Posts in People

My 5 Favourite YouTube Channels At The Moment

Ok, so I promised to be real around here.

And I am. If I have a guilty pleasure it has to be watching YouTube. Today’s is going to be about my top 5 favourite YouTube channels.

Yes, I know know. I watch YouTube for escapism reasons (all of my fellow media and communications friends will know what I mean). Anyways, in case you want to relax and just consume something entertaining (because the thought of actually actively doing something seems difficult or watching something too complicated and demanding). So, those are my 5 favorite YouTube channels, maybe there’s something in for you, too. (I just realized that selection might be a bit more feminine, sorry guys).

#1 The Anna Edit

Well Anna, if you’re ever reading this. I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND! While that might make you feel all cringy I think we’d really hit it off. Yes I do. For all of you who are interested in lifestyle, beauty, food and bits of fashion but all in a really cool and easy and not over the top kind of way, this is your channel. Also, can we take a moment to just listen to this beautiful English accent, so nice!

#2 Estée Lalonde

I’ve been following Estée’s channel for a few years now. She’s Canadian but moved to London for love and is now making videos about all things London lifestyle, beauty, interiors, style in general, books and the list goes on. She has also made a few videos on the topics of feminism and the stylishness and the house Estée lives in are JUST ON ANOTHER LEVEL. So beautiful.

#3 Pick up Limes

I’ve discovered Saida’s channel only a few months ago but really appreciate this nutritionist’s videos on minimalism, vegan recipes and just life tips and hacks in general. You really see the effort she puts in every video and her voice has just something so soothing to it. Don’t you think?

#4 Sarah’s Day

This Australian girl is just so nice. Her accent is, too. She also seems to be super easy going and approachable. Besides showing us the great life of living in Sydney she is all about that healthy fitness and food lifestyle. Check her out if you’re into that!

#5 SORTEDfood 

It’s all about the food. Need I say more? Cool (is it ok to still use cool?) and inspiring channel, check it out yo.

And last but not least, my all time favorite not needing to be in a top 5 because it is just the best…is…..you might have guessed it: Yoga with Adriene!

Let me know what your favorite channels are if you have any!

Cheers!

#ChallengeMeJune Week 3: Paying a Compliment to Someone Every Day

Hello everyone,

how has this summer been treating you so far (besides being boiling hot)?

Welcome to this third report of my #ChallengeMeJune series. This time I tried to pay a compliment to someone (to people I knew or to people I didn’t know) at least once a day for one week. I have to say that Americans are pretty great at giving compliments. They will stop you on the streets to compliment you on your shoes, your scarf or your hair (they will, trust me, happened to me before). I usually give people compliments anyway but thought it was fun to be more reflective about it for a week.

Read on more about why paying compliments to someone is a great thing and why you should give it a try (in case you’re not a professional compliment giver already, in that case you’re dismissed and don’t have to read this).

Why should I pay compliments to someone you ask?

#1 It takes the focus off of you

That might sound complicated at first but hear me out. If you’re having a bad day, paying a genuine compliment to someone can make their day a little nicer, and you will feel better than before as well.

#2 It makes the person you pay a compliment perform better!

Study researchers in Tokyo trained 48 adults to perform a task that required them to tap items on a keyboard in a specific pattern. Then the adults were split into three groups. One group received personalized, individual compliments from one of the administrators of the study. Another group was forced to watch as other people received compliments. The third group was simply meant to evaluate how they did, as participants, on the test. When the participants returned to the testing facility the next day, all of the participants were asked to perform the finger test once again. The group that received personalized compliments performed better on the test that day than either of the other groups. Researchers believe that the compliments made them perform better.

The researchers were able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise. There seems to be scientific validity behind the message ‘praise to encourage improvement’. Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during rehabilitation (see source here).

#3 Compliments build trust

Each one of us walking this planet has the desire to be acknowledged. When someone else notices even the slightest thing about another person, it can shout to that person, “Hey!  Someone noticed me!!” Your daily compliments to “the shy one” at work whose name no one knows can help her break out of her shyness and, who knows? turn her into the best friend you’ve ever had. We all need someone in our lives we can trust, and the more we build up others the more we’re also building up ourselves.

#4 What goes around comes around

When you give a compliment, you’re more than likely going to get one in return. As simple as that! But obviously don’t go around paying compliments expecting that people must return it.

Who I payed compliments to during this week

Day 1: To a 2 week old baby of friends I’ve visited. I just said how perfect he was and how cute his hands and fingernails were. To what the new mother replied they were quite dangerous as they grew so fast and the little one would scratch himself. Still, they were cute. 

Day 2: To an old man (he was with his lovely wife, don’t you worry) at the line before checking in at the airport. We did small talk about where we were flying to. They turned out to fly to Athens to visit family. I then said that I loved Athens and the food. He seemed so happy about it and kept on telling me about all the foods he was looking forward to eat. 

Day 3: Told Philipp that he is a great human being (just in general)

Day 4: Told my grandmother that she looked really well and fresh.

Day 5: Told my pregnant friend how relaxed she seemed.

Day 6: Told a friend how good she looked.

Day 7: Told a friend how lovely her shorts were.

I obviously didn’t limit myself to only one compliment per day, the sky is the limit if you will. I was just a bit rubbish at remembering them (should have written them down but…no). Anyway, there is no such thing as too many compliments, as long as they are genuine of course. So give it a try! You will feel better and the person receiving them, WIN-WIN! 

Try it! Be nice to someone right now and see what happens.

Meet Fernanda, Ly and Mattias (Part 2)

Hi people,

how are you? I guess you must be doing well, as it is F-R-I-D-A-Y! Yay! Happy weekend!

Join me today for the second and final part of the interview I did with the phenomenal trio Ly (Vietnam), Fernanda (Brazil) and Mattias (Sweden). We’re going to talk about adjusting to a life in a new country and looking back on their experience in the US. As applied for part 1 if you’d rather like us hear speaking, click on the corresponding audio files below.

Settling in

Sandra: What was the easiest or the hardest part in adjusting to your new life here in the US?

Fernanda: I’m going to say that the best part of living here is that it is very convenient. Especially living in Cambridge. It has a bit of a small town, suburban feeling to it, still you have Boston close by. You don’t need a car. Also, I really like being able to head down to CVS at 2am in the morning for ice cream. In Rio, shops close very early. On the other hand, things here are very expensive compared to Rio.

Sandra: What do you find to be most expensive, the food, the cost of living?

Fernanda: I wanna say health insurance. It’s painful how much it costs…

Sandra: Yeah, that’s true, I think that both Switzerland and the US are two of the countries within the OECD that pay most for health insurance.

Fernanda: The hardest part was maybe speaking to people. I wasn’t too confident in my English when I first arrived. I’m very shy and have some trouble speaking to people anyway, so talking in another language I don’t feel so comfortable in, was even more challenging for me.

Sandra: What do you miss the most?

Fernanda: Besides my family and friends it has to be the food. I miss being able to go to a café and have something savoury and not always sweet stuff with my coffee for example. I have to do it myself that’s frustrating (laughs). Also, people in Rio are very warm and open and you can basically start a conversation with everyone if you’d like to. It’s not that I particularly like that but now that I’m gone I miss it. Same goes for music. I never used to be into Samba music but for some reason, now that I live abroad, I love it! I listen to it every day to wake up.

Sandra: Does Mattias also listen to Swedish music to wake up?

Mattias: No, not really. Every now and then I will listen to a Swedish jazz orchestra. I don’t do lots of Swedish things I guess. I came here for the American music of course (everyone laughs).

Sandra: Of course. What was the easiest or hardest part for you in settling in here in the US?

Mattias: It was mostly easy to adjust ourselves to the new life here. Having moved a lot and having lived in a lot of countries has influenced us in the sense that there’s only a few basic things we need to buy to make us feel at home.

Sandra: What are those?

Mattias: Something like a good kitchen knife for example, kitchen stuff basically. Back in China and a few other countries it used to be a window scraper. Those are multi tools for getting water away from showers in the bathroom, the kitchen and stuff.

Sandra: Do you have one now?

Mattias: No. In general it’s cooking in a place and then everything will feel at home. That’s how it has been the last couple of times we moved anyway. And in Cambridge everything feels very nice. I really like that it feels like a small place that is connected to a bigger place like Boston. I’d even say that out of all the places I’ve lived I feel most at home here.

Sandra: Why is that? Besides the home cooking.

Mattias: Cambridge kind of feels like the village I am from in the north of Sweden, just bigger. It’s more spread out. The lushness of the trees, the smell of the bushes, how it looks. It kind of reminds me of my hometown that makes me feel a bit nostalgic.

Sandra: What about you, Ly?

Ly: I love to explore new cultures and Boston happens to be such a melting pot of different cultures. So I’ll have Korean food on Monday, Vietnamese on Tuesday, American Food on Wednesday, maybe Swedish next…

Mattias: Swedish fish maybe! (everyone laughs)

Sandra: That’s as Swedish as it can get here (red. Swedish fish is a gummy candy in fish shape, probably not Swedish at all).

Ly: We’ll also have cheese fondue often, even in summer time. We prepare it in our rice cooker.

Sandra: So you like the variety of cultures coming together in one place?

Ly: Yes, that’s right. What I also really like is the wide offer of events and activities in the city. I have pottery and salsa classes, everything is quite close and it’s just so exciting.

Sandra: So you really like the that you find a lot of things to do here.

Ly: What I miss is the Vietnamese language. Maybe because I don’t really hang out with other Vietnamese people. I still text my friends. I also try to listen to more Vietnamese songs. Before coming here, I didn’t like Vietnamese songs too much, they seemed too cheesy and romantic to me. But now I love to listen to them as they make me feel good.

Looking back on the US experience

Sandra: Picture yourself as an old person. If someone were to ask you about your experience in the US, what would you tell them, what would your main take aways be? Let’s start with you Mattias, what would you say as old wise men?

Mattias: How inspiring this is as a place. And how many great people are here and how open they are. They are passionate about what they’re doing and will share that with you. I’ve been also been going to seminars here and people are always so nice. I’d say this is the main take away that is different from other places.

Sandra: What about you, Fernanda?

Fernanda: I think that the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that everybody everywhere in the world is very similar. You don’t have to be afraid to interact with others and start a conversation. It’s fascinating to me how people from different cultures can communicate and talk to each other. They’re just people. And I used to be afraid of that. I have friends from all over the world now and that is something Boston gave to me.

Mattias: That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard so far.

Sandra: That’s so nice. The pressure is on now for you Ly.

Ly: Boston really is kind of a global village. There are people from all over the world here. The diversity is great and it’s just such an exciting and innovative place to be. I also appreciate how open people are and how they will be open to new opportunities as well. They want to make things happen. That’s so different from Vietnam or even the UK. That’s one of the things I like the most, besides living with my husband of course.

Happy weekend everyone!

Meet Fernanda, Ly and Mattias (Part 1)

Hi friends,

I’m keeping the interview mode on until the end of the week and am really happy to share part 1 of an interview I did with three great humans about their own experiences of arriving and living in the United States with you today. Meet Fernanda (Brazil), Mattias (Sweden) and Ly (Vietnam).

Also, if you’re a lazy bum and prefer to listen to the interview instead of reading it (I totally understand, no judgement here), just click on the corresponding audio files below (bonus material included, please excuse the wind in the audio).

The Arrival 

Sandra: Do you remember the day you first arrived to Boston?

Ly: My husband picked me up at the airport and I was just so happy to see him. On our drive back home, I was just amazed by how big it all seemed, especially the buildings and how pretty the light was during that time of day. It was in the evening during the golden hour and the sky had that beautiful purple color, it was so romantic. The next day was a different story though. Without the romantic lighting the buildings just looked like concrete.

Sandra: That’s a nice first impression, what about you, Mattias, as seen from a Swedish perspective?

Mattias: I actually had the opposite experience. It started out really bad and turned out to be a really nice experience.

Sandra: How come?

Mattias: When we decided that we were going to come to Harvard, I had actually no idea where Boston was. I didn’t know it was that far up north. And I read that it rains and snows a lot, which I didn’t know. But I thought, ok, it’s going to be fine. The day we arrived, however, it was raining like crazy.

Sandra: What time of the year was it?

Mattias: The 28th of December.

Sandra: Wow, that’s a hardcore time to arrive here.

Mattias: Everything went well, we came to the apartment that we rented and then we needed to go to the supermarket. So we figured out that the closest shop was something called like Trader Joes. So we started walking there, and there were no sidewalks. Even though now we know that there are sidewalks everywhere, just on that particular patch there was no sidewalk. Then there was this sleet coming down, this mix of rain and snow, it was really cold and we came into Trader Joes and everything was super expensive. We were used to Chinese prices (red. before coming to the US, Mattias and his wife were based in China). But if we’ll go back to Sweden we might think s***, everything is so expensive. So on our first evening here, we didn’t really want to buy anything to eat because it was expensive, we came home totally drenched and cold…

Sandra: Did things get a little better the following day?

Mattias: Yes, the next day everything was a lot better. Blue skies, pretty nice.

Sandra: What about you, Fernanda?

Fernanda: When we got here, about two years ago, it was summer. It was my first time in America during the summer. And I seriously didn’t know it could get this hot. I had this idea in my head of Boston being so far up north that it couldn’t possibly be as hot as in Brazil. So I was a little disappointed in a way.

Sandra: Would you have preferred a crazy winter scenario like Mattias had when arriving here?

Fernanda: Yes, I was a bit disappointed but now I enjoy it especially after having spent two winters here. I’ve really learned to appreciate the seasons, which is pretty cool because we don’t really have changing seasons in Brazil, at least in Rio it’s always very hot. It’s been a while since I first got here and so I don’t really remember every detail anymore. I think we were very excited to be here. We had just gotten married, were living in our first home together and were doing everything together as a married couple for the first time. So it was a really special. And I think I associate this newlywed feeling with Boston. It was a good first impression.

Sandra: And if you think back, when meeting new people, what were people’s reactions when you told them that you were from Brazil?

Fernanda: I remember some people finding it strange that I was so pale. Because they have this idea about Brazilian people, especially from Rio, that they are tanned and enjoy the sun. Speaking of Americans, I can hardly say that I’ve met one. Like everyone that I know isn’t from here. I guess the most American friends that I have are Canadians (everyone laughs).

Sandra: Well I don’t know if they’d like you to say that about them…

Fernanda: It’s just very hard to meet locals.

Sandra: What about you Mattias and Ly? Would they know that it is Sweden and not Switzerland for example?

Mattias: Yeah, exactly that’s what I was going to say.

Sandra: No actually, you always win. It’s Switzerland that people here mostly confuse with Sweden and not the other way round I think.

Mattias: Maybe because you’re a woman. I think Americans associate Sweden somehow with women. But like Fernanda, I have only met very few Americans. When I went to buy fabric recently, they asked me where I was from. And then they said, ‘Ah Sweden’, that’s that tiny country with the nice chocolate.

Sandra: That’s so funny, it’s actually the opposite from what always happens to me. They will always end up meaning Sweden and NOT Switzerland.

Sandra: What about you Ly?

Ly: It’s a bit of a similar experience to Mattias and Fernanda. As Boston is such an international place, I haven’t met that many real Bostonians up until now. Most of the Americans I meet are actually my Uber drivers.

Sandra: Interesting, what about them?

Ly: First off they think I’m from China. But when I say ‘No, I’m from Vietnam’, they’ll say ‘Oh, you’re from Vietnam, I love phở’. I think phở seems to be very popular, so everyone seems to know and like it.

Sandra: That’s so interesting, so the first association people have is with phở.

American Food

Sandra: From the top of your head, what’s your favorite American food or drink item?

Fernanda: (very fast response) Mac and Cheese.

Sandra: That was very fast. Any other foods?

Fernanda: That’s the only American food I’ve discovered. All the other foods I’ve gotten to know here are not American, like Vietnamese food, which I really like.

Sandra: In terms of drinks any favorites?

Fernanda: Well, something I like is that craft beers are a huge thing here. My husband and I are really into it and it’s very easy to find specialty beers.

Sandra: Nobody says doughnuts, I’m so surprised. You don’t like doughnuts?

Ly: No, not really. It’s quite difficult to tell if a food is American because their cuisine has so many influences from different places. I actually really like Avocado toast.

Sandra: That’s very healthy.

Ly: I’m not quite sure if it’s a special dish but I really like it.

Fernanda: I think it started off as an Australian thing.

Ly: I think they put Avocado on everything here.

Sandra: Yeah, it’s trendy.

Ly: And it’s quite surprising for me. Even though we have a lot of avocados in Vietnam too, I never eat in a savoury dish, like on bread or in a salad, we eat it as a sweet. Normally we prepare it with milk and sugar or in a smoothie.

Mattias: I pretty much always eat at home, so I couldn’t say. The most American I do, is that I drink a lot of Diet Coke, which I don’t do otherwise.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview where we’ll cover American daily life. It’s a good one.

Have a fantastic Thursday everyone!

Meet Ares (Part 2)

Hi friends,

as we’ve been talking a lot, here comes part 2 of our interview, which might be my favorite part of the two. Hope you’ll enjoy! If you have any questions regarding music therapy do let us know in the comments below and I’ll make sure to answer them together with Ares, who actually knows about it.

Have a great day!

Sandra: How do you see the current state of music therapy as a field? Are there differences between Europe and the States?

Ares: That is really difficult to say. Generally, the States are pretty far ahead, it’s a bit more established as it has been around for longer. I’ve been lucky to have been trained by great music therapists in Spain that themselves have been trained in the US.

Sandra: What’s the situation like in Spain especially?

Ares: It’s becoming a bit more popular, as there’s a growing public interest in complementary types of therapies that don’t use medication. What I also observe is that programs targeting children will usually get more attention and more funding. Then there are also music therapists in major hospitals in Madrid and Barcelona that have a fixed position, which is great. However, as a music therapist you’ll often be confronted with financial restrictions and a lack of resources. What is also really important in my opinion is that music therapists still have to make a big effort to be involved in the medical network. Teachers, doctors, nurses etc. have to know what music therapists do, vice versa and work together.

Sandra: Could this be due to being a relatively young profession historically speaking that it still isn’t fully established within the medical world yet?

Ares: Yes, that could be a reason why.

Sandra: How did the profession came to be anyway?

Ares: The profession of music therapy in the United States began to develop during W.W.I and W.W. II, when music was used in Veterans Hospitals as an intervention to address traumatic war injuries. Veterans  engaged in music activities that focused on relieving pain perception. Doctors and nurses witnessed the effect music had on veterans’ psychological, physiological, cognitive, and emotional state. I like to compare the history of nursing with that of music therapy as they both started off with the World Wars and despite of being so important never really get the attention socially and politically they deserve. 

Sandra: Are there certain ideas or music therapy concepts that people can apply in their daily lifes without having any therapeutic need?

Ares: For sure. Music is beneficial to everyone. Obviously, if you feel healthy and fine you won’t need any form of therapy. However, that music be part of your daily life is super beneficial to everyone. It activates all of your brain, your whole body actually. If you’ll go for a run and put on fast rhythmic music, it will activate you even more. What I also would like to add is that we will usually talk about music that has lyrics. The lyrics however greatly influences how we perceive music.

Sandra: Do you really think that the lyrics are that important?

Ares: Absolutely. We once did a little experiment in Spain, playing a group a song, once in French and once in Spanish. And even though it was the exact same song despite the lyrics, people perceived the songs as very different. If people approach me saying that their kid has trouble sleeping, I will always recommend them to listen to music but always, always without lyrics. That is super important.

Sandra: Even for a kid?

Ares: Yes. Because without lyrics, even for a kid, it will leave room for your own imagination. And thereby you’ll create your own dreams and will fall asleep.

Sandra: That’s actually a good transition to my last question. I have quite a lot of friends that are either pregnant at the moment or have little kids. In what ways could they ideally “use” music in their respective situations according to music therapy?

Ares: Well that’s a field where there’s a lot of research. You’ll often find a paper saying one thing and another contradicting it. Generally speaking, your baby has ears from week 12 on, from week 14 or 16 on they’ll hear you perfectly. So talk to them, they’ll feel the vibrations of the mother. That’s the first stimulus. Studies will often suggest putting on classical music. I would just recommend the mother to listen to the music she likes, because her feeling good will transfer to the baby. In regards to kids: What most studies agree on is the fact that music as having an effect on all of your brain influences your state of mental health and in the end your abilities and your intelligence. The fact of playing an instrument itself is a huge exercise in developing all different types of  capabilities, coordination and motoric skills. So I would definitely recommend signing up your kids to music. But very important, let the kid choose the instrument it wants to play.

Sandra: Noted. Lastly, is there anything you’d like to tell people out there?

Ares: Well, what I’d like to tell people is to make a personal collection of songs that mean something to you.

Sandra: How do you mean that?

Ares: I used to sit in in sessions with Alzheimers patients. Patients that hadn’t had an appetite for days or didn’t want to talk to anybody. Or maybe had been feeling angry all day. If the music therapist would play a song that had been hugely popular in their generation, however, they would start eating, talking, moving, even dancing. This effect would keep on for about a half day. There were even situations where family members would come and visit their relatives during or shortly after those music therapy sessions and they wouldn’t believe what they saw. Especially in the times that we live in now with such a huge selection and variety of music, it would be hard to know later on when you’re older which music you were enjoying. So compiling a personal list is a good way to go. In my personal collection for example there’d be a song by the Spice Girls in for sure. It brings me back to a time where I was 11, 12 years old, where I was super happy listening to them in my room. It doesn’t mean that I still think it’s great music (laughs) but it transports me back to a younger me. If a song means something to you, put it in your personal repertoire.

Meet Ares (Part 1)

Hi everyone,

one of the things I am most grateful here in the US is that I get to know interesting people with lots of different backgrounds from all over the world. One of those people is Ares, a 27 year old Catalan girl that happens to be a music therapist. I overheard her talking about it a few times at our weekly get togethers with the Harvard group and wanted to know more. What it is, how it works (if it works) and why it is so important. So I thought why not create a new segment on the blog where we (as in you AND me) meet interesting people and talk about interesting stuff.

So there you go. Without further ado, I’m happy to introduce you to Ares and her work as a music therapist (because let’s be real, you probably don’t know much about it, do you?). 

Sandra: What is your favorite song?

Ares: Wow, that is a difficult one. I can’t give you an answer from the top of my head for one particular song. I for sure have songs I love when I hear them, it also depends greatly on what mood I’m in.

Sandra: Do you think that you consume music differently compared to a person that doesn’t have a professional background as a music therapist?

Ares: Music is really powerful. It affects us all, in our way of being, feeling or behaving. I am no different in that sense. When preparing for a therapy session I will have to obviously put my personal emotions behind and think about what choices will benefit the patients condition and his wishes best. And sometimes it’s difficult, because your background in music might be really different than the one from the patient. To sum up, yes, I think that I listen to music differently. But mainly due to the fact that I grew up with taking piano lessons and being very involved with music from an early age on.

Sandra: We’ve already jumped into the discussion but let’s maybe quickly explain to everyone who has never heard of music therapy before, what is it,in a sentence or two?

Ares: Put very simply, I’d say it’s a form of therapy using the means of music in every possible form to make the patient feel better. The therapy part implies an engagement with the patient, a therapeutic agreement, the patient recognizing his needs and what he needs to improve on. Without those elements it’s making music in a group or alone, enjoying music but without the therapeutic aspect.

Sandra: You used to be a nurse before becoming a music therapist. Why did you want to change careers?

Ares: I actually always had this thought in the back of my head that I wanted to study music. But I also always liked helping people. So life happens and I chose to train as a nurse. After finishing my undergraduate studies I had to choose which specialization I wanted to pursue in a Masters. I somehow didn’t feel like pursuing a Masters in nursing so I ended up with music therapy as it is the perfect combination of all the things I love. It wasn’t easy for me as people kept telling me it’s a hard field to find work in. What also was nice was that I knew if things wouldn’t work out as a music therapist I could still apply a lot of my knowledge in my day to day work as a nurse in a hospital.

Sandra: How?

Ares: When I lived in Oxford, I used to work with rehabilitation patients that had suffered from strokes, cerebral palsies or car accidents. During the week it was impossible as they were busy with their physiotherapy and other occupational therapy sessions. But on the weekends they were free and I would occasionally do some exercises with them after my nursing work was done. At the school of music I used to work in Barcelona I started doing music therapy with little kids. I remember one boy that suffered from cerebral palsy, all of his right body side was paralyzed. He loved to play the drums. I encouraged him to use his right side to play even though at the beginning he really didn’t want to. He obviously wanted to play with the side he was able to play with. And you know what? After a year I saw real progress.

Sandra: That is fascinating. What does a normal day in the life of a music therapist look like?

Ares: It all really depends on the target group you’re talking about as music therapy is practically applicable to everyone, be it pregnant women, babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers, seniors etc. What is also very important is the type of therapy that you’ll apply in your sessions, there is a variety of schools. Norton-Robbins for example is an approach where there are two therapists, one playing the piano and one minding the patient. There are other models where you do everything in groups, some where you never talk during your sessions, others that only do improvising, some that only listen to music and don’t do anything else…the list goes on.

Sandra: So from what I understand there’s no typical day in the life as the whole set up and context varies greatly according to your patient and the type of therapy model that you’ll apply, right?

Ares: Correct. Generally, however, I will plan a session of 45 minutes. My main focus will usually lie on improvising and on the fact that patients should enjoy themselves and the music. What I love to do at the end of every class, if the patient’s condition allows it, is a feedback round. They are asked to reflect on what they’ve done and created during the session, if they had been improvising for example and created a song only using their body as instruments. Of course it’s not compulsory. But it is a beautiful way for the patients to reflect on what has happened and what they’ve experienced and created.

Sandra: What have been patient stories that you like to remember?

Ares: I used to work with a group of teenagers that mostly suffered from conduct disorders. There was a girl in the group that was a bully a school and another kid, they didn’t know each other, that was a victim. Two personalities that in a normal school setting would never have talked to each other, respected each other and heard each other, which is really important. Feelings of mutual understanding were able to be formed, which in my opinion never would have been possible to be formed in a psychologist’s office in a more conventional therapy set up.

Sandra: Does the music help as a connection maker?

Ares: Yes, it definitely does! And the interesting thing is that while they are in the session they really aren’t aware of what’s happening. It just happens. It’s actually at the end of the session, when I do the feedback round where they’ll understand what happened to them.

Sandra: What were things those teenagers said in the feedback round?

Ares: The girl that used to be a bully would say things like “I heard the sound that the other kid was making”, or “When you sang that part, I really liked it”. Those were sides of her personality as a bully that she never had shown or expressed before, actually listening to others, sharing something with others. That was fascinating. Also, a psychologist was always present during those sessions and she really was surprised to see certain aspects of that girl’s personality that she hadn’t seen before in sessions with her.

Sandra: How long does such a transition take time to happen?

Ares: It really varies a lot. In this case we did the sessions for about a year. Generally I’d say it takes about 10-12 sessions in minimum to see a change. The first sessions are needed to build trust, the fact of making music is difficult, the matter of reflecting on it is challenging as well.

Sandra: Have you also seen cases where the therapy just wouldn’t work or wouldn’t be the right choice?

Ares: Yes, that can happen. Especially when a person is very closed-off. If you offer them exercises and they will block any attempt. Or if parents for example don’t see the value in the therapy sessions and will transmit that feeling to the kid coming to class. That will also be difficult.

Sandra: Will you leave those cases be?

Ares: There will always be an attempt to try and upkeep the therapy. But it doesn’t always work. Which is ok. There are also cases where you just can’t do music therapy due to the conditions of the patient. As listening and engaging with music will activate all of your brain parts and will animate the visual and imaginative part you’ll have to be very careful with patients that have bipolar or schizophrenic problems for example. You’ll have to be very mindful and know what the limits are.

Sandra: So that also requires you to have a lot of knowledge of physical and medical conditions?

Ares: Yes! You definitely need to know what conditions there are and how they’ll most likely react to music. During your training you’ll have to have medical backgrounds.

Stay tuned for tomorrows continuation of part 2, where we’ll talk about Spice girls, babies, instruments and lots of other things. And listen to some music today, ok?

Happy Monday!

American Daily Life Etiquette

Hi friends, how are you today?

The topic we’re about to talk today might be one of my favorites: Daily etiquette.

Meaning as in how you are expected to behave in public space according to the norms of the country and its culture you’re living in. I’ve had an interesting conversation with my international friends about that last week and found it just so interesting that even a seemingly simple act of greeting someone can be interpreted and done SO differently depending on where you live. One of my favorite examples was that in South Korea male friends go walking around the city holding hands, same goes for friends who go out with their female friends. Isn’t that interesting? Or how kissing (or the lack thereof) as a form of greeting is so different in every country?

This is also one that always greatly confuses me as I go on to kiss people on the cheeks three times here and they look at me even more confused (I ALWAYS forget, it’s a reflex, trained over so many years). Swiss people seem to be into kissing.

Anyways, I’ve compiled some of the things that struck me as most different in daily life etiquette as compared to Switzerland. Let’s go! 

The art of sneezing correctly

It’s been cold in winter (very cold), there’s the allergies going on right now (damn you pollen), in conclusion:

People sneeze a lot around here. 

It happens, like anywhere else actually (maybe I’m making too big a deal out of it)  but I find that people are way more considerate when sneezing than in Switzerland. I tell you how it goes: You’re sitting in the T (the Bostonian subway) and someone next to you sneezes into his elbow (important detail, he/she doesn’t just sneeze into the open air, no no). Anyways, what surprised me the most was that people actually apologize and will say something along the lines of “excuse me”, “sorry”. And I’m like?

Whoa, you don’t have to apologize for sneezing but ok.

Holding doors open

This one I find is really nice. Be it in the T stations, in restaurants, the library or anywhere where there aren’t automatic doors, people WILL HOLD THE DOOR for you. YES. Like really. They will wait and hold it open if they see you behind them. That’s a whole other level of politeness as compared to Switzerland (where I at least) find that people tend to do that less. Also, if you hold the door, people will ALWAYS say thank you. ALWAYS.

Excuse me…

Politeness seems to be the red thread throughout this post, doesn’t it? The conclusion being that Americans really try and be very polite (when they’re in public space at least). During rush hours and when the T and busses are super busy and people need to get off, they will always politely say “Excuse me”.

Keep your distance

When two Americans are standing and talking to each other they stay at least 16 inches (aka 40 cm) away from each other (I’ve read that somewhere. How do they find that out in the first place?!), farther away than is customary in many other cultures it seems. An American may feel threatened if you come too close. They should go to a Southern European country, would they like that?

On Winning My First Award (Joking): The Liebster Award

Hi everyone

The Frenchy Way (check out her lovely French blog and insta) nominated me for the Liebster Award so I thought why not give it a try and tell you something about me in a way that I normally probably wouldn’t (#introvert). Let’s get the “facts” out of the way before getting started, alright?

The rules of the Liebster Award (I’ve translated those from French, so bear with me. Also, I’m not sure if those are the most recent ones. We’ll go with those for now)

  • Tell 11 random facts about you.
  • Answer 11 questions by the person that nominated you.
  • Now ask 11 bloggers (I cheated on this one a little) to answer a set of 11 questions that you’ve created.
  • Eat 11 chocolats (is that really a rule? Not that it would bother me, just asking).

11 random facts about me

  1. I drink more tea now than coffee.
  2. Hello, I am a YouTube addict.
  3. Hello, I am a Netflix addict.
  4. I would love to know how to really crawl. And not just for a few seconds, like really.
  5. I would like to now how to cook more creatively.
  6. I love discovering and exploring new places, museums, restaurants and cafés.
  7. A great scenario for a casual sunny Sunday: Sitting in a café, enjoying a nice cup of coffee, basking in the sun (without a coat on) and watching people walking by.
  8. Indulging in a donut every once in a while and LOVING it.
  9. Somehow I find breakfasts at a hotel exciting and always look forward to them (even though they sometimes aren’t as great as I hoped they would be).
  10. I love improvised evenings with friends, where nothing is planned and we just sit in a kitchen and eat and drink and talk for hours.
  11. It genuinely made me happy going swimming in the lake in the summertime (back in Zurich).

Answering The Frenchy Way’s Questions (I got a bit lazy and didn’t translate everything (I’m sure you’ll understand)

  1. Pourquoi as-tu ouvert un blog ? Because I somehow wanted to document my new life in the States. Also, I think I’ve always wanted to do it.
  2. Quel a été ton tout premier voyage ? My first trip must have been as a baby from Paris to Barcelona I guess, I’d need to ask my parents.
  3. Quel est ton meilleur bon plan voyage ? See as much as possible while also allowing enough time for relaxing and enjoying being in a new place.
  4. Quelle est ta playlist du moment (6 artistes ou pistes) ? Maggie Rogers, Lorde, Bombay Bicycle Club, Two Door Cinema Club, Ed Sheeran.
  5. Une série à voir absolument et pourquoi ? Currently I am loving “Call The Midwife”, it will just make you feel good. On my all times favorites list though are “30 Rock”, “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office”. All will make you laugh. FOR SURE.
  6. Quel est l’objet dont tu ne peux pas te passer ? My sofa and my bed. Both very necessary.
  7. Si tu étais un juron ? People would have a good time because I find it hard judging people and being mean. Does that make sense?
  8. Mer, montagne, ville ou campagne ? Everything.
  9. Quel est ton plat favori ? Everything fresh and tasteful will make my belly happy, doesn’t have to be complicated.
  10. Qu’est-ce qui te fais rire ? A lot of things, animal or human babies doing cute things, clever people making fun jokes.
  11. Que fais tu pour te ressourcer ? Take a bath, do a face mask. Drink a glass of wine. Relax.

And the nominees and my 11 questions are…

  1. What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday morning?
  2. What is a talent you have?
  3. Your favorite piece of clothing (or accessories) and why?
  4. Your favorite item (could be furniture, a mug etc.) in your living space and why?
  5. What are you scared of?
  6. What makes you laugh?
  7. How do you treat yourself?
  8. What is the favorite part of your day (like in a “ordinary” day)?
  9. What makes you genuinely happy?
  10. My favorite candy/sweet is…
  11. Your first word as a baby was…

You all rock girls, have a lovely day!

My First Baseball Game: The Report

Hi friends,

long time no see, how are you? I have been enjoying having my friends around me for the last week. We’ve had a wonderful time and I am really thankful for having them in my life, they’re just the BEST. Fortunately, the weather has also been amazing (it’s going to change back to ‘meh’ tomorrow though) so we were able to do cool little roadtrips off to Providence and the Cape (more on that to follow).

In the meantime, one of the dare I say, most interesting experiences of the week was catching a Red Sox game at the iconic Fenway Park.

Thanks again to my former co-workers and team at Publicis who actually gave us those tickets as a gift. Thank you! 

As seeing a baseball game (especially one of the Red Sox) is such an iconic part of Bostonian life I thought that I had to cover it here and tell you a little bit more about it. I feel that we Europeans have NO clue about baseball. So, you ready? Let’s get started!

The Red Sox and Fenway Park

The Red Sox are a baseball team based in Boston that has been founded in 1901 and calls Fenway Park (with its about 38’000 seats) its home ballpark since 1912. The Red Sox’s arch enemy are the Yankees.

The experience and the food

I mean, you’re in America. You’ll have LOTS of food and drinks options everywhere around. We obviously went for Fenway Franks (hot dogs), fries and beer. BTW, they are pretty liberal it seems with the beer consumption in the stadium, which is a nice change to the rather strict alcohol policy in the city.

The preferred sweets (besides all the possible candy you could think of like M&Ms etc.) seemed to be cotton candy and soft ice cream. Fun times. We definitely didn’t starve.

The game

Is baseball possibly the most complicated sport ever? I feel like there are so many statistics and strange rules (that I obviously don’t know) that make it kind of hard to follow. More on that a bit further down below. So. Long story short: I will actually spare you the details on the whole rules and strategy as I personally found it rather boring.

If you really want to know more about it and about all the stats and stuff check this site out (if you’re really serious about itor the corresponding wikipedia entry for a more softer version.

What I can tell you is that (even I understood that) the Red Sox played terribly and lost 10-5 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Info over.

The music

O-M-G. The music. SO. MUCH. fun.

My favorite part besides the snacks and the overall fun atmosphere must have been the music.

I was super surprised to find out that the players are actually allowed to choose their music when they play. And dare I say, it seems that they are big Kanye and Drake fans.

Absolutely go and check the player music out here. It’s so fun (how many times am I going to say that). Still, that’s one thing I find they could take over for soccer games, how funny would that be?

Also, Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond is an anthem for the Red Sox and of course they played it when we were there, so I had to record it. Loving the couple next to us that is super happy about it and singing along.

Why I kind of don’t like baseball

While I really liked the atmosphere, the food, the music and the people I didn’t leave Fenway park as a new fan. I find that the game itself is quite boring (baseball fans don’t hate me), slow and not creative. It’s the same kind of predictable moves on repeat except that you don’t know if they are going to hit the ball or miss it (which by the way they miss A LOT).

Still, I would warmly recommend it to anyone visiting the city as it is such a unique overall experience sitting in such an old and traditional place like Fenway Park.

Thanks again Publicis Team! And talk to you next week.

The Expat Tag Follow-up

Hi guys!

Remember, how a few weeks back I had created an expat tag? Well, lots of lovely people did it and I thought it would be nice to feature their blogs and share some of my favorite answers with you. Also, lots of other people reacted so thanks to them too for sharing their stories even though they aren’t featured here (shout out to Christine!).

Check out Sarah’s blog Endless Distances here to read more about her experience as an American yoga teacher living in Plymouth (also, beautiful photos alert).

“Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand? I cannot bear the Plymouth accent. I really cannot. Growing up in the USA we all fell in love with the poshest of British accents (think Colin Firth) and were led to believe all Brits sound the same… this is NOT the case and my ears are now attuned enough that I can spot a Plymouthian accent from a mile away.”

HAHA.

Between England and IowaFollow a British Girl’s life in the Midwest of the States over here.

“What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home? Driving 3 hours to go to an airport.  In the UK, that’d be like me driving to Manchester to get on a flight.  Why would I do that when I have Stansted, Southend, Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, London City, all less than 90 minutes away and all flying internationally?!  Now, my nearest major international airport is Chicago O’hare (that’s the nearest airport that flies direct to the UK) and it’s 3 hours away.  Those 3 hours of driving are a killer before and after a long haul flight.”

The Frenchy WayFind out what the frenchy way of living in Santa Cruz is and check out this French girl’s blog here. It’s very interesting, lots of pretty photos too!

I had a hard time choosing an answer I liked most, there were too many, seriously (it might also been the beautiful French language or the Grizou GIF, not sure). 

“Quel type de réactions obtenez-vous lorsque vous rencontrez de nouvelles personnes et leur dites d’où vous venez? Les réactions sont toutes très sympathiques. J’ai été très étonnée au début. Je pensais que les français avaient mauvaise réputation outre-atlantique. En fait, c’est le contraire, on a plutôt la côte !”

This one was funny, too:

“Quel est votre plat préféré, nourriture ou boisson dans votre nouveau pays?
Les ARTICHAUTS ! Vous entendez le cri du cœur là ? En soupe, en crème, en salade, frits… Californie = artichoke. D’ailleurs la capitale de l’artichaut se trouve à Castroville, à 40 minutes de chez nous. Les artichauts californiens, tu peux pas test !”

An Aussie in San FranciscoCheck out this Australian’s adventures in beautiful San Francisco over here.

“What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from? Americans tend to love Australians. I’m not sure why. I get a lot of “crikey”s and questions about deadly animals. Sometimes they just ask me which part of Australia I’m from and let me continue on my merry way. Other times I get a rendition of their best Aussie accents. To this day I get a visit from a colleague once a week to regale me with his awful accent. It’s British. The more I tell him that it’s British, the more he assaults me with it.”

My Theory on BloomingCheck out Claire’s thoughtful blog on her adventures as an American mom in South Africa here.

“Your favorite food or drink item in your new country? Granadilla – It’s a passionfruit which tastes both sour and sweet, and full of flavor.  It’s good with yogurt, mixed in a drink, or made into a sweet dessert.  My daughters even eat them right out of the skin.  I’ve got a vine growing in our back garden.  So, when they are in season…I don’t even have to pay for them!”

Expat The WorldA sweet Spanish girl moves to Germany and tells you what it really is like, check it out here.

“What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from? Usually people tend to tell me something in spanish; “hola”, “sangría” or “paella” are the most common words people say. Another usual thing is to ask me about the weather; “do you miss the sun?”. They get really surprised when I explain them that the sun does not always shine in Spain.”

American Events: Black History Month

Hello everyone

With the month of February coming to an end, I wanted to talk a little about Black History Month as it is something that I assume most of my European readers aren’t familiar with.

In short: Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

One of the many heroes that are being remembered is a woman called Harriet Tubman. Have you ever heard about her?

The New York Times has dedicated an interactive and beautifully done article to her and her story, please read it here if you have a moment. I’ll just give you a very brief intro into this woman’s admirable life story and how she’s impacted the life of so many others.

Who was Harriet Tubman and what did she do?

Harriet Tubman became famous as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad during the 1850s. Born a slave, she had a very hard life and was beaten brutally by her owners. One time she was hit on the head so hard she fell unconscious. She has suffered from serious health problems ever since. In 1849 she fled slavery. Despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family and about hundreds other slaves northbound via the Underground Railroad to the states where they would finally be free.

Upon reading this first I was confused, an Underground Railroad? What was that, how did it work? It was kind of a network of helpers, whose activities had to be kept secret. Also, the people involved in the network that were helping to free slaves used railway terms to describe how the system worked. Various routes were lines, stopping places were called stations, those who aided along the way were conductors. The network of routes extended through various Northern states and “the promised land” aka Canada.

Source: Wikipedia.org, Harriet Tubman on the left

Why Harriet Tubman was a total badass woman

From what is known about Harriet Tubman is that she must have been an incredibly courageous woman. Even though there was a high reward for her capture as she had fled her owners, she came back to the South so many times to help others.

It is reported that she also always carried a revolver and wasn’t afraid to use it. In case a slave tried to go back home because he got scared she would threaten to shoot him (seems a bit brutal but somehow comprehensible) since that would threaten the safety of the remaining group.

Conclusion

It makes me sad to read about the history of slavery that has been such a dark part of this country I am currently living in. Also, it’s not been that long ago, if you think about it. I understand it is important to remember great moments, achievements and the people like Harriet Tubman that were driving forces behind them yet it is vital to look forward and aim to improve the lives of all people.

Sadly, the African-American community is still facing major struggles, a few of them mentioned below:

  • Poverty: Large gaps persist between African-American and the white population in terms of wealth and income.
  • HIV/Aids: Something I’ve learned during volunteering at an HIV center was that African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States. In 2015, they’ve accounted for 45% of HIV diagnoses, though they make only for 12% of the US population.
  • Education: A growing share of African-Americans are completing high school and college, yet they lag behind whites in college completion (read more here).
  • Unemployment: African-Americans were more than twice as likely to be unemployed (10%) as their White counterparts (5%).
  • Criminality: African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.

I don’t mean to be negative, there are many many great developments happening too (the Boston Globe put an interesting article together covering positive statistics about young black men, check it out here).

Another positive thing was the Oscars award for Best Picture going to ‘Moonlight’ (when it finally did go to ‘Moonlight’ if you know what I mean). Also great moment: The awards for Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis and the cast of ‘Hidden Figures’ being on stage with the REAL NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (she was the most graceful of all wasn’t she? Also, the Oscars people really know their stuff and how to make you tear up with dramatic music).

Go watch this movie, it’s touching, painful, raw and yet SO beautiful! Have you seen it?

Have a fantastic day!