Are Americans Spoiled with Mediocre Customer Service?

After IKEA’s Customer Service fails to deliver, I pose the question of whether or not customer service even matters to Europeans.

We Waited 30 Minutes NO SERVICE

The Results: Europeans have thicker skin.

In 2005, New York Times Columnist Thomas L. Freidman wrote a book entitled “The World is Flat”. In it, he described our planets increasing reliability on outsourcing and technology. Over the last decade, his predictions about jobs, the economy and consumerism have proven to be very accurate, so much so that if you pick any of the thousands of publicly traded companies in any given market, most of them have outsourced at least 5% of their positions to another country. And while this transition has created an interesting conversation piece and platform for disagreeing with the ethics of such practices, most people have accepted that the world is indeed getting flatter.

How does this affect the consumer? Well for starters, customer service has slowly become one of the key factors in big company campaigns and marketing in the US. Strategically, ensuring your customer that he/she is a priority and that you work for them (regardless of if you’re selling a product or a service) makes your business more appealing. This mentality of a “customer first” business model has in turn given Americans the strange idea that without them, businesses would not exist.

Not exactly. In fact, individualized customer care isn’t all that necessary for HUGE companies like Wal Mart, McDonalds, IKEA, Macy’s and others because without you, they still see more than 1 million customers everyday.

Still, as the world economies struggle to maintain, specifically in Europe, perhaps customers have more impact on the economy than the higher-ups realize. So maybe customer service matters after all. But HOW MUCH?

IKEA's business model has a weak Customer Service Tier...

After having a terrible experience with Sweden-based IKEA that left me bed-less for about a month, I was inspired to explore the meaning of customer service and how it may differs across cultures. Essentially, I went to IKEA in Bollingbrook, Illinois and purchased a bed. I then returned to my home in Chicago (and hour away) and proceeded to drive it all the way to Columbia, Missouri. When I arrived, I found out that I was missing an essential beam and after being evaded for nearly 1 and ½ weeks, I finally spoke with a real person. Then after loosing my address twice and sending me the wrong UPS tracking number, 3 weeks later I received the piece that THEY neglected to make available to me at their store.

Last week, I surveyed 30 MU Students on how much customer service mattered. About half of those surveyed had traveled to Europe. What I found was very interesting.

Most of the students felt that contrary to what I experienced at IKEA, Europeans treat their customers overall much nicer than Americans. Furthermore Europeans are a lot less litigious than Americans, who admit to having ridiculous requests when not given direct responses. I asked them to watch Jerry Seinfeild at a Car Rental Facility and then to give me their feedback–either Jerry was unreasonable, the representative was unreasonable or both were unreasonable.


40.9% said both were reasonably offended.

“I think we’re a little spoiled in America. Some things we think are important are nearly as important in Europe. The time American’s spend fussing with managers doesn’t exist.”

“Yes. customer service is generally more prompt in the US”

“Yes, I have been a couple of times. I honestly don’t remember noticing an outstanding difference in customer service. If I were to make an educated guess, however, I would think that customer service would be more important and taken more seriously in Europe than in the United States.”

After speaking with a few of my European friends, it occurred to me that a lot of the expectations we as Americans are overall looked at as spoiled rather than good customer service. Furthermore, while 71% of those surveyed said that Customer Service was something they considered before deciding where you purchase products, goods and services, only 23.8% said that the quality of customer service triumphed over the quality of the product when making a purchase.

Finally, what companies have given students (both American and Visiting) the WORST customer service? Everyone. From Macys to Marshalls, CVS to American Airlines. Some students just listed “Restaurants” or “Credit Card Companies” or “Phone Companies”. Others put things like “University of Missouri and its Affiliates”.

These responses tell me two things. 1. Customer Service depends solely on the customer. and 2. Some of the bigger companies who have outsourced their call centers may need to reconsider how this effects their customers. Perhaps its the language barrier–some respondents noted that a lot of times, the attendants often times had no way to help them because they didn’t understand the initial concern. Or maybe its the size of the company–others noted that they were transferred from one division to another and no one knew where to direct heir call.

Whatever the case, Customer Service is no longer an easy task; for the company or the customer.

Set the world ablaze, the battle between far left anarcho-extremists against the higher german authority.

Feuer PKW - Berlin Charlottenburg

Arson is on the rise in the German capital. Over 372 cars have been torched since the start of the year. However, no arrests have been made, and no one has claiming responsibility. Government Officials believe the motives for all the destruction are somehow related to the upcoming election in Germany. Car burnings have been a form of protest for far left winged extremist. Luxury cars brands like Ferrari, BMW and Mercedes are usually the target of such vandalism.

However, the present burnings have also included vans, delivery, trucks, and automobiles. Until recently, most of these extreme forms of protest have been seen in Germany’s alternative eastern districts; Friedrichshain, Mitte, and Prenzlauer Berg. Nonetheless, these more recent car burnings have started appearing in districts like Tiergarten and Charolettenburg.

Monday the 15th, and Tuesday the 16th saw a combined total of over 30 cars destroyed in August. Following the Senator for interior policy’s speech, Wednesday night saw another nine cars destroyed in or around the area of Berlin. Although no one has been hurt so far, authorities fear that such a rise in the number of cases of vandalism may be a precursor to what some believe will lead to more extreme forms of terrorism.

Authorities say that the vandalism may not have only been committed by far left extremists. The variety of targets suggest that the arsons don’t resemble a form of organized protests. Rather than that, they appear to be the work of random individual perpetrators.

So how are these arsonists able to do so much damage without getting caught? Experts say these perpetrators have been able to leave small burning coals underneath the tires of the targeted vehicles, and by the time visible flame is able to be seen, it is already too late for the vehicle and the perpetrators are long gone from the crime scene.

sources
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,780965,00.html

Does organized violence still exist in football?

Courtesy of the Guardian

Background

Firms are gang-like supporters groups of football clubs who organize violence against rival firms. I want to find out if firms still exist in English football, or has the increase of money in football priced these rowdy fans out of the seats and into the underground?

The term football hooliganism first arose in the 1960s, and the height of said hooliganism occurred in the 1970s and 80s where fights amongst firms occurred in the stands and outside of stadiums every match day.

These hooligans were mostly working class; football was an integral part of their lives, and they seemed to welcome the attention that their violence received. Notable firms were Chelsea’s Headhunters, Birmingham City’s Zulus, and arch rivals Milwall (Bushwackers) and West Ham (Inter City Firm).

Film portrayals

Movies such as Green Street Hooligans and The Football Factory have glorified the violence. I think they’re eye-opening movies that, for Americans, show an underground culture, but I can understand when people criticize the films as over-dramatized violence.

Green Street Hooligans features the previously mentioned rival firms of Milwall and West Ham:

Has money lessened the violence?

As English football has gone global with pricey television contracts from the likes of ESPN and Fox in America, more money has been invested in more sophisticated policing and stadium security.

Teams have gotten smarter about separating fans of opposing teams within the stadium. Higher ticket prices have also priced out some of the working class fans that used to make up the firms.

Firms likely still exist in some capacity, but if they’re attacking each other, it’s not happening in and around football stadiums as often.

Background info: http://www.sirc.org/publik/fvexec.html#_VPID_9

http://soccerlens.com/football-violence-worst-football-riots/23093/

Assi TV – Germany’s Jersey Shore

Bad Girls Club?  No way.  It's "Böse Mädchen" for Germany.Rethink your classy connotations of society, its time to bring on EuroTrash. Welcome to RTL, Germany’s quasi-copy-cat-less-relevant version of VH1 minus all the “Behind the Music” substance.  We’re looking at straight daytime television here, folks and all predictions point to trash.

RTL is infamous throughout Germany, France, Luxembourg, England and most Western European countries for it’ mixture of talkshows, reality TV, but most importantly, what the Germans fondly term, “Assi Fernsehen.”  Don’t know what Assi means?  Let’s get you the basics.

Assi is a combination of what Germans coined “Asozial,” directly translating to Anti-Social.  However, Germans (notorious for their love of word play and dubious double meanings) play up the spelling of this abbreviation, toying with the word “ass.”  Which literally translates… to ass.  And the vulgarity only goes deeper.

So, let me spell this one out for you just one more time to be certain you get it.

Get it?  Good.

Okay?  Okay.  Moving forward…

Now, there are many subcategories of Assi TV.  Just like on that American boob tube, you’ll find your overly dramatic, life changing talk-show,  your typical video-cameras-in-the-faces-of-dysfunctional-families-who-need-counseling documentaries, and the famous German-termed “Doku-Soap” (the bottom of the abyss where documentation and soap operas swirl ominously).

So,  Let’s discuss.

Overly Dramatic, Life Changing Talkshow

In this category, any daytime television watching German will immediately tell you, you need to watch BrittBritt is a talkshow so kindly self-termed a “comedy show” by its makers at SAT.1.  However, after watching a few episodes, your average American viewer will start to notice some running similarities that sets a little bell ringing in the back of your head.  That bell… is called the Jerry Springer bell.  With show titles spanning the range from “Du Bitch” to “DNA Test- Passen wir wirklich zusammen?” Britt is very Springer, indeed.  More of a Maury fan in the first place? No problem.  See for yourself.

Video-Cameras-in-the-Faces-of-Dysfunctional-Families-who-Need-Counseling Documentaries

This is a category also hideously well-known to the average American television connoisseur.  We’re running much more along the lines of Jersey Shore here.  The top Assi show in Germany that falls under this sub-category is without a doubt Familien im BrennpunktFamilien im Brennpunkt shows every day during the week at 4PM in Germany on RTL (Germany’s pseudo-VH1) and supposedly  “begleitet im Stil einer Doku Konflikte unter deutschen Daechern, die Anwaelte und Gerichte beschaeftigen: Scheidungsdramen, Sorgerechtsstreitigkeiten,Probleme rund um die Anerkennung der Vaterschaft oder Probleme mit Aemtern und Behoerden.”  Whew.  Let’s break it down now y’all.  Basically, what RTL is trying to say, is this show covers (with STYLE!) complaints that generally require lawyers and pertain to common law.  You know.  Things like mega-divorce, Fist fights, Problems with and questions about paternity,  general wanting to stick it to the man, 13 year olds with babies and children who won’t poop on the toilet.  Each show revolves around a different set of dysfunctional people doing hideously dysfunctional things. Typical Trash TV gold.

Doku-Soap

Finally, the best for last–The “Doku-Soap.”  Be it following people with a “love” (ahem) for animals or a 50 year old woman with an Ultra-Crush on the boyband, Tokio Hotel, the DokuSoap Mitten im Leben has it all.  Mitten im Leben has been termed the purest of the pure when it comes to Assi Television in Germany.   Each episode is an hour of premium filth, the clearest of embarassment to humanity.  Descriptions do not do it justice.

Albeit the extreme lack of English language throughout the clips provided, it remains extraordinarily evident, trash TV is a banal human desire.  We need it.  Its global, universal and in a way connects us all.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

German Prostitutes Pay Up

Image courtesy of moonbattery.com

Since the end of last month, freelance sex workers in Bonn, Germany must make use of an innovative, yet controversial, method of paying taxes. On Saturday, August 27, new prostitution tax meters were installed on Immenburgstrasse, an industrial street where prostitutes without storefronts advertise their services. Each worker is required to pay a mandatory tax of 6 Euros per night, regardless of earnings, and to keep a receipt as proof that they paid.

The sex work tax has been in place for some time and was simple to enforce at brothels and other formal establishments, but taxing freelance workers was more difficult—something that the meters should make more simple. Advocates say that this form of taxation will provide a convenient, anonymous way for prostitutes to pay the tax.

Some of the workers are not thrilled about the new method. Sex worker Juanita Rosina Henning sees it is equivalent to double taxation, as all prostitutes already pay income tax on earnings.

In America, prostitution laws are determined by the individual states, but Nevada is the only one out of the 50 states that allows legal sex work, and even then only in a few rural cities. Not to say that there aren’t still sex workers in every part of the nation—the market simply operates underground. For that reason, prostitution is one of the most dangerous industries in America, and there are many who believe that it should be legalized so that the business can be brought up to the surface where it can be taxed, regulated, and the workers can be better protected. If you want to know more about sex work in America, 11 points offers a list of 11 myths and facts about American prostitution.

In Germany, where prostitution has been legal and taxed by the state since 2002, it is apparent that conditions for sex workers greatly exceed that of American prostitutes. Prostitutes can join unions (for example Berlin’s HYDRA) and can receive health insurance benefits. Bonn provides “consummation areas,” garages where prostitutes can go to do their work. Germany even spends 116,000 Euros per year to better protect the workers by placing security guards to police these areas. These garages, as well as special zones on the outskirts of the city, were also partially meant to solve the issue of complaints about sex work occurring in residential areas or other inappropriate places.

Besides the hitch of finding appropriate places for prostitutes to work, the German prostitution industry seems to cast less controversy in Germany than it does in other countries who evaluate it. Prostitution services are used by 1.2 million German men annually, and Germany considers the industry a useful source of tax revenue—officials expect 200,000 Euros per year from the meters alone.

(Click here for more facts and statistics about prostitution in Germany.)

(Shades of) Grün -2

Political Green

For Germans, “green” is the color, “green” is the environmental movement, and increasingly importantly it is politics. The changes in Germany’s political landscape accompany the rising awareness of renewable technologies of the public.

Die Grünen – The Green Party

Green party is based on principles of sustainable governance on various aspects of a society, not only on environment. The political party is founded in many nations. The Green Party of the U.S. formed in 2001.

German Green Party Logo

Die Grünen, the Green Party of Germany green has gained significant support from the public and achieved a series of victories. It took control of Baden-Württemberg this spring. As the New York Times put it, it had the same connotation of capturing the Texas statehouse. The Greens are said to have won the cultural war on issues like gay rights and the integration of immigrants. It was also reported that the Greens, though have roots on the left, have tapped into the mindset of the conservatives.

“The party is a more interesting alternative for larger groups in society, not just for people who study environmental policy at university,” said Gustav Fridolin, one of the Swedish Green Party leaders.

As Germany leads the postindustrial world, the Green Party of Germany leads the nation’s postindustrial movement.

The Pirate Party

In comparison to the surging Green Party, the Pirate Party is much younger and recently won its first seats in the Berlin state elections*. It seems to be making its own contribution to the political “green”.

The logo of the Pirate Party Germany

According to treehugger.com, the Pirates call to keep natural areas available for everyone, such as maintaining open access to river banks. It also calls for free public transport, and activates against expanding highways through the city. The Pirates advocate nuclear-free power as well. And its campaign program explicitly calls for “sustainable, ecological economic policy.”

The young political party represents another post-industrial political force.

*In Germany, any party winning more than 5% of the votes is entitled to a share in government. With 8.9%, the Pirate party lands 15 seats in the state government.

Attention, film lovers! It’s time for la Biennale di Venezia.

Attention, film lovers! The 68th Venice Film Festival ended last Saturday, September 10th. The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world, and now it’s considered one of the most prestigious film festivals along with Cannes and Berlin.
With “The Ides of March” starRed and filmed by George Clooney, the Venice Film Festival opened its first night.
Film directors, screen writers and movie stars from all around the world gathered together to celebrate the film festival, including Madonna. Yes, Madonna whom we know as a singer. But this time, she was in Venice as the movie director of ‘W.E‘.
There was the official award ceremony last Saturday, September 10th. Among the 10 awards, of course, the award which got the most attention was the Golden Lion awards (Il Leone d’Ore), the highest award given to the best film. The Golden Lion award went to “Faust” by Aleksander Sokurov from Russia.
The movie, “Faust”, is based on the novel Faust written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The movie was praised by the critics. According to Moscow Time, Darren Aronofsky who is one of the juries in the festival said “There are films that change you forever after you see them, and this is one of them,” He added that the decision had been unanimous.

True/False Festival logo from mountainvalleyspring.com

While writing about the Venice Film Festival, I can’t stop thinking of the True/False Film Festival, which is an annual documentary film festival held in Columbia, Missouri. Just as the Venice Film Festival is the fist international film festival, True/False Film Festival is also the first international documentary film festival.
Started in 2003, the True/False Film Festival has been growing each year with more films and larger audience.
As long as they are documentary films, many movies were played at the True/False Film Festival before going to other film festivals such as Sundance Film Festival.
Who knows True/False will be as big as Venice Film festival? Columbia can be the next Venice for documentary film makers!

Poor, Sexy and Stupid?

Guess what? It’s time to reelect the mayor of Berlin! The current mayor, one Klaus Wowereit, is the apparent reelectee. But wait, doesn’t Berlin have major fiscal and social problems? Yes that is true, the unemployment rate in Berlin is close to double that of everywhere else in Germany. Along with its high unemployment rate, Berlin’s public schools are rated as some of the worst in Germany, and real estate investors are raising the price of rent so high the average citizen can’t afford them. So why is the mayor, that has served for over 10 years now, being reelected?

Picture from Oliver Wolters

It’s quite simple; it might be the fact that the people of Berlin love his easy going, and quick thinking attitude. Or it might be the fact that he “Came out of the closet” during a political party conference, this makes Berlin one of Europe’s 3 major cities with a homosexual mayor (Hamburg, Paris, Berlin). Either way, Berliners love him regardless of the obvious problems that he seemingly shrugs off.

The problems Berlin faces aren’t something to shy away from, rampant joblessness, cars being set ablaze by unknown arsonists, a very unreliable public transit system, and the fact that the school system is one of the worst in Germany. Like I said before, the unemployment rate in Berlin is close to double that of Germany as a country. This, accompanied with the rising price of rent, is forcing many people out of their homes and onto the streets. The increasing amounts of homeless people, some people may argue, is both straining the public transit system and the police force. Recently there have been a rash of cars being set ablaze by unknown arsonists. But with these problems being so blatant and obvious why isn’t the mayor addressing them? And better yet why is he going to be reelected?

This too is a simple answer, during his term as mayor; he has transformed Berlin into a European cultural hub. He turned the once divided city, into a united city with a unique identity. He has also been very forthcoming in the bringing of movies and other activities to Berlin. He was also the mayor that adopted and pioneered Berlin’s slogan “Poor but Sexy”. However if the problems continue as they are now, he may have to change the slogan to “Stupid, Poor, and Homeless”.

For more details click the link below –

http://www.sprengsatz.de/

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,786061,00.html

Italy Celebrates Curves

Real men like curves; only dogs go for bones

When Americans think of models, we imagine a tall, slender woman.  Their long, skinny cigarette legs have long been popular in both Europe and America; however, now Italian Vogue is seeking to change that with their new magazine “Vogue Curvy.”

Italy has not seen the beautiful hourglass shape since the Renaissance and now it’s back, and in full force.  With nearly 20% of Italy’s lady population overweight and size 14 as the biggest seller in Italian stores, the timing for Vogue’s new curvy magazine seems quite fitting. After all, just because you’re curvy does not mean that you are overweight.

As Italians continue to embrace the voluptuous new style, they are loving beauties like Kim Kardashian, who is known for her large posterior, short stature and obvious curves.  Kim is even pictured on the Vogue Curvy website.  This fashion icon and her sisters are adding to the newfound acceptance of shapely women by starting an American clothing line.  In Italy this trend is going on too with nearly twenty new brands of curvy women’s clothing popping up.

Some say this trend was spurred by the death of famous Italian model Isabelle Caro. While the cause of Caro’s death has not been officially confirmed, it would seem quite obvious when you see her that she died from a terribly tragic case of anorexia.  This put the skinny girl problem out into the public for discussion and led to the new curvy trend.

When it came time for the Miss Italy pageant, the contest sought out curvy women to try to reflect the real image of Italian women. “Miss Italy should reflect the beauty of Italian women and in Italy that is made up with a majority of women who are size 14 or above, so it is a reality of the country’s social make up,” said the pageant’s representatives. Miss Italy called for curvy women to represent Italy to the world. And why shouldn’t curvy women stand out, as they are starting to become the majority.

Ritter Sport, meine Lieblingsschokolade

©Flicker@BlueRidgeKitties

The first time I heard of chocolate, it was on TV. And the first chocolate brand I heard of was Dove. Dove meant luxury for me, when I was in China. So when I arrived in the U.S., the first thing I bought at Wal-Mart was Dove chocolate. However, I found out that Dove is less popular in the U.S. than in China, and it tastes different too. In fact, I found it tasted boring.

Luckily, I found Ritter Sport on the shelf, which comes from Germany. The first time I tasted “Ritter Sport” was several years ago in a German class. One of my teachers from Germany shared this delicious chocolate with us. I still remember her giving me a white square of yogurt-flavored chocolate. I was so surprised – how can chocolate be flavored with yogurt? And even more interestingly, it was a square shape instead of rectangle shape like other chocolate.

©Flicker@kt-chang

After my disappointment with Dove, I was so happy to find Ritter Sport. Although I didn’t find the yogurt flavor, the other flavors pleased me, and it tasted exactly the same as I remembered.

One thing interesting I found is that it seems that Americans are only interested in three flavors: Dark Chocolate with Whole Hazelnut, Milk Chocolate with Whole Hazelnut, and Milk Chocolate with Neapolitan Wafers. These are the only flavors I could find at Wal-Mart and Walgreens. Where are the other flavors? Of course, in Germany!

©Flicker@moiconic

America has a reputation for being creative, but in terms of chocolate flavors, I would have to disagree.

You can find more details about Ritter Sport under:

http://blog.ritter-sport.us/blog/

Remembering 9/11 Around the World

The United States wasn’t the only country remembering 9/11 on Sunday. France, Belgium, Australia, and England also took part in remembering the thousands of people who died ten years ago.

France’s memorial was the second largest in the world, next to the US. The French memorial was two 82-foot towers surrounding the Eiffel Tower with an American and French flag flying nearby. A memorial service was observed and the towers had the words inscribed on them, “Les Francais n’oublieront jamais,” or “The French will never forget.” The Eiffel Tower could be seen in the background between the two towers, which was definitely a moving symbol of how the French remembered the US. Due to inclement weather, however, only a few hundred people gathered for the memorial ceremony.

Image courtesy Google Images

In England, relatives of victims of 9/11 gathered to read the names of those who had died. A rose was laid for each of the 67 Britains who died in the 9/11 attacks in a memorial garden in London. The ceremony was only 30 minutes but Prince Charles, Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband and other dignitaries attended.

Only miles away from the memorial in England, a group of Muslim protesters gathered to burn the American flag. Another small group of Muslims also gathered for a counter-protest nearby to promote peace.

Australian firefighters honored the firefighters who responded to 9/11 by climbing the stairs to the top of Sydney’s tallest building. Hundreds of more people gathered at a ceremony to remember those who had died. In Italy, the Pope offered prayers for those who had died, and in Belgium, flags in Brussels were lowered to half-mast while a French soldier played taps. In Madrid, Spain, hundreds gathered to plant memorial trees and have a moment of silence.

It’s truly inspiring that people all over the world came together to remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Every country seems to have its own way of remembering the tragedy, but the important thing is that we don’t forget what happened. I found a blog that was really interesting about the political effects of 9/11 in other countries. It’s definitely worth a read. If you want to see their post, click here.

I think it’s important that so many different countries took the time to remember the tragedies that occurred in the United States and realized that 9/11 easily could have happened in any other country.

“Sturm” time in Austria


Picture by: oesterreich.pbworks

“Sturm” time is very popular in Austria during the fall.  Sturm is also know as “Suser, Sauser, Neuer Süßer, or Junger Wein (young wine) in Southwest Germany, Switzerland and South Tyrol.” Others may know it as Federweißer.

Sturm is a popular alcoholic beverage and marks the beginning of autumn and the harvest season for many locals.

The drink usually has a low alcohol content of 4%, but some areas make the drink much stronger where it can be up to 10% of alcohol by volume. It all depends on what region it’s from.  Sturm is made of grapes that are fermented into alcohol. Fermentation is a process that can take up to a month until the liquid refreshment is perfected.  After it reaches the alcohol content you want, it can then be sold.


Picture: BilderBox


Picture: handwerk-magazin

This time is very popular for individuals because the wine must be consumed quickly, since it is only on sale for a few weeks in the fall.  The drink cannot be preserved, and if you buy a bottle of it, it comes without a cork because it is still fermenting.  Usually people attend festivals or restaurants where the drink can be bought and celebrated.

Sturm comes in white or red, and because of the high sugar content and carbonation, some may not be able to taste the alcohol in the beverage.  This time can be compared to Oktoberfest in Germany, because Sturm time is just as popular in Austria.

Here is also a blog, where a writer writes about her experience with Sturm.

Paris, all dressed up

John Galliano showed his Fall/Winter collection at Paris Fashion Week in March, photo from Style.com

Oscar Wilde once said, “A fashion is merely a form of ugliness so unbearable that we are compelled to alter it every six months.” Well, many would agree to disagree with Mr. Wilde about the attractiveness of high fashion (it’s art, okay?). But, he’s correct in the second part of his thesis. Every six months, without fail, the fashion world rears its pampered little head and announces the next season’s looks and trends. Let me put it this way: FASHION WEEK.

Let’s backtrack for a second. New York Fashion Week already happened (8-15 September). It was glamorous. It was exciting. Marc Jacobs is still a genius. London Fashion Week (16-21 September) is, as usual, sprinkled with some big names – Preen, Vivienne Westwood – but is a bit tamer, acting as a sort of half-time break for all the editors and stylists still trying to recover from all the Soho after-parties. Milan Fashion Week comes next (21-27 September), picking back up the pace, but in a much more regal, traditional style. And then comes la mère of them all: Paris Fashion Week, Mode A Paris. Lanvin and Chanel and Hermès, oh my!

Paris Fashion Week – perhaps the most anticipated week in the fashion world – showcases many of the world’s top designers and longest-standing fashion houses. It is known for mixing all of the young creativity and party hopping of New York Fashion Week with the established elegance of Milan’s. The settings are magnificent – Valentino in le jardin des Tuileries, Dior in the Musée Rodin – and the clothes are notorious for matching the scenery in their splendor.

Keep in mind that the collections shown are for Spring/Summer 2012. Sounds a bit early, non? But by the time the hot-off-the-runway clothes make their way into ads into magazines onto newsstands and into stores, the April flowers will be a-bloomin’. It’s just like film previews that are shown months in advance; they get you all excited and then make you wait half a year for the film to come to a theater near you.

But nonetheless, it will be a week of wonders, as always. Les rues de Paris will be flooded with even more models, editors, photographers and fashionistas (some of whom will cover the event via their rad fashion blogs), and the City of Lights will be brighter than ever with around-the-clock events. Last Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld (designer for Chanel) turned the Grand Palais into a nighttime street-scene, complete with a glistening-sidewalk runway and stars twinkling up above. Think planetarium of couture. So start resting up now, mes chères, because this week is known for its grand surprises and you won’t want to miss any of it. Even if their are hindrances to your jetset abilities, you can always livestream the shows online. Brace yourself – it’s the grand finale of the Spring/Summer fashion weeks, and it will undoubtedly the most spectacular of them all.

Chanel’s show in the Grand Palais

Yummy,Yummy in My Tummy

The absolute deliciousness that comes from curry powder, a ketchup-like sauce, and a sausage is just fantastic.  Currywurst is a simple German recipe that involves these ingredients.  Considering the fact that I despise (and I’m saying that lightly) ketchup, and I’m talkin’ up this dish, is saying a lot.  IT’S SO GOOD!  There’s something about the combination of sausage, the ketchup-based sauce, and the slight kick of curry powder, that make your taste buds have a party in your mouth.  This Berlin specialty can be purchased from street vendors, in the train station and even at the Berlin-Tegel Airport.  Either way, it is money well spent, and it will keep you full until your next meal.

If you’ve ever had a gyro and fell in love with it, just wait until you try a Döner kebab.  In my opinion, the Turkish Döner kebab is the same idea as a gyro, except it’s filled with more goodies and has a larger variety of sauces and veggies added onto it. (For those of you who have never tried/heard of a gyro, it’s a pita pocket filled with meat, yogurt sauce, tomato and onion).  Döner has really taken off in Germany.  Developed by Turkish immigrants in Germany, Döner caters to German taste buds.  Typically, lamb meat is used, and there are several options for sauces; garlic, yogurt, hot sauce, and herb sauce.  Sauce, veggies, lettuce, onions and cucumbers can be added between the meat.  You can add as many sauces and veggies in order to cater to your favorite flavors.

According to Tarkan Tasyumruk, the president of the Association of Turkish Döner Producers in Europe (ATDID), annual sales of Döner add up to 2.5 Billion Euros.  Döner costs around 2 Euros, or about $2.75.

Taken by Yours Truly.

Taken from Google Images.