Insignificance

Insignificance

‘We’re all unique like snowflakes’.. Really? I’ve recently had the feeling of insignificance amongst the billions of people in the world. We’re always told that we’re special and we each have a purpose, but in actuality, the differences between us are very small. You could say someone is unique even if they only have only differing quality from you. Then genetically we are told how similar we are to each other (99.5%) even if no one has identical gene sequences, apart from twins. I wonder how twins must feel. Also the fact that apparently we have six looks a likes in the world. We also see how similar we are to other objects such as bananas and this feeling of being special starts to decrease. Now that’s just the science. What about our characteristics? Of course we could generalize and state the most basic things that we all have in common such as all having a motivation in life.

When we begin to realise this, we may start to spiral out and think about other things such as purpose of life etc.. it’s a slippery slope into an existential crisis. However I feel like we should be talking about this, maybe we’ll have some sort of peace. It’s all put into perspective when you look at the larger picture, at the size of the universe, the amount of people on earth and just the fact that you’re on earth for a tiny fraction of time. Obviously there are two sides to everything and you can be positive and try and do as much with life as possible or you could be negative and think – what’s the point? Clearly for a healthy mind, the positive side is the best.

I’m going to delve into the negative side just for discussion but if you’re already a cynical thinker, you probably shouldn’t read on. Here’s the thing about snowflakes, when they say that every snowflake is unique, do they mean every snowflake that has ever existed? Or just the ones that are falling before they melt? Also how insignificant are snowflakes if all they do is fall towards the ground and melt into nothingness..? These are apparently the important questions in my head. Anyway, back to humans (sorry for my tangent), we’re all trying to distinguish ourselves today, we see the competition in everything; jobs etc. We all seem to be vying for the same things and in order to be seen, we try our hardest to do everything and anything to stand out. Even with today’s society encouraging individualism, is it all fake? What I mean by that is, is that society trying to cover up the fact that really, everyone is just the same and telling ourselves we’re all unique just to feel better?

Of course we all have different strengths and weaknesses but I’m pretty sure that someone in the world has similar traits to me, so much so that we’d say we’re one and the same. I think in the end, we shouldn’t focus on these things and instead just strive towards what makes us happy because this line of thought most definitely does not gives us anything but more questions.

Anyway, just some badly arranged thoughts for you. Maybe you could add to it?

Till our next meeting,

Anon Online.

At What Point – Simplicity

At What Point – Simplicity

We may have had that thought – ‘when did life get so complicated?’ Even before becoming adults life became increasingly complicated and we long to go back to those days in our childhood where our biggest worry was gathering sticks in the garden or something (before the days where technology took over). This may be unrelated but think back to your childhood memories and you think of the happy days, where there were no worries and you can’t actually remember what you were thinking at that time.

Things begin to get complicated when you enter nursery/kindergarten, this may be because of a different environment, being without your parents and having to interact with the ‘real world’. You meet new children and adults and your world becomes slightly bigger than just your home. At that age your biggest worry may be that other child who won’t play with you or that toy you couldn’t have. These problems at the time would have seemed like the world was falling apart at that time but we’re resilient and forget about it an hour later until the next ‘apocalypse’. I suppose at that young age we have so little to worry about because we know so little, and the fact that we have our parents to rely on.

Now throughout our teenage years we begin to be a little more dramatic, where exams, friends and the opposite sex (or same) are our biggest worries. It’s understandable seeing that we spend most of our time at school. We probably interact with the people at school more than our family. Even at this point we will think back and long for those simpler times. Little do we know that as adults, we would be thinking back to this stage and wishing we were back there.. Back to the days before bills and jobs and social networking. Back to when people didn’t expect anything off you or expect you to be a ‘grown up’. It would seem as if all of a sudden all the responsibilities and all the things you should do come crashing down on you as soon as you turn 18 or 21.

As adults we get caught up in this kind of vortex, where we’re so busy and our lives are so complicated. We just have to take a breath and realise that we’re the ones that make our lives more complicated than it should be. We need to go back to our aim in life and not concentrate on our mini goals that overtake our lives such as getting the next promotion etc. I think that many of our aims in life would just to be happy in life. By having an end life goal, we can work back and see the steps we need to take in order to achieve it. We don’t want to be rushing about and suddenly thinking – why am I even doing this? As with everything, we need to take breaks and re-evaluate our lives and make sure it’s on track to achieving what we want.

We have to simplify things in order to achieve more clarity. Something that helps me simplify my life is to have less. Less of everything. If I stop craving for more things, I won’t feel like I have to sell and arm and a leg to get it, I won’t be stressing over it and I will also have a less cluttered home. This might seem obvious but by having less at home, there’ll be more space and you’ll feel freer? I don’t know if that makes sense but you’ll feel more relaxed instead of suffocated. Either way, there’ll be a lot of different ways on how people can simplify their lives. You can start with little things and you’ll see the difference.. Or if you’re happy with your life as it is… just take this as some light reading.

Till our next meeting,

Anon Online.

Language Apps

Language Apps

There are a few free apps that I have found to be very helpful and I use them almost on a daily basis.

  • Duolingo – This is designed to help you learn a language but it is best used as a practice alongside your studies. The notes they give are very short and are almost just reminders. It gives you a lot of vocab to learn which is separated into sections. Just be aware that their notes/lessons only show on a laptop or computer, not on Ipad/mobile phone. If you are using it as a practice app, the notes won’t matter as much seeing that you would have already covered the topic before.

 

  • Cram – This is a virtual app for flashcards. Instead of having to buy numerous flashcards, you can type your words in the app and you can have separate sets of cards. If you’re not fussy about the presentation and just want the use of flashcards, this is good for you. Bear in mind that you will have to type every word and its translation out, but take that as more practice.

 

  • Google Translate – This is very useful, it has a wide range of languages and the translations are being constantly improved. However as with all translation apps, sometimes it comes up with a literal translation rather than something that would be more commonly used/said.

 

  • Babbel – This is another app like Duolingo where it hopes to teach you a language through itself alone. Personally I don’t use this as much, but if you’re studying a language that needs a lot of work phonetically, this has a lot of phrases that can be practiced orally.

 

  • Memrise – I find that this has better pronunciations than Duolingo but it is just a side app to help you learn some phrases. It also helps with repetition and memorizing new words.

Just a little note:  when looking for source of study for your new language, keep in mind that there will be different accents in that language. It’s best if you pick a particular accent you want to imitate and stick with it.

Also there will be specific apps for your chosen language so do a little research and find what suits you.

This is the end of the Languages series, I hope you enjoyed it and found something useful. Although it is very language centric, you can also use some of these tips for learning other skills or just to apply it to your everyday life.

Till our next meeting,

Anon Online.

 

Food for Travel

Food for Travel

Summer’s here, the time when we go on holiday. We’re all excited for the sun, the sea, the city.. but how about the travelling itself? A lot of people have motion sickness and this can be the annoying part of the holiday for them. You may lose your appetite on the plane and as a result eat less and feel drained of your energy. Here are some food tips for your plane journey.

The goal of bringing these foods is to stay hydrated, feel satiated and to have energy. Please note that I am only posting the little that I do know and you should try out different things yourself.

There are some common foods that people tend to avoid if they don’t do well on planes. For example coffee, alcohol, salty, greasy foods (crisps). These foods will dehydrate you, as if being on the plane itself isn’t dehydrating enough! Diary is another food group to avoid if you feel nauseas. I’m not quite sure as to why, but I assume because it’s a rich and heavy food.

To keep yourself satisfied and energised you should eat more light and ‘clean’ foods for example fruits and vegetables. A lot of them have high water content (cucumbers, celeries) and will help hydrate you. They also have a fresh taste that will be unlikely to make you feel sick. Coconut water is also very good for hydration. It also hydrates your body faster, but if you don’t like the taste, go for juices or just stick to water.

You might still feel hungry as fruits and vegs aren’t very substantial assuming you don’t bring a whole orchard with you. You can bring some potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, things that will make you feel full but are quite bland in taste. This will bring help you eat more carbs and keep you full for longer.

You can also bring things such as protein/snack bars/ nut mixes. These are very easy to transport and light. They can help you fill up on protein that you might usually get from other sources (it probably won’t be as much). They don’t take a long time to eat and is just something sweet for you. However the amount of protein you get will obviously depend on what you eat.

These are just some simple suggestions for portable, mostly dry foods for your PLANE journey. Keep in mind that it should be followed for a short amount of time, eg – long haul flights and not to be followed as some sort of dietary plan as it won’t be enough to sustain you over a long time.

I hope this gives you some ideas, happy travels!

Till our next meeting,

Anon Online.

Moving On

Moving On

It’s amazing how resilient we as humans are. One moment we could be feeling deep emotions at our very core and the next, we have moved on to something else. This helps us to carry on with our daily lives but it also can be seen as how fickle we really are.

I remember attending a funeral of someone who I had never met and yet I still felt very upset and began contemplating. Although I was relatively young, I began thinking about how sad it was for this man’s family to have lost him. I felt something I had never felt before, it was a sad heavy atmosphere with adults crying around me. I remember asking myself why I was so sad even though I didn’t know the man. As I grew older, when I thought back to that event, I was amazed at how I felt so sad and yet I got over quickly soon after it was over.

Certain events such as illnesses and funerals manage to shake us up out of our daily life reveries and make us look at our own lives and how we are living it. It almost gives us an electric shock. Yes this sounds incredibly selfish but this is how we as humans are. We begin to examine our own goals and what we have done so far. We begin to think whether we’d have any regrets, whether we’d be remembered, whether we’d be satisfied with ourselves. However for some reason, this serious moment of contemplation only lasts for a short while. We let ourselves get caught up in our own little worlds again. This may be deliberate, as we want to forget the unpleasantness or unanswerable questions in life. Many of us throw ourselves into our jobs or stress relieving methods (alcohol, partying etc). Although it may be selfish, it is a useful way to re-align or change your life and do something more positive.

In light of recent tragedies, I’m sure a lot of people have been thinking about their own lives, reminding themselves to treat their friends and family better as we never know what will happen. I find that those who weren’t directly affected move on relatively quickly. Of course it will always be remembered as something sad and horrible that had happened but after the initial shock and comprehension of what happened, we seem to be able to move on with our lives within a week or so. People carry on talking about how that bag they can’t afford or how their significant others are annoying them. These ‘problems’ quickly fade away when compared to human loss of life. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing people as this is a way of survival and helps us through it. This is just a thought that occurred to me. There is no set period of mourning or rules about how to act. We all react and cope differently and in our own ways. It shows how strong we can be, how we can overcome the biggest setbacks in our lives. All we can hope for is to live our lives for the better and help each other in any way we can.

Till our next meeting,

Anon Online.

Sources

Sources

These are just suggestions of different tools and mediums to help you learn and hopefully keep things interesting. Variation is key because doing the same thing repeatedly can be demotivating and may have a diminishing effect.

  • Music – This is an enjoyable way not to necessarily learn a lot but to get used to the way it sounds and see if you can pick anything up. If you manage to understand some words, you’d probably be able to pick them up in conversations. Whilst listening to music hopefully it’ll do something subconsciously.

 

  • Interviews – Find an actor or celebrity, someone you’re interested who’s a native in that language and find some interviews. These are a good way to observe a normal or sometimes slightly formal conversation and get used to the flow. It will also be very interesting to you and may motivate you to study some more! Keep in mind that whatever they’re talking about, it’s likely to be on one topic so be sure to study others.

 

  • Short Stories – Depending on your level of study, these may be children or adult short stories. Nevertheless they help you with reading, grammar and are short enough to keep your attention because doing things in another language takes more effort. If these are on audio, you can also do some dictation practice with them.

 

  • Youtubers – Youtube is an unlimited world for language practice. You can probably find people from any country and they are the best examples in daily conversational language. You’ll also find a lot of different people who speak that language, so you can get used to the difference in the way they talk.

 

  • Documentaries – This is probably for more advanced learners as the pace is often quite fast and the vocab quite advanced. They are really good for practicing your listening skills and learning something new. They will be more official and formal than a conversation so when you’re speaking you probably don’t want to imitate them too much, you might come off as stand offish.

 

  • Movies – Movies are again a good way to learn about the culture, way of life and how normal conversations are conducted. You can learn a lot about their slang and how it may differ from the textbooks. Try to watch without any subtitles then with subtitles in that language and study it through the movie. Your aim is to learn but maybe you could watch it first in your native language before studying it, which makes it easier. Watching with your native subtitles will do little to help so don’t bother with that.

 

  • Exams – Past papers are a good way to practice your reading, listening and writing. They have different levels of difficulty and answers are often given so you can follow along easily. They usually cover a general range of topics that can get you up to a conversational level.

 

  • Cartoons – This may be tedious and boring to a lot of learners but at the end of the day, if your language is at the level of a child, you’ll have to learn at that stage. It isn’t as boring as you think because you’ll be too busy trying to understand everything that’s being said regardless of the story. This will also encourage you to move on to a higher level quicker!

 

  • Books – This again depends on your level in the language. If you’re a beginner, you will be looking for books catered towards young children. They help a lot with vocab, grammar and are often quite short. If you are at a more advance level, obviously there is a wider choice.

 

Till our next meeting,

Anon Online.

Vocab and Grammar

Vocab and Grammar

Vocab is often separated under different topics so it is easy to work through and you’re able to associate the different words together. There are many ways of learning vocab depending on your preferred method but the key is repetition. This can be done through the use of flash cards or simply writing them repeatedly. I find that using them in sentences helps a lot. This reinforces their meaning and their use. The key is not to overload your mind with so many new words within a short period of time. As your vocab grows, you will need to revisit the older words from time to time. Obviously the words that you use the most often are being practiced there and then.

It can be quite daunting know where to start, having to learn a new word for everything. There are the obvious sections such as family, home, food etc. After that it is really up to you where you want to go. This is one of the great things about learning languages on your own. You can choose what to learn according to your interests. By learning according to your interests, it gives you motivation to remember the words and won’t be as tiresome. You will always be picking up new words in whatever you do within that language. The important thing is to look up a word that you don’t understand when you come across it. That way, you can build up words that you wouldn’t think to learn or slang/ common phrases.

One of the things that put people off from starting a new language is the tiresome task of learning of grammar. It is one of the most demotivating things that has to be done and that is never ending (in its practice). When starting your grammar, it’s pretty essential to start early. With so much to cover, there has to be a plan of what to learn otherwise you’d just be lost and give up. Another important thing that doesn’t occur to a lot of people is to learn the meaning of each tense and how it’s used. Through this, you’ll have made a start and it won’t seem so alien to you. Obviously we first learn the present tense and then the past and future. We’re clear on what they mean and how they’re used…or we should be. After that, there isn’t a strict list to follow.

A crucial thing to note is that you’re learning as new language and so its grammar rules and other various rules do NOT have to fit into what you know within your native language. By trying to learn a new language within the parameters of what you’ve learnt for your own language will hinder your progress. Obviously when you’re learning a language that’s close to your own (for me – English), such as French, Spanish etc, then it’s possible to follow along and learn grammar according to what you know.

Anyway that’s enough for now I think.. Good luck!

Till we next meet,

Anon Online.