Sunday, April 29, 2012


In the face of a dwindling economy, it has become extremely stressful for many individuals to keep up with the rat race known as society. The way of life of many people has been influenced by the ever-growing need to keep up with the competition, to acquire more wealth, and to live a more luxurious, supposedly happier life. This growing materialism engenders the problem of physical and psychological burnout and stress. Moreover, instead of gaining the contentment they seek, people begin to carve for more, and spend more money then the actually have to. 

With this, many people have come to realize that contentment and happiness living cannot be solely achieved by working more hours and spending more money on items of no logical value. Instead, they become enlightened that a better life can be achieved by doing something that is the complete opposite. Thus, many individuals have resorted to downshifting. With downshifting, they are able to live not only happier but healthier as well.
What is Downshifting and What Does It Have to Do with the Present Economy?
Downshifting is a process wherein people try to live a simpler, more frugal life. It is a way to make improvements on the lives of people who have fallen victim to materialistic living. With this process, people work towards a less stressful yet more rewarding way of life.
Basically, people may downshift because of the following reasons:
  • They have become too tired of living competitively.
  • They want to live a stress-free life.
  • They want to free themselves from addictive consumerism.
  • They are facing a crisis in their family or personal lives.
  • They are facing life-changing experiences such as extreme problems with their health.
  • They are suffering from financial crisis.
  • They want to start living frugally because of the emerging threats from the present economy.
  • They want to help conserve natural resources.
The present economy has led to higher rates of stress-related jobs. To avoid all the stress and burn out that has sprung from the competitive environment of workspaces, many people in certain countries such as the UK and the US have decided to start downshifting. 
What are Ways to Downshift and Live a Frugal Life?
People can live prudently on their own terms. However, for people who do not know how to start working to a better, thriftier lifestyle, they may try to do the following techniques:
  • Work at home
    Working at home can significantly help cut down on travel expenses. It also helps cut down on other expenses spent while working in an office. Moreover, it helps people to avoid the stressful effects of office politicking and peer pressure.
    In addition, it helps individuals to spend more time with family while still earning a decent amount of income. Best of all, it may help people to reduce the stress they are feeling due to their jobs asworking at home may provide individuals the opportunity to work around their own schedules.
    Finally, the cutdown on transportation use (especially for those who own their own cars) can also contribute to a healthier environment through less fossil fuel consumption
  • Cut back on unnecessary material items. 
    Oftentimes, people tend to buy unneeded items. Cutting back on these unnecessary purchases can greatly, positively affect their lifestyle and may help them incur more savings without spending more time at the office.
  • Avoid impulse buying.
    Buying only the things that you need for that particular day or week can significantly help people become more financially stable in the long run.
  • Try green living.
    Learn to recycle and reuse materials. Instead of throwing away unwanted items, store them away for future use. Learn to conserve electricity, water, gasoline, and other natural resources. This way, pollution and damage to the environment is decreased – a much-needed result nowadays.
  • Don’t hoard: throw away what is of no use.
    In a way, this can reduce whatever expenses are needed to maintain such objects.
  • Avoid using credit cards when purchasing.
    This helps you gain control over expenses and avoid overspending.
  • Aim to spend more time with family and loved ones. 
    There is no better way to live a more contented and happier life than to spend more time with the people we love.
Downshifting does not only mean leaving materialism behind and living frugally. It means more than just cutting back on expenses. It requires more than just determination.  To achieve this healthier kind of life, a firm and clear mindset is required. Learn to prioritize the most important things. In the long run, downshifting may be the key to the life we never knew we wanted, and bring about a different definition for success.
Rina Sinadjan-Magallanes is a freelance writer and editor.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nothing could be finer than Carolina

By Allison Hawkins

There’s a moment we’ve all experienced. It’s the moment we fall completely head over heels in love with this University. Mine happened in the seventh grade. We were supposed to write a page-long report on a historical figure. Ever the thoughtful scholar, I had narrowed the choices for my topic down to Gandhi and Dean Smith.
And I chose Dean.
That moment wasn’t love though. That was infatuation.
Love was when a few weeks later I received a package from the basketball office. My dad had sent my mediocre seventh-grade essay (complete with clip art illustrations) to Coach Smith who wrote me a letter and included a signed photo as a late 12th birthday present. He said he hoped to see me at Carolina one day.
Well, I’m here, Coach.
And I’ve spent the last four years learning that I never want to leave.
I know I’m not alone in this. I don’t know why UNC inspires such love in people. I can’t point out Chapel Hill’s distinguishing characteristic that makes people write poems, or songs or rambling columns about this place.
I don’t know what it is that makes us throw around terms like “University of the People,” and “The Carolina Way.” Terms that in any other context would be cliched and saccharine, and inspire nothing but eye rolls, somehow not only are justified, but seem like they don’t go far enough in capturing the magic of this place.
I don’t know what it is, but I know where it is.
It’s in the Pit at lunchtime on a sunny day when an a cappella group is singing, Gary is shouting, and you’re sitting on the steps picking out friends in the blur of faces that are rushing by for their afternoon classes.
It’s in the Dean Dome when we’re playing that dark blue school and the air is crackling and every possession is a matter of life and death and you don’t think you’ve ever felt hate like this before.
It’s in that spot on McCorkle between the Old Well and Davie Poplar where you can sit and look at the brick structures of Old East, Old West and South Building and the history of this place really hits you.
When you think about all the other idealistic 20-somethings who have sat in this same spot and been inspired by these same buildings, and your head starts swimming with the thought of how many more idealistic 20-somethings will sit here after you.
It’s there when you walk by Hill Hall and hear pianos playing. It’s there when you sit on the steps of South Building and watch the moon come up over Wilson Library.
It’s in the first few bars of “Carolina in My Mind” — sung by James Taylor or the Clefs.
It’s in the first day that feels like Spring in the Arboretum and the first day that feels like Fall in Kenan Stadium.
It’s in the Campus Y, and Franklin Street, and HoJo, or wherever you’ve had a moment where you’re taken aback by where you are and who you’re with.
I can’t articulate or even comprehend everything this place has meant to me. Maybe I’ll never be able to. Maybe none of us can.
But it is love.

Published April 24, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Hello everyone from Chapel Hill, North Carolina (pronounced /karolaina/), USA, where I have come to visit my American alma mater UNC-Chapel Hill, where I studied as a graduate student in the 80s, out of nostalgia, gratitude and, of course, curiosity, which is one of the things that makes me travel the world. More later. cmg

Monday, April 16, 2012

L3 Advice for a job interview

  1. Dress up for the interview to get across a responsible attitude.
  2. Calm down before the interview by going for a walk.
  3. Think about the job and write down your strenghts and weaknesses.
  4. Look things up about the company on the internet.
  5. Turn up at the interview with enough margin of time.
  6. Take down notes during the interview.
  7. Be honest and do not make up information about yourself.
  8. Do not make out you understand something when you don't.
  9. Do not go on about your personal life.
  10. Speak up and express yourself clearly.
  11. Come up with a couple of questions about the job.
  12. ...
If you can come up with another piece of advice, post it here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

False Friends

Do these English words mean the same in Spanish?

in front of=
delante de (NOT *enfrente de!)

After you do the exercise, click here to check your answers.