1 May 2018

GENDER GAP



Iceland has passed radical new legislation to become the first country in the world where companies must legally prove they are not discriminating on the basis of gender.
The new law - effective from 1 January 2018 - requires all private and public employers with more than 25 staff to obtain government certification of their equal pay policies – or face fines and auditing.
Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir, the managing director of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association told HuffPost UK: “We are absolutely delighted with this new legislation.”
Iceland already uses the Equal Pay Standard, a set of rules and regulations which companies use to measure the gender pay gap within their establishments. The new law means they are now mandated to undergo certification every three years based on this standard.
Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir warned: “But of course, the Equal Pay Standard is not a cure-all. That is, it only tackles one part of the problem of gender pay discrimination. To completely eradicate the gender pay gap, we need to tackle larger social issues such as making sure that professions which are mostly female are paid equally to professions that are mostly male, and we need to ensure that men and women are equally responsible for families since today women are more likely to work part-time or take time off work to take care of families.”
Iceland, which has a population of about 335,000 and where 38 per cent of parliamentarians are female - above the global average - including Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022.
The North Atlantic island nation was ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. But Icelandic women still earn, on average, 14% to 18% less than men. The United Kingdom ranked 18th out of 145 countries.
The WEF reported last year reported an economic gap of 58 percent between the sexes and forecast women would have to wait 217 years before they earn as much as men and have equal representation in the workplace.
“Iceland is ranked as world’s most gender equal country by (the World Economic Forum) ... Clearly Iceland is very serious about gender equality,” former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark wrote on Twitter.
“The new law by Iceland can help change attitudes to women in business as well as in politics, and inspire other countries to do the same,” said Virginie Le Masson, a research fellow at the London-based Overseas Development Institute.
“Ample evidence shows that women work as much as men and are still paid less,” she added.
US independent Bernie Sanders, a leading liberal voice in the Senate, called on the United States to follow Iceland’s example.
“We must follow the example of our brothers and sisters in Iceland and demand equal pay for equal work now, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
News of the new law was first announced on International Women’s Day in March 2017.
That month, Equality and Social Affairs Minister Thorsteinn Viglundsson said “the time is right to do something radical about this issue”.
“Equal rights are human rights,’’ he said. “We need to make sure that men and women enjoy equal opportunity in the workplace. It is our responsibility to take every measure to achieve that.’’
In October thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2.38pm and demonstrated outside parliament to protest the gender pay gap. Women’s rights groups calculate that after that time each day, women are working for free.

One of the most common arguments made about the gender pay gap is that it simply doesn’t exist.
Pay gap deniers love to dispute the claim that, on average, women in the United States make 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, arguing that it is a misleading oversimplification. “Few experts dispute that there is a wage gap, but differences in the life choices of men and women — such as women tending to leave the workforce when they have children — make it difficult to make simple comparisons. That’s what’s so facile about repeatedly citing ‘78 cents,’” argued a 2015 Washington Post article. (Since that piece came out, the figure increased from 78 to 79 cents.)
But the argument that “life choices” made by women are the real reason behind the gap is, in itself, an absurd oversimplification. Sure, many women choose to stay home or cut back their hours after having children. But many others don’t opt out. They’re forced out because they cannot afford child care, or find a full-time job that affords them any kind of flexibility. And, culturally, Americans remain ambivalent about women working outside of the home. A little more than 30 percent of Americans still believe women should stay home full-time to care for young children. These biases, which play out both in the workplace and outside of it, affect how much “choice” some women feel they actually have, and speaks to the types of judgments women face for making said choices. Plus, women face a well-known “motherhood penalty.” They’re less likely to be hired for jobs once they have children — unlike men, whose prospects improve.
Another beloved means of dismissing the gender pay gap is to point out that women tend to work in lower-paying (i.e., traditionally “female”) fields, like teaching, nursing and social work. And yes, that’s true. “Women, as a whole, continue to work in lower-paying occupations than men do,” Pew says.
But research has shown that even when women enter traditionally “male” fields, they make less. In fact, research looking at pay changes over decades has shown that when more women enter a traditionally male field, pay within that field begins to decline. As The New York Times reported, when more women began working in parks or running camps, for example, median hourly wages declined by 57 percentage points. Same goes for fields like design, housekeeping and biology. Conversely, when more men enter a traditionally female field, wages go up.
“It’s not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill and importance,” a researcher told The New York Times. “It’s just that the employers are deciding to pay it less.”


Men and women who perform similar tasks in the workplace do not earn the same in Spain. Women’s hourly earnings are 12.7% lower than men’s, according to a study that is based on statistically adjusted EU data from 2014.
This figure is lower than in 2002, the first year covered by the research, but it still evidences “some worrisome dynamics.” The gap exists across variables such as age, education, years of service, occupation, type of contract, length of working day, activity and company size.
Gender pay gap deniers have long claimed that these differences in earnings stem from the fact that women tend to work fewer paid hours, have more precarious jobs, perform lower-paid work and have fewer job responsibilities. Yet this claim now appears to have been debunked by the adjusted figures, which emerge from a research project funded by the Foundation for Applied Economic Studies (FEDEA), and to which EL PAÍS has had access.
The study was headed by José Ignacio Ruiz-Conde, a Spanish economist who teaches at Madrid’s Complutense University and is deputy director at FEDEA, a think tank that conducts research on economic and social issues affecting Spain.
The project used data from the EU’s Structure of Earnings Survey for 2014, the most recent available year, which show that a woman’s hourly earnings are 14.9% lower than a man’s. But this figure is unadjusted and does not necessarily mean that the jobs are similar, or even comparable. In order to achieve a more homogeneous comparison, FEDEA researchers adjusted the figures according to impact on wages caused by variables such as age, experience, contract type and others.
But researchers note that the Eurostat survey “does not contain information about the number of children or the socioeconomic traits of people who could have joined the workforce but didn’t.”
The result of this research is a pay gap of nearly 13%, compared with nearly 15% in the EU survey. If annual earnings are considered instead – and these are what really determine a person’s quality of life – the gap reaches 23% (€20,051.58 for women versus €25,992.76 for men).
Paying a woman less than a man for the same position has been illegal since 1980. These statistical analyses do not claim that this is happening, since the data is not detailed enough to know whether two individuals are performing the exact same job in the same company and with the same collective bargaining agreement. Instead, these studies “measure whether men and women are receiving similar pay for similar tasks.” And that is where a pay gap shows up across variables.
“Worrisome dynamics”
The FEDEA report notes that “significant progress has been made, adjusting for all observable characteristics, as the gap has shrunk by a third since 2002,” the starting year for the analysis. This progress is tied to “education, experience and average years of service.” However, the study adds that “we are still far from gender equilibrium, and a few worrisome dynamics persist.”
One of these is the fact that “the gap increases with age.” Women under 30 earn 4.7% less, and this percentage rises progressively to 17.2% among women over 59. Maternity could be an explanation, but researchers warn that the survey does not contain information about personal family circumstances, and so “it is not possible to estimate the effect” of child-rearing on pay gaps.
Researchers also suggested, based on an analysis of other studies, that the pay gap could also be influenced by the fact that “women tend to be worse negotiators than men when they are negotiating something for themselves.”

FURTHER READING

17 January 2018

WHY DO PEOPLE TRAVEL MORE NOWADAYS?

WHY DO PEOPLE TRAVEL MORE NOWADAYS?
·         Low-cost airlines have become more popular across the world.
·         Construction of more airports even in small cities, and having a better technology in airplanes has led people to have access to them even in remote areas.
·         The tourism industry has developed globally. More affordable hotels, motels, villas are available for travellers.
·         Advanced technology and the Internet, arranging of travelling has become far simpler (Online booking).
·         The role of advertisement has become more obvious. The Internet and media have exposed people to more travelling ads.
·         Globalisation has increased the number of business travellers.
·         The number of student travellers has increased dramatically. Better opportunity in other countries has raised the number of student visitors.
·         Faster jets have caused travellers to reach their destination far sooner, leading their number being increased phenomenally.
·         Employees of multinational companies have to do excessive business trips to other regional offices or even in other continents for office works, meeting and training.
·         More people are travelling for leisure activities and this phenomenon has grown speedily in the past few years.
·         Travelling is now affordable to virtually all classes of people and people have taken travelling as a leisure activity.
·         Because of globalization, people are free to mingle with other nationalities and that’s why people are migrating to other countries for works, study and job opportunities.
·         The mobile phone, the internet and the facility to work virtually from any place let people get in touch with office and family while travelling and this is another important reason for people to travel a lot.

Today more people are travelling than ever before. Why is this the case? What are the benefits of travelling for the traveller?

Gone are the days when people used to spend all their lives in the same city and the tour was a word for rich people only. Now, with the technological advancements, cheaper flight, and ever increasing awareness towards other states and countries, the world has become a smaller place. Having travelled since childhood, I can definitely say that the tourism industry is changing fast and this is attracting a lot more travellers each year. This essay delves into the reasons behind increasing travellers and benefits of travelling.  
 
Firstly, people want to get refreshed quite often due to their increasing workload and they have easy access to information they want. These are the two main reasons people travel more frequently than ever before. It is evident that busier workdays and the hectic lifestyle can easily drain one out. People have started to work more and earn more as compared to earlier days. Also, with the wave of information that the internet has brought, everyone is better informed about the world outside their office or home. These things have acted as precursors to the increase in the number of people who opt travelling as a holiday get away.   
 
Second, tourism is taken very seriously in several countries now. Countries like Australia and France have travel & tourism as an important part of their economy. Tourism contributes to around  30%  of the national GDP for Dubai. Thus, people have started picking up careers in the realm of tourism, as travel bloggers, trip organisers, etc. I myself have met people who travel for a living and love doing so. These factors have also led to accrual in the travelling population.  
 
I believe travelling exposes us to different people and their traditions, outside or even within a country. India itself is a collection of myriad customs, flavours and languages. Visiting places one has never been to and meeting people with different beliefs broadens our perspectives. Introduction to different cultures catalyses respect towards the mutual differences. It helps us understand people in a new light, which can be very helpful to alleviate tensions during political or cultural conflicts.  
 
In a nutshell, I would say that travelling is equivalent to education. It can bring people closer to each other despite their differences, which is very important in today’s global world. 

READ SOME ESSAYS  HERE 

WHAT BENEFITS DO TRAVELLERS GET FROM TRAVELLING?

BENEFITS
·         Intercultural understanding. Nations are able to understand more about other nations’ culture, language and customs from near.
·         The tourism industry has become a lucrative business for many countries.
·         Increasing employment opportunity for the host country.
·         Citizens have less stressful lifestyle by travelling more. They temporarily leave stress and have more relaxation.
·         Travelling enhances knowledge and broadens our horizon.
·         Travelling gives the first-hand experience to learn new things.
·         Makes people confident, more social and self-dependant.
·         During the course of a travel, a traveller might experience unforeseen circumstances and thus he becomes stronger in dealing stress and unexpected situations.
·         Enhance job and business opportunities.
·         Travelling can shift our outlook of life in a better way and gives us more idea about the way of life around the world.
·         Travellers get to taste different types of foods, clothing, cultures, environment and living.
·         Exposure to diverse cultures and custom often eradicate the narrow thinking and selfishness of people.
·         A traveller with international exposure can have a better career path.
·         Travelling is a far better way to learn about the past and history than reading them in a book.
·         Travelling is refreshing and eliminates the monotony or boredom of busy life we currently have in the competitive world. 


       There are plenty of things one can gain from exploring different places such as new friends, new experiences and new stories. When you start exploring new places, you get a better understanding of the people living there including their culture, history and background.

       Studies show that travelling can improve your overall health and enhance your creativity. Therefore, you need to take time out from your daily tasks, office responsibilities, hectic schedule and everyday pressures at least once in a year. Plan a tour to a new city with an open schedule and let life present you with the numerous opportunities that are waiting for you.

       If you need more convincing, here is a list of all the benefits of traveling.

     1. Improves Social and Communication Skills
        One of the main benefits of travelling, especially to areas where your native language is not widely used, is that you learn how to communicate with all manner of different people. It could be communicating to find the way to your next destination or asking for the nearest restaurant.

     2. Ensures Peace of Mind

       We all have stress and tension in our lives. Traveling forces us to temporarily disconnect from our normal routine and it helps us appreciate the people and things you have around. As per a famous saying “we never know what we have until we lose it.”

     3. Helps you Get Original and Creative Thoughts

        It is believed that if someone gets out of their comfort zone, the mind gets more creative. To develop new neural connections that trigger original and creative thoughts, you must explore new places and break out of your daily lifestyles.

     4. Broadens Your Horizons

       Travelling helps you connect with different people from different cultures, and this is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Meeting people from different cultures and societies will help you see issues and daily life from many different angles.

     5. Enhances your Tolerance for Uncertainty

       While travelling, you will find yourself stuck in situations where things don’t always go as planned. Such situations will help you learn to cope with the uncertainties in life.

     6. Boosts Up your Confidence:

        Being in a place where you do not know anyone will assist you to gain confidence and presence of mind. You will develop the ability to cope with obstacles, which will make you a confident person and help you grow as a person.

     7. Gets you Real-life Education

       Meeting different people from vast cultures and societies provides an education that is impossible to get in a traditional school, college or a university. There is no substitute for the real thing.

     8. Creates Memories for Lifetime

        If you travel with friends and family members, traveling helps you build stronger bonds and make memories. You can also save memories of a lifetime by creating photo albums or sharing photos in social media.

     9. Helps you Have Fun

        No matter how young or old you are, no matter your profession, there is always a time when the child in you wants to have some fun. When you travel, you do not care what you do at all and you can just break free from the norm.

     10. Aids you Get to Know Yourself

       While traveling, you might find yourself stuck in situations you would not ordinary experience in your daily life. Such a situation can help you understand yourself and how you react to such circumstances and prepare you for future similar situations.
       
       Although traveling offers many benefits, it also has some disadvantages if not planned carefully. If you are a patient and taking medication for a disease, do not forget to carry your medication. Keeping jet lag pills handy saves you from unnecessary discomfort.

     Those susceptible to allergies should carry allergy medication. Plan your tour in advance, prepare a checklist to keep yourself healthy while traveling and pack important items before you travel.
     Travelling is good for the health so decide a place now and pack your bags. Remember, you only live once, so start traveling to different places and get some life-altering experiences.

READ SOME ESSAYS  HERE 

TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED THE WAY WE TRAVEL



6 WAYS IN WHICH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED THE WAY WE TRAVEL

Do you remember travelling with your family during your school summer holidays as a kid?  Those massive aluminum trunks being dragged from the taxi to the station platform, endless bags of gifts for cousins, large tiffin boxes brimming with enough food to feed a small country and your entire family coming to see you off at the railway station for a month-long holiday.
Cut to today. There’s a long weekend coming up, you open an app on your smart phone, decide where you want to go, book your flights and hotels in under ten minutes and before you know it, you’re all set for your quick weekend getaway.
Technology has undoubtedly changed the face of travel and made travelling so much easier. Let’s look back and see how travel has changed over the years:
Deciding Your Destination
Then: Back in the pre-Internet days (aka the Stone Age), you’d be pouring over holiday brochures at a travel agent’s office, buying guidebooks or taking a friend’s recommendation when it came to deciding where to go.
Now: Today, it could be a popular travel blog, a travel show on TV, social media, or even your friend’s Facebook photos that spark off your wanderlust and inspires you to travel.
Booking the Flight/Train
Then: Remember those snaking queues at railway stations where you stood, months before your trip, sweating, swatting away flies and impatiently shifting your weight from one leg to another, just to book a train ticket? Or visiting Malhotra Uncle’s travel agency in Connaught Place to get you a good deal on an air fare?
Now: Thankfully it’s much easier now. All you need to do is go online, hunt for the best flight/rail deals, check travel review sites and in a few taps, your bookings are done.  
Booking the Hotel
Then: Back then you’d go through hotel brochures, ask friends where they stayed during their holiday and then actually phone the hotel to book a room (Remember calling someone instead of texting? Yes, that!) All the while, you were never entirely sure of what your hotel room looked like. For all you know, you could end up in Bates Motel and never be the wiser!  
Now: Online booking engines and recommendation sites are the simplest, and often most reliable ways, to not only book a hotel, but also be sure of the location, what your room looks like, the amenities offered.  And nowadays with home sharing communities online, you can even stay with a local, get great recommendations on what to see and where to eat, and even make new friends!

Learning Local Language

Then: Back in the day you’d carry a phrasebook on holiday, struggle with broken Spanish or Italian, give up and basically end up miming that you want to go to the loo.
Now: Today all you need is a smartphone (which, unless you’re living under a rock, you do!) with apps like Google Translate, iTranslate or Waygo installed, to help you interact with the locals with perfect ease.

Clicking Photographs

Then: You’d be at the Eiffel Tower with your family, waiting for someone who looked honest enough to not steal your camera to stop and ask to click a photo. Plus, you only had thirty-six photos on one reel, so you had to think twice before taking a picture. Once you were back home, you’d have all the photographs printed, display them in an album to visiting relatives who’d murmur polite comments about how good the place looked while sipping chai.
Now: This is the age of camera phones and selfie sticks, so no more waiting around for someone to pass by to click your picture. Take a selfie at the Eiffel, upload it instantly on Facebook and watch the comments and likes pour in.

Staying in Touch

Then: While on the go, you’d send back pretty postcards, write letters and occasionally splurge on that long-distance phone call from the hotel reception, or a local phone booth. Staying in touch certainly wasn’t easy and most people back home didn’t expect to hear from you unless it was an emergency.
Now: Free WiFi hotspots at airports and cafés make it so easy to e-mail, Skype and Tweet as much and as often as you like. Get yourself a local 3G connection and check in wherever you go because, hey, if it’s not online, it didn’t really happen!  
Travel has come a long way and it only seems to be getting faster, quicker and better. So what are you waiting for? Pick up that smart phone, download the MakeMyTrip app and book your next holiday now!  

14 January 2018

HEALTH AND SPORT

These days many people are taking up sport as a way to get fit or deal with stress, but some of them are taking it too far, to the point that they are not healthy any more.

On the one hand, there is a certain amount of people who have become addicted and that is due to the fact that exercise shares similarities with drug-taking behavior. Moreover, addicted people are taking performance-enhancement drugs even though they don’t need them, but they want more and more. Personally, I reckon that this is not healthy at all, they are pushing their body to the limit and this can have bad health consequences. 

On the other hand, there are many people who are overweight because they are always lying on the sofa and not exercising at all. In my opinion, people with this eating disorder are as sick as addicts. 

On the whole, no extreme is good, the key is to find the right balance between our normal life and exercise to be completely healthy and happy with ourselves. 
Gabriel Pons 

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It is a well-known fact that doing exercise is essential to have a healthy life. However, when it becomes an obsession, it can have negative consequences. 

To start with , as I said before, practicing sport has lots of benefits such as improving our cardiovascular system, it helps us to lose weight, but it’s important to practice it regularly as it will give us energy for our daily life. Secondly, I feel very strongly that the practice of sport should be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, we should have a balanced and varied diet and eat moderately. However, it is clear to me that for sure we can sometimes treat ourselves to a good pizza or even fast-food, but not regularly. 

Last but not least, as far as I’m concerned, the obsession with sport and having the perfect physical appearance is really bad, as it can lead us to some serious disorders such as bigorexia or even taking supplements such as steroids which can be dangerous. 

In a nutshell, from my point of view it’s really necessary to do sport but regulating it, not in excess and for sure essentially eat well. 
Gonzalo Sintes
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SPORT OR ADDICTION 

It is widely known that working out frequently is necessary for our body, and due to this, lots of people start to exercise to maintain their health and disconnect from their work and household problems. But, what we don’t know is that they might become addicted to it. 

Many people do a lot of sport and then, when they are at home, they are still thinking about it, and despite seeing it as a hobby, now it has become a need, so every day they workout longer. Consequently, they can’t stop and their goal is to go further and further. 

Another reason is that some amateur people take performance-enhancement drugs to improve their marks or achieve their goals. For instance, an average runner who is not well-prepared to finish a marathon, may take them. 

To sum up, sport is necessary, but it shouldn’t become a need, therefore, we have to practice it appropriately and moderately as a way to relax. 
Rafel Andreu 

PROCESSED FOOD

These days, processed food takes an important role in our lives. We can find it pretty much everywhere, although in a rather more unhealthy way. But the important question is what its scope is. 

Firstly, it is a well-known fact that it will be crucial for the future. Scientists claim that there will come a time when population will have increased and so will the effects of the climate change, which will mean lack of essentials such as proteins. To survive, we will have to rely on science. 

Secondly, there are definitely more people who have changed their lifestyle and have become vegetarian or vegan. They are sending a clear message, they want food which does no harm, neither to the animals nor the Earth. Here’s why, to be healthy, there must be processed food which guarantees their demand. 

In a nutshell, to my mind, I strongly believe that it will be very helpful in the future to stay healthy as long as research finds a way to stop overusing damaging products. What’s more, finds salutary ones as a substitute to produce our meals. Despite that, I think that this will make natural food non-affordable. 

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These days, processed food is a much-talked about topic because more and more people worry about what they eat. Lots of them only eat ecological food and they are even vegan. 

In my opinion, I think that processed food is a good option to fight hunger in the world, because with some chemical treatment we can lengthen the good state of food and therefore we extend its shelf-life. 

However, not all aspects of processed food are good, because nowadays, industries genetically modify the natural state of food and this implies the introduction of chemicals, gases or even the removal of vitamins or fiber from food. I think that we should be careful with what we buy and we should try to eat ecological food without sweeteners or additives to improve our quality of life. In some cases, such as milk, processing food is necessary for safe human consumption. 

In conclusion, I think that processed food is a good option to end world hunger, but we have to keep in mind that we aren’t eating natural food so we have to prevent its abuse.

TECHNOLOGY

It is well known that we live in a technology era, if we compare life in the past to our lives at present we realize that we depend on technology for most of the activities we do. Young people especially use technological devices all day long and even cannot live without them.

I personally think that this technological dependence will increase in the future. More and more robots are being developed to help in our daily lives, consequently it will be a normal thing to live surrounded by these machines.

Furthermore, in my opinion thanks to technological development, our quality of life will improve. Human beings will not have to perform physically demanding tasks anymore because machines will be in charge of that; moreover robots will be there to make our lives more comfortable.

In conclusion, our future will be better because we will have easier lives thanks to technology although we will depend too much on it; so technology can be a positive thing as long as it works properly, the moment machines break down, our lives might be crazy.
Pere Linares

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There is a question you will have surely asked yourself sometime: how far will technology evolve and how will this affect us in our lives? If that is the case keep reading. There are many types of evolving, but one thing is clear, the day will come when we will hardly have to work. However, we will have money and time and that is what matters.

Can you imagine waking up whenever you want and do what you really want to do during the whole day? I believe this day is not as far as we think, it is just behind the corner. And this includes robots doing your housework, applications in your smartphone through which you can control every single home appliance, autonomous electric cars that allow you to go anywhere …

Are you still afraid of the future? It is true that someday artificial intelligence will appear, it may or not be a problem. It doesn't really matter anyway, because we have always had problems throughout history and have come out victorious. So, why should it be different this time? Because now it is your turn to solve the problem? That is not an excuse to be afraid of such a future that is waiting for us.
Sara Vilches 

TRAVELLING / GAP YEAR

As far I am concerned, travelling is one of the most common hobbies among young people. Travellers who have visited different countries have different points of view and they are usually more open minded.

First of all, travelling is not just visiting and staying in a country and moving on to the next destination, it is much more than this. It consists of visiting a place with its own history and culture, that makes you look towards the past, contemplating buildings, monuments, pictures and of course, a different landscape, which you are not used to looking at. Secondly, it is a way to share beautiful moments with your family or friends and if you are travelling alone it is a good way to think about yourself. In addition, staying abroad lets you improve your abilities and learn something new about the local language. Nevertheless, people should not forget where they come from.

To sum up, visiting new countries makes travellers better people and these experiences help them to be open-minded because they have learnt new stuff from different places and other ways of life. 

Alberto Sintes
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Travelling is a very common hobby but many people think that they cannot afford it.

Personally, I think that nowadays, economic problems are not a hindrance to go on a trip because there are many options that help you to be able to visit many cities around the world. For example, there are applications and web pages that allow you to spend a weekend anywhere for a fixed price. Moreover, with the help of the internet, you can look for the cheapest ticket or choose the most beautiful destinations. 

Another reason is that it is not necessary to travel in a traditional way because now there are train tickets that allow you to discover different cities in a month or digital platforms that allow you to swap your house with other people. 

It is clear that using new technologies, we can travel and visit the best cities. We just have to improvise and be original, look for new adventures and experiences. All we need is time and be willing to travel. 

Paula Llopis 
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Going on an Interrail trip is getting more and more popular every year among young students. This is a growing controversial topic among people who think that teenagers are not ready to take such a trip while others say that young people need this kind of experience.

Firstly, it is widely known that travelling opens your mind due to the contact you have with other cultures and traditions. Taking into account that with the Interrail pass you can visit 30 different countries around Europe, I think ti is really worth it. Secondly, this kind of trip is really cheap because youngsters move around by train and spend the night at cheap hostels. Thirdly, travelling for three weeks without your parents or anyone who takes care of you is a good way to become independent and start facing problems you will have to face in the near future. Lastly, it is also true that for some people, being alone for three weeks would be too much and wouldn’t be ready for it.

To conclude, in my view, Interrail is a really important and useful experience and I strongly believe that everybody should do it at least once in their life.

Toni Mercadal

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GAP YEAR

In Britain, more and more teenagers are considering the British trend of taking a gap year between high school and college. Not only can a gap year be taken at this moment but, in my opinion, I think that it’s the best time to do it because most teenagers at this age aren’t sure about what they want to study or what they want to do with their future yet. So a gap year can help them resolve these problems. 

Although many people believe that a gap year means wasting one year, it’s not true because most teenagers who have decided to live this experience end up working. Personally, I believe that a gap year gives you the opportunity to travel to a foreign country, get a first experience job or volunteer abroad. Moreover, many students are not aware of how the rest of the world live, and traveling to other places will help them to mature. 

All in all, I completely agree with this British trend. To my mind, it doesn’t have any disadvantages because students will learn how important a college degree is.

Sara Pons

GLOBAL WARMING AND CONSUMERISM



Global warming is a phenomenon that has existed for a few centuries, but started to be important some years ago when scientists really started to investigate it and people became more interested in it. What’s the matter of this problem? That it’s happening now and it isn’t something easy to change.

Firstly, from my point of view, people aren’t really aware about that problem, if everybody started to take it seriously, we would be able to change many problems that are causing it. Secondly, I believe that we should raise awareness among children about how important it is to take care of our planet. Finally, years ago everybody thought that it was fine and everything wouldn’t change so fast, but now such thoughts are not possible because, as I said before, it is happening at present.

All in all, I wish everything changed, that people became more interested in modifying it, that bad policies started to be good ones and this problem began to be more important, but maybe it is too idealistic.
Isabel de Olives 

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Nowadays it is very common to associate consumerism to a bad thing or idea. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it isn’t a hundred per cent good or bad.

It’s true that consumerism has lots of bad points. Firstly, some factory workers earn low salaries for an inhuman number of working hours. Secondly, there is the environmental effect. It is known that creating new things has a bad effect on the environment and global warming increases. Finally, we are aware that a lot of useful products are thrown away. On the other hand, however, we need consumerism to make the society grow and progress. Another important point is that it generates employment. Finally, the new technologies are helping a lot to dissolve or reduce the bad points.

In conclusion, consumerism is neither a hundred per cent good or bad. It has good and bad points, but we need it to progress, so we should do our best to dissolve its bad points. 

Abel Romero

3 July 2017

B2+ USE OF ENGLISH 4 QUESTIONS

TEST 1     TEST 1- KEY
TEST 2     TEST 2- KEY
TEST 3     TEST 3- KEY
TEST 4     TEST 4- KEY

12 May 2017

Sweatshops aren't too bad?


This question is regarding the discussion of arguments for and against sweatshops. Sweatshops are defined by International Labor Rights Forum, as an organization that violates two or more labor laws (2013).These laws could be those concerning wages, working hours, working conditions, safety and disciplinary methods implemented. Workers in sweatshop are claimed to be beaten, tortured, and even sexually harassed in occasion. However, many argue in defense of sweatshops that even though they violate these laws, they bring more benefit than harm over long term. While others are resolute that’ sweatshops should be abolished due to their deplorable conditions.
First and foremost, the predominant argument against sweatshop is that sweatshops exploit workers by paying them unconscionable wages. Especially, the wages paid by Multinational corporations(MNEs) operating in Third world countries are relatively low compared to wages paid for similar job in their home countries.For instance, ILRF website (2013) indicates 3.5 million workers in Bangladeshemployed in garment factories exporting to Europe and North America earn about US$10 a week. It is argued that sweatshops workers are trapped in an awful cycle of poverty due to exploitation and could barely afford daily expenses such as shelter, healthcare and their nutritional need.
In accordance with Immanuel Kant’s ethics, opponents of sweatshop dispute the arguments justifying unconscionable wages by asserting that sweatshop sweatshops overlook human dignity and human rights (Kant1971, p273). Immanuel Kant states that human beings should never be treated as means to an end, in fact they must be treated as ends itself (Kant 1971,p273).Kant’s Reformulation of Second Categorical Imperative emphasizes on humans beings as the most important aspect and stresses that MNEs should not make use of inexpensive labor available in developing nations.
However, this is justified by organizations, using the argument that corporations are attempting to minimize the cost of production as low as possible, by using cheap labor available due to the abundance of supply and exchange rate variant factors. Moreover, by setting up sweatshops, companies has distinct advantages such as specialization, rapid expansion capacity, reduction in production cost, increase in product cycle time and manufacturing flexibilities (Arnold & Bowie 2003, p223). This is supported by the Shareholders Theory that enunciates that the key characteristics of sustainability of any organization are through profit maximization, consequently maximizing shareholder wealth. As a firm is set up by those who have monetary share in it, the firm’s only resolution should be to serve the need and interest of these owners as the shareholders are reliant on their investment to procure return. As such, a firm has an obligation to ensure production at the least cost by any means available for maximum return.
In addition, Matt Zwolenski argued in Learn Liberty Website (2012) that sweatshops help the poor to escape poverty. The workers in developing nations find sweatshop the best income option available. This is due to the fact that sweatshops in countries such as Bangladesh and African nations tend to pay three to seven times higher than any other employments available in their economy. Zwolenski claims that’ sweatshops are a form of mutually advantageous exploitation between the workers and the employees. The wages enable the workers to sustain a better living condition than what would have been provided by other local industries. He also defend sweatshop on the grounds that relatively poorly paid jobs are better than no jobs at all.