I haven’t been bilingual my whole life, it’s been gradual and I noticed that I understood English very well when I was about 16 years old. My first language is Slovak and at school I was taught English from the first grade. The English they taught us was kind of all over the place because we had several English teachers so after the nine years of primary school I knew some English but I still couldn’t read books in English or watch movies without subtitles.
That changed though when I started attending a bilingual secondary school, so obviously my level of English improved very quickly. In the first year we had ten hours of English a week and we had native English speakers too, and this was all so that later on we could have most of our subjects in English. Soon all of us were fluent in the language and we only occassionally made small mistakes.
I’m very glad that I went to the bilingual school because wihout it I don’t think that my English would be as good – it prepared me well for an English language certificate and for a university in the UK as well. Before that I was always self-conscious about going abroad because I knew I wouldn’t be able to understand the people there very well, and now I don’t even think about it and also translate everything to my parents when we’re on a holiday. I mostly only read books in English and I generally don’t need to use subtitles when I watch something (unless the actors speak in a very strong accent of some sort and it’s more difficult to understand them). I do still make some mistakes but I normally spot them and correct myself. My boyfriend is from the UK so that definitely helped me in this aspect as well, mostly to expand my vocabulary and to become more at ease when I speak in English.
When I was in the secondary school I also had German classes but unfortunately I’m not fluent in German. I was able to write easier essays in German and to read texts, but when I listen to German for example I seem to understand only a few words, haha. This past year some of my flatmates were from Germany but we only spoke in English, my German isn’t good enough to have a conversation especially as I haven’t had the German classes for over a year now.
There are only benefits to being bilingual, whether you’re taught two (or more) languages from when you’re a baby or from learning an additional language at school. It’s really good for the brain – bilinguals can more easily multitask, solve problems and focus on tasks because they have more grey matter in their anterior cingulate cortex. It can also delay the effects of dementia for about four years and protect the brain after injury – the cognitive recovery after a stroke is twice as likely for bilinguals. The bilinguals also tend to have a much better memory. Other benefits are that it can open up new career opportunities, it can improve your competitiveness in the job market, and it can increase your salary. It can give you interesting cultural and social opportunities and give you a different perspective which can make you more empathetic.
If I ever have children I’d definitely like them to be bilingual as I know how much it’s helped me, I never used to think that I could attend a university in a different country or have a boyfriend who doesn’t speak my native language. It can open up so many doors for you and make you more open-minded.
Do you consider yourself to be bilingual? How many languages do you speak? 🙂
Methylisothiazolinone (MI) is a powerful synthetic biocide which is used in numerous cosmetic products and industrial applications. It’s a cytotoxin that may affect different types of cells – despite this it is used as a preservative in many lotions, moisturisers, shampoos, cleaning products, sunscreens, etc.
MI is therefore allergenic – it causes contact allergic dermatitis and its symptoms include redness, rashes, inflammation, itchiness and irritation, and if the contact is longer it can eventually cause scaly, flaky skin.
I noticed some of these symptoms on my skin a year ago and I went to a dermatologist who prescribed me a cream. The cream seemed to help but then the symptoms would come back in a month or in a few weeks. I knew that something had to be wrong with the products I was using, so I tried switching to different moisturisers but it was the same no matter what I was using. This year I got fed up with it and instead of going to the dermatologist again I decided to do my own research and I came to the conclusion that it’s probably caused by MI. I never before heard of that chemical and when I checked the labels on products it was listed on some of them – my shampoo, face cream and dishwashing liquid.
I wanted to be sure that it really was MI that was causing my symptoms so I switched to The Body Shop products (during my research I found out that they don’t use this chemical at all, which is very rare to find) and I bought gloves to use for when I’m washing the dishes. Over some time I noticed that my symptoms subsided and none have come back so far. So I gave away all the products containing MI, apart from the dishwashing liquid because I still keep using the gloves, and I bought more products from The Body Shop to eventually replace pretty much everything I was using before. The Body Shop is more pricey than an average drugstore but I think it’s worth it and their products are of a very high quality.
I wanted to write about this becasue my allergy bothered me a lot, especially because I didn’t know what it was caused by. If you’ve noticed any similar symptoms then maybe you should check the labels and see if methylisothiazolinone and other isothiazolinones are in your products.
I hope that this post has been helpful and let me know if you have any more questions. 🙂
A couple of months ago I went to see the New Slains Castle in Scotland which was just a 45 minute drive away from Aberdeen. The walk from the parking lot was through a forest, in which we saw a cute little bunny. 🙂 And when you walk out of it you see these amazing cliffs which instantly evoke Scotland for me.
The New Slains Castle is a ruined castle and it overlooks the North Sea. It’s really impressive to see the castle on the cliffs and you get a beautiful view from there. The thing that intrigued me the most about it is that the castle was an inspiration for the Dracula’s castle for the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker. He’s from Ireland but he was invited to visit it by the castle’s owner, and you can absolutely see what could have inspired him to make it into a terrifying home for a vampire, especially if the weather was miserable and the waves were crashing against the cliffs – and there was also a staircase that led into a pitch black basement, which I definitely didn’t go into haha. I haven’t read Dracula yet but once I do it will be easier to imagine it I’m sure. 😀
I’d definitely recommend visiting this castle when you’re in the North East of Scotland, especially if you’re a fan of Dracula or if you just like cool castles on cliffs. 🙂 There’s no admission fee and there weren’t loads of tourists as it’s in quite a remote area. Not too far away are also beautiful sandy beaches so we went to one to hopefully see some seals (it’s always too cold to swim in the North Sea unfortunately). We got to see only one seal but it was worth it going to the beach because it was so peaceful (hardly anybody else was there) and I had never seen sand dunes before.
Overall it was just an amazing day, and it was also one of my last days in Scotland before I went home for the summer. I’ll be back in September and I’ll make sure to go on lots of other trips around Scotland to make the most of it while I’m there. 🙂
They can be really difficult even though in books and movies they get romanticised a lot – writing of love letters and late night phone calls, which of course can be one side of it, but then there’s the endless wanting of being with the other person right there next to you and the feeling of despair because there’s nothing you can do about it (unless they live somewhere you can get by a car or bus which is easier than having to travel by plane).
That’s why it’s important to plan when you’re going to meet next in the future so that there’s a set date you can look forward to. And of course in the meantime always communicate by texts/Skype/letters/phone calls – there’s nothing worse than the uncertainty of whether the other person still feels the same about you which can creep up on you kind of easily if you don’t talk regularly or if you don’t see them in a long time. Long distance relationships especially require a lot of trust which is definitely going to get tested.
A few tips on how to make a relationship work when you’re not able to meet very often:
Be patient, it won’t help if you get upset about the situation every day. Instead try to think about how quickly the date of your next meeting will come and about how amazing it will be to see them again.
Have pictures of the other person and the two of you together to remind you that it’s worth it to wait.
Plan something fun for when you’re together so that when you do finally get to be with them you will make great memories.
Recommend each other your favourite books, movies, music etc. which will make you feel like the other person is there with you while you watch, read or listen to it.
Be honest about your feelings, remember that they can’t read your mind – we often assume that other people know how we feel when we’re indirect, and it’s even worse when you’re not with them in person. Honesty will prevent confusion and disappointment.
If you really love them then even the long distance will not matter and everything will be worth the wait. It will help if you’ll work on eventually moving to the same country or city, that should be the goal I guess. In the meatime just be patient and still enjoy every minute of it, they say that “looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them” (L. M. Montgomery).
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? How difficult did you find it and what helped you along the way? 🙂
Breakfast food is probably my favourite food of the day and I usually have it sweet. Most times I’ll have oatmeal or yogurt with fruit and sometimes I’ll treat myself to some pancakes or granola. I’ve tried multiple granola recipes over the years, with different kinds of nuts, seeds and spices, and I think I found the one recipe that I like the best.
It’s really quick and you can make a big batch of it that will last you for longer. All you’ll need is:
olive oil (or coconut oil)
maple syrup (or honey but it tastes better with maple syrup)
I don’t measure any of the igredients but all of the oats should be coated with the oil and syrup so that it tastes like true granola. I didn’t have any seeds in the kitchen when I was making this but I also like adding some sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Then just combine everything:
Spread it on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius until golden brown. The turmeric will add a lovely yellow colour to it.
It’s a lot cheaper to make your own granola instead of buying some from the store, and it makes your kitchen smell amazing while it bakes haha. Hope you’ll try this recipe and let me know what you think. 🙂
I first started listening to podcasts three years ago I think and I absoutely enjoyed it, I’ve been listening to them while I go on walks, clean my flat, cook, or travel. I do either that or listen to some music, but I don’t always have the Spotify subscription so then I rely on podcasts. It’s amazing that there are so many genres of podcasts to choose from, I listen to comedy podcasts and just conversations mostly, but I also used to listen to a Breaking Bad insider podcast in which the creators of the show talked about each episode, what it was like to shoot it and they also had the stars of the show as guests.
There are 5 podcasts I listen to the most at the moment, some of them I discovered only recently but I’ve been listening to some of them from the very beginning.
Dear Hank and John: This has always been one of my favourites, it’s and advice podcast (mostly dubious advice) and I often find myself laughing out loud when I listen to it, even when I’m outside at the public 😀 Hank and John Green are youtubers and John has written several books so there is a big chance you’ve heard of them. In the podcast they talk about science, art, relationships and anything else really, they answer a lot of the listeners’ questions in each episode. You should give it a try, they’re hilarious! Even though they say they’re not haha.
Ladies Who Lunch: This one is by Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdes, both youtubers but I actually don’t watch their videos, I much prefer their podcast. It’s very personal and I love how they’re not afraid of any topics. They’ve talked about feminism, sexuality, relationships, politics, and many more social issues. It’s mostly just the two of them talking but not always, and at the end of each episode they answer a listener’s letter. It’s very honest and raw, and they defitnitely address even the controversial issues, which is all quite rare.
the mustards: I absolutely fell in love with this podcast fairly recently, again it’s by youtubers (although now I’m realising that all these podcasts are made by youtubers 😀 ) and they’re called Jenny and David Mustard. They’re Swedish but now they live in Germany, and that’s one of the things I like about them. They are not afraid of moving often and moving even to a country they don’t know the language of – quite brave! In the podcast they basically talk about their lives, what they’re up to and some funny stories that have happened to them, and they also talk about topics such as minimalism, veganism, money and hygge. Both Jenny and David are really lovely and they lead a very interesting life so you should give them a try. 🙂
Make Out With Him: This is another advice podcast and it’s made by Lex Croucher and Rosianna Halse Rojas. It’s about relationships and friendships and it’s just overall very adorable, and they make quite a bit of Harry Potter remarks which I appreciate. 😀
Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig: This one is just very silly so I defnitely find myself laughing a lot when I listen to it. 😀 Grace interviews a different guest each episode and asks very weird questions but that’s what makes it great. It’s wonderful to listen to if you’re in a bad mood but beware when you’re in public because you might laugh out loud because of it haha.
So recently I read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and suddenly I felt the urge to tidy up everything around me. 😀 I had been interested in minimalism for quite a while even before reading it because I feel that owning less and getting rid off things that have no use for me anymore makes me feel lighter and like the things I do own all have a purpose.
As a child I was a bit of a hoarder I think because that’s how my parents have been as well, I had so many toys, books, papers and mementos that I felt that my room was often messy and overflowing with stuff. My parents would keep souvenirs from all our holidays and many seemingly useless things “just in case” we ever needed them, as if there weren’t shops easily available in case you did really need some of it in the future, and in the meantime it was just a waste of space. So eventually I started decluttering my own bedroom and I found that I could live just as easily without all that stuff, often even more easily.
I never would have called myself a minimalist at the time though as I didn’t know much about it and I thought it only applied to interior design, but subconciously I would regularly go through my possessions and declutter wherever possible. I find that decluttering can be a bit addicting because it makes us feel good to see how clean and light it looks to have less, so be aware of how much you declutter so that you actually have something left! 😀
One of my inspirations for becoming more minimalistic is actually a youtuber and blogger Jenny Mustard whom I started following only this year. That is when I fully realised what minimalism means and that it can be applied to all aspects of our lives, that it can actually be a lifestyle. It appealed to me but not to the point that I’d want to own very little, I like to have choices in my clothing and make-up for example of course. I just gave away what I didn’t like anymore, and that was good enough for me.
For this reason I liked the book by Marie Kondo where she says that we should keep only things that make us happy (and things we actually need too obviously, like important documents and all that boring stuff). Minimalism shouldn’t be a competition about who owns less but about keeping only meaningful things. Having less in general also leads to more tidy rooms because they don’t get cluttered as easily at least, you know where everything is and we’re not unnecessarily stressed because of it.
In the book there were also lots of helpful tips on how to tidy up properly, such as the order in which we should declutter (clothes – books – papers – miscellaneous – sentimental things), how to fold the right way (I learnt that I’d been folding my clothes wrong my whole life 😀 ), declutter/tidy based on the category of things instead of based on its location (for example there can be clothes all over your flat instead of just in your bedroom, so don’t forget about those), when stacking things do it vertically instead of horizontally (it will be easier to get to and you’ll know exactly how much of it you have), and don’t declutter in the presence of your family because they might insist on keeping the stuff when you want to get rid off it – I also know this from experience. 😀 Overall the book was pretty helpful to me and in a way also kind of entertaining because Marie is a bit of a freak about it and it really comes across how much she loves tidying and decluttering which is so unusual haha.
Let me know what you think about minimalism and whether you already consider yourself to be a minimalist 🙂
I’m sure you’ve heard about this magical seed called quinoa, proclaimed by all nutritionists to be a superfood. It definitely is very healthy, it’s high in protein, flavonoids (plant antioxidants beneficial to health), it’s anti-flammatory, gluten free, high in fibre etc etc. But it can also be pretty expensive, compared to other super healthy seeds like millet and buckwheat. These are pretty common in central Europe at least but when I moved over to the UK I had to look really hard to find them. They were mostly only available in Polish grocery shops anyway – buckwheat in Poland is as easy to get as rice.
Why should you try to get them into your diet as well, apart from the more reasonable price and very good taste? (Buckwheat esspecially is very tasty to me, it tastes kind of nutty whereas the taste of millet is pretty much the same as quinoa.)
When you hear about millet you might think of bird feed and you’d be kind of right haha, shelled millet is a part of bird seed mixes. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it either, millet is pretty delicious and you can make both savoury and sweet dishes from it. It’s also a source of copper (stimulates the immune system to fight infections, essential for normal growth and development), phosphorus (for ATP, nucleic acids, and phospholipids), manganese, and magnesium (reduces asthma and the frequency of migraines, lowers the blood pressure and reduces the risk of a heart attack). It’s high in soluble fibre which can prevent gallstones, it alkalises the body, it’s a prebiotic for the gut microflora, it’s gluten free, and it’s easily digestible. There are so many more health benefits to it and there are various recipes in which you can use millet, either as a substitute for rice or potatoes as a side if you want a little bit of a change, or I like having it with scrambled tofu, tomatoes and rocket or in a porridge with some prunes and almonds.
Wherever I read about buckwheat it always says that it’s very beneficial to the cardiovascular system. It’s because it lowers the blood pressure and the cholesterol linked to cardiovascular disease, which is due to its rich supply of flavonoids, particularly rutin which also helps to maintain blood flow and keeps platelets from clotting excessively. Buckwheat also contains magnesium which relaxes bood vessels, by which it improves blood flow and nutrient delivery. It’s also very beneficial to people with diabetes as it contributes to blood sugar cotrol – it lowers blood glucose and insulin responses. Buckwheat is gluten free, it improves digestion and it’s packed with antioxidants. I like to eat it with an avocado and fried eggs or in a stir fry.
Both millet and buckwheat are very easy to prepare, they take about 10 minutes to cook and you don’t have to soak them beforehand. What I do with millet though is that I pour boiling water on it, pour it out and refill the pot so that it’s clean, as you would do with rice.
Let me know if you’ve ever tried millet or buckwheat and what recipes you use them in 🙂
It might sound weird – the activity that everyone does pretty much every day can be an exercise? I never thought of it that way before until I started going on long walks almost every day and noticed the benefits. When I walk a lot during the day I can definitely feel it in my legs at the end of the day, so that’s kind of a workout, isn’t it? Even if walking in a city is not as intense as hiking or jogging, it still improves our health.
Benefits of walking
As an aerobic exercise it strenghtens the heart and lungs
Lowers blood pressure and boosts circulation
Improves muscle endurance as well as muscle strenght, especially in the lower body
Beneficial for bones
Prevents varicose veins through the pumping action of the calf muscles
Helps to get rid of waste products in the tissues
It can lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, dementia, stroke and some cancers
Boosts the vitamin D
Improves balance and coordination
Eases stress and improves the mood by the release of endorphins
Helps to sleep better
The easiest way to exercise
We do it every day anyway and it’s easy to increase it to get more of it, for example instead of meeting up with your friend in a café go on a walk to a park, or challenge yourself to walk somewhere where you would normally drive a car. All you need is a pair of good quality shoes that will not give you blisters, water to hydrate, and sunscreen to protect your skin. To make it more interesting you can invite a friend to walk together, or listen to some music or podcasts.
How I work out
I don’t do anything extreme at all, for the most part it’s just the walking for example to parks, the beach, in cities that I’m visiting, or sometimes I go on hikes. Apart from this I have a 15 minute morning routine which consists of pilates exercises and stretching and I do this every day, just because it has become a habit and it feels good to be active in the mornings. It’s a gentle exercise but it could get you a bit sweaty as well. Approximately once a week I like to go swimming as it’s good for my spine and asthma, I used to go twice a week when it was with a trainer but now I just do it on my own.
My parents always wanted me to do sports and when I was just five years old they signed me up for tennis. I did it for nine years while I would also go horse riding in the summers. At fourteen years old I switched to swimming and I did it for about two years, then I tried golf and then pilates classes, and that’s what I enjoyed doing the most. My body absolutely agreed with it as I don’t like anything too intense, even though it was intense in its own way. Since I moved out of my hometown I haven’t been able to attend the classes but as I did it for about four years I learnt a lot and I can exercise pilates just at home by myself. Of course it’s not as motivating as when you’re in a class but I still enjoy it.
It’s very important to try out different sports and see what suits you the best, you may be the opposite of me and do jogging while I would rather play golf. You are lucky if you have a dog so you get to go on regular walks, or if you have a bicycle that you can use to get to school or work. There are so many opportunites every day for us to be active, we just need to learn to enjoy it and make it regular 🙂
Let me kow what kind of exercise you’re doing or what you would like to try!
After the end of my second semester I thought I would treat myself to finally explore Edinburgh. I’d seen it before only briefly on my way from the airport to the train station, so after my exams I decided to book an Airbnb and bus tickets to see this beautiful city. This was my first time staying with Airbnb and I have to say it was worth it, it was much cheaper than the hotels and I got to know a very lovely family. Their apartment was just a 15 minute walk to the city centre but it was a very quiet neighbourhood. I stayed there only for three days but I still managed to see most of the sights, it’s good that everything is concentrated in the centre of the city and you can just walk everywhere.
Day 1: I arrived in Edinburgh pretty early in the morning, around 8 am. I had an hour left until I could check into my Airbnb so I spent it walking through the city which wasn’t very busy yet and most shops were still closed. The weather was sunny but still quite cold even though it was already May (of course, it’s Scotland after all). I sat on a bench in the St Andrew square while I ate my breakfast and then it was time for me to check into the Airbnb.
The first sight I wanted to see was the Edinburgh castle but I didn’t actually go inside because the tickets were quite expensive and the queue to get in was really long. The next time I’m there though I would definitely like to see it properly.
After that I walked down the Royal Mile towards the St Giles Cathedral which was very beautiful, especially the stained glass in the windows. It was very calm inside compared to the busy Royal Mile.
While I was in Edinburgh I definitely wanted to see the Elephant House which is a café where J.K. Rowling used to write the Harry Potter books. At that time she couldn’t afford spending a lot of money on heating in her apartment, so she would write inside the café where it was warm and the staff let her sit there all day. The café does have a lot of elephant decorations so it felt kind of exotic and the atmosphere was just really nice. I would recommend you seeing this place when you get a chance to visist Edinburgh 🙂
Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier which supposedly spent 14 years guarding the grave of its owner, this is a commemorative statue.
Right behind the Elephant House there is a cemetery where J.K. Rowling used to go to get an inspiration for the names of her characters in the Harry Potter books. It was a bit spooky but as it was spring the blooming flowers made it nicer, haha.
The Scottish National Museum isn’t far from there so that’s where I went next. It has a really nice hall that I took pictures of and a lot of interesting expositions.
Then it was lunch time so I went to the Union of Genius which is a very small restaurant and they also do takeaways. They have a selection of soups and salads and I have to say that the soup I had was amazing, and the prices were pretty good too.
When you walk all the way down the Royal Mile from the Edinburgh castle, you will find The Holyrood Palace which is the official residence of the Queen in Scotland, and opposite the Palace is the Scottish parliament which you can visit as well. It surprised me what a new building they have as a parliament, and also its location was great because right behind it is the Arthur’s Seat.
Day 2: After all day of walking I walked some more haha. First I went to Stockbridge but as it was still just the morning almost everything was closed. And unfortunately it rained quite a bit that day but I did have an umbrella with me so I wasn’t completely soaking wet.
Then I met my friend who lives in Edinburgh and we went to the Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions which I would highly recommend seeing. It was full of optical illusions and such and it was very fun.
For lunch we went to The Blackbird restaurant which was excellent, we really liked the food and it was very cosy to be there, maybe because we’d just escaped the rain haha.
After lunch we went into the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Portait Gallery of which I took pictures earlier. They both were interesting but at that time there weren’t a lot of expositions at the National Gallery so we got through it kind of quickly.
Day 3: On my last day in Edinburgh I went to see the Royal botanical garden which I would also recommend seeing, especially in the spring and summer of course haha. It was huge and absolutely lovely, there was a lot to see and it was very peaceful.
Then I walked up the Calton Hill which is pretty much in the centre of the city. It is included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Scottish National Monument that sits at the top was intended to be another Parthenon but it’s never been completed, and it commemorates Scottish soldiers killed in the Napoleonic wars. It took only like 15 minutes to climb up the hill so it wasn’t anything too bad.
After that I wanted to try a restaurant called The Hendersons and I’m glad I went because the lunch was so delicious. Very friendly service and lots of food to choose from.
Then it was time for me to climb up the Arthur’s Seat. It’s very close to the city centre just like the Calton Hill but it took an hour to get there. My heavy backpack made it a lot more difficult but by that time I’d already checked out of my Airbnb so I had no choice but to carry it all. It was worth it though because the view from the Arthur’s Seat is great and it was amazing to see so many people to be active as it really is easy to get there from the city centre.
I didn’t do that much for the rest of the day as later on I had to catch my bus, I just waited in the café of the National museum where it was warm and I could use free wifi (felt like what J.K. Rowling used to do, haha) and then I bought dinner in a supermarket.
I had an amazing time in Edinburgh, I finally got to know the city a lot more. There are still a lot of things I’d like to see so hopefully I’ll be back soon 🙂
Let me know if you’d ever want to go there and if you’ve already been, what do you think about the city?