Experts Panel: Preparing For An Uncertain Future

Welcome to the second installment of the Cracking the Happiness Code Experts Panel, where I reach out to experts across a variety of fields on an important and challenging subject.

chair-rainbow-meeting-1379341-mIn the first installment of the Experts Panel, a group of top bloggers shared their views on the relationship between money and happiness.

Today, our fresh, hand-picked, GMO-free panel of experts cast their gaze to the future.

The world we live in today is nothing like the one we saw just a decade ago, and the rapid changes brought about by technology and globalization will make the future even harder to predict.

With this in mind, our experts decided to share their insights about how we can best adapt to a rapidly changing and unpredictable world – and what skills will serve us the most to develop.

The question:

“What do you think the single, most important skill for people to develop in 2014 is, and why?”

And here’s what they had to say: Continue reading “Experts Panel: Preparing For An Uncertain Future”

Where The Hell Is Dubai? What’s the UAE?

UAE Flag

“Where is Dubai?” one of my Russian friends asked me not too long ago.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Dubai, one of the Middle East’s most popular tourist destinations, is also a bit of an enigma.

The home of the Burj Kalifa – the world’s tallest building, large terraformed islands in the shapes of palm trees, a ski resort in the middle of the desert, and a variety of other extravagant attractions is often subject to the following questions:

  • Is Dubai a country?
  • Is Dubai in Saudia Arabia?
  • What’s the capital city of Dubai?

Since I’ve been travel blogging and talking to a ton of other travelers and would-be travelers, I’ve heard each of these more than once.

Let’s clear all this up, shall we?

Where in the World is Dubai?

United Arab Emirates - Dubai - map

Dubai is located in the country UAE (United Arab Emirates), pictured here.

The UAE itself is a country comprised of seven “emirates” – which are basically member states.

The seven states are:

  1. Abu Dhabi
  2. Dubai
  3. Sharjah
  4. Ajman
  5. Fujairah
  6. Ras al Khaimah
  7. Umm al Qaiwain

Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the UAE.

Part of the reason for the confusion about thhe status of Dubai is that the United Arab Emirates has both a President – the Emir of Abu Dhabi – and a Prime Minister – the Emir of Dubai.

So Dubai is home to one of the top political offices in the UAE. It also has veto power over proposed bills affecting the entire country. However, it is not the capital.

We can think of Dubai as being similar to New York, which is an American state, as well as the most famous city in that state (of which it is also not the capital). Dubai is both city and emirate (“state”).

Dubai and Saudi Arabia

where is Dubai - UAEThe United Arab Emirates are neighbors of Saudi Arabia, which is probably why many people mistakingly think Dubai itself is a Saudi city.

Here we can see the UAE, a small country to the east of the giant Saudi Arabia, also bordering with Oman to the south.

The two countries are wildly different though. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most difficult to get visas for, keeping their society relatively isolated from increasing globalization.

Dubai, on the otherhand, has developed into one of the foremost luxury destinations in the world.

As a perfect example of this, you can actually go skiing in Dubai at the Mall of the Emirates. Because after being outside in plus-50 weather, nothing refreshes like hitting the slopes.

So, Should You Visit Dubai?

While I’m not a luxury traveller by any means, I think that Dubai probably needs to be added to your short list of travel destinations.

Even if you’re a budget backpacker who prefers lounging around on Thai beaches to bustling metropoli.


Because there is simply no other place like Dubai. A place where there’s so much money and investment that people have nothing better to do than build giant islands, ski resorts in the desert, the world’s tallest buildings, extravagent hotels with floors that rotate.

The cushy, carefree travel destinations of Southeast Asia and the Carribean might be appealing, sure – but the world is so much bigger. And in Dubay, they’ve got the biggest.

Naturally, such luxury doesn’t come cheap, but that doesn’t mean that budget options don’t exist. Expat Woman has an excellent article about doing Dubai on the cheap.

Unless you’ve got business there, 3 days is probably plenty, and then you can move on to one of the regions other destinations like Oman, Qatar, or – if you manage to get a visa – Saudi Arabia. At $50/day, you’re looking at $150 to see one of the most unique travel destinations created by humankind.

For more tips about how to travel the world on a budget (even in expensive destinations), check out my detailed travel hacking guide.

How to Swear In French – Essential Curse Words & Phrases

french language map
French speaking regions (source: Wikipedia)

Whether you’re learning French or are simply tired of the pale excuses for curse words contained in the English language, you’ll be glad to know that French swear words are many, varied, and wonderfully expressive.

Having lived in France for about 6 months, I got acquainted with many of the choiciest, most sumptuous morcels of French profanity. The French don’t just do cheese and wine right, they’re got cursing and swearing down to a science as well.

A nice thing about “bad ” French words is they’re often employed in the same ways we would their English counterparts. The main challenge is to not let the sometimes-strange literal translations mislead you.

Without further ado, here are the most useful:

1. Merde – Shit

Pronounced kind of like MEH-rd, but remember that the French “r” is quite unlike the English one. Often used as a stand alone curse where in English we’d say “shit” or “damn”. Even the emotion and inflection is similar.

Also try: C’est de la merde, ce truc.
Roughly: This shit sucks!/This thing is shit!

2. Putain/Pute – Fuck (or “Whore”)

Pronounced either like poo-TAWN or poote, though you may hear it as p’tawn with the “oo” sound disappearing. Very nice. Again the pronunciation is tough to show in English, as you’ve got the unique French “u” and a nasal vowel at the end.

Anyway, this is a super useful word that literally means “whore” but is used like the English “fuck.” In any case an f-bomb applies in English, you can drop this one in French, making it a versatile little pute.

Also tryPutain de merde – fucking shit! Or even: Putain de bordel de merde – which seems to translate literally like “shitty whorehouse slut” but is used like “holy motherfucking shit.” Having fun yet?

3. Salope – Bitch

Pronounced sa-LOP. The first French curse on our list that’s only directed at people. This one means “bitch” and is used like it’s English counterpart.

Also trysaloperie – like the English “shit”.

4. Ça me fait chier – That pisses me off (strong!)

Pronunciation: sa muh fey SH-YAY

Roughly equivalent to “this sucks”, but rather flexible. “Chier” literally means shit. The perfect go-to when something really annoying happens.

Also tryC’est chiant (say she-YAWNT) – This is shit!

5. Je m’en fou – I don’t give a fuck

Pronounced: Zhe mawn FOO (FOO-truh)

This one is tricky. It may seem very common, but is very strong and should be used with a bit of disgression. “Fou” comes from the verb “foutre”, meaning “to fuck”.

Also try: Va te faire foutre – Go fuck yourself.

6. Con – Idiot


This one has a ton of variants ranging from mild to extreme. The simplest being “c’est con” meaning “that’s stupid” or even something like a sympathetic “that’s too bad.”

Also try:

T’es con – You’re an idiot

C’est des conneries – This is bullshit

Connard/connasse – Idiot

7. Ta Gueule! – Shut [the fuck] up!

Pronunciation: ta-GUHL

Literally “your mouth” but used as the strongest form of shut up. Can be used lightly between friends, or harshly – best exercise discretion at first.

8. Casse-toi – Fuck off

Pronunciation: kass-tawh

Literally like “break yourself”, use it when you’re being harrassed and want to tell people to go away. Just keep in mind that swearing at aggressive strangers isn’t a recipe for a happy vacation.

9. Nique ta mere!

Pronunciation: neek tah mare

This is a heavyweight, and rather more rare than everything we’ve covered thus far. Literally, it means “fuck your mother”. Can you imagine saying that to someone in English? Exactly. So choose wisely where to use it with French speakers (other than when you’re ability to show off your swearing prowess).

10. C’est quoi ce bordel ? – What the fuck [is this]?

Bordel = whorehouse, and is often used in the sense of “a mess”. You can basically use this phrase whenever you’re pissed off, whenever someone annoys you, or when you’d say “what the hell is this/what the hell’s going on” in English.

Learned them all? Then head back on over to the Language Hacking HQ for more useful tips, tricks, and guides.


How to Swear In Spanish – Essential Curse Words & Phrases

Spanish speaking countries (source: Wikipedia)

If you’re like most Spanish language learners, one of the first things you’re probably interested in is Spanish swear words.

Well I have great news – the “bad words” in Spanish are both plentiful and wonderfully expressive.

It’s time to take a look at all the classics – like how to say  fuck, shut up, and bitch in Spanish, as well as many other colorful expressions that you won’t want to miss out on.

How To Swear In Spanish

Spanish curse words are more socially acceptable than in English, and phrases that would make English speakers blush, variations of “Me cago en la madre que te parió!” (I shit on the mother who gave birth to you), is about as common as the English catch-all “fuck”

One of the most interesting things I’ve found about studying other languages is how colorful the cursing is compared to English. And while there may be some puritans out there rallying against “bad words” – the simple fact of the matter is that curse words and phrases are an integral part of a living language and culture.

However, since this is rarely the sort of thing covered in your average Spanish grammar textbook, we’ll take a look at it here, in the complete guide to swearing like a Spaniard:

Please note that these phrases are taken from the Spanish of Spain. Many of these tranfer to the Spanish of the Americas, but you might want to double check before breaking out your go-to phrase.

Top Spanish Swear Words & Phrases

1. Me cago en tu puta madre – I shit on your bitch of a mother

A combination of the ubiquitous “me cago en…” (“I shit upon…”) and Spain’s most sacred figure, the mother, or madre – this phrase is used similarly to the English “fuck you.” Only it’s way more badass.

Useful Variants:

Me cago en Dios – I shit on God.

Me cago en la leche – I shit in the milk. (Used like the English “Holy shit!”)

Me cago en todos los santos – I shit upon all the saints!

Me cago en tus muertos – I shit on your dead relatives.

Me cago en todo lo que se menea! – I shit on everything that moves!

Basically, combining “Me cago en” and Catholic imagery = Spanish swearing gold.

2 Mierda! – Shit

Another building block for other swears. By itself it’s very tame. As you’ll see, “shit” is a very common theme in Spanish curses.

This literally means ‘shit’, and is the most lightweight of all these swear words. It makes a perfect combination with many words to give a better impact, such as ‘Come mierda! (A shit-eater!)’.

3. Joder – Fuck (roughly)

Pronounced “ho-DErr”. Used similaly to the English “fuck”, but way more common. In English when we say anything like “damn, I forgot my phone”, or “Shit! The door’s locked” we could use “joder” in Spanish.

Useful Variant: Que te jodan! – Fuck you!

4. Gilipollas – Bastard

Pronounced “hi-li-PO-yas.” Used as a retort when someone insults or annoys you.

5. Que cabron – What an asshole/bastard/jerk

Hard to translate perfectly to English, cabron literally means “goat”. This is a light remark that can be used almost anywhere. Bob ate the last slice of cake, que cabron.

6. Puta madre – mother fucker/fuck yeah

Literally meaning “fucking mother”, puta madre can be used as a swear/insult or positively. It’s often used in the same way we would use “fuck yeah” in English to express our delight in something. “Barcelona beat Real Madrid – puta madre!” Note that all the Real fans could then call you a puta madre in response.

7. Que te folle un pez – I hope you get fucked by a fish

This example highlights just how different cursing can be outside the English language. To me, this phrase borders on incomprehensible, but in Spanish it’s a nice insult. “Screw you” doesn’t really stack up.

8. Los Cojones – “Bullshit”

This curse word is so useful the Spanish have an expression to describe its usefulness! “Cojones sirve para todo,” or “cojones are useful everywhere”. Literally means “testicles” but most often used like “bullshit”.

Useful Variants:

Estoy hasta los cojones – I can’t take it anymore, I’m up to my (eye) balls.

Tienes cojones – You’ve got balls.

Me toca los cojones – That’s annoying

9. Hijo de puta – Son of a Bitch

Pronounced “yi-ho”. Used similarly to English, can be positive or negative, just way more common in Spanish.

10. Coño – Cunt

The Spanish use this word the way Brits/Aussies drop the English C-bomb. North Americans (and yours truly) will have a tough time adjusting to its prevelance.

11. Pollas en vinagre – Dicks in vinegar

This one is just hilarious. Hard to define exactly where it’s most useful, but it seems to be useful to express exasperation, shock, and awe.

12. La madre que te pario! – Mother fucker (inexact)

Literally, “the mother who gave birth to you!” But used like “mother fucker” in English with shocking frequency.

How to Say “Fuck” In Spanish

  • Chinga tu hermana – Fuck your sister
  • Chinga tu madre – Fuck your mom/mother
  • Chinga usted – Fuck you
  • Chingate – Fuck you / Go fuck yourself
  • Cojeme – Fuck me
  • Jode tu madre ayer noche – I fucked your mother last night
  • Joder – To fuck (As in having sex)
  • No me jodas – Don’t fuck with me
  • Pinche idiota – Fuckin’ idiot
  • Pinche puta – Fuckin’ bitch
  • Qué chingados – What the fuck
  • Vete a la verga culero – Fuck you asshole (Lit. Go to a dick)
  • Vete a la verga ruco/ruca – Fuck you senor/senorita
  • Yo chingé a tu madre – I fucked your mother

How to Say “Shut Up” In Spanish

  • Cierra la boca –  Shut your mouth
  • Cállate (“ka-ya-tay”) – Shut up!

Additional Curse words & phrases

  • Besa mi culo, puto – Kiss my ass, bitch
  • Tu madre es una puta fea – Your mother is an ugly bitch
  • Pendejo – Stupid/Asshole
  • Puto – man-whore
  • Perra – Bitch
  • Pinche puta – Fuckin’ bitch
  • Puta – Bitch / Whore
  • Culo – Ass
  • La concha de tu madre – Your mother’s cunt
  • La concha tuya – Your cunt
  • Métetelo por el culo – Stick it up your arse
  • Verga – Dick
  • Vete a la mierda! – Kiss my ass!

When you’re done learning Spanish swear words, head on back to the Language Hacking Guides page and find another lesson!