I saw the sign

While studying abroad in Córdoba, Argentina, we had the opportunity to travel around the country during our free time.  As we traveled, I began to notice the signage; bus stops, cross walks, graffiti, and translated signs.  In highly trafficked tourist areas there were many signs in various languages.  In these places I noticed that the signs translated from Spanish to English, were not always translated correctly, which made me wonder, how often do we also make those mistakes?  However, although some words were missing, one could understand the message!

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los taxistas

It’s about that time….you know what time I mean…election time.  Well, Election Day is some nine months away but we get to hear about all the candidates, all the scandals, all the snide remarks….etc. And I will be the last one to give away my political views, but I do remember where I was this time four years ago.  I was in Cordoba, Argentina…studying abroad and only hearing news from the U.S. every few weeks.

And where did I hear most of that news from?  The taxi drivers.  They knew more about the American political system and government than the average American (sad, but true).  Almost every time I jumped in a taxi, the driver would begin a conversation…”¿De dónde vos?”  And once he found out I was an American I was grilled on my political views and knowledge of the candidates.

I was very intrigued by some of the conversations I had in a taxi cab and probably one of the best wasn’t about politics at all but about the American people.  Once while riding in a taxi, the driver asked me about where I was from in the U.S. and the states that I’d visited.  When I replied that I had only really been up and down the East Coast he asked, “Why is it that Americans can send their children to other countries when they haven’t avidly traveled their own?”  I have to admit I was struck dumb by his response.

At first I thought, well the U.S. is so big…and I only know a handful of people who have been to every state.  But in reality, Argentina is almost as long as the U.S. is wide and practically everyone travels all over the country by bus.  So, I guess the truth is (that most) American kids (and adults for that matter) do travel but we don’t have an extensive transport system…and only a vague concept of geography.  You can disagree with me, but ask a high school graduate to name all the capitals of every state and where to locate them on a map…better yet try other countries…and then we’ll talk.

After all my musings, I realized that the driver had a truly valid point.  So, as much as I wish I could be studying and romping around another country during this election period, I am thankful to be home and see it as an opportunity to learn more about the candidates, the economy, and government.  Thank you Mr. Taxi Cab Driver!

The Impact of Learning a Second Language

I recently found a great article about the impact of a second language education on a student’s intellectual development.  The article entitled, Impact of Second language Education on Intellectual Development, Student Achievement, Socialization and Economic Potential of Student and Province”  states that there are 5 areas where a second language education has brought a significant change.  These areas are: 1) Intellectual pontential, 2) Scholastic Achievement, 3) The student’s first language, 4) Citizenship, and 5) Economic potential. 

Not surprisingly, children who begin learning a second language at a young age develop better reading comprehension skills, problem solving skills, and social abilities.  In addition, the second language enhances the child’s native language and could also contribute to a “multilingual capability.”

I’ve also learned through my own experience that learning a second language (or multiple languages) decreases chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.  A few years ago I worked as a Senior Caregiver for a company in South Carolina.  One of my clients at age 93 had a comparably sharper mind and wit than her peers–a blessing her daughter contributed to her mother’s knowledge of 5 different languages. 

The lesson of these stories teach is that it’s important for you to learn a second language–if you start young it will keep your mind younger longer AND if you haven’t started yet, it isn’t too late!  Make learning a second language part of your New Year’s Resolution!

Remember with S.T.A.T. Project your first lesson is always free!

Happy New Year!

Travel Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Pack your sweatshirt please!

wayward cafe toilet paper dispenser

There are 2 major travel lessons I learned the hard way…

1. Always make sure you know the climate where you’re traveling and pack appropriately.

2. Always bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you wherever you go.

Ok, the second one probably sounds a little goofy, but you’ll thank me later.

Anyway, when I went to Argentina in the Spring of 2008 I don’t know what I was thinking (about the climate). Perhaps I thought, “It’s Latin America, it’s going to be hot, balmy, tropical.” Duh, of course that’s not the answer…it’s nice in the summer, like the Southeastern U.S. (hot) but in the winter it’s COLD…especially since the buildings don’t have proper heating. So, I had a handful of long pants and sweatshirts…and thank goodness the woman I lived with had a wonderful supply of wool sweaters.

Now on to number 2. Toilet paper is essential and you never realize how much you take it for granted until you don’t have it. It you’re going to travel to youth hostels and places like that (or throughout the country in general) just pack a roll or two in a backpack along with some hand sanitizer. Odds are, you’ll have to pay for toilet paper at a public restroom (they have attendants who regulate how much you can use and the cost) and that’s just no fun.

So, pack your clothes and supplies well and happy travels!

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Quality over Quantity

I found a recent article stating that the Spanish Language is composed of fewer words than the English Language.  This truly surprised me.  I’ve always found Spanish so expressive and more ‘creative’ than English.  But maybe the expressiveness has to do with phonetics–at least a little bit.  Since English is spoken with stressed and unstressed syllables, while every syllable of a word is pronounced in Spanish, Spanish seems to be spoken much faster to the native English speaker. 

What else really surprised me (about Spanish possessing fewer words) is the fact that Spanish has about 14 different verb tenses, now that’s a difficult concept for anyone to wrap their head around. Doesn’t that count in number of words?  Regardless of the number of words, I find Spanish to be a beautiful language full of so much expression.

Click How Many Words does Spanish have? to read the article.

International Travel versus Space Travel

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine


Oh, oh, I know I know!!!

Free international travel for life, hands down and for many reasons:

1. You can go anywhere in the world, free

2. You get the chance to meet a ton of people of different cultures, who speak different languages (I guess you could say I’m big on that 🙂 )

3. You can create memories for years to come, document your trips, teach new things to family members and loved ones.

4. Make lasting connections with others who you would probably never meet (and visit them often, because hey, it’s free)

And you get to go places where the culture, language, music, food, etc. is different, broaden the horizons, try new things (ok, I think that I’m repeating myself)

But I could just IMAGINE what I could do with free international travel, the possibilities are literally endless!!!

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Dos colores blanco y negro–

   Last week I shared a little be of poetry, so think week I thought I would share a song.  I believe I acquired this song while in Argentina.  And I think

 that it’s a very nice one.  Hope you enjoy it!

                  Dos Colores

Nuestra primera intención
era hacerlo en colores:
una acuarela que hablara
de nuestros amores. 

Un colibrí polícromo
parado en el viento,
una canción arcoiris
durando en el tiempo.
El director de la banda
silbando bajito
pensaba azules y rojos
para el valsecito. 

Pero ustedes saben, señores,
muy bien cómo es esto;
no nos falló la intención,
pero sí el presupuesto... 

En blanco y negro
esta canción
quedó en blanco y negro
con el corazón,
en blanco y negro,
nieve y carbón,
en blanco y negro,
en technicolor,
pero en blanco y negro... 

Fuimos quitando primero
de nuestra paleta
una mirada turquesa
de marco violeta. 

Luego el carmín de las flores
encima del piano,
una caída de sol
cuando empieza el verano. 

Todo los tipos de verde
de una enredadera...
Ya ni quedaban colores
para las banderas. 

Nuestra intención ya no fué
más que un viejo recuerdo
y esta canción al final
se quedó en blanco y negro. 

En blanco y negro
esta canción
quedó en blanco y negro
con el corazón,
en blanco y negro,
nieve y carbón,
en blanco y negro,
en technicolor,
pero en blanco y negro...
Letra añadida por poppop34