The Eurovision Song Contest

By Mareike Rupaner, Germany

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The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is an international competition in Europe. European nations must choose each year a singer, who represents their county. The best singer, who has the post points, wins the contest. He hosts the next contest in next year in May.

It all starts on the 24 March 1956 with seven nations. A very strict rule fo2r participants was to sing in their country’s national language, but it relaxed with the year 1973. After that in 1999 the participants could sing in every language, which they want. Today it’s mostly in English.

In the contest, the participants have two options to get points. One the one hand, normal people can vote with televoting by telephone or SMS. On the other hand, there is a national jury, for each participant, which gives the other country’s points. The point’s Scala starts at 1 – 8, 10, and 12 points.

Since the 1990’s more and more countries join to the contest, so the organizer takes two sem3i-finals to find the Top 50. Only the “Big Five”: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are automatically in the Final.  The map shows, how many and in time the nations join to the contest by decade.

Fun Fact:  In 1974, ABBA wins the contest for Sweden

In 2015, the ESC celebrated 60 years anniversary. For the first time Australia joins to the contest and since that, it is very strong part in the contest.

The ESC is very important thing in Europe and in the European culture. Almost all nations of Europe join to one place, local or watching at the television.  Look and enjoy the next contest. On the 12th May, 2018, the Final is in Lisbon; don’t miss it or you can watch it next year 🙂

Take a look to the official site: https://eurovision.tv/ 4

Carnival All Around Brazil

By Maria Antonia Lopes, Brazil                                                                                                                Rafaela Reblin, Brazil                                                                                                                            Laura Franco, Brazil

 What is Carnival?

The Carnival is celebrated in Brazil every year, 46 days before the Easter festival. The word “Carnival’ is derived from “carnelevare,”which means the removal of meat. The roots of the festival are believed to be in tradition of Roman Catholics when they abstained from meat and alcohol on certain days as a method to drive away bad things from their lives. Back then, followers of the Roman Catholic Church would indulge in a last day of dance, fun, alcohol and sex just before the start of the abstinence period of alcohol and other sins.

Although Carnival is celebrated in other cities throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio de Janeiro is considered the Carnival’s capital city. One of the best-known parties in the world, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is also the largest carnival celebration in the world. It’s filled with music, parades, drinking and people having fun. The carnival, a national holiday in Brazil, runs from Friday night to noon of the following Wednesday. That’s the official length, but many Brazilians turn it into a 10-day holiday. It brings
in about half a million foreign tourists each year.

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Carnival in Rio de Janeiro 

The festival is organized by various samba schools in Brazil which are sometimes involved in community services as well. A major parade is made with beautifully dressed samba dancers on the top of decorated moving vehicles that go around the Sambadrome stadium. Often wearing masks and colorful costumes, they dance to the beats of drums and music, Samba is the main form of dancing there. Also, there’s a competition held in the end of the festival, when the crowd has to vote for the best costume, the best vehicle and the best samba school.

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Each neighborhood in Rio has its own Carnival Street Party. There are around 300 of them in Rio every year. The street parties are also called “blocos”, and the atmosphere is just full of life, and everybody who parties is dancing in the streets, singing out loud, and making sure they have a really good time. Anyone is allowed to participate in streets a festival, that’s why it’s so special. There’s no segregation, literally, the whole world is invited.

Carnival in Salvador

Salvador is a city in the northeast of Brazil that has a lot of beautiful beaches and every February the Carnival happens. The Salvador carnival is the most fun one. If in Rio, you are a spectator of the parade, in the Salvador Carnival you are the show.

The event lasts officially for six full days: it starts on a Thursday, then follows the usual five days of carnival ( from Friday to Wednesday at noon).

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The parties have a special name, “Bloco”, and it happens behind the “Trio eletrico” that is basically a big truck moving really slowly loaded with sound equipment’s and with a famous band or a famous singer singing on the top. The Salvador Carnival has some tradition singers like: Ivete Sangalo, Daniela  Mercury and Preta Gil. Contrary to what most people think, carnival is not only about samba, it has funk too and at the moment, the most famous singers of funk are: Anitta and Pablo Vittar.

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Each Bloco sells a different T-shirt called “Abada”. This T-shirt is your entrance ticket and allows you to get inside the rope area. If you enter the V.I.P area of the event, you can see a lot of famous people with the “Abada” totally stylized.

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Carnival in Olinda

The old colonial town of Olinda, a few miles from Recife, became a popular carnival spot in 1977, where every street corner has a band following their own routes. Children, parents, and grandparents all party together. Political and social causes are common themes that are well presented through costumes and music.

One of the main attractions of the carnival in Olinda is the giant puppets made from papier-mâché. The “Homem da Meia-Noite” or “Man of Midnight” is the most famous puppet that officially opens the carnival in Olinda every year; a tradition since 1932.

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For most people here, Carnival is this magical time when it’s totally ok to dress up weirdly, fill your hair and face with glitter, become friends with total strangers and start deep love affairs that last the time of two “frevo” verses.carna10

If you like partying and want to immerse yourself in this rich culture, you should definitely spend Carnival in Olinda. You’ll hardly find a similar event somewhere else, with all the joy and excitement that takes hold of anyone that’s part of it. But truth be told, it takes a good deal of strategy to enjoy everything this party has to offer. So here are some tips for those who will go for the first time:

– Wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe, comfortable and not too beloved shoes – after all, it’s likely they will be destroyed by the end of Carnival.

– Eat well before leaving home, since drinking on an empty stomach is not advisable, but try to avoid heavy foods.

– Take an old cell phone with you instead of your “real one”, if possible.

– Avoid walking against the flow of the “blocos”. It’s easier to wait for them to pass, or to simply follow them.

– Avoid going alone, it’s more fun and safer to go with friends or family.

 

Get to know the Dutch

Anouk Slijkerman, the Netherlands.

Get to know the Dutch

Cheese, tulips and riding bicycles. This is what most people think of when they think about The Netherlands, but there is so much more to know about this small country with almost 17 million inhabitants. It’s a very successful country with a lot of history. The Netherlands has a lot of traditions most people never heard of and food that you can’t buy in any other country. Such as drop, stroopwafels and poffertjes.

Netherlands or Holland?
To begin with, I would like to tell the difference between the Netherlands and Holland. Most people are very confused by this. Sometimes when I say, I’m from the Netherlands people don’t immediately know what that is, but when I say Holland, almost everyone knows about the small country. So to explain this difference, we have to look at some history. The netherlands as we know nowadays came into existence after napoleon in 1830. The kingdom also included Belgium and Luxemburg. Later, Belgium and Luxemburg became independent countries. Nowadays, the Netherlands has 12 provinces. Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Flevoland, Gelderland, Utrecht, North-Holland, South-Holland, Zealand, North Brabant and Limburg. hollandSo, Holland is basically North-Holland and South-Holland combined. Holland was famous during the Dutch golden age, the 17th century, because of their many ships who tried to establish the trading routes. The Netherlands didn’t exist back then, so the sailors referred to their city state, South-Holland and North-Holland. So, Holland refer to the Netherlands as a synonym, but this is not true.  

Sinterklaas
Sinterklaas is a Dutch tradition for small children. Not every citizen likes this tradition, some people consider it as racist tradition because of ‘Zwarte Piet’.

The history of Sinterklaas starts in Turkey. Sint-Nicolaas (original name of Sinterklaas) was the bishop of Myra, a town in Turkey. Because of all the good deeds Nicolaas did, such as giving money to the poor, people professed him as a Saint. A lot of legends started to follow about this man and all his good deeds. So Sinterklaas is originally a Catholic tradition. Sinterklaas hassinterklaas helpers called Zwarte Piet. People aren’t sure where Zwarte Piet originally came from but there is a suggestion. People say that Sinterklaas  helped them from escaping slavery, and as an reward they kept helping Sinterklaas. Nowadays, Sinterklaas gives children presents on December 5th. Every year, he arrives in a big boat with his helpers in Holland. Mostly on November 11th. Children put their shoe under the fire place, and every once a week Zwarte Piet comes through the chimnpepernoteney to deliver a present in the shoe of the kid. Some people suggest that this is why Zwarte Piet is black. During Sinterklaas we eat pepernoten. Pepernoten stand for the money that Sinterklaas gave to the poor. They are small cookies made with dutch cookie species and a lot of sugar.

Koningsdag
King Day, or Koningsdag how the Dutch call it. This is a day where we celebrate the birthday of the King. Kingsday originally started as ‘prinsessendag’, princess day, which was the celebration of the birthday of princess Wilhelmina. This was on August 31th 1890. 5 Years later, when her daughter Juliana became queen, princess day became Queens Day and was hold on April 30th, the birthday of queen Juliana. Queen Juliana her daughter, who became queen in 1980 decided to keep Queensday on Juliana her birthday in honor to her mother. When King Willem-Alexander, the current king and son of Beatrix became king in 2013, he decided to change it to Kingsday and moved it to april 27th, his birthday.koningsdag.jpg

On Kingsday, most schools, stores and businesses are closed in The Netherlands, so everyone can celebrate the birthday of the king. In the morning, streets are covered with orange decoration and there’s a flea market on every street where people can sell their used stuff. People also play Dutch traditional games. One of the game is Koekhappen, Koekhappen is a game where people have to catch cake dangling from a string in their mouths. In the afternoon, there are big parties in every city and there are a lot of festival with famous DJ’s such as Martin Garrix and Armin van Buuren.

 

Dutch food
So this were 2 of the Dutch Holidays. Sinterklaas and Koningsdag. But what about the food? There are a lot of typical Dutch dishes. During winter the Dutch love to eat hot, home prepared meals for dinner. One of them is ‘hutspot’ (which can be roughly translated as “shaken pot”). The main ingredients are carrots, boiled and mashed potatoes and onions.  All the ingredients are mashed together and it’s mostly served with ‘rookworst’. Rookworst is a smoked sausage.hutspot

 

There are also Dutch sweets and cookies. Stroopwafel is the most popular kind of cookie in the county. Stroopwafel are two waffles glued together with caramel. The waffles get hard but the caramel stays soft. You can buy different types of them. You can buy fresh made ones on the market, but you can also buy them in the supermarket. You can even buy them at Publix, but these are way more expensive than the ones you can buy in the Dutch supermarket.stroopwafel

So I hope you learned a lot moreabout this small country. Are you planning on visiting this country? Come during koningsdag or Sinterklaas. And are you hungry? Go to a restaurant and ask for Hutspot with Rookworst. Maybe you can explain to a Dutch local what the difference is between Holland and the Netherlands. Because there are even people in the country self, who don’t know the difference. The next time you hear a person say, I’m from the Holland. You can ask them, North or South Holland. If they say an other part. Correct them and say no, you mean the Netherlands.

“Acceptance”

Cenet Durak, Switzerland

Let’ say, you are a teenager who is searching for something in his or her life, something that would make you happy once in your life. A lot of teenagers are searching for kindness in people, others are searching for love and comfort, and others are traveling all around the world to find true friends.

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Holden Caulfield (pg.17) is one example out of 348 million (33,6%) teenagers . I read the book with an unbiased mind. I think, what the author of “The catcher in rye” (J.D.Salinger) tries to explain is that sometimes you can go through trouble, but at the end you end up being in the place you should be. Call me naive, but I think everything we go through in our lives prepares us somehow for something bigger in the future.
Holden Caulfield was in the beginning at a school called Pencey and felt like he did not belong over there. While he was in Pencey, he often talked about his little brother Allie who died at a young age. Holden also described himself as corny, old, and strange, because of his grey hair at early age and his solitary. When Holden left Pencey, he did not go home until Wednesday. Therefore, he went to a payphone and called some of his crushes, friends and frenemies. He did not like to be solitary. It was compulsory for him to have someone to care about.1*UMEB_E073nhNH7e1bXg-jw

The whole story is about the people, he cares about and the ones, he likes to care about, but he does not know how because there is a missing link in knowing them and being friends with them. Generally, his siblings are the most important people for him. His friends. Allie who is dead and Phoebe who relies on him.Catcher-in-the-Rye
Already at a young age Holden saw a lot of bad things. One of his classmates, who lived next door committed suicide in Pencey. His interactions with his teachers and bad grades caused him to drop out of school, which led to the story of the book : ”The catcher in the rye”. Shortly after, he dropped out of Pencey, he took a taxi undecided where he wanted to go. Inside he was thinking to go to New York and he did. In his hurry he changed his mind and told the taxi driver to take him to Central Park, New York. While the taxi driver was trying to figure out, where he could possibly turn. Holden asked him : ”Do you know where the ducks are in the winter, when the lake freezes? I mean, I see them in the summer in the central park, all the time”. The taxi driver is baffled and answered : ”I don’t know where the goddam ducks are.” The rest of the time, while being in the taxi, the driver kept talking and kind of getting sore. All of sudden, he claimed :”They have to be somewhere, God would not let them die“. Holden stayed silent in that moment. I think in moments like these Holden was thinking that, what the taxi driver responded could be true. Subsequently, he arrived at the central park because he wanted to check on the ducks.

Afterwards, he went to a motel or hotel, where he met some hookers (prostitutes) and decided to stay with one of them, at her room, who was possibly his age or younger. Throughout the time in the room with the young girl, he only wanted to talk and someone who would like to listen to him, but in his bad luck, she did not listen at all. Again Holden felt misunderstood and behaved badly after he left the motel or hotel wounded because of the money battle about the five dollars, he should have given to the hooker.002e8026956178ece11c192eab2c9832

Throughout the story, he kept calling some girls out of a payphone like old Sally. He also toyed with the idea of running away with her somewhere into the woods. He slept in a subway in New York for a night, which he had to leave because of the people. Then he saw his old teacher who offered him his couch to sleep on, and at the end he ended up being with his sister who was his true friend. After experiencing all of these in around three days. Holden found comfort in his unusual life situation and decided to stay, where he was.
Finally, I can say Holden Caulfield you are a great guy. I do not know why J.D. Salinger wrote “The catcher in the rye”, but I am glad he did. “The catcher in the rye” is an incredible masterpiece. The book does not describe a life of a teenager, it describes what happens at the end of every story. The people and the things that belong together come together. We end up where we should have been the entire time, but we needed a bit longer to arrive and that is the only bad luck.

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Interview about Miriam

 

Miriam

by Catherine Sodar – Belgium

Miriam is 25 years old and she comes from Barcelona, Spain. She is a tourism agent but she is also studying communication to become a travel journalist. She wants to travel a lot and to see different countries and cultures. She is an open minded person and for her, English is an important skill to communicate with other people, to travel and to work because it’s a good opportunity to meet new people and cultures.

She will stay here for 3 weeks only, because she has to return to work in Spain. First, she worried about the safety in America because everyone can have a gun, but now she isn’t afraid anymore because Santa Barbara is a really safe and it doesn’t seem very dangerous. She is very happy to be here because the American people are very friendly and helpful.

While she is here, her aims are to improve her English for her job, but her life goals are to become a travel  journalist for a magazine. Money isn’t that important because she just want to do something what she loves and that is traveling. She would like to go to Japan and Thailand because they have completely different types of cultures. Her dream is to swim with dolphins but she doesn’t really want to do it if it would contribute to the imprisonment of them.

Before she came to America she went to a few different countries in Europe :

  • France; She lived there for 7 months.
  • Italy : Miriam really like this country.
  • England
  • Tunis
  • United States : for holidays.
  • Brazil
  • Belgium ; to study at the English Academy in Spa for 3 months.

She told me that when I come to her country and especially to her city, Barcelona, I have to visit absolutely the Gaudi Park and also see all the Gaudi architecture. She appreciates  walking in the little streets of Barcelona where are many bars, cafes and little shops. I think it could be wonderful to get lost in her city. I have heard a lot of great things about Barcelona.

She went to Liege six years ago to go to the English Academy and it’s the city where I live in Belgium. There she also learnt a lot of English. She’s now an independent tourist guide but she is studying communication : marketing, languages and journalism.