14 January 2017

THE BEST WAY TO (ACTUALLY) LEARN ANY LANGUAGE


As a Translation and Interpretation student I'm interested in learning languages and looking for methods that make this process easier. I do not speak many languages (yet), but I'm definitely planning on studying more and becoming fluent on those I am learning now. It has been scientifically proven that learning a language has many benefits such as improving your memory, developing your ability to multi-task... So why not give it a try?

In today's post I want to share a few tips that have worked for me when it comes to leaning a new language from scratch, or even if you already know the basics but you want to get serious about it:

1. Get used to how it sounds by looking at programs, movies, documentaries... Even if you don't understand the words. Watch youtubers whose native language is the one you are trying to learn and turn on the subtitles in English or any other language you do understand. I think it's important that you start to recognise when a word finishes and another one starts, although you may not know what it means.

2. Use apps such as Duolingo during any spare time you have. This kind of apps let you set up daily goals, therefore, you can decide how often you want to practise.

3. Put post its around your house with the translation of the furniture/ rooms... in the language you're learning, this way you will be surrounded by this words all day long and you'll end up learning them. It's true that there's no need to know long lists of vocabulary, but the more words you know, the more things you'll be able to explain (if you know how to use them properly, of course)

4. Learn structures, not single words. Many language have completely different structures that do not correspond with the ones from our mother tongue. Some people tend to translate them literally into the other language, without taking into account the possible changes of meaning. For example, in English, we say: "When is your birthday" whereas on German, the same question would be "Wann hast du Geburstag?", which literally means "When do you have your birthday?".

5. Repeating is the best way to assimilate the pronunciation. I would watch videos and pause them to repeat the sentences so you start to get used to the phonetics of the language. If you don't know a word and you look it up on an online dictionary, listen to its pronunciation, most of this pages have a place where you can click to hear how it sounds.

6. Read short texts that are related with the vocabulary you're studying. At the beginning it will be hard and you won't understand much, but don't be afraid to look up for words and write down their meaning for future reference. As you get better you'll see that it's very rewarding when you realise that you actually understand something foreign language. You can also read blogs, magazines...

7. Colour code. This technique is very useful if you are learning a language that has different genders (Ex: French, German, Spanish, Italian...). Use a different colour for the feminine, masculine and the neutral, so your brain associates it better. I think that colour coding your notes is also helpful when studying the verb tenses and other tricky aspects you need to learn by heart. 

8. Get a pen pal. When you start to feel comfortable writing in that language, get a pen pal from a country when they speak it to practise your writing skills. By doing so you can also learn a lot of things related to the culture, since they are native and they know it first hand.

9. Surround yourself with that language in every aspect. Change the language on your phone, tablet, computer... Visit a country that speaks this language. Spending some time abroad is definitely the best thing you can do, but that takes a bit of time and money.


I hope you found these tips helpful and share some other advice in the comments!! Are you learning any language at the moment/ planning on learning one?

Have a nice weekend :)

1 January 2017

HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR (AND LIFE IN GENERAL) + 2017 RESOLUTIONS



2016 flew by and I'm sitting here looking at my resolutions for this past year and thinking: "Yeah... it happened again, I didn't achieve them at all". I don't know how but setting up goals for one whole year is hard to handle, since 365 days are a lot of time. I usually look through my aims at the middle of the year, around July or so, to see how I'm doing, but this year has been very busy, and I completely forgot that I even had resolutions. Even though 2016 hasn't been my best year when it comes to resolutions, this won't stop me from setting up new goals for 2017 and try to stick to them. 

As you will see at the end of this post, most of my last year's objectives were a bit unrealistic or not very specific. If there's something I have learnt after not accomplishing them is that the most important thing is to have clear and precise goals. Here is what I think that's important to consider before/during/after coming up with your new year's resolutions:

1. Simply have goals. The first thing you need is to actually have goals. Having the right attitude is a must, plus, having something to look forward to is always helpful when you are working hard and you need that extra push.

2. Find someone who has similar goals. Let's say you want to go vegan, then tell a friend to go on that journey with you, therefore you can motivate each other, talk about it and share your progress.

3. Try to do short term goals, such as weekly or monthly goals. If you split up your big goal into smaller goals you are more likely to stick to them. If you want to write a book this 2017, then you could write a chapter every month (do you like the metaphor?). A part from your yearly goals, you can do 30 day challenges to incorporate better habits into your life or cut out on bad habits you have.

4. Be constantly reminded of your goals, whether it is by writing them down or by creating an inspirational board with pictures of what you want to achieve. Don't forget to consider the reasons why you want accomplish certain things, if these motives are strong enough, they will keep you away from giving up.

5. Fake it until you make it, attract what you want by acting as if you already had it. A teacher of mine showed me this TED talk which is amazing, feel free to check it out :)

6. Look for information. Don't just sit there picturing yourself living your dream life. If you want to become a professional dancer, look for places where you can improve your moves, start taking up lessons, go to see other professional dancers, talk to them... It's all about creating a "dance related environment" where you can grow feel comfortable. 

7. Be realistic and specific. Don't say: "This year I will work out a lot" or "This year I will work out every day for two hours". The first statement is very abstract, and the second one is unrealistic. Instead, you could say: "I will work out twice a week for twenty minutes". I think that going too big when setting up new year's resolutions is one of the reasons why we end up not achieving them. Of course, you can dream big, but you need to be aware of your limits.

8. Reward yourself when you achieve those objectives. Hard work pays off :)

9. Don't be too hard on yourself, having goals should be something fun, don't take it too serious! Remember, you're doing it for YOU!


1. Learn how to make decisions: I couldn't say if I have learnt to make decisions or not. However, this year I chose my university studies and I have faced a few choices that had to be made. So, even though I still struggle when it comes to pick what to have for lunch, I definitely consider goal number one as achieved! 

2. Think before I speak: I don't know what I was thinking when I came up with this resolution...Whatever.

3. Stop apologising when it's not necessary: I remember doing really good at the beginning of the year, unfortunately, I forgot about it and now I don't remember if I do it or not. It is true that my mother tells me that I continue to do it, let's see if I do better in 2017.

4. Exercise twice a week: I'm cheating a bit in this one, because although I haven't been working out twice a week regularly, I do have been exercising for long periods of time during this past year. I went running twice a week during September and October and I have also done other types of workout, so I'm pretty proud. I have to keep up with it!

5. Post once a week: there's no need to talk about this because we all know I'm a failure when it comes to sticking to a blogging schedule...

These will be my goals for 2017... Let's see if this year I'm better at them:

2017 GOALS

1. Write at least 20 pages of (good) stories: it doesn't matter if it's a single story or several ones. At the end of the year I want to have written that much.

2. Try out something related with fencing: this sport has always interested me and I have never had the chance to practise it. However, this year, I want to take a chance and give it a try!

3. Improve my German. Reach the B2-C1 level by the end of the year. I have started stying German this September, so hopefully this isn't unrealistic..., I'll really work hard on it, but since I don't know how much will I get better at it, I want to reach at least, level B2.

4. Post once a week. I know I said the same last year, but if I do it for the first 6 months of 2017, I will buy a domain for my blog, so this is something exciting that will keep me going! Let's see if I can make it.

5. Reduce the time I spend with my mobile phone: don't use it before going to bed, avoid looking at it (too much) when I'm waiting for the bus/somebody/train and I have nothing to do, spend the time I would be using it doing other things, such as reading.

9 December 2016

I DON'T KNOW IF I LIKE WHAT I'M DOING


In one of my recent posts I wrote about me going to college, really loving all of my subjects and in general enjoying what I studied. Well... I no longer know if I feel the same.

Since I started watching teenage movies about going to college and creating your future in there, my dream was to someday study a degree in university. When I had three years left of high school all my teachers and family begun to ask me “What do you want to do when you finish high school?” and I would always reply "I don't know". At that time I still had a few years to decide what would probably be the most important decision of my life so far. I knew that I wanted to go to college because for me, it was the next place to go after finishing high school. I had never considered doing anything else since that was what seemed "the right thing to do".


Years passed by and one day I was in the train with my mother and the woman sitting in front of us asked me for the time. She looked as if she really wanted to talk to somebody and somehow we started a conversation. I remember she told me that she has attended a wedding of a friend of hers the previous day, and that she was now going home. She also mentioned that she met that friend back when she spent a year abroad in France, while doing her degree. We chatted for a good hour or so and she definitely was a very down to Earth person. I think I told her how much I liked travelling, writing and learning languages because she encouraged me to study Translation and Interpretation in college, the same as she did. She said that if I liked languages Translation was a great choice and that she also thought that I would be a good translator. At that time I didn't even consider studying such degree. The woman was lovely and I really enjoyed every single minute of our conversation. Once we arrived at our destination we said "Goodbye" and I have never heard from her again (that sounded dramatic).

Since that was a curious story, I explained it to my friends and family and that's what made me actually consider studying Translation and Interpretation. I looked up for information about the studies and I was amazed by everything I found. From then on I knew that I wanted to be a translator/interpreter.

A few months ago I started college and I really liked everything. I'm studying Translation and Interpretation. I'm learning a new language, I'm improving my native language and that's awesome. However,... I miss something. I miss literature. Damn it how much I miss it.


Reading, writing, getting to know the greatest writers... That is something I did during my last years of high school and I loved it. Now my study plan is only based on learning languages, which is great, but I think it's very impersonal. I need passionate teachers explaining me literary treasures (am I asking for too much?). I still have to learn a lot about literature in general, and although I do read for myself, I wish it could be a part of my studies, because you never know, maybe I have considered becoming a writer... (I have). What I have heard is that the first year of every degree it's kind of "boring", since you have to build a solid base of the most important content (in my case it is all about learning languages in depth). I'm not planning on quitting what I'm studying now, because I continue to see myself working as an interpreter in the future, but I will consider taking up some literature classes, a part from my curricular subjects. It's hard for me to know if I like what I'm going or not, because when I thought of completely changing my degree, I wasn't interested in any of the other possibilities that my university offered. I really like the enviroment around college, and something I know for sure is that it is the place that I want to study in for the next four years. Therefore, I'm just going to wait. Maybe at the end of the second semester I've changed my mind. Or maybe I realise if I want to continue with what I'm doing or if I want to take up another degree.


In situations like this, I like having a blog. Writing everything down helps me to clear out my mind and even though I have a journal as well. something about writing here is very satisfying, because I know that someone will read it and maybe has gone through the same as I have. 

Enjoy your weekend :)
PS: Christmas posts are coming soon!

All pictures are from Unsplash

5 November 2016

LETS' TALK ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA SATURATION

Is social media over saturated? Yes, my answer is that social media is definitely saturated. Here's why I decided to bring back my series "Let's talk about..." and give you my opinion when it comes to the "social media phenomenon".

When the idea of writing this post came to my mind I decided to search on Google articles related to the topic, to see if anyone had written about it previously. Here are the three first entries that came out when I looked for "social media saturation":


I don't think I'm going to write anything related to what the links above say, but I just left them there in case you wanted to read more about this subject. I read the three of them thinking that we would have similar opinions but surprisingly, I have a different perspective, and that's what pushed me into writing what is probably going to be the more disorganised and random post in this blog. 

Picture from Unsplash
The other day I found myself looking for some tips on how to become a better blogger and grow my audience, because, why not? It's nice to see that what you write is being read. Pinterest is my number one source when it comes to advice as well as finding useful posts, so I was browsing through their website and clicking on everything I found interesting. I believe I ended up reading about 10-15 posts related to what I was looking for and the content was almost the same in each of them. The main points that were supposed to help you to gain a bigger audience were:

- Get to know your audience
- Write things you would like to read
- Quality over quantity
- Post regularly
- Create original content
- Be active on social media
- Do collabs with other bloggers
-  Write about what you like and be passionate about it

More or less that was everything. After each headline there were a few sentences explaining what to do in order to "get to know your audience" or "create original content", in case you didn't know how to do it. Now, my question is: did that help you in anyway? Because to me it all seems pretty obvious. However, how are you supposed to stand out when nowadays almost everybody has a blog? The thing is even harder when you're not a fashion blogger... I'm not saying that I want to become an over night sensation, but come on, something must be wrong in a world where you can buy followers for your social media profiles...

I just feel that social networks are getting bigger and bigger everyday and everyone is a tiny part of this huge community. Some pages tell you that "being yourself" is the key, but what happens when there are many original people out there? There's no way to stand out. From my point of view, social media it is definitely saturated. It is true that you see new faces that have been recently discovered online, but most influencers/ it girls or boys/ instagramers/ youtubers... started their online career (that's how I'm going to call it) in 2007 or 2009, when Internet was almost unknown. 

Picture from Unsplash

I also think that our characters are 70% real and 30% virtual (the percentages are approximate). We are what we post on our social media profiles. Some people make a living out of it and that's awesome, but we have to remember that everything we see on the Internet may not be true. I understand that people only share a small part of their lives, but the ones who see it from the other side of the screen believe that this person does have a perfect live (does that make sense?) I know it has nothing to do with social media being saturated, but I believe that networks also have a huge impact on society. Many stereotypes and issues have been spread online, weather they are good or bad.

There isn't a conclusion to this whole bunch of thoughts. I just started writing everything that came to my mind and now it feels good. I don't want to change the world by writing posts like this, but I feel really lucky to have a place were I can say such things. I don't want this post to be taken as a complain or anything, I love having built a small community around this blog, so thank you for reading this, whoever you are.

I really want to know your opinions about the topic, so please, leave them in the comments and we can discuss anything you suggest. Do you think that social media is saturated? How can somebody stand out in such a big network?

27 October 2016

WHAT I WISH I HAD KNOWN BEFORE STARTING COLLEGE


A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

Dear Cecil,

How are you doing? I hope you are enjoying your last days of holidays. I know you are nervous and excited for college, so let me reassure you that there is no need to worry. It is very easy for me to tell you that, because by the time I am writing this I have already been through the worst part (even though there isn’t a “worst part” after all), but believe me, you will be more than fine.

First things first: you should know how much you are going to love the studies you have chosen. Languages are your thing and that is everything that you will do. It may sound boring but you are going to have loads of fun. Don’t listen to the people who tell you that “there are no jobs for translators” or “Don’t study German, there are many people who already speak that language. You should learn Japanese”. You are now studying Translation and Interpretation and you have as well chosen German regardless of what everybody said and it makes you happy, end of the story. However, you will miss having a Literature subject or something like History. Languages are great but you have always loved reading and learning more about other things as well, which is something that you won’t have, at least in your first year. Use your spare time to learn about these topics you also like.


I remember you wanted to get a part-time job during college. Well, I’m sorry to tell you that this has not happened (yet). You did apply for some vacancies but there was no luck. Do not beat yourself up, it is fine, focus all your energy into studying. There will be more opportunities! I know you wanted to start earning your own money, but in the meantime you will need to learn how to manage the money you already have (which is very important as well), so here are a few tips. Stop buying food after every class! Yes, now I am punishing you. It is very tempting to spend your change in vending machines around campus, but you should not do it. Bring snacks with you for when you are starving after a long day. The same goes for your lunch: meal prep the night before and put everything inside a lunch box. I have to congratulate you for that, because you have never forgotten your meals and you are eating pretty healthy. Going back to managing your money, why don’t you put your spare coins in a piggy bank and start saving to go studying abroad? This is something you have always wanted and although it may take a bit of time to figure out when and where you want to go, it is good to start gathering a decent amount of money. Keep looking for a job, maybe you find one out of the blue. Looking into and understanding your financial aid is important. You can refinance your loans as well but it’s important to look up all you can on making smart money decisions now! One last piece of advice: take advantage of the discounts you have for being a student! You can have special prices transportation wise, as well as cheaper menus in some coffee shops. Always have your student card with you, you never know when you will need it.


Going to college by train is something you will find awkward at the beginning, but eventually you will get used to it. You will read a lot during the way to college (maybe you should invest in a good e-reader, paper books are kind of heavy) and some days you will get really tired, especially when there are no seats and it is 8 am. There is going to be a day when you will share the 20 minutes journey with your new friends, since some of them have to pick up the same train as you. It sounds great, doesn’t it? After the first week of college or so, you will start hanging out with these guys and are going to become very close. You will have lunch together, hang out after classes, laugh in the middle of the lesson when you were supposed to pay attention to the teacher, start sharing some adventures… You will soon realise that there are people who share the same interests as you and that they are actually very kind and friendly. Take care of them.

I don’t know what else to say, enjoy this time of your life and keep doing what you do

Best wishes from your tiny-wiser self


15 October 2016

BOOK REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD


Hello dear readers of mine! Today I'm doing a book review on "The Cursed Child", the latest (and the last) Harry Potter book. It has been on the market for a while and I finished reading it about a month ago, but I decided that it was the perfect book to do my first review.

Here's some general information:

Original title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (parts one and two).
Author(s): JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Throne.
Number of pages: 330
Published: July 31st 2016
Genre: fantasy and fiction.

On the back cover...

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

Summary

The main characters of the book are Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy (Harry and Draco's sons). The two kids meet in Hogwards and they become best friends, something that bothers both parents. The relationship between Albus and his father isn't the best one as the kid has to live up to his father's expectation: he is the son of "the Boy Who Lived". One day Amos, Cedric Diggory's father, reaches out to Harry Potter, who's now the Head of the Departament of Magic Law Enfocement. He wants to bring his son back from the death because he has discovered that the Ministry of Magic holds a Time Turner, something unthinkable (and illegal) since all of them were distroyed after the Battle of Hogwards, nineteen years earlier. Somehow, Albus overhears this conversation and decides to tell Scorpius. From then on, the two guys start planning how to get their hands on the Time-Turner without their parents noticing it, and the adventure begins!


Personal opinion and thoughts

This book was a birthday present and I was very excited when I received it. I have always been a huge fan of the Harry Potter books (and movies) and I couldn't believe that there was an eight book coming out. Something that surprised me was the fact that it wasn't a novel, but a play. I'm not used to reading theatre plays and I realised that it was very fast to read, but nothing really happened. Being used to reading the enormous Harry Potter books, I felt as if it wasn't deep enough. The description of the actions was very superficial and there weren't any unexpected changes or turns. 

I really appreciated that Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Draco and the other "original" characters had a relevant paper in the story, even though the most important ones were their children. I did have very high expectations for this book and I have to admit that I haven't been completely disappointed. The idea was original and it had the kind of vibe that the other books used to have. However, I think that it has lost the "essence" and now it's all about squeezing the juice out of the Harry Potter sensation. After almost ten years of publishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows they release another book with the same concept as the previous seven but a bit watered-down, just to keep up with their fandom. I don't blame them, cause I was the first one to look forward for book, but I think that the Harry Potter myth should have ended with the last book in 2007. 

Rating

Overall I give it a 7/10.


28 September 2016

IT FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS + MOOD BOOST


The other day I went to Ikea to look for a pair of curtains for my bedroom. We all know that when you go there you end up walking through the whole store and mysteriously buying things you don't actually need. When it comes to me, I do stay for a while, but I try to avoid going on a shopping spree. Anyways, so I was at Ikea and I saw a few things they had  for the Christmas season. I have tried to find the products on their web page but I guess they haven't updated it yet, so I won't be able to show you. Most of the items were candles that literally smelled like Christmas, I promise you. There were also candle holders, tablecloths...


I know we just started fall, and I love this season and I constantly complain about how stores are always one season ahead, but, somehow I felt very excited when I saw all the Christmas decorations. Scents are my weakness... and those candles were no exception. Now I'm wandering around, waiting for Christmas to come while I roast in the middle of the street (because it still feels like summer, and temperatures are kind of high in where I live). Can't wait for the sweater weather!




Thinking about Christmas always brightens up my day, and going for a run as well. That was an unexpected twist to this post, I know. This is the other topic I want to cover, because lately I have been getting into the "habit" (I go twice a week and I have been doing it for 2 weeks, so we can call that a habit) of jogging and it's so satisfying. When I arrive home after my workout, all sweaty and smelly I'm extremely happy and proud of myself (I feel happier once I get out of the shower, clean and fresh).  The fact that I started running out of the blue made me think that you don't need an excuse to start doing something, example: there's no need to wait until January because it's the beginning of the year, nor wait until Monday, because you "don't have time this week". It doesn't matter what your goal is about, just start! And once you start, you'll be only getting closer and closer to your target. This last paragraph is supposed to motivate you :) 




So yeah, that pretty much sums up everything I wanted to get out of my chest. I know, a very random post, but I love to just sit down and write and then post whatever it comes out. Enjoy the rest of your week :)