21 June 2017

MOVIE NIGHT ESSENTIALS + MOVIE IDEAS

Picture from Unsplash
Hello everybody,

Long time no see... Yesterday I had my last exam and now I can officially say that I’m on holidays. I love having free time to spend doing things I like, however, summer holidays are very long and pretty often I find myself getting bored. Although I have a lot of plans for these months, whenever I’m at home and I can’t hang out with my friends because they are busy, I need to find something to do ASAP. As you all know, I love reading and baking, but something I also enjoy is watching movies. One of my favourite things to do is having a movie night with friends, family or on my own. I don’t spend the whole summer in front of the TV, but once in a while I do like to have some time to watch a movie and relax.

I would like to be able to prepare a movie-themed party or something because I see them all over Pinterest and they look great. The set-ups people share are amazing, they even customize the tickets, decorate the room as if it was a cinema, make especial snacks… You need to have a lot of time to prepare everything because it seems very hard to put it all together. These parties must be a great way to watch movies with friends, but my problem is that I like to talk during the film. I have the tendency of commenting every scene and thinking out loud. If I’m watching the movie with someone next to me, I need to tell them what I think it’s going to happen, which kind of annoys them. I still have to work that out and become a silent-movie-watcher (I just made that up).

Since I still have to work out my flaws and my party-decoration skills, today I will share with you my favourite films and some other things for you to have an awesome movie night.If you are looking for other movies, check out Pure Flix for some family-friendly & wholesome entertainment!

MOVIES:

- Notting Hill
- One Day
- Genius
- The Parent’s Trap
- 10 Things I Hate About You
- Amélie
- Midnight in Paris
- 17 Again
- The Holiday
- Scoop

SNACKS:

- Salty and sweet popcorn
- Lemonade
- Ice cream of your choice
- Pizza 
- Sushi (because sushi is always a good idea)

ESSENTIALS:

- Good company (or not)
- A comfortable place to sit/lay
- Tissues (you never know…)
- Proper lighting
- Materials to build a fort (in case you feel creative)

28 February 2017

3 LESSONS FROM UNIVERSITY - WHAT I HAVE LEARNED SO FAR

I started the second semester a few weeks ago, and now I'm all busy again with assignments and other homework. Since this was my first year as a university student, I wanted to sit down and evaluate my experience so far. These are some of the lessons I have learned so far (which aren't school related):

Ewan Robertson
1. YOU WON'T BE THE BEST STUDENT IN CLASS ANYMORE

In secondary school I would be the best in my English class. I remember that everyone knew that English was my thing, and I would usually stand out in that subject. Since I have always loved languages and it's something I was comfortable with, I decided to enrol a language degree. Now my English class is filled with many people with an excellent level, who also adore languages. Those students are the ones who were the best in their high school class, and now we're all together in university, therefore, some of them are better than me. This isn't a negative aspect, I see it as a challenge. It was shocking at first, because I was used to another class environment, but now I got used to it, and it's more than fine. You learn to compete with yourself instead of your classmates, and the good part about being surrounded with such good students is that you can always ask for help!

Alexis Brown
2. YOU WON'T GET ALONG WITH EVERYONE, BUT YOU MAY FIND AMAZING FRIENDS

The good thing about university is that you go there once you have reached a certain age, which means you have created an opinion about the world and you know what you're looking for in a friend. In secondary school we are still growing as people, which means we go through a lot of different friendships while we figure out what we are and who we want to be (at least that's what happened to me). Although we are a work in progress, when you go to university you have already developed your approach to the world and you have your own ideas and thoughts and a unique voice to stand up for what you want. That's why you're very likely to become close to people who have similar ideas as you and don't bother to meet other classmates that you know straight away that don't share anything with you. The difference with high school is that, back then, you would have several friends until you found "the right one", and now, there is a high possibility that you find them sooner than you think. It's okay not to be friends with every person in your class, of course you have to be nice to them, but that has nothing to do with building a friendship.

Olu Eletu
3. YOU DECIDE THE HOMEWORK (TEACHERS WON'T DO SO)

The less hours you have of class, the more hours you'll need to study at home. It's tricky because you think that there's only a small amount of content, but in reality, you need to spend time on your own working and doing research in your house/library/ wherever you choose. This means that you must dig deeper, investigate, be curious, don't go for the first thing you find, look up as many pages as you can, combine information, take the best from each source you check... The sooner you start getting used to this, the easier it will be to keep up with.  You should also keep your notes up to date and always ask the teacher if you have any doubts, because, unlike secondary school, the teacher won't come after you. Just keep in mind that all the effort you put now, will be worth it when you have your degree!
As a university student you should also read the newspaper and stay informed about what is going on. This is something I'm still working on, but it's important you have a general idea of the current situation.

22 February 2017

TOP 5 TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

I could 100% say that travelling is my favourite thing to do. I envy those people who get to travel the world thanks to their job, although sometimes I think it can be a bit of a pain to never “settle down”. However, I would like to have enough time (and money) to explore and discover new places as often as possible. I’m still quite young yet, but I have had the chance to do some amazing trips so far and I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. Today I’ll be sharing with you some of my best tips for travelling and making the most out of it. I’m sure you’ll find something helpful!
Ian Shneider
- Bring spare underwear in your carry-on bag, just in case you lose your luggage. If you are doing long flights and must change planes, there is a slight possibility of your big suitcase getting lost between the connection flights. I recommend to always have something to wear on the carry-on, so it doesn’t catch you unprepared.

- Have chewing-gum with if you are taking a plane. With the change of pressure, I always get a terrible earache. By chewing some gum, you keep yourself busy and it makes it easier to adapt to the “new pressure” (if that makes sense), especially during the taking off and the landing.

- Book your hotel and tickets in advanced (as soon as you know when you’ll be going). I feel really safe when I know where I’m staying, how many nights I will be there… So, whenever you know that you’re definitely going to do that trip, book your flights and hotel at the same time. Many web pages, like Tripping, can help you find the best deal, so make sure you do your research before you buy anything. There are plenty of places you can choose from!
Tomo Nogi
- Put on the heaviest clothes while you’re travelling. This is very useful if you are staying somewhere for a long time and you need bring lots of clothes. If you must bring a coat or a heavy pair of shoes, I recommend you to wear them on the day of your trip, therefore, they won’t take up too much space in your suitcase and you will be able to fill it with other useful stuff.

- Use a belt pouch to keep all your documentation and tickets. Although I wouldn’t bring it with you at all times if you’re going to be doing tourism around any city, it’s very handy when you’re travelling. Having a place to put all the important documents (passport, ID card, health insurance) will save you a lot of time during the check in or when you’re looking for your tickets to board the plane/ train/ whatever you’re taking.

Richard Tilney-Bassett

Have you got any travel essentials you would like to share? Do so in the comments!! See you soon :)

9 February 2017

7 STEPS TO STUDYING OVERSEAS

Hello lovely readers, today Steph will share some useful information for those who are interested in studying abroad. She also has a blog where you can discover more things about her, so make sure to head over there as soon as you finish reading this post and send her some love!

Studying abroad can be a very long (but very fun) process. I’ve recently embarked on this journey and figured out the ins and outs of where and how to start this exciting undertaking. I currently live in South Africa, but will start an undergraduate degree at a university, in Europe, in September 2017. Whether you’re going abroad for one year or three, these tips are bound to get you boarding a plane and discovering a new city.

There are several reasons why someone would want to study overseas, and for each person the answer will be different. Some will cross oceans for the fun and the adventure and others for a better-quality education that cannot be matched from their current city. I personally fall into the latter category.

If you think that you’re someone who would like to study in another country but is unsure of what this enlivening new adventure will take, then finish up here and head on over to my blog to read my blogging buddy, Cecile’s post called ‘'5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Studying Abroad'’.

I found the process to be enjoyable, sometimes nerve-wrecking and at times stressful but when that acceptance letter slides through your mailbox or into your inbox with the assurance of a brand-new adventure and chapter of your life, it’s worth it.

#1 Pick a City

Studying abroad implies moving to a new city. If you’re more the ‘happy go lucky type’, throw pins randomly at a map on the wall, or more rationally, choose a city based on its community, safety, lifestyle and quality of education. A lot of thought (and conversation) should go into the making of your choice as this city will be your new home. Confide and ask for guidance from a parent, sibling or friend whom you trust will offer you golden nuggets of guidance. Can you see yourself strutting down Regent street or 5th Avenue? If the answer is no, then keep looking!

#2 Find a Degree

Before considering what university or college to attend, you first need to know what course you want to give your brain capacity and storage over to for the next year or possibly the span of your life. One university could be esteemed for engineering, science and mathematics, but if you want to study drama, then despite its top-10 global ranking, the university probably isn’t for you. You need to choose a top-quality university that offers the best quality in your specific degree. I mean, you’re not flying over oceans for a mediocre quality of education, are you? When researching degrees, you should consider lifestyle, salary, working hours and stress-levels (amongst other aspects). A helpful question to ask yourself at this stage is “could I see myself doing this for the next 50 years?”. If the answer is no, keep looking.

#3 Scour for a Uni




Now that you’ve found your subject of study, it’s time to place yourself in an environment that will get your neurons buzzing and your heart fluttering. You need to find a uni that offers you the professional facilities and expert educators, however, beyond the classroom and hitting the books, you need an environment that offers you the choice to join societies and sports clubs because, whilst you’re flying over horizons, you need to be venturing into new ones.

#4 Finances + Costs


Although it’s hunky dory to up and leave from home and venture into a new city, with new friends and new foods, you need to assess your financial standings and gage what you, your family or guardian can afford. You should consider that you’ll have to possibly be in residence, pay for transportation, food, university tuition and then still need money to enjoy the ‘needs’ we all really know to be ‘wants’- like the clubbing and fancier dining-- as you should.

Don’t let several digit numbers and massive exchange rate differences put you off your path of studying abroad. All universities offer scholarships, bursaries and help/advice on student loans. Contact student funding after receiving an acceptance and work out what plan best suits you.

If you think finances will hold you back from a specific university, you should maybe consider a school in the same country, possibly the same city and or even just down the road. The second best could be an option now, but, remember to save the best for last. You can always go to ‘the best’ for postgraduate studies.


#5 Entry Requirements


Different countries have different requirements to start studying. You need to ensure that your high school or university qualification meets the requirements of the university. Failing this, you will need to subject yourself to a different examination, required by the university, which could potentially involve a different curriculum from the one you are learning or have learnt. From my own experience, I also found that if you are from a country that is not recognized as being an English-speaking majority, upon the request of the university, you will write an IELTs exams to prove your English proficiency. 

Some good advice would be to familiarize yourself with the requirements early in the process so that you know what grades you need to achieve or any extra lessons/subjects that you need to take.


#6 Personal statement


If you’re writing a personal statement, it means you’re applying-yipee! Congrats on taking a leap of faith! Your statement is important for your educators to get a good sense about who you are as a person- show off your skills and personality but not your inflated ego. There are some great websites and Youtube videos which give you great direction with writing these statements, from people whose job it is to read these.

As an international student, you should take care to note why you want to study in another country and what you offer the university as an international student.


#7 Visit the uni



You’ve scoured the web, dusted off the cobwebs in your brain; It’s now time to knock on the door, ring the doorbell and pop-in for a visit. Chances are you’ve applied to more than one university (just for insurance). Hop into a plane, a bus or a train and go visit your potential new home. You’ve probably travelled far for this, so make it a holiday - gracing all the museums and architectural wonders with your presence while you’re there. Take note of the type of students at the university and the university’s surrounding environment. The best advice I can give you here is this: If you know, you know.

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If you think that you’re up for the challenge and studying in a new country could be for you, then head on over to my blog to read Cecile’s post.

It’s been lovely taking up space on Cecile’s blog. If you’d like to see more of me, you can follow me on my blog or on Instagram. Do pop in and say ‘hi’. However, from me, for now, Bye!

Steph


5 February 2017

WHY YOUR BLOG DOESN'T NEED A NICHE


I am tired of reading "find your niche", or, "your blog needs a niche"... blah, blah, blah. I don't think that your blog needs a niche. The word "niche" stands for a "a distinct segment of a market", therefore, if your niche is photography, all your posts will be dedicated to this topic. That's great if you treat your blog as a business or if you have very few interests. However, what can people do if they have lots of hobbies/are interested in many things and they can't choose which one to focus their blog on? Well, they can come to the dark side and don't have a niche. Just like my blog!


I love plenty of things. I enjoy home decoration, photography, reading good books, travelling, sharing personal experiences, sitting down and writing about whatever is going through my mind ... Some people would put my blog into the personal/lifestyle category of blogs, but it isn't. As humans we tend to label everything and we need to learn that somethings aren't labeable (I've invented this adverb, I know, I'm a genius!). A blog with a niche will have specific readers interested in that topic, which is great, but there are some blogs which are meant to not have a niche. These kind of blogs are messy, random, with a very irregular posting schedule. The authors behind the posts are crazy and simply want a place to share their thoughts. Its readers end up there God knows why, and sometimes, they decide to stay, because they fancy having a wide variety of content, the same way the author enjoys writing about everything they want.

Nowadays, the blogging industry has grown tremendously and many people make a living by writing a blog. I understand the reason why lots of bloggers out there see it as a business, but we shouldn't forget about the original blog.  Yes, I'm talking about these individuals who are just trying to blog the old-fashioned way, as a hobby, as a way to reach out to the lovely and engaged audience they have. I defend blogs without a niche because I believe in "less rigid" blogging rules, because I think that we need to go back to basics when everyone is blogging about "what they are supposed to blog" or they are busy finding a niche that their blog doesn't need in the first place. Don't let niches reduce the creativity of your blog and the content you put into it. If people want to read your blog, they will do it regardless of your  "niche". The ones who read niche-less blogs enjoy the way the authors write, it also helps if they say wise things and stuff, but they like their personality and their view of the world. As simple as that.


If you're still reading, thank you :) Have a nice week everybody!

30 January 2017

LONDON IN 3 DAYS: THE LAST TRIP OF 2016

Big Ben
London is a beautiful city, and it even looks better during Christmas time. Last year (it feels so weird) I had the chance to visit it with my best friend and we both had an amazing time. I visited London three or four years ago, and I was surprised to recognise some of its streets. There's something about this city that makes me want to stay there forever (well, maybe not forever, but for a long time), so I hope to go back soon.

Planning of the trip: what did we visit?

Day 1: Big Ben and the London Eye, the London Bridge and Oxford/Regent's street (the shopping area around those streets).

Day 2: King's Cross station (we took a picture with the Platform 9 3/4, of course), Kensington neighbourhood and its gardens. Then we went to Camden Town and spend the rest of the afternoon there. Once we got back, we visited the National History Museum and the Science Museum (these were short visits, because they were both about to close once we got there).

Day 3: Buckingham palace, Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. Before going to the airport we went to Covent Garden and then back to Camden Town to buy a few things we wanted.
We went to the most popular places, I think that the first time you go somewhere, you need to tackle down those monuments that “need to be seen” and then, if you go back, you can wander around other not-so-touristic spots (does that make sense?). During our holiday, I would have my camera hanging from my neck all day long, stopping every minute to take pictures. I get very excited when there are beautiful things all over the place! So here you can admire London's beauty (just a tiny bit of it). Although the pictures I took only show the “touristic side” of the city, I can reassure you that next time I'll shoot other picturesque areas.
Buckingham palace

Hyde Park
London Bridge

King's Cross station

London Eye
Big Ben from another point of view
I always think that the journey begins when you start packing, even when you buy your ticket. And this trip was special, because I got to experience it with my closest friend. I really appreciate spending time with people I love, and what a better way to do it than being in London. It was my first trip alone (well, not with my parents), therefore, I learned a lot of things. However, what I take with me after this visit is that London isn't only about the Big Ben, the London Eye or the red payphones. London is much more than that. London is watery roads, shy sun rays sneaking trough the morning fog, quiet people, on time underground trains and streets with chalk painted pavements, crowds of tourists, nights in sushi bars, eating Nerds on our way home, buying cheap books in book warehouses... I tend to fall in love with cities, and London has stolen my heart and mind.

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.