The 44th American President: Barack Obama

Posted on 01. Aug, 2014 by in Culture

Image "Obama on mah couch" by Brian Ambrozy on

Image “Obama on mah couch” by Brian Ambrozy on

Almost everyone knows who the current president of the United States is, Barack Obama, but how much do you really know about him? This post offers a chance to learn more about the current American president as well as to test your new knowledge with a reading comprehension exercise. There are questions at the end of the post for you to answer, so pay attention as you read! Barack Hussein Obama II was born on August 4, 1961. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. (He is the first president to have been born in Hawaii). His mother was born in the state of Kansas in the United States of America and his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., was born in Kenya. Obama’s parents met in 1960 in Hawaii and married in 1961. They separated when Obama’s mother moved with their newborn son to the state of Washington in 1961. Obama’s parents divorced in March 1964. Barack Obama’s father died in an automobile accident in 1982. Obama’s mother later remarried an Indonesian man and moved to Indonesia with her son in 1967. Barack Obama lived in Indonesia until 1971. After that time he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents. His mother and younger sister lived in Hawaii too from 1972-1975.  Obama attended school in Hawaii from the 5th to the 12th grade. After graduating from high school Obama moved to California in 1979 to attend Occidental College. In 1981, he transferred schools to attend Columbia University in New York City. He graduated from Columbia in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a specialty in International Relations. After graduating from college Obama worked in Chicago from 1985-1988 as community organizer where he helped set up a job-training program, college preparatory tutoring program, and tenants’ rights organization. Then in 1988, Obama began law school at Harvard University in Massachusetts. He graduated with his law degree in 1991 and returned to Chicago. Obama met his wife Michelle in Chicago, and they married in 1992 (they have two daughters now). Obama’s mother died of cancer in 1995 in Hawaii. In Chicago, Obama was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School until 2004. While teaching law he was also elected as an Illinois State Senator in 1996. He was re-elected to this position in 1998 and again in 2002. Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in 2004 after successfully running for and winning a seat as U.S. Senator. Barack Obama served as a U.S. Senator from the state of Illinois from 2005-2008, but in 2007, he announced his candidacy for president of the United States and began his campaign. On November 4, 2008 Barack Obama was elected to be the 44th President of the United States of America. He was the first African-American to be elected president. Obama is now in his second term as president. He ran for re-election in 2012 and will be the president of the United States of America until 2017.


Note: Information for this post was taken from -

Comprehension questions:

1. Who is Barack Obama named after?

2. Based on your reading, how many siblings does Barack Obama have?

3. How many colleges/universities has Obama attended (including graduate school)?

4. What type of work did Barack Obama do immediately after graduating from law school?

5. When was Obama first elected to public office?

6. How many terms will Barack Obama be president of the United States?




1. His father, Barack Hussein Obama.

2. One sister.

3. Three: Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard University. He was a professor at a fourth college, but not a student.

4. He was a law professor.

5. He was elected as an Illinois State Senator in 1996.

6. Two terms; he is currently serving in his second term. American presidents can only serve two terms total.

American city names.

Posted on 31. Jul, 2014 by in Culture, Travel

Image "Future City" by Neil Kremer on

Image “Future City” by Neil Kremer on

Most cities in the United States have nicknames, you are probably familiar with a few of these already, like New York City’s nickname, ‘The Big Apple.’  Nicknames are a familiar and sometimes funny way of referring to something (or someone).

Below I have listed 12 American cities and their nicknames.  For fun, you have to try and figure out which city goes with which nickname based on whatever you already know about these cities. Some of these matches are harder than others. After you have given this a try, look below for the answers and a little more information about some of these cities and how they got their nicknames.

1. Boston, MA                        a. The Windy City

2. Berkeley, CA                      b. America’s Playground

3. Los Angeles, CA                 c. Hotlanta

4. Denver, CO                         d. City of Lakes

5. Orlando, FL                        e. City of Angels

6. Atlanta, GA                         f. O-town

7. Chicago, IL                          g. Beantown

8. Kansas City, KS                  h. The Mile High City

9. New Orleans, LA                i. Philly

10. Las Vegas, NV                  j. The Heart of America

11. Detroit, MI                         k. Sin City

12. Minneapolis, MN             l. Gateway to the West

13. St. Louis, MO                    m. The Motor City

14. Atlantic City, NJ                n. Berzerkeley

15. Philadelphia, PA                o. NOLA







1. g

2. n

3. e

4. h

5. f

6. c

7. a

8. j

9. o

10. k

11. m

12. d

13. l

14. b

15. I




Here is some more information about how some of these nicknames came about:

Atlanta/Hotlanta – This nickname comes from either the hot weather that Atlanta is known for having, or its exciting nightlife, some say it comes from both!

Kansas City/The Heart of America – This nickname comes from the fact that Kansas City is located right in the middle (or the heart) of the United States.

New Orleans/NOLA – NOLA is an abbreviation of the letters that make up the words New Orleans. This has become one of the most common ways people refer to this city today.

Las Vegas/Sin City – If you have ever been to Las Vegas you know where this nickname comes from; there are a lot of ways to get in trouble, spend/lose money, and do naughty things in Las Vegas, in other words there are many ways to sin.

Los Angeles/City of Angels – This nickname is just a translation of the Spanish name for this city, into English.

Denver/The Mile High City – Denver gets this nickname from the fact that its elevation is approximately 1 mile (5,278 feet) above sea level. It is the highest major city in America.

Berkeley/Bezerkeley – ‘Berserk’ is a word that means ‘to be wild or out of control.’ Berkeley, CA has a reputation (mostly from its Hippie culture, past and present) as being a wild and weird city, which is where this nickname comes from. Bezerkeley is a combination of the words: berserk + Berkeley.

Does the city you live in have a nickname? What is it and what does it mean? Please share with us in the comments section below.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Posted on 29. Jul, 2014 by in English Language, English Vocabulary, Travel

Name:  Rocky Mountain National Park

Year Established: 1915

Location: Colorado, USA

High up in the mountains.

High up in the mountains.

Season: Open year-round. Visitor Center hours vary by season.

Cost: $20 for private vehicle, $10 for motorcycles, cyclists and hikers (good for 7 days)

Accommodation:  There are only a few campgrounds inside the park. Nearby communities offer guest houses and hotels.

Beautiful scenery of the Rockies.

Beautiful scenery of the Rockies.

Waterfalls at Wild Basin.

Waterfalls at Wild Basin.

Brief Description: Rocky Mountain National Park has elevations ranging from 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) to 14,000 feet (4,200 meters) so it’s understandable why so many visitors feel like they’re on top of the world. The park is home to diverse climates and environments such as wooded forests and mountain tundra. Many types of wildlife can also be seen here. The most common are mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, yellow-bellied marmot, black bears, mountain lions and moose. There’s 359 miles (578 km) of trails, 450 miles (720 km) of stream and 150 lakes. It also contains 72 mountain peaks that are named and rise to over 12,000 feet (3,657 kms). The tallest peak in the park is called Longs Peak and many people try to climb it every year.

View from above Lily Lake.

View from above Lily Lake.

Elk roaming free in Rocky Mtn. National Park.

Elk roaming free in Rocky Mtn. National Park.

Personal Experience: Our visit was short but sweet because we just did a day trip from Denver, the capital city of Colorado. There’s not really any public transport in the park so it’s best to have a car. We rented a car in the city and spent our day stopping at different short trails, lakes and viewpoints. Our first short hike was to a waterfall. It was beautiful but it started to rain so we jumped back in the car and continued on our way. Our next two hikes were on trails that went around lakes.

One of the many beautiful lakes in the park

One of the many beautiful lakes in the park

We spotted many elk from the car roaming free across the beautiful landscape. There are many more options for hiking and taking in views so if you have the time it would be better to camp in the park for a few days or get a hotel room in one of the many communities surrounding the park. After our day trip to the park we returned to Denver to watch the Rockies, Colorado’s major league baseball team.

A cloudy day over Bear Lake.

A cloudy day over Bear Lake.

Inside the ballpark, watching the other Rockies.

Inside the ballpark, watching the other Rockies.