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Monday, April 21, 2014

Amphibians of the Amazon

One of the most addicting things about the amazon jungle is that you never know what your trip may bring you. You may want to see lots of monkeys and end up seeing lots of snakes instead. You may want to swim with pink dolphins but instead get bitten by a piranha :S

 My very first trip to the amazon jungle seem to yield a collection of frog and toad pictures, enough to do a blog dedicated to amphibians of the amazon. The first pic below is of a nocturnal toad that we came across while looking for Caiman

This is the exact same species of frog as the very first photo on this blog and it was taken on the same nite. If you look hard you will see two frogs in the middle doing well uh........

 Blink and you'll miss it......the only thing that could possibly give this male bullfrog is its glowing eye.  We spotted this toad during night stroll through the jungle. You'll find that at night the majority of the animals glow in the dark to help them find their way. But they can't be too flashy or it makes them an easy target for predators. Note that the color of the bullfrog almost matches exactly the color of the forest floor. Pretty clever huh? We could hear the deep mating call of the bullfrog echo through night during our forest stroll.

Monday, April 07, 2014

My 3 Week Love Affair with A French Language School in Montpellier

It's that time of the year again where language schools abroad start to get ready for their halls to be filed with students during the months of July and August.  Having spent 3 weeks of my life at a top french language school I felt I do have something to say that might be beneficial for those considering a few weeks or even a whole summer abroad.

My 3 week french course was at ILA right in the heart of Montpellier. In Canada French is one of the most boring and despised subjects by us in highschool and we would always count down until the moment the bell rang and we could be released from our prison aka classroom. So for me, revisiting french I was naturally nervous cuz in highschool it was one of the most uninteresting subjects around.

But all that changed when I stepped through the doors of a classroom at ILA.  Choosing a qualified language school is of upmost importance. One hour at a top language school can make you learn more than a lifetime at any other boring lifeless program. In addition to that, the benefits are that you make friends and you find yourself in the company of like minded individuals that you practice your language with but also have a drink with as well. Or you can practice languages AND have a drink at the same time.....

In an intimate classroom setting (10 students or less), every student has a different area that they are good in. So what ends up happening is that you fill on for others in the areas where they are weak and you are strong and in return you draw from areas that they have mastered but you still struggle with. 

Choosing a city that you learn a language in is just as important. Before I came I did alot of research and Montpellier was highly recommended as a good city to learn french in. The reason why the city is important is because learning a language is intense and if you are gonna stay anywhere for an extended amount of time, it is important that you find a certain amount of enjoyment in your chosen location.

For me, Montpellier is great firstly because it was one of the cheaper french cities. It is a huge student city (not just language students but university students too). There are coffee shops, eclectic eateries, supermarkets within proximity. There are places to go to relax between classes and after class to keep things from being too intense. In addition to that there are cinemas, an amazing aquarium, parks, an art museum.....all reasonably priced too.

When I left France for Belgium, I met the apartment owner of the place I would be renting. He can speak english but french is easier for him. I told me he could switch to french if he wanted to. So he did and I understood just about everything he was explaining about the apt, Brussels, places to eat etc. And he complimented me on my superb pronunciation of french.  And in that moment I knew that living with french people, paying $500 a week for 30 hrs of classes at a top instution for 3 weeks of my life had not gone to waste.

To sum it up: Choose a language you'll love, choose a city you'll adore, choose a school with good accreditation, choose to live with native speakers instead of on the school residence or living situations where you have no opportunity to speak.

Choose all these things and in no time words from a foreign language will be bursting forth from your mouth....

J'veux pas finir mes jours à Tombouctou 
La peau tirée par des machines à clous 
Moi je veux être fripée Triplement fripée 
Fripée comme une Triplette de Belleville 
J'veux pas finir ma vie à Acapulco 
Danser toute raide avec des gigolos 
Moi je veux être tordue 
Triplement tordue 
Balancée comme une Triplette de Belleville 
(Allez les filles!)


Swinging Belleville rendez-vous
 Marathon dancing doop dee doop
Vaudou Cancan balais taboo
Au Belleville swinging rendez-vous

J'veux pas finir ma vie à Singapour
Jouer au dico manger des petits fours
Moi j'veux être zidiote
Triplement zidiote
Gondolée comme une Triplette de Belleville

J'veux pas finir ma vie à Honolulu
 Chanter comme un zoiseau ça n'se fait plus
Je veux ma voix brisée
Triplement brisée
Swinguer comme une Triplette de Belleville


 J'pourrai finir ma vie à Katmandou
C'est bien plus doux de faire des rimes en “dou“
Mais je veux être givrée
Triplement Givrée
Et swinguer comme les Tripletes de Belleville 

(Allez les filles!)

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas