Thursday, 30 January 2014

Musings Premiere

As of this moment I have yet to fully create this blog into an image that the title suggests. I have frequently expressed the "Renaissance Man" side, but not so much on the "Musings" part. Advice is only imparting knowledge by telling other people what to do based on your own personal experience. In other words, trying to prove you are more knowledgeable than another individual. However, how many people would actually be willing to take the advice of someone they do not know, or know the credentials of. I have no credentials to offer and you will only get to know me insofar as I allow to be published on this blog. Sorry to sound so dramatic, but this blog isn't about telling people about my life of which (unless I am some sort of celebrity) I am sure most of you wont care.
     No, I hope you take my advice on this blog, because as aforementioned people rarely take the advice of others that they do not know. However, my advice on this blog is not advice at all. In fact, it does not stem from the selfish definition of "advice" as previously mentioned. My version is more of a request. A request to join me on a journey of self improvement. I do not mean in an absurd cultish manner when I say join me. If you like what I wrote, or even just some of it, and take it on board for a try then hopefully, if it works out for you then I will have aided in bettering your life. I enjoy helping people. I cherish the feeling of having helped another human being. 
     This has been one of my musings that I promised at the start of this post. A piece of my mind albeit very brief. I hope you take this as getting to know me a little better and that it will encourage you to take me up on some of my requests. We are all in this life together. Why not make it a better place?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Why You Should Strive To Be Multilingual

Have you ever wanted to speak French, or Spanish, or any other language aside from English? Have you ever wanted to charm the foreign exchange student in your class or get a leg up in the meeting at work? Well the time for talking about it is over! No matter what age you are, your brain has the impressive ability to learn and retain any language that you so desire. And the social and intellectual benefits of being multilingual are prodigious.
      I once knew a girl from Lithuania who informed that from as early as 4 years old schools in her country teach multiple languages, so that by the time they are going to University they are already fluent, or partially fluent in at least 3 or 4 languages. Having been raised and educated in Scotland (which is renowned for its academic excellence) I came to the realisation that us English speakers are at a disadvantage. Second languages are not taught in schools until around the age of 11 or 12, which already sets us behind other countries by approximately 6 or 7 years. But why does all this matter? You speak English in your own country, most other countries that you would travel to you can get by with English as the locals usually know a fair bit of English themselves, and hotels prefer to hire multilinguals. Well it is this kind of arrogance frequently portrayed by English speakers that is causing us to miss out on the amazing benefits of being multilingual.

The Benefits:

  • You become better at English: According to a study by the University of Melbourne, studying other languages helps you understand the mechanics of grammar structure - in all languages.
  • You become more intelligent: When you speak multiple languages your brain has to switch between different language centres in your brain and recognise which language is being spoken. Well this cognitive skill carries into other problem solving areas in your life as well. 
  • You improve your memory: You like working out your body at the gym, but you may be neglecting your most important muscle - your brain. Multilinguals learn and memorise multiple phrases, words and verb tenses in different languages. Well that memorisation is like a bench press for your brain, improving it in many other aspects of your life.
  • Become a secret agent: Well not exactly, but a study carried out by the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain suggests that multiliguals are more perceptive of their surroundings and notice small details, others may overlook.
  • Become a local: When you go to other countries you will be able to converse with the locals in their own language, a feat which many locals would deem admirable enough to give you the inside scoop on the best places to go in their town or country. You will also be able to have real conversations with people, adding a whole new dimension to your trip. And by speaking the local language you also narrow down the chances of thieves and scam artists labelling you a tourist with a big money sign over your head.
  • Get that promotion: You have that meeting for a new deal with a German company. The meeting was in English, but you feel the meeting never went as well as you hoped. Well the after meeting dinner or drinks is the perfect opportunity to converse with the potential client in their own language. After all, it is their down time now and they probably want to talk in their own language to relax. If you can enter that comfort zone with them, then maybe they will be impressed enough to tip the scales on their decision and sign the contract.
  • Expand your job opportunities: This one is simple. If you speak multiple languages you are more valuable to an employer. To call centre staff, international business folk, airport workers, diplomats, politicians, military personnel and hundreds more you are a valuable asset if you are multilingual. If two people with equal degrees of education go for a job and one person speaks only English and the other five languages. Who do you think the employer is going to hire?
  • Meet and make new friends: Being multilingual opens up the doors for the amount of people you can meet as you wont have any language barriers to overcome when meeting new people. Make friends with the person sitting next to you at the bar, or on the aeroplane, or anywhere for that matter. Just become a more socially diverse individual.
I hope in this comparatively short list to number of benefits there are, I have convinced you of the immense benefits of speaking more than one language. But to prove I am not a hypocrite of my own words, I can assure you that I am following this lifestyle myself. Having recently just embarked on my journey of becoming fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese. I hope you try too!

Goodbye, Au Revoir, AdiĆ³s, Ciao, Auf Wiedersehen & Tchau.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How To Get The Truth From The News

Do not believe everything you hear on the news. News sources these days often paint a picture that rarely shows the entire truth. The key word in that last sentence being "entire". I am not by any means suggesting that modern journalism is a dead art. Some of the most influential and honourable people in this world are journalists. No, I am merely suggesting that Journalists, either by the order of their superiors or by their own national pride, have a disposition against casting their beloved country in a dismal light - at least on the global scale.
      So how then do we decipher what is written in the news when some key components of a story that would besmirch the reputation of the journalist's country are left absent in the article? How then are we supposed to gain a thorough understanding of global affairs when our eyes are unknowingly obstructed from seeing the whole picture?
      A recent example of this is when I was reading a news story on a US news website about US involvement in the Arab region. This story said the people were happy the US was there and the city in question was under majority control. However, after reading the same story in an Arab news source I discovered a contradicting idea to the same story. The people were in fact calling out for the United States to leave claiming they were making the situation worse with their presence and that daily bombings were happening in this "majority controlled" city. This did not cause me to disregard any of the facts claimed, it merely caused me to question what I was reading and to try read between the lines. Neither story is 100% accurate, but neither are any of them entirely false. Details had just been left out of each and picked up by the other.
      So, now to return to the question at hand as I hope I have ever so briefly convinced you that every story is working an angle and not all angles contain the same facts. Hopefully, the astute among you have already realized that I have indirectly answered the question, but for those of you who did not catch it right away here it is - READ MULTIPLE, INTERNATIONAL NEWS SOURCES. Simple as that. One of the vital words however is "international". In order to gain a global perspective of the world you have to look globally.  Otherwise you are going to have a very narrow minded opinion on world affairs based on what the one news source you frequently visit tells you to believe.
      So research yourself! Find the newspapers, stations, magazines that suit you. But to get you started here are just a few of my own main sources of news:
EXTRA: Here's an article from that tells of five story's where major facts were deliberately left out. Click HERE to read article