culturalrollercoaster

Cross-cultural insights and questions from home and abroad


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GET NASTY! Really cool way to MASTER a Foreign Language!

Are you currently studying a foreign language? Do you feel like your level is pretty good but it has hit a plateau and isn’t quite getting to where you would like it? Follow my advice, send me a writing sample, and you will already begin to improve!

Tengo unos TIPS for you !!

Something I did when I started getting about learning French was I began writing letters to friends about what’s going on with me currently. But what REALLY helped me improve was creative writing

Write something raunchy in the foreign language you’re studying. Write a short story, write what ever. It doesn’t even have to make sense. 

-Find a buddy who is willing to go over your writing. Make sure it’s someone you trust and feel comfortable being silly and nasty with. Obviously, it’s much more beneficial when your partner in crime is a native speaker. If they are not a native speaker then someone who is more advanced than you. 

-Consult http://www.wordreference.com when looking up words. This website is great because it often times gives you a translation with context. But you are not only limited to this website.

-Get creative. Don’t only write about logical things. The more imaginitive you get the more new vocabulary you will pick up.

-Watch foreign films in the language of study to help inspire you.

-DO NOT TRANSLATE YOUR STORY FROM ENGLISH, this will only hinder your grammar. When learning a foreign language we cannot translate literally.

-If you have a grammar doubt ask a friend or Google it!

-Ask your language buddy for equivalents of expressions or phrases in their foreign language.

-Look up profanity and slang in your foreign language, it will make learning that much more fun! If studying Spanish search country specific because slang changes from one Spanish-speaking country to another. Ejemplo/Example: “I’m feeling naughty” (in the sexual sense) could be translated into Spanish as: “Me siento traviesa”

-Join a Meetup group at http://www.meetup.com. There are plenty of foreign language groups with people dying to do language exchanges!

Even if you are not a writer, I GUARENTEE that writing a nasty, funny, or ridiculous story in a foreign language will improve your level. Ofcourse reading and practicing in person helps too, but when we write we realize that we might be less precise than we thought!

Spanish, English and French learners, feel free to send me one of your silly stories and I’ve love to help you correct it. If you want me to post your story on my blog for laughs I’m also open to that!

Find your language buddy today!


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A Visit to Rome, Italy- Likes and Dislikes

A lil upset because I already wrote all this out, then it deleted.  Oh well, c’est la vie. Now I’m gonna write a shorter version due to my laziness.

Rome is NOT what I had expected. I think I worked it up too much in my head. I had been planning to go there for over 5 years, so naturally I created this magical place in my head. Don’t get me wrong, I did like Rome. It was full of beautiful men and women and AMAZING GELATO, but it was missing something that I normally get while travelling.

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Here’s some things that might surprise you about Rome:

#1 Overall, the food ain’t that great.

On my very last day, I had some amazing risotto, but apart from that, the food was so-so or average. It’s hard to find decently priced good quality food in Rome’s restaurants and that’s probably due to having so many tourists. I think they spend more money making the restaurants look good then making the food good.

#2 Rome is kinda ugly.

Let’s face it, it’s badly kept. So in order to improve this situation, the city of Rome has decided to put everything under construction at the same time. This to me, frankly, makes it look worse. I’d rather see some things run down while others are being repaired, but all the major monuments were covered in scaffolding.

NOW FOR SOME POSITIVE SURPRISES!

#3 Piazza di Spagna was my favorite place.

Although there was still a bit of construction there, this had to be the most pleasant place for me. They Spanish Steps are a great place to relax and enjoy the crowd. The shops nearby are delightful, especially this one Gelato place that for me, had the best Gelato in town: GelateriaVenchi. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d2260557-Reviews-Gelateria_Venchi-Rome_Lazio.html

#4 Every Gelato place is unique.

You think you’d get repeats eating gelato everywhere you go in Rome but no, it’s not true. Each gelateria has unique styles of ice cream and different flavors! I recommend having some gelato at least once per day each day that yo visit Rome.

#5 There’s so many Filipino-Italians!

I don’t know when Filipinos began immigrating to Rome, but currently there is a huge Filipino community. You can find lots of Filipino owned businesses in Rome which for tourists means you can find excellent service in English. The Philippines used to be a Spanish colony, then it was part of the U.S. for a short while which has resulted in it becoming one of the most linguistically capable countries in the world. So if you’re too shy to try to speak Italian, you’ll have no problem finding a Filipino-Italian that can assist you in English or maybe even in Spanish.

#6 The speakers in the Vatican are made to look like marble, COOL.

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# 7 Anytime a pretty girl orders food, the server will tell her: “only for you”.

Everyone says that. It must seriously be a thing. It happened to my friend and I in every restaurant without fail. They like to make you smile or giggle, probably to make you think you are getting a good deal. It worked the first day for me, then it just got annoying lol.

# 8 Rome doesn’t feel dangerous.

If you’re worried, I wouldn’t worry too much. It’s like most European cities, you just need to be the normal amount of cautious.

# 9 Religious souvenirs are cheaper at the Vatican.

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When you go up the Dome in the Vatican there’s a gift shop. Surprisingly this gift shop is actually cheaper than most of those stands you’ll see outside the Vatican area. So if you do want to buy something at one of the stands, make sure you negotiate the price with them before buying. Tell them that you saw the same thing cheaper in the Vatican.

# 1o There are colonies of cats that live in the ruins.

You’ll know what I mean when you see them.

 

 


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Reflection on my time in Paris (written in Spanish) Lo que Paris me enseñó

Hey guys, I felt the urge to write in Spanish today. I’m a bit emotional cause I just returned to the United States and I don’t yet know my next step, so while I’m figuring it out I’ll write about my feelings. Today I’m in an emotional Spanish mode so sorry to those who don’t speak Spanish. This post is for me, all for me. It’s about reflecting and venting. It’s a recent discovery of mine that writing is so important to me. 

Enjoy.

Cuando estaba en la universidad lo que más me motivaba fue la educación, el conocimiento del mundo, y la sabiduría. Cuando me gradué de la universidad me fui para España para explorar más mi pasión por la lingüística y por obtener experiencia en el entorno de la enseñanza. No arrepiento esa experiencia, y de hecho, no arrepiento de nada de lo que hice en Europa.  Mientras que yo estaba en España empecé a darme cuenta de que yo no podía seguir allá por años sin tener vínculos fuertes como amistades cercanas o incluso una relación.

Desde hace 3 años uno de mis objetivos principales de la vida ha sido explorar la idea de tener una pareja seria.  Tuve un par de novios y por una razón u otra no funcionó o no sentía la conexión que buscaba. Con el último fue más una relación apasionada y dramática. El realmente nunca habría sido una pareja de largo camino. Con el anterior fui yo que no sentía la conexión. El era una persona muy buena. El era cariñoso, dulce,  y muy comunicativo pero faltaba algo siempre con él. Necesitaba alguien más que me hizo querer mejorar. Quiero una pareja con la cual pueda crecer y explorar mi potencial. No me gusta nunca comparar relaciones anteriores pero es que verdad que uno siempre puede aprender de los errores del pasado.

Cuando fui a Francia en septiembre del año pasado (2013) fui a sabiendas que lo más probable fue que rompiera con mi último novio. Yo fui porque había aceptado un reto. Había empezado a aprender francés hacia dos años y me habían aceptado a un programa allá. Aproximadamente una semana más tarde, después de tener una relación a distancia por más de un año, mi novio y yo cortamos. Cortamos porque éramos demasiado distintos. Nos dimos cuenta de que la conexión no era de las más sanas que digamos  y posiblemente también más física. En temas importantes no veíamos las cosas desde la misma perspectiva. Él de alguna manera fue mi rival. Represento algo que nunca quería que me representara. Cada vez que aprendí algo nuevo de él más nos decepcionamos.

En octubre de 2013 empecé a trabajar en la escuela pública de mi programa y fue una de las experiencias que más he apreciado en mi vida. Aunque el año empezó “mal”, me dirijo hacia una de las experiencias más agradables de mi vida. En Francia estaba soltera y sin amigos (al principio) en un país del cual no dominaba la lengua. A pesar de esas dificultades yo crecí, yo logre, yo tuve éxito. Empecé a apreciarme más. Empecé a ver mi valor. Empecé a descubrir como a mí me gusta vivir mi vida. Empecé a ver lo que yo personalmente puedo manejar, lo que no, y lo que más me importa de la vida. Conocí a unas de las personas más lindas del mundo. E hice conexiones fuertes con gente que tiene valores parecidos. No cambiaria jamás nada por esas experiencias. Paris es un lugar sagrado para mí porque está llena con recuerdos con esas personas.  Paris me hizo más fuerte, me hizo mejor persona. Pero también me hizo más blanda. Siempre fui sensible, siempre fui emocional, pero ahora veo este aspecto más positivo. Antes creía que era una falta mía, pero ahora veo que es también una “bendición”.

Ahora veo más claramente mis valores.  Ahora se que debería confiar en mis presentimientos. Y ahora estoy más consciente de que tengo un cicatriz que aun no se ha curado de todo. Tengo un problema de confiar en la gente. Aunque no cambiaría nada de mis experiencias en Europa, se que debido a algunas de estas experiencias, soy más desconfiada en cuestiones de pareja. Me cuesta más trabajo creer compromisos. No obstante, se que necesito que mi pareja sea comunicativo. No soy así con mis amigos. Puedo pasar días, semanas, o incluso meses sin hablar con mis amigos más cercanos porque durante mucho tiempo hemos creado confianza.

Aun así fue con una amiga, vamos a ponerle el nombre  Lola. Yo le conocí a través de correo electrónico en mayo de 2013. Estaba emocionada cuando supe que había alguien que tiene casi exactamente la misma situación que yo. Tenía ganas de conocerla, y ella empezó a escribirme, y después a llamarme, y finalmente nos vimos por primera vez en California antes de irnos para Francia. Yo estaba muy desconfiada. Ella me caía genial, pero pensaba que solo sería una amiga de paseo, una amiga del momento, entonces me alejé un poco. No quería hacer el esfuerzo a crear una amistad con ella. Y al llegar a Francia no dependía de ella. Ella solo era una persona que yo conocía, pero aun no era mi amiga. Pero ella siguió llamándome, hizo más esfuerzo que yo. Y finalmente empecé a tener más confianza en ella. Para los días festivos me escribió cartas. Ella tiene un negocio de tarjetas pero eso no significa que tuvo que escribirme un mensaje considerado. Ella ha sido la primera persona que ha hecho algo semejante para mí. Ella de verdad se encariñó conmigo. Le interesaba por mi bien.  De verdad ella ha sido un ángel de guardia para mí. Solo puedo agradecerla con palabras porque nunca he sido buena para encontrar regalos para ella (jaja) y en cambio ella siempre sabe perfectamente lo que a mí me gustaría.

Ahora se algo nuevo de mi. Necesito un poco más de tiempo para ver la persona delante de mi. En el pasado no me costaba nada y podía hacer buenos amigos sin esfuerzos. Me fiaba de la gente sin problema. Pero con el tiempo cambiamos y “maduramos”, y ahora solo necesito observar las cosas con más tranquilidad antes de poder dejarme llevar emocionalmente.


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Hella cool places to go JOGGING in PARIS! Top 3 BEST SPOTS

I dunno if you’ve noticed.. but I feel like French people are embarrassed to do stretches in public places… Why is that? Either way, Parisians and other inhabitants of Paris still definitely go jogging! So I’m gonna tell you about my top 3 favorite places to go for a jog.

#3 Bois de Vincennes

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This place isn’t exactly in Paris but it definitely has it all; a walking trail, a lake, and the frickin forest (bois = forest). Yay! Trees and nature in the Paris suburbs. You can even rent little boats there! It’s located near Chateau de Vincennes off the Metro Line 1 or the train RER A. Despite it not being in Paris itself, on nice sunny days it’s full of people on the weekends. If you prefer running when there are less people definitely go earlier in the morning or on a weekday.

#2 Parque de Buttes Chaumont – Image

This place is absolutely gorgeous and it’s located in Paris itself in my neighborhood the 19th district (in the northeast). Even if you don’t go running you definitely must visit this park. It’s like an escape from the busy Paris city but still, right here in Paris. It’s also slightly less touristic so you can always find a spot on the grass to relax and enjoy the good weather.

# 1 Canal de l’Ourq – 

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This is also located in the 19th district of Paris near Metros Laumiere, Jaures, Parque de la Villette, Ourq, and Porte de Pantin. If you begin your jog near Metro Jaures and make your way up the canal towards Parque de la Villette you can pass by some pretty cool stuff. After leaving Metro Jaures, you’ll see a couple of footbridges that go over the canal, go over one and you can see in the distance the tippy-top of the Eiffel Tower. Continuing up the Canal you’ll definitely see some hipsters or old people playing the old fashioned French game called “Petanque”. Continue a bit more crossing the intersection at Rue de Crimee (after here it gets a little less visually stimulating but only momentarily) once you start hitting Parque de la Villette you will not be sorry. You will soon see La Geode on your left. It’s so cool cause it’s like a big mirror ball that reflects the sky. Either stop jogging here or then make your way into the Parque de la Villette to see the other cool stuff it has like concert halls, cafes, and beautiful fountain located near the Metro Porte de Pantin.

If you have done any of the jogs please leave me a comment. And if you are currently in Paris or are to go soon, please check at least one of these places out! But these are just my top 3 favorites, there are definitely other really cool places to go running in the greater metropolitan area of Paris.

Motivation for people trying to get in shape: CONSISTENCY AND A GOOD DIET! These are some wise words my friend told me. And it’s not necessarily about long dredful workouts where your legs wobble the next day. It’s about gradually building more stamina, eating well and varied, and sticking to it! Consistency my friends, consistency! Within no time you’ll feel better about your mind and body.

A Dedication to my GOLDEN FRIENDS all over the World!

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Needing or wanting a person who doesn’t feel the same about you super sucks….

It’s happened to me where I was convinced there was a connection but the dude cut me off cold-turkey… and it also happened to me the other way around where a dude thought there was something between us two… and as far as I’m concerned there wasn’t. But in retrospect … now I know how the other guy was feeling when I thought there was a connection.
This same sort of thing happens in friendships. Maybe someone you give great importance to doesn’t put the same importance on you. Thinking about this really can make you feel sad. But, the good part is… there is that one friend, that one person, who does indeed feel the same way about you. And when there’s a mutual effort for staying in contact and checking on each other then you really have a solid friendship.
This happens in any part of the world, within our own cultures and interculturally. Some of the people who I connect the best with come from a cultural so very different from mine. Others are also American like me. Your background doesn’t matter, just caring and mutual interest. So I am a firm believer that similarity in cultural background does not necessarily mean a stronger friendship or relationship.

This post I dedicate to all my golden friends all over the world; USA, Mexico, Europe (Spain, Portugal, England, and France), South America (Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina) and Central America (Panama). I really hope you know who you are! These are friends that have inspired me, helped me grow, motivated me, and have been so much emotional support through all my traveling and life’s changes. Even if I don’t talk to many of you often, it doesn’t mean I don’t think of you and remember all the wonderful things you taught me and shared with me. It is because of YOU that I’ve never lost hope in life, love, and friendship!

Thank you, muchiiiisimas gracias, merci beaucoup, obrigada, and cheers mates!

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Finding Balance at Home and Abroad: 10 Wise Tips

1. Have a few people that you talk to on a regular basis (even if you are kind of a lone wolf):

Communication is super important in order to maintain a healthy mental state. There should at least be 1 person in your life that you can tell anything to without being judged. Talking to another person on a regular basis not only helps keep you updated on each other’s lives, but it also helps you work out any personal issues. When keeping in contact with someone who knows you really well and for a substantial about of time you are able to vent and work out any possible current issues in your life.

2. If someone does something that makes you smile, or makes your day better, tell them:

072       Photo taken in Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

Even if it’s something as insignificant as a Facebook post or an Instagram photo, tell that person it made you happy. If you let them know they contributed to your state of happiness, it will make them feel happy too. You might even make their day!

3. Eat well (even on vacation):

Its definitely OK to try local dishes and sweets! But you don’t need to have a crepe everyday during your 1-week visit to Paris. You should take advantage of the yummy delights where ever you are but it might be a good idea to put limits on your portions.

4. Exercise/ Just move your body! :

Each person has different limits to how much they can or should exercise so I will not give one solid solution for everyone.  I will say that, what ever you consider exercise for you, whether it be speed walking, running, dancing, yoga, or whatever, do it 3-6 times a week. This will help you sleep better, it will make you feel better (cause it gives you endorphins), and it will motivate you to manage your time wisely. Note for travelers: I’m not telling you to bring your running shoes with you on your 5-day vacation, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do a short workout in your hotel room or take a long walk (without stopping to eat/drink) in the place you are visiting.

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5. Don’t try to be a people-pleaser  (not even when traveling in groups):

It is impossible for one person to manage the moods and feelings of all those around them. We are humans and we all live individual unique lives. Different things inspire, motivate, and even irritate each individual. I know many of us can’t stand to let others down but sometimes things are just out of our control. If we put enough focus on our own physical and mental health, we will have more ease with others in general. Plus, on group trips not everyone in going to agree all the time. Think of alternative activities like spliting up temporarily, or having a precise meeting point and time to regroup!

6. Write things down:

Even if you are a person who rarely forgets things it might be an idea to keep an agenda or write yourself notes. I rarely forget an important date, but even I need to see things written down to give me a friendly reminders.

7. Don’t expect too much from others. Take the initiative:

Rely on yourself. I will explain this one with a personal example- My friend and I both wanted to go to a temporary exhibition in Paris. He wanted to go more than I did and told me at the beginning that it was only going to last 3 more weeks. A week later I asked him when it would be over and he told me 2 more weeks. We both got really busy and caught up with work but often still thought about going to the exhibition. Finally, no one brought it up until the exhibition was over, and of course, my friend was angry at me. He assumed I would tell him a fixed date to go, and I assumed he wasn’t to crazy about going any more. If something means a lot to you, communicate it. Assuming makes an ASS out of U and ME! 

8. If the weather is nice, get the ef outside dude: 

002  Photo taken in Madrid, Spain in front of  El Palacio Real

The weather has a huge influence on our moods. Even if we have HELLA work to do, we can prolly take 15 short minutes to just go outside, close our eyes, and soak up the sun. This is especially important if you live in a climate where the weather is generally depressing. Take advantage of the good weather for once!

9. If you need to cry, cry damnit:

Crying releases toxins. You ever get giggly after crying? I know I do! And some people need to cry more than others. Our bodies all work differently.

10. If you need a hug, ask somebody for one:

Chances are someone is willing to give you a hug! We are social creatures who need physical contact every once in a while. Maybe you don’t notice the affects of a hug right away, but if you hug more often it can have a positive long term affect on your mental health!

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