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Mundo Lingo brings people together

Many people already know about this worldwide initiative where language enthusiasts come together at a bar, mingle and unwind , while practising languages using a flag sticker system.

I have been lucky enough to be part of this community, first as a participant, and then moving on to become the manager of Mundo Lingo Melbourne.

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(Mundo Lingo in Mebourne, European Bier café)

Mundo Lingo (ML) first started in 2011 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the idea by an English guy called Benjamin Moreira, who had Spanish roots. Encountering difficulty in making friends, practising Spanish, and meeting other English speakers, he came up with this idea that would facilitate locals and foreigners to interact in a fun and clean environment.

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(Mundo Lingo team in Buenos Aires, Argentina)

How are these events held during the week different from normal weekend events at a bar? The events are organised and managed by the ML manager and his/her team of ambassadors. We help newcomers to feel welcome if they are shy, everyone is generally friendlier and more understanding towards people that are speaking a second language. The events are also not ‘pick-up’ sleazy events. We come together to speak languages, make friends, enjoy cultural exchange, network. It is possible to meet people who may click with you on the same wavelength, where friendships will continue out of Mundo Lingo. But it is generally frowned upon if participants show up with the main purpose of hitting on someone. Weekend party events might be more suitable for such a purpose.

Who comes to the events? Anyone that is 18+ and no one is too young or too old.  The vibe and atmosphere of the event is of the utmost importance to our community. Our motto is the spreading of buena onda (good vibes).  We have participants from all nations, races, cultures, religions. Everyone is welcome as long as you are friendly, and have a smile on your face. 🙂

What’s amazing for me? The fact that I get to come into contact with such a wonderful ML family worldwide. The city managers and ambassadors all work under the same umbrella with a strong bond between us. 

Check out http://www.mundolingo.org to see if Mundo Lingo is in your city. We have 16 cities so far: Barcelona, London, Montreal, Chiang Mai, Saigon etc.

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The story of Sutri

My first business trip to Italy was in the summer months. I was hired for my Chinese language skills as an interpreter. The office was based in the industrial area of Nepi, and I lived in an apartment loft in Sutri. These towns were in the region of Viterbo, not too far away from Rome (Lazio). They were small towns with many local inhabitants, hardly any foreigners. Sutri was famous for being the location of the musical “Nine” starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Day-Lewis (which I bumped into as well). Yeah and also the Andre Agassi ad for Lavazza coffee.

I was the only Chinese face in Sutri. In my early days, I was looked upon as a kind of novelty and the inhabitants were guessing if I were some kind of musician. As they had some musicians visit before.

It took some time for them to warm up to me. It finally happened one evening when we were watching football at the restaurant in the square la sfera d’oro. And I started swearing in Italian when the opposing player started to cheat or waste time. After this incident, I was accepted into the Sutri clan. The owners of the restaurant Guido and Alessandra would also prepare a special tomato risotto, that wasn’t usually available on the menu, for me when I was sick.

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“Owner Guido at the entrance of the restaurant Le Sfera d’Oro”

There were many fond memories of my time in Sutri and wonderful friends I made. Too many to mention. But I remember one particular night, there was a dance party in the piazza with live music, bustling with people and energy. I was asked to dance salsa by a stranger with long hair (Don Juan look-alike?) who was transiting through Sutri. You tend to remember sights, smells and sounds even if from a long time ago. Apparently, this stranger reappeared after I had left Sutri and asked the owners of the restaurant if I was still around. I don’t even remember his name.

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“The family of Guido and Alessandra, staff at the restaurant. ”

I came back once to Sutri to visit everyone, but that was 10 years ago. Who knows when I will be catching the bus again from Rome to Sutri.

Paris in Hangzhou

I left my heart in Hangzhou. I am a constant identity crisis: neither oriental nor westernised, and craving both cultures. Loving my Asian roots, and adoring the beauty of Western architecture. Imagine my pure joy when I discovered City of Tiandu 天都城 in Hangzhou, China. The best of both worlds.

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This little town was centred around a smaller Eiffel tower. Under the tower was actually a jogging track that the residents in the pricey apartments nearby would use. My favourite activity would be sipping a soy latte, having a fag, at the seats outside at Starbucks, facing the tower.

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The long row of parallel shops are still authentically chinese, with restaurants and supermarkets. Other than the architecture, there was nothing remotely frenchy about it. And the only western thing was Starbucks, which has nothing to do with France. 😉

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Tiandu Garden

Nearby the ‘Eiffel tower’ is the famous wedding spot Tiandu Garden, known for being one of the hot spots for couples to take their wedding photos.

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Tiandu Garden (view from top) take note you can still see Eiffel tower in the distance

This town is like an Alice in Wonderland. It is however far from the main Hangzhou city and sometimes you wonder what it possesses other than the tower, the architecture and the garden. But I guess anything that lets you fantasize or imagine you are somewhere else, has its merit.

Pasta Fresca Da Salvatore

My usual story when people ask me why I’m fluent in Italian is that it started here: Pasta Fresca chain restaurant at Boat Quay, Singapore. The truth is it started even earlier when my brother’s good friend, who was a Singapore Airlines air stewardess, let us listen to the album La Solitudine of Laura Pausini.

And that first trip to Europe when I was 18 and at the autobahn station, Bro and I bought an Eros Ramazzotti CD dove c’è musica to listen on the tour coach.

Anyway, this was my first job waitressing for about a year and a half before I went to study university in Australia.

The restaurant hired many Italians , from the managers, food callers, chefs, cooks etc. It was a very busy, pumped environment filled with angry, testosterone Italians screaming vulgarities when the restaurant was busy and many errors were made.

So my first real contact with Italians wasn’t the sweet music of Andrea Bocelli, but a bunch of Italian men who all knew how to cook and swear at the top of the lungs.

I was taught well: The first words I could remember were ‘Porca puttana, troia’ etc. Intrigued by this swearing nation, I went to do a short 3 month basic Italian course, that taught me the alphabet, grammar and some vocabulary. It was pretty much self-study after that.

After years of self-studying, exams, skyping, movies, magazines, music from the Italian culture, I am now quite fluent in Italian. The language has also helped me to find work overseas in Italy and in China.

Sirena chianti loves wine

Gonna take the chance to intro myself: The name is a play on my real name, demonstrating my love for the Italian language, and my love for red wine.
A big part of my life revolves around my love for languages and travel. Coming from Singapore, that gives me a huge advantage in being bilingual in English and Chinese. I picked Italian as my foreign language, which means I got an Asian and a European language covered.
Dad used to take us travelling during the school holidays so before I became an adult, I already realised the world was much bigger than our little island Singapore. We covered many places in Europe, Asia, America etc.
We are now based in Melbourne, Australia. Geography has changed but my love for languages and different cultures hasn’t. I now run a worldwide language social called Mundo Lingo here in Melbourne, which I will talk about later..