely.] I think London's the same. Right. Kind of like how would someone make friends in London.

Charlie:
Yeah I think hobbies, finding a local football team or like a 5-a-side kind of thing; that could work. Or like I've just moved to Tooting to London and I've started a tennis social, and that's quite a possibility of finding friends there. But, uh, yeah, it's it is tricky. Once people have a full-on calendar, people aren't as interested in finding new friends, are they? So it's quite easy to stay within the expat bubble because everyone's wanting that active social sort of lifestyle with those people. But, um, I asked that previous question because I wanted to ask if you had noticed anything about their drinking culture. Have you have you gone on nights out with these couple of friends from Spain, and do they have anything unique in the way that they, they behave like, um, what was it? My friend Harry, he was in the Basque Country, and he noticed how at the beginning of the night, the locals would throw money together. They would pool their money into a hat, and then they would use that money throughout the rounds. And then, you know, if they needed to top it up, they would. And I felt like that was a very, very reasonable, very sensible approach to sharing out the expense of the night, because in the UK we would get clobbered. If you're not careful with a hefty amount of money to pay if you time your round wrong, don't you?

Chris:
It's true. Yeah. That is. Yeah. It's nice. Nice to have a little kitty. Very old school. It reminds me, I think my dad said when he was younger they used to do that. Everyone would buy cigarettes and then you, you just take from one packet every time and then, you know. But maybe it was people were nicer back then.

Chris:
But I think here, like, for example, something I noticed is that I think Spanish people or Catalans specifically, I think they drink a lot, but they drink in a much healthier way. [Right] So they don't binge, but they drink more often, I think. [Okay] Um, and they eat a lot with their food. It's quite common. And I've taken this on as well. Like after a few beers, I get hungry. Now, naturally, I'm like, okay, where are we going to order some food with this? I can't sort of go six pints and then be like, okay, I'll have I'm hungry. I'll have another pint. No, I have to kind of stop and have food now, which is what they do here quite a lot, which is, I think, lovely.

Charlie:
And this is on a night out when they're, they're quote-unquote "drinking" or do they not really have that sort of clarification, you know, when you go on a night out in England, I would know before I'm going, if we're going on a night to drink or for a sit-down meal. Is that not so clear?

Chris:
Yeah. Well, I suppose with younger or sort of. Young 20s or teenagers maybe they still do that here. Um, but I think if you for example, you could you always start the night in a bar or like a terrace, you know, outside. And, um, that will include some kind of nibbles, let's say. So a bit, a bit of food. Not like a full sit-down meal. And then maybe if it gets a bit crazier. Okay. You don't you're not in a nightclub with, you know, a knife and fork and, you know, um, a sit-down meal. But I think if they drink throughout the week in a bar, food will be an accompaniment to that.

Charlie:
Okay. Yes. I suppose that's leaning into the tapas kind of aspect. Yeah?

Chris:
But that's something I also learnt in Peru as well. Kind of very common to have food with your drink. And then if you want to kick on you kick on. But you normally have food somewhere.

Charlie:
Sensible and it explains why we are known for our drinking behaviours. Because on an empty stomach you end up doing silly things and being twatty. Yeah, yeah.

Chris:
And the main thing here is balconing.

Charlie:
What?

Chris:
Uh, do you know, balconing they call it here.

Charlie:
No, I don't know that.

Chris:
Basically Brits come here and they jump from balconies because they have drunk too much alcohol, I assume. Or they are just twats.

Charlie:
As in they, they, they jump between the balconies.

Chris:
Um, I think they normally are jumping for a pool or some sort of destination. They're trying to jump into the pool and but usually they do miss. So I think every year there's, I don't know, maybe 5 to 10 Brits die from trying to jump from balconies. It's very even when I introduce myself, they, you know, if we're talking about culture, that will come up quite quickly. Spanish people, they'll say to me, oh, you know, do you, have you ever jumped from a balcony or what do you think about that? And I'm like, yeah, they are idiots. Um, but, what can you do? Benidorm is Benidorm or what happens in Benidorm stays in Benidorm.

Charlie:
Very good. Gosh. Well, on that note, let's conclude. Um, so this is actually perfect. What have you learnt about British culture since living abroad? Balcony. What is it? Balcony ING?

Chris:
I'm not sure what they would call it in Spanish. What do they call it? Balcony. Balcony? Um, I'm not sure. I'll have to check, but yeah, balconing. Basically jumping from balconies. You have to do a bit of research on that one.

Charlie:
Yeah. Balconing. Yeah. There we go. Is the name given in Spain to the act of jumping into a swimming pool from a balcony, or falling from a height while climbing from one balcony to another - balconing. Funny. I mean, not funny. Deadly.

Chris:
Yeah. And the detrimental. Do you know the detrimental terms for for Brits? Well, not well I think it started with Brits, but it kind of expands to other maybe Germans now as well that they, they call us, you know like in, in South America they have gringo right. [Yeah] do you know what the Spanish one is?

Charlie:
No, I don't think I do. I'd like to hear it.

Chris:
They say guiri.

Charlie:
Guiri. No, I've never heard that. Guiri. How do you spell it?

Chris:
Uh, g u I r I. Guiri.

Charlie:
So what comes up on Google images is amazing. I mean, Hawaiian shirt - open, beer belly out, camera on skin with a beach ball and a straw hat on a Brit. A very, very British-looking white, pale fat man. Um, okay. So that's a guiri.

Chris:
So I think I don't, I don't pass for that. But um, yeah, I think if you think about the, the bad British cultural aspects that I've learned from being abroad, I think everyone should live abroad. And then you can you naturally look at your own culture and realise, okay, I don't like this or this is pretty good, but this is bad. So that's the good part of it. Um, I think probably respecting food. I learned to respect food a lot more from a British perspective, or maybe even an Irish perspective as well. It was always seen as like just energy, you know, have this to get energy. Don't. I never really enjoyed the meal like I do now, you know, especially coming from Peru, you really get a sense of I mean, you ask them about their food, they they will or they talk. A very stereotypical thing for Peruvians is that they talk about what they're going to eat later while they're eating another meal now. So they're having lunch, talking about what they're going to have for dinner.

Charlie:
Right.

Chris:
So it's a it's a really nice way to like, appreciate food and like where it comes from. And they have a big respect for the land like Pachamama, like the Mother Nature. So that was really cool. And I think that's a bad thing about England. We don't really respect food enough, I don't think.

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah, that's talking about the next meal whilst eating that meal. Do you feel like that's, uh, leading them away from appreciating the current meal or they are able to do both?

Chris:
Maybe. I think they're able to do both. But then they had already spoke about the meal they're having now with breakfast, you know, so that it's already it's already backdated. The current meal they're having. So, uh, they did speak about it at some point in the past.

Chris:
Funny.

Charlie:
But yeah.

Chris:
Good stuff about British culture. There's some good stuff in there, I'm sure. British culture.

Charlie:
Well, I'm not I'm not necessarily encouraging you to say that Brits are amazing. I'm wondering if you've learned what not to do about your Britishness, what to suppress.

Chris:
Yeah. I think the only thing I try and hold on to is the humour, really. I think there's something very unique about the humour and people do comment on it quite a lot with, you know, like I was in Argentina and Mexico and um, the US in November and people would say, you know, it's very they noticed, oh, it's very different the way you sort of joke, it's very sarcastic and stuff. So um, I quite like that, which is quite unique to the UK really.

Charlie:
Uh, but yeah. Chris, thank you so much for, um, indulging us in your cultural adventure. Um, quite the trip you've been on. How many years have you been abroad since you went to Japan? How long has that been now?

Chris:
Nine, nine years.

Charlie:
Nine years. Okay. And.. And do you have any temptation for coming back to the UK?

Chris:
No. Not really. I mean, I think it's more of a sense of if I went back, where would I live? And I always think I have no idea. Like I've, I've been to a lot of cities in the UK and I'm not sure where I would land. Maybe Bristol, maybe. [Bristol is cool] yeah, Bristol is really cool. I think it's a very much a gem that people don't really talk about enough.

Charlie:
Yeah. Nice. Okay. We will leave it there. Thank you so much Chris. So if you guys wanted to hear more from Chris or find out more about his content because he's got a lot to offer. Instant English. Um, can I send them to YouTube, Instagram, all of the above. Which would you prefer them to go to?

Chris:
Uh, YouTube is my baby. That's that's where I put most of my effort.

Charlie:
YouTube is your baby.

Chris:
Come on down.

Charlie:
And it's Instant English.

Chris:
Instant English. Yeah.

Charlie:
Instant English. Okay, cool. I'll put the link in the show notes. But thank you very much, Chris. Appreciate it massively. [Thanks for having me] And, uh, hopefully, if you will be so kind, maybe we'll we'll get you back on the show in the future. But, um, thanks.

Chris:
For having me. It was really fun.

Charlie:
Thank you very much, Chris. Enjoy your Sunday.

Chris:
Take care. Bye, guys.

Charlie:
All the best. Bye. There we go. The end of part three. Meaning the end of the episode. Well done for getting through the entirety of it. Make sure you use all of the resources available to you in your membership. Thanks once again for supporting the show and I look forward to seeing you next time on the British English Podcast.

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Transcript of Premium Bonus 056 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to the British English Podcast, the show that helps you better understand British culture and British English. And to do that regarding the culture, I often like to compare and contrast with other cultures, to see how far apart or not we are from one another. And for some reason today it compels me to say that deep down I believe as humans we all want the same things, right? We want to feel safe, feel loved, and perhaps appreciated. But the way in which we go about expressing that in our own little behaviours and quirks varies, in my opinion. And this, I believe, is influenced heavily by our cultural upbringing. And today we have a fascinating cultural exploration to unpack. Joining us is Chris from Instant English, whose remarkable travels have taken him from the UK through the bustling streets of Japan, the vibrant landscapes of Peru, and finally to the sunny shores of Spain. So without further ado, let's bring him on. Hello, Chris.

Chris:
Hello, Charlie. Hello, everyone. How are you doing?

Charlie:
I'm doing well, thank you. I'm three days through a cold, but I'm quite proud of it because normally I'd just accept man flu and just go to bed. But right this time, I've done what all the women in my life seem to do and just carry on with life. And it's been all right.

Chris:
Yeah, I'm still I'm on the latter still very much just, you know, sort of crawling up in bed. I have a cold as well, so.

Charlie:
Oh, really?

Chris:
So yeah, I'm struggling as well, but, um, I think it's good. Get it out of the way. Start the year, you know, do the hard stuff first and then the year will be easy. Hopefully.

Charlie:
Yeah. Nice. Nice approach to that. Um, fact that we're both feeling sick. Um, have you got any New Year's resolutions since this recording is January the 7th? Is that on your mind? Do you do that kind of thing?

Chris:
I'm. I think I'm trying to kick the alcohol a bit more. Not that I'm a massively heavy drinker, but, um, I think, for example, I want to do a few stretches like January. I would like to not have any alcohol and I've so far it's been seven days. [Well done] if you don't include the first, um..

Charlie:
If you don't include the first week.

Chris:
Yeah. Um, so it's going good so far. That would probably be about it. I'm not sure what else, really. Yeah. Just kind of have some healthier habits, like more fruit and the generic stuff. [Yeah] Is there anything you can inspire me with?

Charlie:
Um, well, I was just going to say about the gym kind of thing. Um, I, I joined a gym, a new gym in, um, earlier in last year, and I've finally found a habit that I really enjoy and finally feeling really good about, like, how my body is not aching every day. And, um, and then when we came back in the new year, this gym was full with people. The classes were just taken up. It's insane how many people go back in January. So yes, that's a cliche, one that you could perhaps add to the list if you wanted.

Chris:
Yeah, my my gym is still quite quiet. I was a bit sceptical going this week, but because, um, yesterday was a national holiday, uh, the Three Kings, um, in Spain, it's sort of like the second Christmas. So, um, it's been dead in the gym, so maybe next week will be horrendous, but so far, so good.

Charlie:
Okay, so people were busy celebrating the Three Kings. Is it the three wise men? Is that the the three Kings. Are they.

Chris:
Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. The three wise men, but they call it Los Los Reyes or something I think.

Charlie:
Yeah. No I imagine it's probably Kings, but we maybe have a different label for them. Maybe they're [Yeah] masquerading as wise and kings. Greedy. Greedy. Um, okay, well, we'll we'll talk about Spain in a bit, but we've got a lot of, um, cultural exploration to get through, so let's get on with it. Um, let's start with your origins. Um, you you mentioned in an email that you are from Oxford. Yes. Or near Oxford.

Chris:
Yeah. Well, I was I was born in Oxford and then, um, grew up outside in a village called Wroughton, which is not the prettiest name to pronounce, but Wroughton and, um. Yeah, sort of grew up sort of a very living, a very village lifestyle. I would say. It wasn't too far from bigger towns. But yeah, growing up as a child, you know, I had a lot of freedom. I could stay out until in the summer, you know, 11 p.m. or something, you know, nothing bad ever happened and that kind of thing. So. Had a lot of freedom.

Charlie:
That's nice. Yeah. So, um, can I ask your age? What generation are you?

Chris:
Yeah, I'm, uh, 91. I was born in 91, so I'm 32. Going on 33, unfortunately.

Charlie:
Okay, well, I'm one year your senior. You would be one year below me in school.

Chris:
Does it get better?

Charlie:
Yeah. Yeah it does. Yeah. You you start to own the aches and pains. Yeah. Instead.

Chris:
For me, it's the grey hairs are killing me. I feel people say, oh, you'll be a silver fox. And I just, I'm like, well at the moment it's a patchy fox. So it's like, I don't, I don't like it. But you know what can you do?

Charlie:
No, I don't think that's too bad. Um, but yeah. So. So you were brought up in Oxford or near Oxford. Um, what would you say one of your earliest memories are that you can think of that really captures the the essence of growing up in the UK?

Chris:
It's hard to say because it's not hard to say, but I have well, my parents are Irish, so I sort of have a very I had a very Irish upbringing in that sense. I like, for example, I remember going to Irish dances in like big sort of school halls where my sister would dance first and, you know, they had a little shows and performances and then basically all the parents kind of get gradually more and more drunk. And then, um, and I just remember being there, not really having anything to do and just sort of hanging out and just sort of running around with other kids and there being loads of like, smoke as well, because you used to be able to smoke indoors.

Charlie:
Yeah. Right.

Chris:
So like everyone would be smoking. And so that's my earliest memory going to these dances and I always be like, ah, I hate them. They're so boring because I would do nothing. I'd just be there. But it was part of like, you know, um, that's accepting my culture. And.

Charlie:
Yeah. So everyone there was Irish?

Chris:
Yeah. Or of Irish descent. Yeah. Of some kind.

Charlie:
Okay.

Chris:
Uh, typically.

Charlie:
Yeah. And your accent, you pronounce things with the /a/ sound dance. Would you say /gras/ instead of /gra:s/?

Chris:
So this is the problem, right? Because I grew up in the South. However, my mum, she, she grew up in Liverpool. So she moved over and then she grew up. So she says stuff to me. I was with her over Christmas and then she would say bath and I'd be like, it's bath, mum. Like, let's not, you know, mix up my accent too much please. Because I didn't notice until I started teaching. And then I realised I'm sort of chopping and changing between the two because, you know, I listen to my mum, but also I have my friends and so on from the South. So yeah, it really depends.

Charlie:
Right. Okay. Because I was going to say, I would imagine the Oxford, um, the schools that you went to in Oxford would probably be the bath grass fast kind of accent. Is that is that accurate of me to assume that or not?

Chris:
No. It's true. Yeah, it is true. Um, it's just that I sort of chop and change between the two. Yeah. Unfortunately, I'm trying to, uh, be a bit more sort of regulated, but I blame my mum.

Charlie:
Oh, yeah. Well, I'm not here nor there. Just interested in why. So your mum from Liverpool. But you're. Is it your father's side that are Irish or your mum's parents are Irish? Perhaps.

Chris:
So. Yeah. So my mum's parents are Irish and then my, my dad is Irish.

Charlie:
Interesting. So I was speaking to some Irish people and they were, um, I knew of it. I knew of the famine in Ireland and the brutality that the British Empire or the English at that point was horrible to Irish people. And they they told me about it and reminded me of it. And they said, this is why we don't like English people. Um, do you do you feel that within your family? Is there any resentment there? Yeah.

Chris:
Um, yeah. I mean, so little things like it was, you know, watching football, for example, growing up, whenever England were on TV, my dad would always be like, oh, they're rubbish. Look at them. They're pathetic. They're, you know, are falling over each other or whatever. They could be winning or whatever. But he would always be very negative towards them. Not that he was a big football fan, but he still would watch it with me. And then whenever Ireland were playing, it was always like, ah yeah, come on boys, like they're doing great. And it was like they were like losing to I know Estonia or something. They were just terrible to watch. But it was always like.

Charlie:
Sorry Estonia.

Chris:
Yeah. Sorry. Estonia. I mean, just trying to trying to think of a smaller nation like Ireland.

Charlie:
Yeah. Right. Okay. So he was very loyal to Ireland. So the dances was a big thing. What about, um, talking about like, food and local cuisine? What was your favourite kind of dish growing up? Was it an Irish kind of based dish or an English one?

Chris:
Um, well, yeah. The other thing I remember playing, I used to play a lot of rugby and football, uh, you know, Sundays and Saturdays. So I remember being very excited about the, uh, the egg butties, um, after, like you used to get, you know, there'd be food. And I was a vegetarian growing up, so, um. I yeah, I used to remember the egg butties a lot.

Charlie:
And an egg butty. Just an egg in a bap, right? Yeah.

Chris:
Yeah, basically. Yeah. Egg in a bun. That's it. With brown sauce [Any bacon?] or whatever sauce of your choice. No, I was there was baking in the vicinity, but I was veggie so yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah yeah yeah. Fair. Any others?

Chris:
Yeah, a lot of spuds. So potatoes. Um, you know, I used to. I used to remember because I was vegetarian, my whole family were meat eaters. It was just me, um, because I was a little bit fussy as a child. So my mum got fed up and she said, well, if you want to just have vegetables, then okay. So I used to have like a whole plate of potatoes, like mashed potato and um, yeah. And then like, you know, pepper and salt and cheese and I would, I was very happy. Whereas my family would have meat and two veg, right. They'd have sort of mashed potato and then chicken or carrots, you know, whatever. So that was amazing for me.

Charlie:
Okay. And so, uh, did your desires change as you grew up with food? Did you want more than just mashed potato?

Chris:
Yeah. Um, yeah. I think as I got older, you know, you become a teenager and people would start or friends would start to ask me, like, do you want to share a pizza or something? And then I would say, well, yeah, sure. Let's, let's, you know, split our money and buy a pizza. Oh, let's get pepperoni. They would say to me, and then I would be like, well, I can only have Margherita. So the little awkward situation started to appear and it became more and more awkward. So then I eventually decided to, um, to go for it. So I went in the fridge and there was a sloppy Giuseppe from Pizza Express, and I never looked back. I honestly, I mean, that.

Charlie:
Is a good one to try for your first. I think that's quite a good one.

Chris:
Even i went back at Christmas and I was like, mum, get the sloppy Giuseppe. I'm craving it. So, um.

Charlie:
So how many years have you been a meat eater now?

Chris:
So I this was when I was like 15 or 16. So it's been a while now. Yeah.

Charlie:
I love that. Sloppy Giuseppe did it for you. That was really good. So that's. I think you just said Pizza Express. A Pizza Express is a brand, a chain of pizzas in the UK. Very, very, very popular. My sister likes to go to this restaurant every birthday. I'm a bit over it, to be honest. But, um, they do do good pizzas for the fridge at home.

Chris:
What did you grow up on then in terms of dishes?

Charlie:
Um, my mum would recycle kind of like 6 or 7 main ones, um, shepherd's pie. But, um, so she would put baked beans in this. Yeah. Your face says it all, so I didn't know that wasn't normal.

Chris:
I mean, you're talking to me who had a plate of potatoes, so it's.

Charlie:
Yeah, but you still judged it which is amazing. Yeah. My, my, um, my wife's family, they, um, said, no, that's really not normal recently, so. Yeah, she did that. She did a spaghetti bolognese. She would do she would do a chicken roast every Sunday, lasagne, a few others. Fish pie with tuna. Thoughts on that?

Chris:
Sounds appetising. Yeah, I like it.

Charlie:
Okay, okay. Yeah. Again, that was another one that people were like, you don't normally put tuna in a fish pie, but I don't really know.

Chris:
You can't really go wrong with tuna. It's lovely and everything really. You know, put it on pizza, whatever you want. Really. Yeah.

Charlie:
So that's your food. That's your food. And you're now full and ready to go to Japan. Although I did want to ask you about quick childhood games. Any childhood games that you remember?

Chris:
Um, yeah. So I think growing up in a village, it was very outdoorsy. Everything was outdoors. So and it was before phones and also computers as well. Um, so Heads and Volleys was a big one.

Charlie:
Okay.

Chris:
So basically yeah, we did we didn't have. So we wouldn't normally have enough to play a full match, uh, a full football match. So if there was like six of us, you know, we'd do heads and volleys, which basically was where one person was in goal, and then you had to score with either your head or a volley. So the ball in the air, if it touched the ground, um, or if you scored without a volley or a head, then the other person would go in goal. Um, yeah. And then after I think it five goals, you get 'stingers'. So you had to stand there and turn around and people would blast the ball at you.

Charlie:
Yeah. So you would sort of turn around and, and maybe bend over a bit in a sort of awkward position, ready for your arse to be spanked by a bottom or by a ball. By a ball. By a football. A football on the arse. Is that what you got?

Chris:
Yeah, I can confirm that was that was basically it. And, you know, playing in the winter as well because I remember going out into the park or the field near my house just not wearing anything basically like, you know, t shirt and shorts and it would be December or whatever. Okay. I'll just run around. So but then when you had. Stingers. It would be the most agonising pain because it was cold and.

Charlie:
Yeah. Then you wish you had triple-layered up for the padding. Yeah. That's true. Um, did you ever combine drinking with football with any kind of games like that?

Chris:
Um, no, I don't, I don't think I did. No, I always kept that separate really. And, uh..

Charlie:
Good to keep them separate.

Charlie:
I just remember a game. You just reminded me. We would go to the woods. This was about 14 years old, go to the woods and take a bottle of spirits from one of our family's sort of collections without them knowing, obviously. And we would take one person would have had a football, and then we would be round in a group and do keepy uppies. So trying to keep the ball up and passing it to each other, and then if it dropped, that person would take a swig of vodka. [Oof!] Did you did you do any of that?

Chris:
Uh, no. Didn't do that. No, no I didn't, but that does sound more. There's more jeopardy in that one than the Stingers, really, I think.

Charlie:
Yeah, well, I actually wasn't as good as my friends at Keepy Uppies, and they managed to make me almost not finish, but, you know, consume a lot of that vodka. And for years after, I couldn't go near the smell of it. Yeah, I forgot about that.

Chris:
I think just for me growing up, that sense of the alcohol, which was my sort of introduction to the, you know, the world of alcohol was cider; used to be able to buy like a big bottle of Strongbow. [Strongbow. Yes] even now I can't touch it because I just have those memories, you know, those sort of teen late teens drinking a lot of cider and that was horrific. Yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah. I'm thinking about the branding for Strongbow. Like, you know, McDonald's. I think they try to get us early with Happy Meals and make the parties all around the food and McDonald's and get us hooked for life. It's kind of like the opposite for Strongbow, isn't it? They need to sort that out because we we go too far, too soon with it and then we never go back.

Chris:
I think it's just the size of the bottle. They just make it massive. So then you end up drinking all of it, as you know, a 16 year old without any control. Not that I have much now, but, um, you know, less then.

Charlie:
Yeah. You're not picking up a three-litre bottle most days still are you?

Charlie:
Well you've done seven days of not, right?

Chris:
Yeah. Now we're talking about it, though Monday does sound like a good day to get back on the bottle.

Charlie:
Right. Okay. So that's your cultural upbringing in England, covered perfectly. Let's, um, let's ask you why. Why did you choose to fly off to Japan?

Chris:
Um, so I studied in Manchester and I did a lit or literature degree, and then I finished and I wanted to travel the world, and my heart was set on South America because I watched a movie called, uh, The Motorcycle Diaries about Che Guevara. So I kind of just fell in love with South America from the age of about 13. Um, so I was thinking, okay, how can I get there and live there forever? And I discovered that teaching could be an option because they need teachers, especially English teachers. Right? [Yeah] Um, so I applied everywhere, focusing mostly on South America. So I applied for a job in Iraq as well. Um, [right. Okay] because money was amazing, but you had to get a bodyguard and and so on, but it boiled down to, uh, had an offer for Madrid, an offer for Argentina, and an offer for Tokyo. Tokyo was sort of not really on my radar, really. I just thought, well, they're kind of going to pay for my visa. The flight. Um, but I didn't really want to go there. I had no sort of great feeling for it. But the other options I'd been to Madrid like X amount of times, so I kind of didn't want to go to Madrid, and then I wanted to go to Argentina, but it sounded really dodgy. Um, it was like, come here, train for two weeks. And then maybe if you, you know, if you're good, we'll give you a job. And I was like, well, I was 23 and I thought, I can't really do that. So I just basically flipped a coin in the end between Madrid and, uh, Tokyo and then Tokyo won. So.

Charlie:
Right. Okay.

Chris:
But it was a blessing in disguise. I loved it.

Charlie:
Okay. Yeah. So just how all of those lovely fairy tales start. Once upon a time, there was a guy that didn't want to go, but he flipped a coin, and he ended up going.

Chris:
I know. It's the classic.

Charlie:
Lovely, but it's, um. It proved a a successful experience. Yes?

Chris:
Yeah. I think it was better because looking back now, I didn't know anything. I didn't even bother looking in, you know, googling before I went, I was just like, I'll go there, make loads of money and then go to South America. Um, so when I got there, everything was new and fresh and I was like, you know, it was really nice. The fact that I just sort of was taking it in for the first time.

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you hadn't got any expectations in your mind before? Yeah. Was there were there any, um, like surprising aspects of the culture that you encountered?

Chris:
Everything. Yeah. I mean it is mad. It's a it's a different it is a different planet. Um, you know, I remember being there on my first, my first weekend. So I arrived at the end of October and I went out for Halloween in Shibuya. Shibuya is like the main, one of the biggest areas with the crossing, right? The the very famous sort of iconic crossing.

Charlie:
Oh, I think I know where you mean. Yeah.

Chris:
So they don't do it now. It got banned, uh, apparently so they used to be, uh, big parties in the streets for Halloween. So I went out there, um, with a girl from Mexico that I just met, and, um, we were walking around and little things like the bin men were dressed up as Mario, Mario and Luigi. [Nice] And they had the theme song. Every time they would get the rubbish, they had a little scooter. So they'd get out the van, get on their scooter, and then it would be like doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. And they'd pick up the rubbish and then throw it in the van. And then they would be like 'opaaa' and then they carry on.

Charlie:
Wow.

Chris:
So I was like..

Charlie:
With that 'woopaa' would that come out of the speaker, would they say it out loud?

Chris:
No, that was, that was them just shouting that that was them speaker music. Yeah.

Charlie:
But that's great that they you know, I would imagine the first couple of times. Sure. But then, you know, they've done that a thousand times that day. Dedication to [Their dedicated] mimicking. [Yeah]

Chris:
Loads of things like that were just yeah. Like even when you go to Shinjuku, another very um, popular sort of downtown or central area, um, all the lights are just take you back. Everything is lit up. I've never seen so many lights. And I don't know if you've. Have you ever been to Japan?

Charlie:
No. I mean, I've been as a child. I did a layover and we were there for one night, and I got a Coca-Cola for like £7, I think I remember my dad was outraged from a vending machine, but other than that, I have no memory of Tokyo. But I really do want to go. It is interesting. One of my aims this year is to do a live podcast in the top five cities that my listeners are in. [Oh wow] Number one is London, but number two is Tokyo. So I'd really like to try and, you know, call that a business trip and go and explore Tokyo. [That'd be great] that'd be really cool.

Chris:
That's a really good idea.

Charlie:
But yeah. So what were some of the cultural norms or practices in Japan that you found yourself adapting to? Was there anything particularly challenging or easy to embrace?

Chris:
Yeah, I think the thing I, I started to get used to quite a lot was how they eat. Um, so like when you're on the go and that kind of thing, you have a lot of restaurants or. Yeah, they are restaurants. I would, I want to say they're kind of like bars because basically you go in there and you put money into like a vending machine or like a ticket machine, then it gives you a ticket, then you give it to the server and then they bring your food over. So it's a very sort of streamlined, um, way to order. So you don't really have to interact too much with, you know, the waiter you're not there for like a sit-down meal. It's more like, okay, I want some nice food, but I want it quick. So I got used to that very quickly. Like one of my favourite dishes is soba. It's very nice. So it's like cold noodles on, sort of like a tatami, small tatami sort of plate. Um, and you, you dip them in a soy sauce kind of thing. So it's lovely and it's, you know, I think quite nutritious, but very quick.

Charlie:
Right. Okay. I've just googled it. It looks quite a difficult meal to eat on the go. It looks very plate-based. Can you do it from a packet or something?

Chris:
No, but it's more in terms of like the service is very. So you do sit down but it's not. [Oh, you do sit down]. It's not like um, in a restaurant where they come over and they have small talk and then you have to wait a while. It is very quick and right, and there's no talking. So that's what I got used to really. Like. You go and order food like sushi. There's no small talk, you know, you can just sit down, you get the iPad machine and you order quickly and you can have something nice, but without all the fluff of a restaurant.

Charlie:
Right, right. Taking the fluff out of it. Yeah. Good. And, uh, did that mean that you were able to cope at the beginning without having learned much about their language?

Chris:
Yeah, I think if you are there for a short time, you can get by, especially in the the central areas of Tokyo. Um, because you have a lot of these places where you you do, I mean, I suppose with the ticket machines, it is all in Japanese. So you do have to learn some of the characters for that. But over time, I kind of got used to which characters were for like, soba and stuff. But, um, yeah, it's interesting. The language was a big problem because I did go there quite ignorant, thinking, I don't need to learn Japanese, you know. I just go there and and be a Brit abroad. Um, but then I realised that that wasn't the case after about a week, and, um, I frantically started learning Japanese. And it was also, again, it was like a language that I, I discovered and started to love because it was completely different. You start from zero rather than, yeah, you learn French, you can read the letters or something you couldn't. You have to start from a baby sort of perspective. So it's nice.

Charlie:
Yeah, that is a mad shift, isn't it? How how good did you get?

Chris:
I would say yeah, I was intermediate level.

Charlie:
Oh, fantastic. Congratulations.

Chris:
Yeah, it was pretty good. I could have conversations. Had a long-time girlfriend for a while. Well for two years. So I was sort of speaking with her. We were talking more in English, but we would drop into Japanese every now and then.

Charlie:
Beautiful, beautiful. So very good. Another thing I wanted to touch on was the work culture. Stereotypically, they're known for their they're quite unique work ethic, being very diligent or very strict on themselves, working very hard, I'd say. Did you feel like you experienced that yourself? Did they expect more of you than you thought was the acceptable amount? As a Brit.

Chris:
I don't think so. Fortunately, I kind of was able to live there without kind of being integrated into that cultural norm specifically, which was quite nice. So. Yeah, I suppose I kind of worked for an English company that had two different sides. Um, one was the sort of the office area and one was the school. So the Japanese office area was - they had different rules to us. So.

Charlie:
Okay.

Chris:
We we kind of got the privilege of having a British working ethic. But in Japan, um, but the office area didn't have that. I don't believe.

Charlie:
So. Were they in like Monday to Saturday and you were rocking in late in the mornings and stuff? In comparison?

Chris:
Well, I had a really good schedule. The first job I had was terrible, but the second job, um, I had a really good schedule, so I was working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. [Okay] So I had three days off. [Yeah] And they would also do shifts so they would work. Some would work Saturday, some would work Sunday as well as during the week. But it was little things like they would work a lot longer so they would do more like 9 to 10 hour days, whereas we would maybe eight was my longest day. Um, but sometimes I did, uh, a six-hour day, depending on the classes.

Charlie:
And your partner did what was what was the industry that she worked in at the time?

Chris:
She started off. When I first met her, she was selling ATM machines. So it was a very sort of, wow, monotonous job, apparently, you know, how do you sell an ATM machine like, oh, it has good buttons, you know, what do you what's the upsell on that? Um, [it gives free cash] um, it has a colour screen. Um, yeah. So and then she, she quit because she was older than me and she, as I noticed a lot of, well, a lot of my friends who were British in the school, they, we all had Japanese girlfriends at some point and they were kind of all 30 plus. We were in the later 20s, so we were like 25 to 29. Right. And so my girlfriend at the time was she was I met her when she was 30 and until 32 and, um. She kind of had. Everyone seems to have that crisis of like, I've worked really hard after graduating from university in this quite dull job, but good money. And so she quit. She did the thing a lot of people did when she quit and she started working in a coffee shop. So she, she sort of decided that she didn't want to earn so much money, which was a, you know, pain for me because I was like, oh, here we go. You know, I'm going to be I'm going to be the main breadwinner. Um, but no, it was okay. Um, so I think that was a very common thing that a lot of people sort of jumped into working in a bar or coffee shop because they want to have more of a lifestyle rather than just working all the time.

Charlie:
Yeah. And those jobs required less time for them.

Chris:
The sort of the typical office job?

Charlie:
No, no, the job that she went into the coffee shop that didn't require as much time for her. Is that what you mean?

Chris:
Yeah. And also it was more of a an interesting job. So you would meet people, you would have a chat rather than it would be just about numbers and hitting your targets. I think office job in Japan is quite dull, right? I mean, in England it probably is quite dull as well, but I don't think there's much, let's say, banter in the office.

Charlie:
Okay. Yeah. No David Brent's walking around. [Unfortunately] Or fortunately. Yeah. Okay. Um, did you manage to get outside of the cities and, um, explore the wonderful landscapes that, uh, Japan has to offer?

Chris:
Uh, yeah. I think when when I saw this question, I thought, there's no need, like a whole podcast on this by itself because it is mad. Um, and again, this was something I just sort of discovered because I didn't Google, you know, what can you do in Tokyo or Japan? And, um, I discovered that you can sort of in one day. Well, maybe not in one day, but you can one day you can ski, and the next day you can surf. [Yeah. That's cool.] So there's a lot to do. [That is cool] Um, like on Sundays we'll get, get the bus with my friend and go to a place called Nagano or Niigata, which is like a ski resort area. And it would just be like three hours. You get a day pass, um, you had to get some rental gear as well, and then they bring you back. So it's lovely you could do that on your day off. [Really cool] And I would do the same on Tuesday. Uh, on Thursdays and Fridays I would go surfing in a place called Chiba, which was another two-hour drive, but someone would pick us up and so on.

Charlie:
Yeah, I assume in different seasons or the same season.

Chris:
No, I just yeah, put a wetsuit on and then, you know, it would be a little bit chilly, but it's very sunny in Tokyo.

Charlie:
Nice. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Cool.

Chris:
Yeah. Have you heard much about anything apart from Tokyo? In Japan.

Charlie:
My students would show me photos of the temples that they would go to. There's quite a few amazing ones throughout the whole country. I think there's the stereotypical one. I can't remember what it's.. the temple is called, but it's in front of Mount Fuji, isn't it?

Chris:
Yeah. I never actually went to Mount Fuji. Um, I used to just see it from afar. So when I was surfing in the winter, you could see it while you were surfing, which is really nice in a place called, um, Kamakura.

Charlie:
Oh, that is lovely.

Chris:
Um, which has a Buddha there, right. Um, a big, big Buddha. [Big Buddha] Which is cool.

Charlie:
Yeah, that is cool. Yeah. Okay. And did, um, the big Buddha teach you anything culturally that was worth taking away from the country?

Chris:
Yeah. So, uh, the, uh, the big Buddha. Yeah.

Charlie:
It doesn't have to be the big Buddha. I'm using him as a metaphor as Japan of Japan. There.

Chris:
Yeah. Sorry.

Chris:
Um, yeah. No, I think what I learned the most was like about being patient. Really kind of. It is very. It does sort of. You do take it on board quite a lot. How, for example, with the language, the language is backwards to us. So they would say, um, I cat bought or I go shop or sorry, I shop, go right. So naturally whenever someone talks you have to listen to them until the end of their sentence to understand what they're saying rather than, you know, in English you can kind of jump in.

Charlie:
Does that mean you can never finish somebody's sentence?

Chris:
I suppose you could, because maybe they might be. They might know that you you did something. But whenever I would talk with someone in Japanese or hear them talking, nobody ever interrupted somebody else. So that was very nice.

Charlie:
Right. Okay. That is nice. Yeah. And also,

Chris:
Like, I'm teaching you patience, you know.

Charlie:
Patience. And I was going to ask, did you ever share a silence with Japanese people? I've heard this is a cultural thing to to just share silence with one another.

Chris:
On the train every day. Yeah. I mean, the train is absolutely silent, so that's lovely. I do miss that. Um, because here in Barcelona it's not.

Charlie:
Okay. Um, there's a YouTuber that does a channel called Abroad in Japan. You may have come across him. Yeah. Chris. Um, and he said that when he went to Japan, he shared a silence with the headmaster of his school. He didn't really know what was going on until he understood it later. But the the headmaster just looked at him for about two minutes or maybe a minute, and they shared a silence. Was this..

Chris:
I was never fortunate to have one of those, but, um, not a formal one. Maybe. Sometimes I ran out of conversation and we just sit there, um, slurping our coffees. Um, I had.

Charlie:
I had loads of them on first dates. It was great. Yeah. Okay.

Chris:
But no. Yeah, there's a lot.

Charlie:
So patience.

Chris:
Patience and, um. Yeah, having a lot of respect for others. So tying in with silence and that kind of thing. I did learn a lot more about respecting people's space and, um, you know, and, you know, being quiet because other people might be, you know, like, especially living in housing, um, in Japan, it's it's the walls are quite thin. So you have to really be careful of how much noise you make at home because you don't want to annoy the neighbours and they don't do it to you either. So it's quite nice.

Chris:
Yeah, that would be something really shocking for a Japanese person to come to, maybe London and experience their neighbours being so rude.

Chris:
How are your neighbours?

Charlie:
Well, the other night they had a party until two in the morning and they had music on until like one or something, and I don't want to be that prick, but at the same time I don't want them to have fun. No, I do want them to have fun. I really want them to have fun. But I don't want to be suffering because of it.

Chris:
Just not more fun than you.

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I almost want them to invite me in, but I don't want to go. I don't want to go. I just want to be invited. No, I don't know. Um, but it would be shocking, I imagine, if, if you're used to being respectful for one another for that purpose. Um, okay, we've got more to carry on with and little time. So let's get into the next adventure. We have come to the end of part one, so feel free to take a break from your listening practice, but if you're happy to keep going, then we're now moving on to part two of this episode. Thanks so much for being a premium or Academy member and enjoy the rest of the show. So you went from Japan back to England, or did you go straight over to South America?

Chris:
I tried to, but I had to go back to the UK to submit my visa. So I actually went there, submitted my visa in the London embassy, and then I went to live with my parents for three months, or what I thought would be three months, but after two they rang me and said the visa is being cancelled because they've changed the law, so they have to resubmit the visa. Um, I think it was a bit of a swindle, to be honest, when I look back, but I didn't pay for it. The school did, so I don't mind too much. So at that point I was in the UK for six months, but I actually decided I'm not going to sit around in my parents house watching channel five, which is not the most respectable channel.

Charlie:
I'm going to watch channel four instead.

Chris:
I got I got really into the bailiffs, you know, the bailiffs program, they come round and.

Charlie:
Yeah. Can you explain it though, for the listeners.

Chris:
It's basically bailiffs are people that come around to collect debt from people who owe these debts and um, and they wear little cameras on their chest. And basically it's sort of a, a reality TV programme. And there would always be problems because people don't want to pay their debt, they don't want to leave the house. So I kind of got hooked on that for about a month. And then I realised, what am I doing? I can't do this for another three months. So I decided to book a flight to Colombia and I went to Colombia and started to learn Spanish. [Oh, nice] Yeah, it was really cool. It was really cool. And then when they told me the visa is ready, I just hopped on the flight back to London and picked up and then went back to Peru.

Charlie:
Oh, gosh. So you went all the way back rather than just down? [Yeah, yeah] Ah, okay. Did the experience in Colombia help you with your Spanish?

Chris:
Yeah, definitely. Um, because I went by myself. So I had to sort of talk to other people. Um, and I mean, there were times when I was in a hostel, um, and I would be talking with, you know, Australians or other Europeans, etc., in English, but a lot of the time, um, I did try to just walk around and sit in a plaza and just have a little chat to someone. And luckily Colombian people are very friendly, so it's quite easy and they're quite patient. Or they were quite patient with me in terms of listening to my terrible Spanish at the time. So it was good. It was really good.

Charlie:
Very nice. Okay, I wanted to start the Peruvian section off by reading a little excerpt from a book that I've mentioned in this podcast before called The Values Compass. A lady travelled around the world and she's got an opinion of quite a few countries. And I've summarised one of her points about Peru. So I'm going to read it out, and I'd like you to, um, reflect on it and tell me whether you agree or disagree or anything else. So [sure], let's see. Peru's return to the 2018 Football World Cup after 36 years showcased the unwavering positivity of its fans. Despite a long absence, their belief in victory was undiminished. Evident in thousands of motivational videos on YouTube and the dedication of over 15,000 fans who travelled to Russia. Many made great sacrifices with stories of quitting jobs, enduring multiple flights and selling belongings to support their team. This massive show of support reflects a broader cultural mindset in Peru, where positive energy and good vibes or buenas Vibras energia positiva are preferred over luck. This approach, encouraging personal effort and positive thinking permeates various aspects of life, including the self-help industry. High-profile figures like chef Gaston Acurio embody this spirit, championing Peruvian culture and positivity. A career renowned for popularising Peruvian cuisine globally exemplifies this national characteristic of relentless optimism. So her chapter is Positivity with Peru. What do you think about that excerpt? Do you think it's fairly similar to what you experienced? A bit different?

Chris:
Yeah, definitely. I was I was actually there during the World Cup. And people were flogging everything they could like. There was a, I think, a very famous story of a guy who had a mototaxi and he sold that. So he literally sold his most prized possession, the thing he used to make money to go to Russia and, and watch Peru. [Gosh] um, and even I think one for one match, it might have been against Australia. I was actually teaching and as you can imagine, nobody came. And so I was kind of like looking out the window and the streets were empty, like it was like a scene from 28 Days Later. Yeah. You know, when they're just like, you know. Zombie apocalypse. So no one was around everyone. Everybody was watching it. Literally everybody. So they take a huge pride in their culture, which is really cool.

Charlie:
Did you feel any resistance to the natural good luck kind of. I don't know if I would wish it on a day-to-day level in a foreign country, but it kind of slips out in conversation like, oh, good luck with that or something like that. Would they ever be like, no, don't say that.

Chris:
Um, no, I think they they are quite superstitious in that sense in terms of they, they do believe a lot in, in luck. At the same time, you know, if you if you think about New Year's, they wear, you know, different coloured underwear, for example, yellow for luck, green for money. Um, and there's another one, maybe red for love. I'm not sure. And even I think that's on one New Year's Day. I remember looking out the window and seeing people walking around the streets with suitcases. I was like, what is going on here? But apparently their idea is that if you walk around with a suitcase for for a long time, you will travel for a long time that year, you know, depending on how long you walk with your suitcase.

Charlie:
Ah.

Chris:
So they're quite superstitious in that sense. But they're very hard workers as well, so.

Charlie:
Right.

Charlie:
So the whole city people would be travelling with big suitcases that look like they're all going to the airport.

Chris:
Yeah, they kind of like just walk around their block. So it's kind of they just go around and around many times.

Charlie:
Wow.

Chris:
Yeah I mean yeah. So there's a lot of things like that that they, they believe in or they, they like to believe in, but I think I would call them grafters. They do like in terms of if they need to get something done, they will get it done and they will find a way. So it's really cool in that sense.

Charlie:
Okay. Yeah. That's good. I mean, yeah, dedication to walking around the block multiple times suggests that they're they've got a good work ethic and they would have good wheels I suppose. Do they have good roads, good pavements?

Chris:
Um, I wouldn't say so much to be honest. No unfortunately not. I mean it depends on the area, the, the area of Lima, but some are not great.

Charlie:
Yeah. Cusco is where the walk starts, right?

Chris:
Oh, yeah. The Inca Trail. Yeah.

Charlie:
The Inca Trail. Yeah. So I did that. So I went to Cusco once. [did ya?] Yeah I did, so I lived in Chile [oh amazing] in uh, 2015 and then went up through the salt flats to Bolivia and then over to Peru for the Salkantay trek rather than the Inca Trail. Um, and so we started off in Cusco, and I do remember actually very weird memory, but I do remember wheeling my suitcase and having trouble because I think there were like, quite aggressive, um, this is so pointless for me to say this, but such aggressive, like lines in the pavement that it was like. Wherever I went.

Chris:
Cobbled streets right there. Quite cobbled.

Charlie:
Yeah, the streets are cobbled, but I feel like the pavements were also. They also had lines. I'm going mental and.

Chris:
It's also it's uphill quite a lot as well, which can be hard. [Yes, yes, yes. But yeah] Not so much in Lima.

Chris:
Did you go to Lima?

Charlie:
No I didn't, I didn't have time actually. Was it, is it really nice?

Chris:
I love it, but people some people are not. Oh I mean..

Charlie:
Is it quite polluted?

Chris:
Yeah I mean yeah it's, it can be um in some areas because there's a lot of traffic. Um, but I quite like it because it feels like a real city, you know, like, I went there and I felt like in Japan, I made a little expat group, you know, like, it was very much, quite hard to infiltrate the culture 100% because people are just really especially guys. Japanese guys are really busy with their work [right]. Whereas so I thought, okay, when I go to when I go to Peru or the next place I go to, I want to just have friends from that culture. So that's why I went to Lima and I made friends sort of instantly, really after two weeks and I'm still quite close to them. Now they live some of them live here in Barcelona with me, not in the same building, but they live in the same area.

Charlie:
How did you, um, infiltrate that? How did you start that sort of non-expat friendship with people?

Chris:
Um, I got I suppose I got lucky really, because I was looking for a place to rent and the school where I was put, because I didn't, I didn't get to choose which school I went to. Um, they just put me in one and it wasn't in the most favourable area. So there weren't many options in terms of, um, renting. And I just put eventually I got a bit desperate. So I put a little message on Facebook and, um, someone got back to me saying, oh, we have a, a room in that area. So I went there and the guy that I rented it from, he was about my age as well. And um, I just sort of tagged on to his friends and then it kind of snowballed from there. You you meet one person, and he had well, he had like a group of six friends. And then through them they all had another group and it kind of just snowballed. [Yeah] luckily.

Charlie:
Yeah. That is that is a nice way to do it. You just need one. You just need one person to sort of find your way in if you're a likeable human like yourself, chris. Yes.

Chris:
How did you find it in Chile?

Charlie:
Um, well, I'm not a likeable person, so I, I had one person, but they didn't let me into their group. And that's actually true because I lived with a Chilean, but he didn't really introduce me to anyone. Um, we had a couple of barbecues, but they were all part of my expat groups, so he was very social with us, but he didn't. He was a bit older than me, to be fair. He was like 15 years older. [Okay] um, and he was very much my landlord.

Chris:
He didn't want to cross that, that bridge between, you know. [No]

Charlie:
So yeah, I didn't have loads of Chilean friends. I had a couple, but it wasn't it wasn't like how you described, um, did you integrate into the the music and dance part of Peru? Peruvian culture. Because in Chile that was a very obvious thing, actually going to the salsa clubs. That was fun. Loved that.

Chris:
Yeah, it is cool. Um, I didn't really know anything about I mean, I suppose you kind of hear about salsa and stuff like that, but you don't I don't really, I didn't really know any other variations. That was like merengue and, you know, reggaeton, for example. I didn't have any idea what was reggaeton. And then, yeah, people kind of show you like, oh, wow, this is quite nice. I don't understand what they're saying, but, you know, it seems quite happy beat. Um, so that was cool. And I, I really got into other things like cumbia. Did you have any cumbia in Chile?

Charlie:
No. What's that? Well, I don't know.

Chris:
Cumbia is like I'm not sure if it's in Chile, but I like a lot of cumbia from Peru, uh, from Colombia and from Argentina. So I'm not sure if they have it there, but, um, it's kind of like a folk music, I suppose. Um, but folk music kind of sounds quite dull, but it's more interesting than that. But it's very regional to those areas, and I loved it. It's really lots of cowbell.

Charlie:
Oh, I like a cowbell.

Chris:
Yeah, it is very nice.

Charlie:
I, uh, I used to drum when I was a teenager, and I used to really want a cowbell. I never got one.

Chris:
Oh, it's the best bit.

Charlie:
Yeah, it is, isn't it? [There's still time] Guns N Roses used to really advertise that really nicely. I think it was Night Train or something. Dong dong Dong really wanted that. Now I'm selling my drum kit 15 years later. Haven't played it in ten.

Chris:
Still get the cowbell. Just have to use that, like, you know, wake up for breakfast. Just ding ding ding. Central London. Uh, get the neighbours back, you know. From the noisy party.

Chris:
6 a.m. do do do!

Charlie:
And then I find out that a Japanese neighbour has moved in instead of them. She's like, what are you doing? So Cumbia music. Uh, Google tells me that Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian and Argentinian, um, cumbia exists. I'm sure it exists all over the world in some degree, but yeah, maybe it's not so Chilean. [Um, interesting] Do write in guys. If you are Chilean and you and you play cumbia music in Chile and they love it, let us know. Let us know. Um, okay. So you got involved with that a little bit. Um, did you find any of the community values or family dynamics in Peru different from, say, your British upbringing and Japan or the Japanese culture because you said that you actually managed to find some Peruvian friends. It's sometimes hard to know whether that exists in a culture without experiencing that, but maybe you you could shed some light on it.

Chris:
I think coming from my English or British and Irish background and also, yeah, the the Japanese experience, I noticed a lot that I had to get more in touch with my emotions, which is, you know, I suppose very sort of stereotypical, but it's very true, like people would say things to you and I didn't know how to take them as a British person, you know, like compliments and stuff. You always sort of bat them away and be like, oh, you know, are you really good at this. You're like, well, no, I didn't, I didn't do it all myself, but thank you. Whereas, you know, they kind of you have more of these 1 to 1 sentimental talks where it's like, you know, I really appreciate you. I love you, um, you know, things like this. So you, you know, you and even I started to become like that as well, which I think is good. And I remember specifically talking to my father a few years ago, um, and I messaged him saying, I love you. And then he just sent me back on Facebook. He sent me back the big thumb, you know, the you and you know, when you hold it down and it makes it bigger. He didn't even hold it down for that long. It was a little small one. So it was just like so like.

Chris:
Oh, that was for me. That was the clearest distinction between the two cultures, right. Like, you know, he just he they just. Well, my family's not like that. It's very much like, just get on with it.

Charlie:
Cheers, mate. Yeah. Good one. Oh, that's that is fantastic. That's a really good observation of cultural differences. Brilliant. Brilliant.

Chris:
I'm sure he does love me.

Charlie:
I'm sure he does too.

Chris:
Just his own in his own way.

Charlie:
Yeah in his own [thumb] through his thumb. Uh, okay. Um, I think we've got to move on to Spain already. I want to ask more about Peru, but we can't. We've got too much transcribing to do. So, um, I'd like to know what made you go from Peru to Spain? Firstly.

Chris:
We have come to the end of part two now. So again, feel free to pause the episode, to take a break from your listening practice and come back to the last part when you're ready. All right. So moving on to part three now - enjoy. I'd like to know what made you go from Peru to Spain firstly?

Chris:
Yeah, it's probably two things - pandemic and Brexit.

Charlie:
Okay.

Chris:
I think most people will know about those. Um, yeah. So I uh I slipped in the the back door of Spain in October 2020 and then Brexit, um, happened in January 2021. So I kind of I was I had to get there and um, but I was sort of stuck in Peru because there were no flights. So I was getting a bit desperate because I thought it was going to be just, you know, a month or two months. And then it kind of went from March 2020, and eventually I got a flight with the Dutch embassy in October to Amsterdam. And then from Amsterdam, I flew to Valencia and, uh, started looking for jobs. I couldn't find one. And then I ended up going to Marbella in the end and working in a university. So, um, [right], it was mainly just I wanted to live in Europe and I had to get European status before we left, basically. So the, the, the clock was ticking to be honest.

Charlie:
Okay. And you wanted to go back to Europe because the pandemic kept you away from family and you realised you wanted to be close to your dad giving you a thumbs up. You wanted more than that? Or what was the reason that you wanted to go back to Europe?

Chris:
Um, yeah. I think I just knew long term that it probably would be a better option as you get older. I was, I, I was about 29. So I was, you know, going into my 30s and I thought it would be good to be home or be able to get back in two hours like a flight to Bristol and then, you know, get a train over. Whereas in Peru it would be more like two flights and a minimum of 16 hours. So it's not ideal when you get older, you know, family.

Charlie:
Gets pricey. Yeah. Yeah. My biggest not my biggest, but one of my fears is that you'd have to pay for your whole family on the plane. Like if you want a big family, 5 or 6 tickets every time. That's crazy.

Chris:
Yeah, I was, I thought it was crazy that you want to have 5 or 6 children.

Charlie:
I don't I don't. I don't know. No, that'd be 3 or 4, but no, I just, I just want one little spoilt brat.

Chris:
Yeah that's true. It's quite, quite pricey. And also with children flying that long is.. Must be horrendous.

Charlie:
Oh yeah. Goodness me. Um, so I wanted to also ask you, um, Peru and Spain, they have a common language, but do they differ in their cultures? Um, is there a subtle difference, or do you feel like there's a big contrast there?

Chris:
Yeah, I think it's there. There is. And I've noticed it in the way that people interact with you. I feel like it's a lot. Maybe it's because I, I went to Peru first. Well, I did go to Spain before that, but just as a tourist and I didn't learn the language or anything like that. So I didn't really interact with Spanish people, whereas now I do, um, and I do notice there's a little bit easier to communicate with them. Maybe I feel like a little bit, a little bit more patient with my terrible Spanish in, um, in South America than here. I think in Spain you kind of it's more sink or swim, right?

Charlie:
Right. Right, right. And your Spanish has gotten better, so that's hard to measure. Do you know what I mean?

Chris:
Yeah, I think I had to. I mean, even now, I'm sort of in the process of changing my Spanish because I had to learn the way they talk here. Right. A lot of expressions with milk, for example, that I have to learn that, um [with milk?] Yeah. A lot of things with Leche. Yeah, they love it. They love expressions with leche, you know, um, cagar en la leche or, um, can't remember what else there isn't right now, but, um, yeah. Because, you know, I learned a lot of Peruvian expressions. And then now I have to change that for, uh, Spanish ones. So I'm still adapting really. [Yeah. Right] And yeah. So I think second hand what I've heard from South Americans here that I've met and Spanish people here like Spanish people say that South Americans sound like they're talking, um, they're using words from a novel, for example. They sound very eloquent, not eloquent. Well, maybe eloquent, but very sort of romantic or very, um, poetic, let's say poetic is probably the perfect word. [Right] And, um, and South Americans think the Spanish people sound a little bit more direct, a little bit harsher. But I suppose, again, I'm just hearing this second hand, so I'm not sure if it's actually true, but that's what I've heard from different parties. [Yeah. Right.] So.

Charlie:
Okay. And have you you said that some of your Peruvian friends came over to Spain, but have you made any at all locals in Spain? Have you made any of them?

Chris:
It has been a little bit hard here in Barcelona. I haven't really met too many. Um, actually I did. I was in Argentina in November, and I was with a Peruvian friend who has half of his family's Argentinian. So I went there to spend time with him because he was there to see his family. And while I was there, I was hanging out with his friends, and he had a friend also visiting from Barcelona. So I kind of met a Catalan in Argentina. So now we've been hanging out a little bit here in Barcelona. So I've got, I would probably say three friends from, from Barcelona. So it's not. [Yeah] Not a huge amount. But they have their cliques right. They have their groups already from school and stuff. So it's a little bit harder to to infiltrate. Really. [Yeah, definitely.] I think London's the same. Right. Kind of like how would someone make friends in London.

Charlie:
Yeah I think hobbies, finding a local football team or like a 5-a-side kind of thing; that could work. Or like I've just moved to Tooting to London and I've started a tennis social, and that's quite a possibility of finding friends there. But, uh, yeah, it's it is tricky. Once people have a full-on calendar, people aren't as interested in finding new friends, are they? So it's quite easy to stay within the expat bubble because everyone's wanting that active social sort of lifestyle with those people. But, um, I asked that previous question because I wanted to ask if you had noticed anything about their drinking culture. Have you have you gone on nights out with these couple of friends from Spain, and do they have anything unique in the way that they, they behave like, um, what was it? My friend Harry, he was in the Basque Country, and he noticed how at the beginning of the night, the locals would throw money together. They would pool their money into a hat, and then they would use that money throughout the rounds. And then, you know, if they needed to top it up, they would. And I felt like that was a very, very reasonable, very sensible approach to sharing out the expense of the night, because in the UK we would get clobbered. If you're not careful with a hefty amount of money to pay if you time your round wrong, don't you?

Chris:
It's true. Yeah. That is. Yeah. It's nice. Nice to have a little kitty. Very old school. It reminds me, I think my dad said when he was younger they used to do that. Everyone would buy cigarettes and then you, you just take from one packet every time and then, you know. But maybe it was people were nicer back then.

Chris:
But I think here, like, for example, something I noticed is that I think Spanish people or Catalans specifically, I think they drink a lot, but they drink in a much healthier way. [Right] So they don't binge, but they drink more often, I think. [Okay] Um, and they eat a lot with their food. It's quite common. And I've taken this on as well. Like after a few beers, I get hungry. Now, naturally, I'm like, okay, where are we going to order some food with this? I can't sort of go six pints and then be like, okay, I'll have I'm hungry. I'll have another pint. No, I have to kind of stop and have food now, which is what they do here quite a lot, which is, I think, lovely.

Charlie:
And this is on a night out when they're, they're quote-unquote "drinking" or do they not really have that sort of clarification, you know, when you go on a night out in England, I would know before I'm going, if we're going on a night to drink or for a sit-down meal. Is that not so clear?

Chris:
Yeah. Well, I suppose with younger or sort of. Young 20s or teenagers maybe they still do that here. Um, but I think if you for example, you could you always start the night in a bar or like a terrace, you know, outside. And, um, that will include some kind of nibbles, let's say. So a bit, a bit of food. Not like a full sit-down meal. And then maybe if it gets a bit crazier. Okay. You don't you're not in a nightclub with, you know, a knife and fork and, you know, um, a sit-down meal. But I think if they drink throughout the week in a bar, food will be an accompaniment to that.

Charlie:
Okay. Yes. I suppose that's leaning into the tapas kind of aspect. Yeah?

Chris:
But that's something I also learnt in Peru as well. Kind of very common to have food with your drink. And then if you want to kick on you kick on. But you normally have food somewhere.

Charlie:
Sensible and it explains why we are known for our drinking behaviours. Because on an empty stomach you end up doing silly things and being twatty. Yeah, yeah.

Chris:
And the main thing here is balconing.

Charlie:
What?

Chris:
Uh, do you know, balconing they call it here.

Charlie:
No, I don't know that.

Chris:
Basically Brits come here and they jump from balconies because they have drunk too much alcohol, I assume. Or they are just twats.

Charlie:
As in they, they, they jump between the balconies.

Chris:
Um, I think they normally are jumping for a pool or some sort of destination. They're trying to jump into the pool and but usually they do miss. So I think every year there's, I don't know, maybe 5 to 10 Brits die from trying to jump from balconies. It's very even when I introduce myself, they, you know, if we're talking about culture, that will come up quite quickly. Spanish people, they'll say to me, oh, you know, do you, have you ever jumped from a balcony or what do you think about that? And I'm like, yeah, they are idiots. Um, but, what can you do? Benidorm is Benidorm or what happens in Benidorm stays in Benidorm.

Charlie:
Very good. Gosh. Well, on that note, let's conclude. Um, so this is actually perfect. What have you learnt about British culture since living abroad? Balcony. What is it? Balcony ING?

Chris:
I'm not sure what they would call it in Spanish. What do they call it? Balcony. Balcony? Um, I'm not sure. I'll have to check, but yeah, balconing. Basically jumping from balconies. You have to do a bit of research on that one.

Charlie:
Yeah. Balconing. Yeah. There we go. Is the name given in Spain to the act of jumping into a swimming pool from a balcony, or falling from a height while climbing from one balcony to another - balconing. Funny. I mean, not funny. Deadly.

Chris:
Yeah. And the detrimental. Do you know the detrimental terms for for Brits? Well, not well I think it started with Brits, but it kind of expands to other maybe Germans now as well that they, they call us, you know like in, in South America they have gringo right. [Yeah] do you know what the Spanish one is?

Charlie:
No, I don't think I do. I'd like to hear it.

Chris:
They say guiri.

Charlie:
Guiri. No, I've never heard that. Guiri. How do you spell it?

Chris:
Uh, g u I r I. Guiri.

Charlie:
So what comes up on Google images is amazing. I mean, Hawaiian shirt - open, beer belly out, camera on skin with a beach ball and a straw hat on a Brit. A very, very British-looking white, pale fat man. Um, okay. So that's a guiri.

Chris:
So I think I don't, I don't pass for that. But um, yeah, I think if you think about the, the bad British cultural aspects that I've learned from being abroad, I think everyone should live abroad. And then you can you naturally look at your own culture and realise, okay, I don't like this or this is pretty good, but this is bad. So that's the good part of it. Um, I think probably respecting food. I learned to respect food a lot more from a British perspective, or maybe even an Irish perspective as well. It was always seen as like just energy, you know, have this to get energy. Don't. I never really enjoyed the meal like I do now, you know, especially coming from Peru, you really get a sense of I mean, you ask them about their food, they they will or they talk. A very stereotypical thing for Peruvians is that they talk about what they're going to eat later while they're eating another meal now. So they're having lunch, talking about what they're going to have for dinner.

Charlie:
Right.

Chris:
So it's a it's a really nice way to like, appreciate food and like where it comes from. And they have a big respect for the land like Pachamama, like the Mother Nature. So that was really cool. And I think that's a bad thing about England. We don't really respect food enough, I don't think.

Charlie:
Yeah, yeah, that's talking about the next meal whilst eating that meal. Do you feel like that's, uh, leading them away from appreciating the current meal or they are able to do both?

Chris:
Maybe. I think they're able to do both. But then they had already spoke about the meal they're having now with breakfast, you know, so that it's already it's already backdated. The current meal they're having. So, uh, they did speak about it at some point in the past.

Chris:
Funny.

Charlie:
But yeah.

Chris:
Good stuff about British culture. There's some good stuff in there, I'm sure. British culture.

Charlie:
Well, I'm not I'm not necessarily encouraging you to say that Brits are amazing. I'm wondering if you've learned what not to do about your Britishness, what to suppress.

Chris:
Yeah. I think the only thing I try and hold on to is the humour, really. I think there's something very unique about the humour and people do comment on it quite a lot with, you know, like I was in Argentina and Mexico and um, the US in November and people would say, you know, it's very they noticed, oh, it's very different the way you sort of joke, it's very sarcastic and stuff. So um, I quite like that, which is quite unique to the UK really.

Charlie:
Uh, but yeah. Chris, thank you so much for, um, indulging us in your cultural adventure. Um, quite the trip you've been on. How many years have you been abroad since you went to Japan? How long has that been now?

Chris:
Nine, nine years.

Charlie:
Nine years. Okay. And.. And do you have any temptation for coming back to the UK?

Chris:
No. Not really. I mean, I think it's more of a sense of if I went back, where would I live? And I always think I have no idea. Like I've, I've been to a lot of cities in the UK and I'm not sure where I would land. Maybe Bristol, maybe. [Bristol is cool] yeah, Bristol is really cool. I think it's a very much a gem that people don't really talk about enough.

Charlie:
Yeah. Nice. Okay. We will leave it there. Thank you so much Chris. So if you guys wanted to hear more from Chris or find out more about his content because he's got a lot to offer. Instant English. Um, can I send them to YouTube, Instagram, all of the above. Which would you prefer them to go to?

Chris:
Uh, YouTube is my baby. That's that's where I put most of my effort.

Charlie:
YouTube is your baby.

Chris:
Come on down.

Charlie:
And it's Instant English.

Chris:
Instant English. Yeah.

Charlie:
Instant English. Okay, cool. I'll put the link in the show notes. But thank you very much, Chris. Appreciate it massively. [Thanks for having me] And, uh, hopefully, if you will be so kind, maybe we'll we'll get you back on the show in the future. But, um, thanks.

Chris:
For having me. It was really fun.

Charlie:
Thank you very much, Chris. Enjoy your Sunday.

Chris:
Take care. Bye, guys.

Charlie:
All the best. Bye. There we go. The end of part three. Meaning the end of the episode. Well done for getting through the entirety of it. Make sure you use all of the resources available to you in your membership. Thanks once again for supporting the show and I look forward to seeing you next time on the British English Podcast.

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