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Peta Brady, Open2Study blog writer

Planning a Christmas vacation? Get your passport ready, because we’ve rounded up some of the world’s top destinations for viewing spectacular Christmas lights and decorations. All you have to do is decide which one to visit!

Rockefeller Center, New York City

For Christmas tree (and Home Alone 2) enthusiasts, Rockefeller Center is an absolute mustsee at Christmas time. The 80ft (~24m) tree was first lit in 1933, and is decorated with around 45,000 lights each year, providing the perfect ambiance for the popular ice‐skating rink beneath.

Rockefeller center xmas lights


Kobe, Japan

Each year the town of Kobe, Japan plays host to a spectacular light show, known as Luminarie. Now in its 21st year, the festival was first conceived as a memorial to the victims of the Hanshin earthquake in 1995 and continues to draw holiday crowds from around the world.

Kobe Japan Xmas Lights


Hong Kong, China

Christmas may not be a traditional Chinese holiday, but that certainly doesn’t stop Hong Kong from getting into the festive spirit. With hotels, shopping centres, and the city skyline adorned in decorations, you can take in the sites while enjoying delicious food, extravagant light displays, and celebrations around the city. Take an evening cruise along Victoria Habour for a truly magical experience.

Hong Kong Xmas Lights


Gothenburg, Sweden

Christmas in Gothenburg is like visiting a fairytale wonderland, with enough Christmas spirit to win over even the biggest Grinch. Old traditions seamlessly blend with new, and the streets are lined with markets and glittering lights, while the traditional songs of Lucia fill the air.

Gothenburg Sweden Xmas Lights


Monte Carlo, Monaco

Bring the kids and an empty tummy for this Christmas adventure, because Monte Carlo sure knows how to throw a party. With gourmet food, markets, and a delightful Christmas village featuring arts & crafts, regional produce, rides and a skating rink, the whole family can experience a very merry Christmas indeed.

Monte Carlo Xmas Lights


Carnaby Street, London, England

If you’re into shopping, Carnaby Street in London is the place for you this Christmas. With some of the most distinctive lights in town, you can take in the flamboyant decorations while maxing out your credit card at one of the street’s notorious shopping parties. Even better still, visitors are treated to a 20% discount at most of the shops in this highly fashionable district.

Carnaby Street London Xmas Lights


Berlin, Germany

Berlin is a truly wonderful place to soak up the Christmas spirit. Book yourself in for a tour and see many of the city’s landmarks in all their illuminated glory, including Brandenburg Gate, 16th century cathedrals, and Friedrichstadtpalast – the largest theatre in Berlin. Berlin is also well known for its vibrant Christmas markets, including the Schloss Charlottenburg, Gendarmenmarkt, and Potsdamer Platz markets.

Berlin Xmas Lights

Frankfurt, Germany

The Frankfurt Christmas Market is undeniably one of the biggest Christmas markets across Germany. Here the scent of baked apples, chestnuts and bratwurst sausages fills the air, and thousands of glittering fairy lights complete the festive setting. Take a stroll through the scenic light displays surrounding the Römerberg and St Paul's Square, and find the perfect one‐of‐a‐kind Christmas gift in the St Paul’s Church market.

Frankfurt Germany Xmas Lights


Bogota, Colombia

The Colombian capital really knows how to take Christmas to the next level. And as a predominantly Catholic country, it’s really no surprise that December is one of the most popular times to visit. In Bogota, you can follow the Ruta de La Navidad – or Christmas Route – which takes you on a tour of all the parks and plazas featuring an abundance of Christmas lights and markets. Make sure you’re hungry, because one thing Colombians really love to do at Christmas, is eat!

Bogota Columbia Xmas Lights


Are we feeling festive yet?

Happy holidays from all of us at Open2Study! 

Happy Holidays Santa Hat and snow by a tree


Peta BradyThis post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.

Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and grammar pest.

Contact Peta at or on Instagram @thewordbird_.

Peta Brady, Open2Study blog writer



Given the amount of emails we send and receive every day, I am still surprised by how many of them are, well, terrible! Incorrect names, poor spelling, rude tone – the list goes on. And while I understand many of us quickly fire off emails because we’re busy, taking a little extra time before hitting ‘send’ can improve not only the response you receive, but also your relationship with the recipient.


1. Subject Line

Think of your subject line like the heading of a news article – you need to stand out in an overcrowded inbox, so write something attention-grabbing to compel the reader to open it. I’m sure we’re all guilty of the ‘as discussed’ subject line, which, when you think about it, is pointless. Your recipient has surely discussed many things with many people, so it’s better to be specific.


2. Be Polite

There’s nothing worse that opening an email only to find yourself immediately irritated with the sender. Maybe the tone is off, or their requests come across as demands. Whatever the reason, you’re annoyed and much less likely to respond straight away. This goes both ways! Just think, it’s actually rather difficult to be too nice… Start off with a simple, pleasant greeting. Make it personal, rather than a standard “hope you’re well” approach. If you have an existing relationship, something like “did you enjoy your weekend away?” will do nicely. If you’re emailing a stranger, a little flattery can go a long way. For example: “I read your article on part-time learning and found it very informative” adds a nice personal touch. There’s no need to go overboard, but it never hurts to start off on the right foot.


3. Resist Topic Overload & Oversharing

Wherever possible, try and cover only one topic per email. You’re less likely to confuse the reader, and sticking to one subject will keep your email at a reasonable length. No one wants to read an essay! It’s also a good idea to keep personal conversation out of a professional email. You never know who it might be forwarded to, and not everyone remembers to delete the conversation history. So unless you want the details of your weekend antics splashed around the office, maybe save it for another time.


4. Formatting and Punctuation

If you absolutely must cover multiple topics in one email, formatting is your new best friend. Slapping your recipient in the face with a huge chunk of unformatted text with no punctuation is not going to make them want to read it, and they will almost certainly miss an important point. Spacing out topics in separate paragraphs or dot points keeps things looking neat, and helps to convey your message and intentions clearly. You’ll also stand a much better chance of receiving a specific response for each topic. And in case there is any confusion, using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is still (and always will be) the equivalent of yelling, which isn’t a particularly good look.



5. Urgent vs. Not Urgent

These days everyone thinks everything is urgent, but just because you’re facing a deadline doesn’t mean your recipient is on the same page. It’s important to allow them enough time to consider and respond to your email, and to bear in mind that their priorities are not necessarily the same as yours. If you do require a quick response, try to encourage, rather than demand one.


6. Closing Off

Closing off politely is just as important as your opening greeting if you want to encourage that response we’ve talked about. If you’re waiting on something, let the recipient know in advance that you appreciate their assistance. Sign-off with something simple like ‘kind regards’ or ‘with thanks’ followed by your name and email signature.


7. Proofread

How many times have you hit ‘send’ only to spot a glaring error after it’s too late? Argh! The worst! A quick read-through can save you from a world of embarrassment, and really takes no time at all. Get into the habit of proofreading everything you send – especially when contacting senior colleagues or managers, and for important matters such as a job application.

Peta BradyThis post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.


Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, social media enthusiast, and general grammar pest.




Get in touch or on Instagram @thewordbird_

Peta Brady, Open2Study blog writer


Who doesn’t love getting lost in a good book? Especially over summer, when the days are long and holidays are in full swing. No matter what your favourite genre may be, we’ve got you covered with these top picks for your 2017/18 summer reading list.

The Ready‐Made Thief by Augustus Rose


Lee Cuddy is seventeen years old and on the run. Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, Lee finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle. But the facade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 

Contemporary Fiction 

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz Contemporary


A ghetto nerd living with his Dominican family in New Jersey, Oscar is sweet but disastrously overweight. He dreams of becoming the next J.R.R. Tolkien and keeps falling hopelessly in love.

The New Urban Crisis, Richard Florida

Social Commentary

Richard Florida, one of the first scholars to anticipate this back‐to‐the‐city movement in his groundbreaking The Rise of the Creative Class, demonstrates how the same forcesthat power the growth of the world'ssuperstar cities also generate their vexing challenges: gentrification, unaffordability, segregation, and inequality.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Contemporary Fiction

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day‐ to‐day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn't quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Contemporary Fiction

To fellow mothers at the school gate, Bernadette is a menace. To design experts, she's a revolutionary architect. And to 15‐year‐old Bee, she is a best friend and, quite simply, mum. Then Bernadette disappears.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Teen Romance / Family

Theodore Finch isfascinated by death, and constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of hersister's recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Contemporary Fiction

Latin terrorists storm an international gathering hosted by an underprivileged country to promote foreign interest and trade, only to find that their intended target, the President, has stayed home to watch his favourite soap opera on TV.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Contemporary Fiction

An epic of contemporary love and marriage, comically and tragically capturing the temptations and burdens of liberty.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Motivation & Self‐Esteem

The Happiness Project describes one person's year‐long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley


On a foggy summer night, 11 people depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs — the painter — and a four‐year‐old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.


Peta BradyThis post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.

Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and general grammar pest. She loves writing scribbles and correcting errors, as well as changing her hair colour every five minutes and eating all the foods in Melbourne.

Contact Peta at or on Instagram @thewordbird_.

Peta Brady, Open2Study blog writer

Knowing how to handle yourself in a conflict situation isn’t always easy, and if you’re not careful things can become heated pretty quickly. Whether at school or in the workplace, maintaining a level of professionalism and coming to a resolution that works for everyone involved is key, and one of the best ways to achieve this is through negotiation.

But not everyone is a born negotiator, and that’s where we come in.

Open2Study’s free online Negotiation and Conflict Resolution course provides a solid foundation for successful negotiation tactics, and introduces you to a range of techniques for resolving everyday conflicts using a practical framework. Throughout the course you’ll learn how to navigate the different phases of conflict, apply communication strategies in a variety of situations, and explore the origins of human conflict. 

Requiring only 2‐4 hours of study per week, you’ll have the basics down in no time and be able to tackle common workplace and day‐to‐day life conflict situations with renewed confidence.

For more information and enrolments, head to our website:‐and‐conflict‐resolution



Peta BradyThis post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.

Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and general grammar pest. She loves writing scribbles and correcting errors, as well as changing her hair colour every five minutes and eating all the foods in Melbourne.

Contact Peta at or on Instagram @thewordbird_.

Peta Brady, Open2Study blog writer

English is a complicated language, thanks to its many irregularities, conflicting rules and weird exceptions. Spelling mistakes are easy to make, but we all make them, and that’s how we learn!


With this in mind, I thought I’d share 10 of the most common spelling errors.


1. Lose / Loose

These must be two of the most frequently confused words out there. To lose something indicates loss. Add an extra ‘o’ and you’ve got yourself a loose tooth – it’s the opposite of tight.


2. Calendar not Calander

This one I suggest saying out loud before writing it down. Give it a try: “I keep appointments in my CAL‐EN‐DAR.” For some reason it always seems to stick.


3. Commitment not Comittment or Committment

Confession: this almost always trips me up. And I can’t even think of a clever trick to help me remember. Thankfully it’s a word spell check picks up!


4. Definitely not Definately

There is no A in definitely, and remembering this is definitely worth your time.


5. A lot not Alot

Alot is not a word. Try thinking, ‘there’s a lot of space in outer space’, to remember to add a space.


6. Broccoli not Brocolli

Embarrassingly, I made this mistake for a long time! Thankfully no one was proofreading my shopping list… Apparently broccoli contains both vitamin C and calcium – which is helpful in remembering the double C.


7. Weird not Wierd

So much for the ‘I before E except after C’ rule! Just one of the many exceptions out there. How to remember? Well, don’t you think it’s weird that wierd doesn’t follow the standard rule?


8. Stationery / Stationary

I think we’ve all made this mistake. Stationery contains an E for envelope. Stationary, meaning not moving, does not.


9. Separate not Seperate


But they both look correct. Argh! This one I remember from primary school, although the trick doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when I really think about it. But we’ll run with it: there’s a ‘rat’ in separate.


10. Dessert / Desert

Thought I’d end on something sweet… Get it? Dessert (that you eat) requires two s’s, and is twice as nice as the dry old desert.

Peta BradyThis post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.

Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and grammar pest. 

Contact Peta at or on Instagram @thewordbird_.

Peta Brady, Open2Study blog writer

Working as a team is a great way to get things done and achieve common goals, yet establishing and maintaining an effective team can sometimes be a challenge. Working in a group of diverse humans with different personalities and backgrounds can quickly result in a dysfunctional group if you’re not careful, making it difficult to achieve anything at all.


Check out our top 5 tips for working effectively in a team.


1. Appoint a strong leader

A team without a leader is bound to go nowhere. In order to succeed, you need a leader who is comfortable with delegating tasks, and who can provide direction as needed. A good leader will put the needs of the team before the needs of the individual team members, and offer a boost of morale should things start to go off track.


2. Clarify goals, roles and responsibilities

It’s vital that everyone on the team is clear about why the team exists in the first place, and what their individual role is within the team. This needs to happen before any work commences, so you can avoid overlapping of tasks and clashes over authority. Once everyone is clear on the goals on the team and what they need to deliver, you can move forward with everyone on the same page.


3. Assign the right tasks to the right people

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to make sure you’ve got the right person working on the task that best suits their strengths as an individual. You can always make changes to allocated roles once work gets underway, if you feel that a particular task might have been better suited to another team member.


4. Encourage open and honest communication

Teams who communicate openly and honestly stand a much better chance of success, as all members have the opportunity to express their ideas and discuss any challenges. Innovation is also much more likely to occur when everyone isfree to be creative and explore alternate options, which in turn increases team morale.


5. Be supportive of your teammates

A team in which all members are operating individually and not supporting each other is unlikely to achieve the common goals as laid out at the beginning of the project. It’s important that all members are focused on the end goal, and are able to ask for help when needed. There is no point in one team member completing all of their tasks when others are falling behind – the key to success is to support one another, and to be willing to lend a hand to ensure the project is completed.

Peta BradyThis post is by Open2Study's blog writer, Peta Brady.

Peta Brady is a freelance copywriter, editor, social media enthusiast, and general grammar pest. She loves writing scribbles and correcting errors, as well as changing her hair colour every five minutes and eating all the foods in Melbourne.

Contact Peta at or on Instagram @thewordbird_.