Category Archives: quirk

Christmas Traditions from Around the World

It’s that time of year again! Time to overspend for a few days of overindulgence, re-gift those presents we’ve kept hidden in the back of our cupboards for a year because we can’t stand to look at them, and beg both our livers and stomachs for forgiveness (other festivities are available). Every person who celebrates(…)


The US Dollar’s Name Origin and Associated Common Slang

Money talks and nobody walks, and that is just the way it is. In a consumer-based society, money is at the top of our conversational pyramid. How often when hanging with friends, having dinner with family or chatting with colleagues at work does someone ask: “How much was that?” Even between strangers waiting for a(…)


10 Must-Know Phrases for Your Diwali Celebrations

Diwali is one of India’s biggest festivals of the year and an incredibly important holiday for Hindus. The celebrations occur over a period of five days and include numerous traditions, activities, and, yes, tasty treats. If you’re celebrating the Festival of Lights for the first time this coming week, you may find yourself overwhelmed (and(…)


How Far Can You Get in the World Only Speaking English?

There are plenty of people who travel and live abroad, yet somehow manage to get by with only knowing English. The falling rate of people learning languages in the U.K. and U.S. perhaps points to a sort of English-speaker arrogance—because English is considered such a global language, we tend to assume that everywhere we go(…)


How the Stereotypes of Nationality, Ethnicity, Race, and Gender May Affect Your Expat Experience

The scope of my expat experience is limited to Asia. However, an informal survey of random online expat forums – as a member and visitor – confirms my suspicions: It’s the same everywhere, and by “it”, I mean the conditional happiness of people trying to make the nut* in foreign countries. *Make the nut =(…)


Right Swiping Your Way to a Second Language

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Aaron and I am an American living and studying in Barcelona, Spain.   Ever since moving abroad, my answer to the inescapable “de donde eres” question has strategically shifted from ‘the U.S.’ to ‘California.’ I must admit, it’s a great strategy. As soon as the word leaves(…)


Recounting the Ever-Changing Diversity of New York City

What do Peter Minuit, Pieter Minuit, Pierre Minuit, and Peter Minnewit all have in common? You guessed it! They’re all the same person, with spelling differences. Taking the first version, Peter Minuit, to be our variation, who here knows why he is famous? History may not have been everyone’s strongest suit (or maybe history plays(…)


Why a Year Abroad Isn’t Enough to Become Fluent

Taking the leap to move to the country where your target language is spoken can be an exciting segue in your language learning journey. In fact, a year abroad is often touted by teachers and professors as one of the best ways to perfect your skills, and as a result we language students put a(…)


Monolingualism in the United States

Pub quiz time: what is the official language of the United States? We’ll wait. Because whilst English is perceived as the language of the United States, there is no official language of the United States. It is only an official language in 27 states, and we say, only, because if movements such as English Only(…)


Yiddish: New York’s Lost Language

I’ve heard it said that every language in the world is spoken in Queens, New York. While this may not be a proven fact, hang out on the streets of Jackson Heights or Woodside and you might get an inkling of how it could be true. I like to count languages when I’m on the(…)