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8 Symptoms of Learning a New Language

By July 27, 2015 Language Learning

One of the most commonly asked questions we get as travel and language bloggers/vloggers aside from “Are you married?” Yes, people have always questioned that… is “Damon and Jo, how do you guys learn languages so quickly?” or “How are you so good at speaking different languages?” We need you to hold up a hot second because it is never “easy,” nor are we good at it right away!

Every language learning process comes with struggles, embarassement, and eventually, just maybe, fluency. Recently I’ve been determined to take on Italian. I threw myself in a situation where I had no choice but to speak Italian all day, for ten days. I felt weird at first, unlike myself. As the days went on, I noticed changes in my way of thinking, and in my energy levels, it was all pretty bizarre. When it was all said and done I noticed these 8 symptoms of learning a new langauge.

1. You feel like sleeping all the time

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Just like any other muscle in your body, your brain gets a workout while trying to pull out verb conjugations and intricate vocab in a different language. The result, mad sleepiness all the time. It also comes from the frustration of not being able to express yourself; when saying something as simple as “I can’t eat pine nuts because I’m allergic” takes around 30 minutes, you realize that going to sleep seems more enticing because you won’t have to work hard. Don’t get lazy, slap yourself out of the z’s and go learn something new!

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Cool Cafés in Paris For Chillin’ Out

By July 24, 2015 Paris
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At this point, after an academic year in Paris, followed by one 10-day trip, and two one-month trips afterward, I can now say…coffee shops like American coffee shops just aren’t a thing in Paris – despite me really trying to find them. You have Starbucks and Costa Coffee, but you don’t really have independent coffee shops that were made for people like me who love to sit in coffee shops for hours. Remember Lisbon? Yeah, Europe isn’t the best for freelance, Wi-Fi hoggers who want filter coffee (but it is the best for tiny cups of strong espresso and sitting street-side people-watching).

On the other hand, Paris does have a few note-worthy American-like coffee shops that have everything an “American coffee shop” would have, just without ample space, plugs, or Wi-Fi to work. Nonetheless, check out these cool cafés in Paris:

Bob’s Cake Shop

12 Esplanade Nathalie Sarraute, 75018 Paris

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A bit of Americana in the northernmost arrondissement of Paris, Bob’s Cake Shop looks like a 50s diner in the middle of Oklahoma. I actually came here because I wanted a filter coffee, but come to find out, they’ve got bagels, carrot cake, cheesecake, and even wait for it, wait for it….iced coffee. Read More

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When Enough is Enough, and It’s Time to Wing It

By July 23, 2015 Los Angeles, Motivation, New York City

[Content disclosure: This post was sponsored by Booking.com and we have reviewed it as travelers on a budget.]

Nothing makes us rethink living in NYC more than the months of June, July, and August. Living on an island and not being able to go to a beautiful beach (Yes, Coney Island, we’re giving you the stank eye right now) continuously gets under our skin. New Yorkers, how are we okay with this? We know you’re wiping your sweat away on that 110 degree subway platform.

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When the humidity of the East Coast gets to its full roar, most people leave for the weekend. You escape to Fire Island, or the Hamptons, or the crowded Dream Hotel pool. For us, we actually leave. As in, after this final summer in NYC, we’re moving to Los Angeles.

There are many reasons as to why we’re making the move, but at the forefront was this feeling that we’re simply ready for a change. After five years, we feel like we’ve done New York and we’ve done the East Coast, but what we haven’t done yet is the West. Moving to Los Angeles opens up our travel-ometer to a new part of the world – a world where people don’t have to ride the L train during the evening commute, and/or don’t have to wait 20 minutes in line in Midtown during a lunch break. Moving to LA now puts us approximately two steps away from Mexico, where we’re totally fine with the sun blazing, as long as we can cool off in the crystal clear water of the Caribbean (We’re still glaring at you, Coney Island).

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We’re no strangers to winging our travel experiences. We’ve changed our flights last minute in Panama because we didn’t have a Yellow Fever Vaccine to leave Ecuador while trying to go to Costa Rica (it was just as complicated as it sounds); We’ve made countless last-minute decisions to reroute huge trips like staying in Marseille for four days because hostels were too expensive in the Cote d’Azur – or how about three weeks ago when we decided, while in the Madrid Atocha train station, that we would rather spend more time in Barcelona, so we immediately changed plans and took the next train out? Read More

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Ljubljana: The City You Can’t Pronounce, But Should Still Visit

By July 17, 2015 Life Stories, Slovenia
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L-you-bl-y-anna – say that bad boy out loud and you’re one step closer to speaking Slovenian!

While planning our 10-country Eurotrip this summer, we wanted to hit up all the Lisbons, Barcelonas, Berlins, but also cities that aren’t exactly common on a tourist’s “must visit” list. So, in typical DamonAndJo fashion, we opened up our crinkly EuRail map and planned out a route from Italy to Budapest, with a quick stop in Slovenia, specifically Ljubjlana. What better way to pick a city that one can barely even pronounce?

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Does this look like a language we can retain? Nuh uh honey.

I had never even thought I’d set foot in Eastern Europe, let alone Slovenia, which is why I got giddy while en route. When you don’t know what to expect, the possibilities for adventure are endless because every little thing becomes exciting, like figuring out how to ask for the bathroom, or desperately asking a McDonald’s employee named Sasho how to say “hi” and “bye,” then adding him on Facebook (true story).

Except he never accepted our friend request.

We didn’t figure out how to say basic sentences to our Slovenian friends, but we did manage to have some human contact when we were randomly recognized by one of our YouTube viewers who made this awesome video.

We tried to learn more about Slovenia and Ljubljana, apart from our basic Google knowledge, by booking a free tour (aka tipping tour), but guess who never showed up? The tour guide. So, instead, we hit up BIKOFE and relied on our conversation with the super shy, super quirky girl with a top-knot ponytail and nose piercing who worked as the barista to get the juiciest Slovenian secret spots.

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