How to become an international volunteer

You can go abroad and get a language practice almost for free

Reading time 5 minutes

Many people dream to visit another country and join its culture, especially those who study a foreign language. But what if there is no money for a trip abroad? You can use an international volunteer program and in return receive practice of live communication with native speakers – such opportunities are provided by work of the volunteer. There are two ways to become a volunteer abroad.

The first way. Travel to a foreign country as a volunteer will help intermediary agencies.

International volunteer camp

Volunteers do not only physical work. They can teach children a foreign language or help the homeless

Each camp has its own theme. Some invite volunteers to clean the forest, others – to help the homeless, and others – to participate in the filming of the host country. Often it is spelled out possible work for volunteers in the description of the camp. The main task is to read everything carefully and choose the place where, in your opinion, you can fully reveal yourself. Organizers from one camp invite 10-20 people, they work together about 4-6 hours a day, and the rest of the time can be spent as they prefer. Usually the volunteer program lasts from one to three weeks, but you can find longer projects (for several months or more).

There are almost no age restrictions. Someone requires only adult volunteers, someone needs teenagers – in this case, the project will be marked Teen camp. There are also family camps where volunteers with children are invited. In order to take part in the volunteer program, you must apply on the website of the Russian sending organization (Sphere, Chipmunk, World4you), do not have outstanding criminal records and bad habits such as drug addiction and alcoholism.

The volunteer will live and eat in the camp free of charge, yet the tickets and visa will have to be paid for themselves. In addition, you must pay a fee for participation (about 5-7 thousand rubles for short programs). Many people claim it is embarrassed. But, as it is explained by the organizators, the money goes to the maintenance of the sending company (office rent, payment for the Internet, phones, electricity, etc.), and is a guarantee that the volunteer will get a place in the camp.  A month before the trip the participant receives a route, information about what to take with them, and contacts of the camp leader.

European Solidarity Corps (ESC)

The logo of the European corps of solidarity

Another program that allows young people aged from 18 to 30 years to go abroad as a volunteer. The European Union has been implementing it for 20 years. Conditions of participation are similar to the requirements of the International volunteer camp: a volunteer can participate in the project from two weeks to a year, must work from 30 to 38 hours a week and have a basic knowledge of English.

The company compensates all expenses: tickets, accommodation, food and transport. In addition, it provides the opportunity to attend language courses and go to two volunteer training. So, constant communication in a foreign language is exactly provided!

The second way. You can search for a volunteer program on your own, without intermediaries.  This is the most difficult and often unsafe way. But with the self-selection of the program, the participant will not have to pay the fee required by the Agency. However, in this case, no one will guarantee that the conditions of staying abroad as a volunteer will meet your expectations.

Mastering «the new alphabet»

A selection of sites that will teach you how to program

Reading time 4 minutes

In today’s world, programming becomes something like a new alphabet: if people learn to encode information it will be the same progress as after the development of writing and reading skills. It is not necessary to be an IT- specialist to understand that knowledge of programming languages will be useful in any field: for data processing, information optimization, etc. Therefore, even people far from programming begin to master this new alphabet. If you also want to understand the endless stream of symbols and create algorithms, we offer several sites that will help you with this.

Codecademy
Codecademy – learn to code interactively for free

This is one of the most popular online programming platforms. The user only needs to register to get free access to the course materials. In total, the site presents 12 programming languages, so both beginners and advanced specialists will have something to work with. The site has a separate chat, where users can consult with each other and with experienced web developers. Codecademy teaches programming in an accessible game form, so the site is suitable for those who have long justified themselves with the phrase: «I really want to learn to code, but I’m afraid».

Udacity

Among the other sites on programming, Udacity is characterized by the free of charge issues a digital certificate to users that successfully completed a particular course. This diploma is appreciated by many IT companies, so if you are serious and want to connect your career with programming, Udacity will be the most suitable option. The platform also provides courses related to blogging and start-up creation, they teach only the basics of programming necessary to perform specific tasks.

Udacity – get nano diploma, which is recognized by IT companies
Free Code Camp

The platform can be described as a site created for beginners with big ambitions: the service is provided for training from scratch, so each task is explained in detail. However, the site gives you the opportunity to participate in the development of large projects created by other users. Therefore, here you can get both knowledge and experience. To get a certificate confirming the completion of the course, you will have to make a lot of effort: the final task must not just pass, but put on the git-repository.

Free Code Camp – learn to code and participate in projects

Important reminder: don’t be afraid of errors in programming. Phrase: «I pushed something , and everything broke», perhaps, the most common among newcomers. But all of the platforms listed above have «sandboxes» – that is, fields for testing the created programs – and, if something goes wrong, the site will indicate an error in the code.

Do you want to drop everything? This is not laziness, this is procrastination!

Why do we put things off until later, and how can we overcome our reluctance to work?

Reading time 5 minutes

Why do students often postpone difficult cases? Study Mode conducted a survey of 1,300 students, and found out: 87% of respondents always delay in completing a task, leaving it for later. Psychologists call this phenomenon procrastination. Sometimes this phenomenon is called a manifestation of weakness and laziness, but in fact, procrastination has deeper roots.

Why do we procrastinate?

Procrastinator brain

Brain is to blame for the fact that man procrastinates. This conclusion was made by researchers from the Ruhr University. They used 264 volunteers, examined them with an MRI. Then the participants filled out a questionnaire in which they appreciated how they can control their emotions. Research has shown that some people have a much larger amygdala than others. This gland is responsible for controlling emotions. It means that it is difficult for a person to cope with his feelings.

In addition, this part of the brain of procrastinators has a weak connection with the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which chooses what we should do. Normally, the interaction of the tonsil and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex helps us to complete our tasks and enjoy the process at the same time. Each action of procrastinators is the result of a struggle between these two parts of the brain.

Vicious circle procrastinator

One of the most unpleasant features of procrastination is a constant feeling of guilt and dissatisfaction with yourself. Deferred cases are done in a hurry – these actions affect the result and our well-being. There is a reluctance to take on new things. It turns out a vicious circle, and getting out of it is not so easy. 

 

How to overcome procrastination?

At first glance, it is impossible to overcome procrastination, because for this it is necessary to correct those parts of the brain that are responsible for it. You can’t change the brain, but you can cheat it.

  • Understand your task. We put things on a back burner, because the task seems to us simply incomprehensible. Students, for example, are afraid of a blank sheet. In fact, the task only seems so impracticable. It is enough to single out the purpose of the task, divide it into components and solve it in parts.
  • Work for periods. A common problem of procrastinators is the inability to think for a long time. As soon as we begin to perform tasks, we immediately get tired. It is necessary to set a timer and work, for example, 25 minutes. The main thing is not to make indulgences and not to finish the work earlier.
  • Minimize distractions. Put your phone in flight mode so that you will not be disturbed by calls and messages. Work in a place where no one will disturb you, and concentrate fully on the task.
  • Kindle your interest. Obviously, to perform tasks that are beyond your interests is difficult. But the brain can be deceived: it is enough to spend a few minutes writing a script in which this experience will definitely come in handy in the future. In addition, you can encourage yourself for work. When you solve a problem, watch a movie or go for a walk with friends.

 

Exposure, shutter speed, aperture, ISO: how to deal with it

Cheat notes for a beginning photographer

Reading time 6 minutes

The cherished dream has finally come true: you are holding a new camera and ready to click everything. There is only one problem – you see one thing, and the camera – quite another, it ruthlessly spoils the whole picture! In this case, however, it is not the camera, it is the ability to work with it. And there is not enough knowledge about what a matrix and what a lens, will have to study a few more concepts.

Exposition

The first term that any user who has picked up a professional camera faces is exposure. In simple words, the exposure is the amount of light that falls on the matrix of the camera at the time of shooting. Thus, it is responsible for the saturation of the photo, so first of all you should learn how to work with the exposure.

To determine the exposure parameters, it is necessary to deal with the exposure meter – a scale on the screen that shows how accurately the exposure is built. If the runner leaves plus – there is a lot of light, if the negative – few. If the slider is near zero, the exposure is correct.

The secret of correct exposure is that to configure it you need two parameters aperture and shutter speed together – expopair. In the following table you can easily identify the cases in which the ratio of the aperture and shutter speed matched right: cells of the same color located in one diagonal indicate the correct exposure value.

Aperture

The hole in the lens through which light enters the camera body is called the aperture. It adjusts the brightness of the picture, it can be used to take light pictures even in a dimly lit room and Vice versa. There are 13 aperture values, the higher this value – the more the aperture is closed, in the picture it is shown as follows:

Advises

  • the two most popular types of photography are landscape and portrait. To shoot a landscape, it is better to use a closed aperture (from f/8), then it will be clear, for shooting a portrait, an open aperture (f/1,4 – 3,5) will be more suitable, it will help to make the background more blurred and create the famous bokeh effect;
  • if you’re shooting a pair, the ideal aperture value would be f/5.6, and for a group of people – f/8, however, in poor lighting, you should use an additional flash light;
  • in poor lighting conditions suitable aperture value f/2,8, in bright light at f/16.
Shutter speed

Another term – shutter speed – means the time during which the camera shutter is open, and the light hits the matrix. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, long shutter speed is used for static images, and short shutter speed is used for dynamic images. However, there is an interesting technique: shooting fast motion with long exposure creates the effect of a blurred trail behind the object.

The use of long exposure is justified in two cases: in poor lighting or to create a motion effect (for example, it is better to shoot a waterfall jet at a long exposure). In other cases, it is better to use a short exposure.

ISO

Light sensitivity (or ISO) is the speed at which the matrix records information about the amount of light. But the faster the light is fixed, the more graphic information it will lose. The light sensitivity setting is useful if you need certain shutter speed and aperture values in low light. Increasing the ISO in this case will give the necessary exposure, but the fee for increasing the sensitivity will increase the grain of the frame.

Tip: even if you shoot in the dark, you should set the light sensitivity not higher than 200-400 to reduce the amount of grain, and if in a well-lit room – you should bring the ISO to a minimum.

The ability to work with the basic settings of the camera significantly improve the result of shooting. And with experience, knowledge of settings for specific situations and understanding of the features of your camera will appear.

Turn the screen into black and white mode

How to overcome the dependence on the smartphone without getting rid of it

Reading time 4 minutes

Dependence on smartphones is a disease, and users themselves began to understand it. According to Google statistics, the query “smartphone addiction” and similar became very popular last year.

Analysts attribute this to the desire of people to cope with dependence on smartphones. Recently, as SKY News reported, sales of push-button phones without Internet access have increased in the world. According to the data presented on the website, sales increased by 5%.

However, there is another way to deal with smartphone addiction. American psychologist Martin Sinclair, the author of the bestseller “Care for busy people” proposed to transfer smartphones in monochrome. All application icons and their interface will become black and white. According to him, looking at the screen without colorful pictures and notifications can block emotional attachment – a key element of addiction.

It’s not a secret that app and website developers deliberately use techniques that cause addiction. Bright colors and colorful pictures – one of them. This was told by Tristan Harris, former head of design ethics at Google. He is the founder of the non-profit organisation Time Well Spent, where users are told about manipulation of their attention and how not to fall for the tricks of developers.

Instruction for use

If the smartphone has already become an integral part of the hand, and life without it seems impossible, it’s time to ask yourself: have I become addicted? The positive answer is an excuse to put your phone in monochrome mode. This can be done in a few clicks.

For Android

  1. Go to system settings and select the category «about phone»;
  2. Several times in a row click on the build number, it will open access to advanced editing;
  3. In the system find window «for developers»;
  4. In the section «hardware visualization acceleration» find the item «Simulate anomaly» and choose the monochrome mode.

For iOS

  1. Go to basic settings;
  2. Find the «Quick access» section and select «Filters»;
  3. After that, a triple press on the «Home» button will allow you to quickly change modes from black and white to color.

And the main recommendation: remember that the world around is much brighter than the screen of your smartphone!

10 life hacks for working in Google Docs

Useful features of cloud editor that you might not know

Reading time 5 minutes

Google Drive is used not only to store files, but also to create documents online. Editor Google Docs has a number of useful features that you might not know about – the text editor keeps many secrets. We talk about the chips and tricks of Google Docs.

Mentions

Google Docs allows you to work on one document together. In order for a person to quickly respond to your question, just put “+ “and select the desired nickname.

Built-in dictionary

You can open a whole dictionary, using the key combination Ctrl+Shift+Y in the text editor. Here you will find the interpretation of the highlighted word, you can clarify the correct accent and gender, in order to avoid mistakes in the text.

Automatic text recognition

The service can recognize printed text in PDF files and images. Right-click on the Open with Google Docs feature. The editor automatically recognizes the text and immediately creates a copy of the document.

Document converter

Any driver’s document can be saved in different formats: Microsoft Word, PDF, TXT or a web-page with HTML-code. Click the Save As button in the File section and select the desired format.

Offline save

Despite the fact that Google Docs is an online text editor, you can work in offline mode here. Just select the checkbox Save documents to this computer … in the settings in order to work without connecting to the Internet. Before you start editing the file, make sure that there is enough memory on your device to save the document.

Advanced Search

In the Tools is hiding another useful feature — Advanced search. It is very easy to lose important data here. The search takes place in your driver’s documents and on the Internet. The function is especially useful if you are looking for pictures on the network — all in one place, you do not need to constantly switch between tabs.

AutoCorrect

In the settings you can adjust the automatic replacement. Google Docs can replace direct quotes with pairs, automatically detect links, recognize lists and suggest contacts in the comments. You can also add additional options and hotkeys.

Instant translation

There is an automatic translation via Google Translate. Simply select a language, and the text editor will save the translated copy of the document on the driver.

Smart link adding

Even if you do not know the exact address of the link, Google Docs will help you find the right resource. Select the desired phrase or enter it in the search bar, using the Ctrl+K command. The service will offer you options for suitable links.

Voice input

You can enter text, edit it, write comments and tips to the document using voice input. To have Google Docs record your speech, turn on the microphone on your computer or phone. Speak clearly and separately. Do not be surprised if errors are found in the text: the program recognizes Russian speech much worse than English.

From Aristotle to Robert Mackey

What to read for an aspiring screenwriter

Reading time 4 minutes

Robert McKee – “Story”

Роберт Макки "История на миллион долларов"

Robert McKee is one of the most sought after scriptwriters in the world. He has published several books and regularly holds seminars for those who want to learn storytelling. Students of his seminars participated in the creation of such films and TV series as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Wolf of Wall Street and others. 

The book “Story” as fully as possible reveals how to tell a story so that it finds its viewer. “History” is written in simple and accessible language, so it is not necessary to know the basics of drama: it will be useful for both beginners and followers.

Blake Snyder – “Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need”

 

Блейк Снайдер "Спасите котика!"
Blake Snyder “Save the Cat!”

Blake Snyder was a screenwriter, producer, and storytelling consultant. He created scripts and earned money by selling them.

 

The book “Save the cat!” is in first place in the top of the Amazon site in the “movie scripts” section and is very popular among screenwriters around the world. It is read in one breath. Blake Snyder describes the techniques for creating a memorable and vivid history, each item is illustrated clearly, this is a practical guide that will answer the most important questions.

The screenwriter offers his own classification of genres and his recipe for creating a potential masterpiece consisting of 15 ingredients.

Aristotle – “Poetics”

Аристотель — древнегреческий философ, автор трактата "Поэтика"
Aristotle – the ancient Greek philosopher, author of the treatise “Poetics”

The study of stories and characters began much earlier than the cinema era. Aristotle’s Poetics treatise was written in 335 BC, it reveals the fundamentals and proposes a theory of drama. The ancient Greek philosopher defines poetics as a whole, speaks about the main techniques of the tragedy, gives the character traits that the heroes of each story should possess.

“Poetics” and other works of Aristotle – an important stage in the study and classification of theories of drama.

 

Initially, the work consisted of two parts: the first reveals the principles and parts of the tragedy, the second – the comedy. Unfortunately, the second part did not reach modern readers.

What dry starvation is, and how it affects our health

Is organism able to supply the water scarcity dissolving lipids?

Reading time 4 minutes

What dry starvation constitutes

The method gist implies: a human completely refuses not only any food but also water during 1-3 days. This is a gentle form. A harsh form of dry starvation is the prohibition of all water procedures, even washing and toothbrushing.

Dry starvation proponents say that due to the liquids scarcity an organism is forced to rapidly supply its lipid tissue. There are 100-120 billion of lipid cells in human body. Lipids are the hugest energetic and water depo as during lipolysis (fat digestion) water is being produced. This is endogenous, or internal moisture. It is presupposed that it will be enough for the first few days not to die from the dehydration.

Except weight lose this method, allegedly, aids to avoid edema and even exclude inflamed areas: microorganisms whereas they are viruses or microbes also need water for reproduction.

The idea is interesting and charming, yet the truth is that beneficials are not scientifically substantiated.

What world medical society says about dry starvation

Nothing. It prefers to ignore the existence of this method.

The consumers of the popular news source Reddit tried to argument profitability (or at least harmlessness) of dry diet and were able to find just several links on scientific researches. However, the existing ones are not allowed to consider as exhaustive and undeniable.

For instance, one group of scientists made a research of the influence of a five-day water abstinence on a person. It didn’t reflect negatively on a testee health. On the contrary, their bodies lost in volume, and kidneys work enhanced.

Nevertheless, only 10 grown-up, physically healthy people participated in the experiment. Its results are not applicable for all human beings.

Dry starvation was mentioned in the handbook for physicians published in the Ministry of Health and Social Development 14 years ago. it is claimed, in particular, that an organism easier overcomes waterless starvation then orthodox with maintenance of drinking. Besides, it aids when a person is intending to lose weight and cure some illnesses. Authors equate three days without water and food to the week of non-refuse of food and water. Unfortunately, their claims are disapproved, that is why it is not allowed to believe them.

What, in fact, happens when an organism is dehydrated

Weight is really wasted and rapidly enough. Frankly, you will not be happy for a long time: such fluctuations of the body mass are mainly connected with liquid loss, not lipid tissue, and after drinking recovery kilos will return again.

This ends up with nominal advantages of dry starvation and it is time to speak about minuses which are numeral.

It is significantly easier to find information about negative consequences of food refusal. metabolic rate unstoppably going in our organism and maintaining our life is impossible without food. Due to the water lack metabolism is being slowed down, and it, at first, effects brain work.

The following symptoms catching up in the first days:

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • unreasonable apatia
  • concentration loss

The further, the worst. Doctors warn: it is fraught with hypoxia, kidneys illnesses, crampings and pre-existing conditions due to the broken transfer of neural impulses.

Summing it up, it is essential to note that dry starvation transfer a person to the extremal for his life conditions. Its value is not proved and harm is.

Hand over rags – get discounts

Well-known brands take things for recycling

Reading time 5 minutes

The beginning of the new year is a great time to sort out your clothes and throw unnecessary things. But the old clothes and other goods can be handed over to the store, for which you will receive a nice bonus. We will tell you where you can give away different things and get a discount for it.

H&M
H&M shop

The H&M company advocates for eco-friendly fashion and launched a worldwide campaign to gather and recycle things «Garment Collection».

The brand accepts any home textiles and clothing, including knitted accessories, underwear, tights, socks and stockings. You can bring things in any condition: hand over the torn pillow and frippery lone sock.

Clothing in a good condition is sent to second hand stores and charities, from textiles that are no longer suitable for use,  rags and wipes for cleaning are produced, decrepit things are recycled to create shock-absorbing and insulating fibers. H&M directs income to the implementation of social projects.

For each package of clothes that you bring to the store, you will be given a coupon for a 15% discount. One buyer can give unlimited number of products for recycling, but you can get only two vouchers per day for the purchase of a new thing. Now H&M issues coupons, which are valid until January 31, 2019.

MONKI
MONKI shop

MONKI brand is struggling with fast fashion and encourages its customers to take the way of reasonable and environmentally friendly consumption. In 2017, the official channel of the brand released a video instruction for lazy people, in which the company gives advice on an environmentally friendly lifestyle, and also tells why you should send unnecessary things for recycling and reuse.

Any home textiles and clothes are accepted in the shops, except footwear, accessories, products from natural and artificial leather, fur and latex. For one delivered package you will receive a voucher that gives a 15% discount on any item in the check. The rules are the same as in H&M.

By 2030, MONKI plans to create all the clothes of the brand from recycled materials.

Store addresses and contacts can be found on MONKI’s social media page.

IKEA
IKEA bedroom design

IKEA stores promote an environmentally friendly way of life at home: you can always hand over the batteries or buy products that help save water and energy. In 2017, the company launched a service for the reception and recycling of bed linen.

IKEA accepts sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers of all sizes and materials. You will not be able to hand over to the store blankets, pillows, bedspreads and completely spoiled bed linen. Brand transfers collected products to the Fund for those in need – «Vtoroe dyhanie» (New lease of life). The company gives a 15% discount on the purchase of a new set for all buyers participating in the campaign.

IKEA publishes reports on environmental and social activities on the official page.

The greatest films of all times

The best black and white films for winter evenings

Reading time 6 minutes

During cold winter nights you can make mulled wine, dive into a blanket, and watch black and white movies. Those which characters of Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth were watching in the second part of Sex in the City. true masterpieces keep thrilling and never get old. Their black-and-white aesthetics as well as acting still fascinate people. 

All About Eve (1950)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Plot: the competition between a Broadway legend Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and her fan, an amateur actress Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). The audience can also see Marilyn Monroe in a small episodic role. For Marilyn it is one of the first roles in her career. The movie won six Academy Awards, including Best Film from any Source award. Half a century later, an eccentric Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar creates an allusion of the story in his All About My Mother film.

A shot from Everything abot Eve
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Director: Elia Kazan
It is an adaptation of Tennessee Williams‘s play of the same name which brings us to poor districts of New Orleans. An aging, but still beautiful Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) and her sister’s husband Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) face the contradictions. The film won a lot of awards, including Vivien’s Academy Award nomination for Best Actress which, according to the actress led her to madness.

Трамвай «Желание»
Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire
Roman Holiday (1953)

Director: William Wyler
It is a light romantic comedy about a princess and an American journalist which touches more than one generation. The narrative is very simple, it tells the well-known story of love between a princess and a commoner. Audrey Hepburn won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. It happened eight years prior her most recognizable role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s film.

Римские каникулы
Audrey Hepburn and  Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday
Some Like It Hot (1959)

Director: Billy Wilder
The film starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon which is often being called the best comedy in the movie history. The story of adventurers, hiding from gangsters, touring with the women’s orchestra, is known all over the world. The film won Academy Awards and a Golden Globe Award and became a leading film not only in the US, but also in USSR.

Мэрилин Монро
Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane
Psycho (1960)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Those, who love being titillated, can watch a psychological horror film by Hitchcock. The film is construed as one of the key movies of all times. The principles of showing the subconscious fear of the characters, used by the director, influenced all subsequent horror films.

Психо
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Director: Mike Nichols
Elizabeth Taylor confessed in her memoirs that the role of Martha was the best in her career because during the whole shooting process she was Acting. A family drama about a relationship between loving and hating each other spouses caused a resonance among viewers and critics. The film built on conflicts and cursing which realistically shows family relationships. The film won five American Academy Awards, including one for Best Actress.

A frame from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 
Manhattan (1979)

Director: Woody Allen
One of the most popular Woody Allen’s film takes the viewer to his favorite city. Passions, doubts, and contradictions of the characters are imbued with the rhythm of Manhattan. Viewers, critics, and new Yorkers themselves agree that the director has created a cinematic anthem of the city.

Манхэттен
According to critics, Manhattan is the best Allen’s film