Month: January 2014

Spanish Pronunciation Tips For English Speakers

To start off, check out this video- it’s called “Things that Americans say in Spanish” and it’s actually hilarious because many of us start speaking Spanish like this.

I mentioned before that I was taking a Spanish Phonetics class and I’m really enjoying it! It’s helpful for improving my pronunciation and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned to help anyone else trying to improve their accent in Spanish.

Shorten your vowels: make them short and quick

In English, we tend to lengthen vowels while Spanish vowels are short and quick. For example, if you pronounce the name “Sue” you’ll notice that the vowel is “glided off” so to speak and extended. Now if we say the word “su” in Spanish, it’s supposed to be short and abrupt. Another example would be the English word “see” vs. the Spanish word “sí.” The English word is glided off while the Spanish is short and abrupt.

Round and tense up your lips when pronouncing the Spanish [u] and [o] vowels

In English, our lips tend to be more relaxed when pronouncing these two vowels than in Spanish. If you pucker up your lips when you pronounce a word like “su” and make them tense, you’ll notice a difference than when you pronounce the name “Sue” in English. Your lips will be more tense and you’ll sound more like a native speaker.

Stretch and tense up your lips when pronouncing the Spanish [e] and [i] vowels

When you pronounce the word “sí” you should stretch your lips as far as you can and make them tense and you’ll notice the difference. You’ll notice the same thing with the [e] vowel when you say the word “de.” You can fill your lips stretching and you produce a more native-like sound.

In my opinion, pronunciation is a key part of speaking a language fluently. Of course, there will certain sounds that you can’t pronounce(like the “rr” in Spanish for me) but I still believe that it’s important to recognize the phonetics of the language that you’re learning almost as a form of respect.

Well, hope this tips helped! Feel free to comment and any more tips that you know! 🙂

###

A look at-The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

the secret life of walter mitty

[Photo of photographer Sean O’Connell from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty]

“To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed.”

On Monday, my girlfriend and I celebrated our two-year anniversary together and went to the movies to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Here’s a link to the trailer if you haven’t already seen or heard of it. Also, here’s a link to download the free audiobook.

Basically, it’s about an average guy who works at LIFE Magazine and works with the photographers and maintaining the negative reels. He is interested in dating a new girl at the office but is too nervous to talk to her so he creates an account on eHarmony and ends up realizing that he really hasn’t done or seen anything “noteworthy” in his life. He’s always daydreaming about doing insane things like jumping through the window of a burning building or climbing Mt. Everest but he never does them. Then, one day, he decides to do something different and listen to the girl at the office who he’s interested in and he goes after one of the photographers in Greenland to find a missing negative.

The reason I wanted to share this movie on my blog is because I think the motto for the magazine(above) and the whole concept of the movie is galvanizing and makes you want to jump out of a helicopter or climb Mt. Everest or do something crazy and adventurous. The coolest part is that his life changes after a spontaneous decision to pursue one of the LIFE photographers in Greenland. He’s an average guy who buys a one-way plane ticket impromptu and just goes. The only thing he brings with him is a briefcase.

I’ve have said this before but I think we sometimes feel stressed out when thinking about how much planning should go into a trip such as one to Greenland and we let that hold us back from traveling or even doing adventurous things. Even though it is a movie and in movies, everything goes as “planned,” I feel more inspired to leave my comfort zone and do more things spontaneously because then I have no idea how the adventure will unfold and that excites me!

Whether you’ve thought about taking an adventure or not, I think you should go see Walter Mitty because it’s a great movie and maybe it will motivate you to do something you never thought you’d do. I want to repeat this quote one more time because I think it fits as one of the many answers to the question “What is the purpose of life?”

“To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed.”

###

Post Study-Abroad: New Appreciations at the University of Arizona

photo of the university of arizona

On Monday, I moved back to Tucson to start my second semester as a sophomore at the University of Arizona. I decided to live on campus again in the dorms because I loved my residence hall(Árbol de la Vida) last year. Even though I’ve only been here for two days, I’ve already noticed these once forgotten appreciations of living on campus and going to a large university compared to my experience in Buenos Aires. Here’s a few:

Having a roommate is fantastic(especially one that is Argentinian ;))

While living by myself was enjoyable, I really appreciate having a roommate once again. I always have someone around to hangout with or chat and it’s always a pleasure to start a new friendship.

Living in a residence hall and being a member of a community

I remember appreciating it my freshman year but being here only two days reminded me of how awesome it is to live two minutes away from my friends. Even more so than living with friends, I’ve met lots of really nice and interesting people on my floor and around the residence hall. I enjoy being a member of a community and love how well a residence hall fosters the community aspect.

Access to over 500 clubs and organizations and the recreation center

Now my university in Buenos Aires had a few clubs here and there but they weren’t nearly as boundless as the 500 clubs or more at the U of A. I just joined a new club called Camp Wildcat and will be volunteering to help provide cost-free fun activities for the youth here in Tucson! Furthermore, the excellent recreation center and gym on campus because I can go play a pickup basketball game just about whenever I want and it’s only a 10-minute walk away.

The classes I can choose from are ENDLESS!

I hadn’t thought about this really until this week but attending a large university like the University of Arizona has priviliged me with the opportunity to choose from an immense amount of intriguing classes. This semester, I was lucky enough to find seats in fascinating courses such as The Structure of Spanish, Major Works in Latin America, Heritage Photography, Spanish Phonetics, and Wording Pictures.

Well, hope you enjoyed this week’s post! See you next week 🙂

###

Day trip to Sedona, Arizona- Mother Nature’s beautiful red rocks

sedona arizona

Beautiful red cliffs of rock surrounded by small green shrubs and trees in front of clear blue skies and lite up by the warm sun. The air smells fresh like Mother Nature’s breath and the views are amazing, like nothing I have ever seen before.

Then I stop.

I realize how lucky I am to live in Arizona and to have access to theses gorgeous creations of Mother Nature and how much I have taken them for granted these past years. This is beautiful. This is life. This right here, is Sedona, Arizona, a city about two hours away from Phoenix.

My friend Jordan and I decided to spontaneously take a day trip here New Year’s Day and start off the year hiking in Sedona. It was my first time ever visiting Sedona and wow, do I feel like I have been missing out.

Since it’s still winter, it was a bit chilly but not too cold to wear shorts.

We hiked the Devil’s Bridge trail after realizing we didn’t have enough time to make it to the Secret Canyon and back before dark.

The trail wasn’t super long but the end was incredible. It’s a bridge that was created naturally and it looks like this:

sedona arizona

devil's bridge sedona arizona

The hike was well worth it and we even had extra time to explore the area nearby.

sedona arizona

The reason I decided to write this week’s post about Sedona is because I wanted to share my experience exploring Arizona. I like to travel and I know a lot of other people do but I think sometimes we have this idea that we have to leave the state or country to “travel” or explore a unknown place but the truth is, most of us forget to explore the places where we grow up. We don’t need to fly to Europe or Asia to go exploring. All we have to do is find a free day and say,

“Hey I’m going to try and discover something new today.”

The coolest part about the trip- there was no planning, whatsoever. Neither of us had to work on New Year’s Day so we decided we’d make a day trip out to Sedona and that’s it.

Sometimes I think the idea of going here or there or planning a camping trip or whatever it may be sounds so time-consuming and like a lot of work but the  truth is, it isn’t. As long as we don’t think of a planning and going on an adventure as a hassle, then it isn’t. It’s as simple as that 🙂 And of course, everybody knows this but at least for me, I didn’t realize it until I started doing it and it’s fantastic!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post and consider visiting the beauties in Sedona one day 🙂 Feel free to share any comments or thoughts below!

###

A garden in southern California dedicated to unifying and educating the community

southgarden2

“The purpose of the Garden is to produce vegetables and flowers for our families, to learn and teach garden methods and sustainable practices, to bring our community together and to create a project in which our community as a whole can participate.”

 

That’s the starting line of the mission statement of the South Laguna Community Garden Park. I stumbled upon this beautiful garden by accident while visiting my family in southern California. My family already knew about it but when I saw it and later researched it, I felt so fascinated by the idea of a a community project like this that I wanted to share it.

The community garden consists of 55 planting beds and is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. One of the goals of this community project is to “educate and involve youth and the wider community in gardening and sustainability issues.” I agree that we, the youth, should be educated more in gardening and sustainability because we don’t learn much in school.

My favorite part of this project is the fact that the owner graciously allows the community to use his land as a garden at no charge.  I love the fact that this is a piece of land in the city where you can garden right next to others in your community. It is a wonderful way to “unify [the] community, foster fellowship and create a sense of camaraderie and helpfulness among neighbors.”

The garden is on the corner of Eagle Rock and Virginia Way. It’s next door to an amazing tacho shop called Papa’s Tacos. I definitely recommend experiencing the garden yourself and enjoying fish tacos at a picnic table in the garden.

south laguna community gard

Source: http://goo.gl/PSPg0b

###