I am a cartoon character!



I am a character in an animated video! Isn't it awesome?

What's the story behind it? I have been working with my dear and talented friends from Skeptic Dog Animation for creating an animated video about OpportUNITY, the organisation in which I am now a volunteer. Have a look and tell me what you think!

Colours of autumn in Jesmond Dene Park


I have been willing to photograph Jesmond Dene during autumn and I finally did it. Jesmond Dene is a park in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and one of the most beautiful parks I have ever walked in. Actually, it is amazingly big and it looks more like a forest. Whenever I come in this park, it reminds me of the walks in the mountains back home in Romania, so I loved it since the very first time I visited it. Every time I come here I feel full of energy and happy to be surrounded by nature. During autumn it is even more beautiful and I am sharing its beauty with you through my photographs:























How to easily meet people and make friends when you move abroad



Exactly three months ago I moved abroad. I was very excited and looking forward to it, but at the same time I had some concerns, being my very first experience of living outside my country (even outside my city). One of the things on my mind was how would I build a social life there, considering the fact that I was going to be on my own, without family, friends or any familiar face from back home.

Of course if you move abroad for studies or for a new job, that would be the first and very obvious way to meet people (your colleagues). But there are ways to meet other people as well, outside your working team or university colleagues.

I've heard  stories with people that did not quite enjoy living abroad because they didn't manage to make friends there, so they were always home sick and feeling lonely. I didn't want my experience to be like this, although I knew it can be difficult to meet people and build friendships in this circumstances. But not impossible. 

Even before leaving my country I did my research, so here are some ideas (that actually work) on how to meet people when you are living abroad:

Ask around
Tell your friends, post a Facebook updated or whatever, just let people know that you are going to move in one particular city and definitely someone will put you in contact with a person that is already living there.

Meetup
Meetup is a platform that facilitates offline meetings between people from the same area, called meetups. Meetups are "neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something". You can create an account and join groups of your interest. You will find there people that have the same hobbies and interests as you. You will then receive updates about the next meetings that you could join and that's it - attend the meetups and enjoy!

Language Exchange Meetings
I mentioned them here and here. Basically, at these meetings you find people from different countries, as well as local people, and you speak with them in a common language that you both/all know. It is a way to practice a foreign language and also help others improve their abilities to speak in your native language. Language Exchange Meetings are a great way to interact with people, have interesting conversations and build friendships.

Meeple
Meeple is a social platform connecting tourists and locals all around the world for any joint activity. You would normally use it when travelling, to meet with other people that are visiting the same city at the same time or to meet with locals. But it also works the other way around. You can type in your new city - it will then show you the locals (as well as the travellers who will visit it) so you can contact them and ask them to meet.

Couchsurfing community
Couchsurfing is a platform through which you can find a place where to spend the night as a guest (for free) in someone's house when travelling or to offer your couch (your home) to host a traveller. Once you join the community you can find events and meetings in your city and, yep, join them.

Facebook groups
Join local Facebook groups: groups of your city, groups for events, hobby groups and so on. You can post a message that you have just moved there and you want to meet locals or that you are looking to meet with someone who can show you around etc. You will find out that people can be really nice and eager to welcome you.

Volunteer
This is a great way to spend your free time. Not only you will be involved and bring a positive change in the local community but you will also develop yourself and, of course, meet a lot of nice and friendly people. The are a lot of causes and NGOs out there and you are more than welcomed to join any of them.

Okay, I gave you these ideas so now you have a starting point. But the most important thing is for you to be open and willing to meet new people. So don't stay at home: go to parties, go to events, meet friends of your new friends, don't say no to invitations. You will see that soon enough you will be surrounded by amazing people and you will feel thankful for having them around. At least that's how I feel.

Did you go through a similar experience? How did you manage to meet people?

Resurse utile pentru proiectele Erasmus+



În articolul 5 moduri de a călători și a te dezvolta cu bani puțini am scris și despre mobilitățile pentru tineret ERASMUS+, referindu-mă la Training Course și Youth Exchange. Poate că ești deja familiar cu ele. Dacă nu, află că aceste mobilități sunt proiecte internaționale care au scopul de a ajuta tinerii să-și dezvolte anumite abilități și competențe cerute pe piața muncii. Practic, este o modalitate prin care Uniunea Europeană investește în dezvoltarea tinerilor și îi ajută să capete experiențe utile pentru ca apoi să găsească mai ușor un loc de muncă.

Proiectele de care îți vorbesc se desfășoară pe o perioadă de 1-3 săptămâni și pun accent pe educație nonformală și pe interacțiunea interculturală dintre tineri la nivel european. Partea cea mai bună este că sunt GRATUITE. Activitățile, cazarea și masa sunt asigurate în totalitate, iar pentru transport se alocă o anumită sumă de bani în care trebuie să te încadrezi și care va fi decontată apoi (nu ar trebui să fie probleme în ceea ce privește încadrarea în suma disponibilă pentru transport). Da, ai înțeles bine - călătorești, înveți într-un mediu intercultural, te dezvolți, cunoști tineri din alte țări și legi cele mai frumoase prietenii, îți dezvolți abilitățile de a vorbi într-o limbă străină, ai ce adăuga în CV, te distrezi, totul fără eforturi financiare.


Bun, acum că ți-am captat atenția, haide să îți spun și cum poți participa în astfel de proiecte.
În primul rând, îți trebuie o organizație din România care trimite participanți la proiectele din afara țării (sau sending organsiation). Aceste organziații sunt organizații partenere proiectelor ce se desfășoară în țările respective, ceea ce înseamnă că trebuie să recruteze participanți români și să îi ghideze în procesul dinaintea plecării (dar nu numai). Ce înseamnă asta? Odată ce ești acceptat, vei primi suport în alegerea celei mai bune modalități de transport și îndrumări în ceea ce privește pregătirea și participarea cu succes la proiectele respective. De asemenea, tot ele se asigură că participanții români au parte de condiții bune și experiențe frumoase. În ceea ce privește recrutarea, ele vor posta anunțuri cu privire la proiectele respective și condițiile pe care potențialii participanți trebuie să le îndeplinească. De obicei, este necesar doar să completezi un formular de aplicare. Dar, bineînțeles, depinde de la o organziație la alta. 

Este bine să urmărești mai multe surse pentru a te informa și a căuta proiecte. Așadar, ca să te asiguri că vei afla de cât mai multe astfel de oportunități, pentru început poți lua în considerare recomandările mele:


Ce organizații să urmărești:

GEYC
Am fost voluntar in GEYC și te asigur că este una dintre organizațiile cele mai serioase și de încredere.
Pagina de Facebook
Website
Comunitatea GEYC - este un grup simpatic de Facebook în care sunt postate call-uri pentru participanți și alte oportunități de dezvoltare pentru tineri.


Support for Youth Development - S4YD
Pagina de Facebook
Website
Calendarul proiectelor

Asociația Super Tineri - ASIRYS
Pagina de Facebook
Website

D.G.T. Association
Pagina de Facebook
Website


Pe ce site-uri să cauți


Căror grupuri de Facebook să te alături


Bun, acum ai de unde să începi. O ultimă recomandare este să alegi proiecte nu în funcție de detsinație, ci în funcție de tematică. Baftă!

The best free and easy resources for learning or improving a foreign language


Image source
In the last time more people asked me for advice on free ways for learning a foreign language. I speak at a good level two foreign languages - English and Spanish. I learnt both of them in school and improved them by travelling and by actually using them when speaking with other people. I can also greet and use basic words in several other languages. I meet many people from other countries and while I spend time with them I love learning something in their language; I find it fascinating.

But what if you are not in school anymore and you want to learn another language (more than just greetings and silly words that friends can teach you). I am now learning Italian. Of course, living with an Italian girl helps a lot with the process, but when I am not practicing with her I am learning the language online. Here are some useful ways on how to learn, practice and improve a foreign language: 

1. Duolingo
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Duolingo is one of the best platforms (available on the website and as an app for the phone) which helps you learn a foreign language in a simple, fun and efficient way. And free of charge. It is definitely may favourite. The app uses gamification, which means that you earn points for correct answers, race against the clock and level up or even compete with your friends. Duolingo is also sending you reminders via email to motivate you practice every day.

According to an independent study, an average of 34 hours of Duolingo are equivalent to a full university semester of language education. Pretty great, right?

Now let's talk about practicing and improving. The best way in which a foreign language sticks with you is by using it, especially with native speakers. So, here's how you can do it:

2. Easy Languages
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Now this is a really cool initiative that helps you learn languages from the streets. What do I mean "from the streets"? Basically, Easy Languages is posting videos in which native speakers are interviewing people on the streets of different places in the world. All the videos contain subtitles in both the original language as well as in English, which is really helpful for those who are learning.

The videos are providing and authentic experience and they are really interesting and fun to watch. It is like being there on the streets listening to local people speaking. You really get into the atmosphere and you feel like you are getting to know the people - how they are like, how they are spending the day, why they like living in a particular country or city etc.

3. Learning via Skype
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I know we mostly use Skype for keeping in touch with our friends and family from abroad. But when it comes to practicing a foreign language, Skype can be a very useful tool, as you can speak with other people that are fluent in the language of your interest.

Melting Point is a Facebook group where you can find a person with whom to practice a foreign language via Skype. There are also Skype Language Exchange Facebook group and the Language Exchange website for the same purpose.

4. Language Exchange Meetings

I came across this concept for the first time in PolandA Language Exchange meeting is a nice opportunity to interact with people from different countries, have interesting conversations and build friendships. Basically, at these meetings you find people from different countries, as well as local people, and you speak with them in a common language that you both/all know. Try finding group meetings in your city on Language Exchange Meetups. Or you can practice a language by meeting up with a native speaker living in your area. Find them on Conversation Exchange or My Language Exchange.

5. HelloTalk
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HelloTalk is a language exchange learning app. The app lets you find a conversation partner and chat, send voice messages or even call him/her for free. What is interesting about it is that while you are texting you have the options to listen to the pronunciation of the messages that you receive, as well as translating them in a language of your choice and many more other cool features. Read more about HelloTalk in this extensive review of the app.

6. Read
Read as much as you can in the language that you are learning: books, newspapers, magazines, articles, you name it. Use a dictionary while you are reading to translate the words that you don't understand, write them down in a notebook and read them again from time to time. What will also be useful is to choose each day 2-3 new words from the list and use them the entire day. This will help in remembering them.

7. Watch movies, TV Shows, News etc.
Image source
This is a relaxing way to practice a foreign language. It will help you improve the accent, pronunciation and learn new words and local phrases as well. Using subtitles in your language is recommended.

To sum up, there are many ways in which you can learn, practice and improve a foreign language. The best part is that most of them involve meeting new people, making friends or helping someone else to improve a language that you are fluent in. Just pick one and start practicing!

Do you know other free tools for learning a foreign language? I would love to hear about them!

A trip to Nottingham in 26 photos


I visited the city of Robin Hood and I loved it! Now take a walk with me through the city and let me show you some of the places that I liked: