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My life as a bridal fashion designer in Berlin. Volume 3

At the first dinner with the host family and other foreign students they were hosting, I saw what the UK looked like for the first time on the weather news! I followed my instinct to come to the UK, but I didn’t even know where it was. I did no prior homework.

So, in June 1995, I started going to the language school on Finchley Road. 

My first trip on the bus to the school was already a challenge!

The bus driver asked for 50 cents. Yes, that was the bus fare back in the 90s!

I couldn’t hear the difference between forty and fifty, so, I gave him 40c, and he demanded 10 cents more. I didn’t understand him. When one of the passengers offered to pay the 10 c and showed the change, I finally got it!

That was a cultural shock in itself. I don’t expect people to pay a stranger’s fare in Japan.

I started at a complete beginners class. I was with one other student, a German lady. 

I try to speak as much as possible. In the class, I used the word “Kindergarten”. I learnt it from Sesame Street. She nearly fell off her chair, said “Do you speak German?” and almost started to talk to me in German! But the teacher said it’s the word commonly used in the US.

I still can’t believe that one day, I move to Germany and learn German.

After school, I went to central London to discover the city as much as possible. I loved Chinatown for its familiarity. Oxford Street was so exciting. I was discovering all the UK high-street shops and department stores and going back regularly to check out the new stuff. 

I loved the 90s UK TV as well and still have fond memories of watching “Top of the Pops”, “Surprise Surprise”, “Father Ted”, “Absolutely Fabulous” and “Eurotrash” to name a few.

All the girls and I had a strong bond and chatted all the time. They are mostly European teens or in their 20s.  

I arrived in the UK as an anorexic and at one point weighed under 40kg. I didn’t have an eating disorder, simply, I wasn’t eating or living in Japan. After a year with the family, I gained 10 kg. My host family couldn’t stop saying how a year ago I looked like this (pointing a pinkie) and didn’t speak English, and now I look healthy and can’t stop talking!

However, a year was still not enough time to be sufficient in the language. I was still 17, so, I wasn’t old enough to apply for uni. So, I studied English for another year.

I managed to find a bedsit as I didn’t want to live with the family for another year and found a cheaper school.


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