Laura Recommends

April Recommendations II

May 3, 2019
cover picture: me as Waldo in Wonderland. or Waldoland. @Voorlinden Museum. Tiny elevators by Maurizio Cattelan. Picture by my friend, Anna

First and foremost, welcome to!!! Why, yes, I have reached peak narcissism, thank you very much for noticing. And please do take extra time to ponder why it took me a total of 10 hours to do the new logo, which is basically a signature (visible on the top AND bottom of the pages fyi)! All jokes aside, transferring all the content from one domain to the other turned out to be a much bigger hassle than I thought (for reference, I bought the new domain name last July), but it’s already worth it. Both because I want my website to be the home of all my projects and articles, so from a professional pov, it’s better to be associated with my real name, and also because the website needed to level up a bit and keep up with my personal growth and image.

Alright, now that I finished humblebragging, let’s get to April Recommendations. You’d better have space to open lots of tabs, because this month is FULL OF GOOD STUFF.

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Where is HOME?

April 3, 2019

Although I am not a religious person, the last couple of years marked Easter and Christmas becoming very meaningful events for me because they now represent the only moments during which I get to see my whole family and from which I feel I cannot miss. Last year (2018) we decided to celebrate Easter one week earlier, not because we were so eager to smash red-painted eggs, but because there was no other way for me to come home. Since most people in the country I live celebrate Catholic Easter, that is when the national holidays are. Naturally, this is the only time during which I can score two days off uni, therefore squeezing a 4-day weekend out of my usually fully booked academic calendar. And I’m sure I’m one of the lucky ones – tens of thousands of Romanians cannot come home for Easter at all. In fact, many cannot visit their family and friends back home because they send all the extra money they make there to the remnants of families whose members have to endure a life with the minimum Romanian wage.

You have certainly heard about the statistics showing that between 2010 and 2017 Romania lost more than 3.4 million inhabitants due to emigration, representing 17% of the entire population. The only country that surpassed this figure is Syria. Syria, the country where there is a war and dozens of other humanitarian disasters. There is no conflict of such magnitude in Romania. However, why did millions of people run like it’s a war there?

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Laura Recommends

March Recommendations II

April 3, 2019

I was expecting more from March. It seems to have flown past me with speed light, unlike other months. However I am still content with everything I have read and watched.

March was a bit of an executive month for me (that month when you get lot of sh*t done, but the results only come out later), yet I am still stocked for April – it’s gonna be packed, and I need to make progress with lots of projects, but I am very much looking forward to it! Meanwhile this is what I loved during the past four weeks:



Free Solo

I remember that three days after the 2019 Oscars ceremony I made a note in my phone to go watch Free Solo after it topped its Documentary category. Fast forward one month, I finally went to the cinema to see. It’s safe to say it is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. You immediately get sucked in Alex Honnold’s life and ambitions as a free solo rock climber and you cannot stop yourself from rooting for him and wanting him not to kill himself while climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan. It’s full of suspense (I overheard other filmgoers say it made them more stressed than any exam, but it think it makes a good point highlight how big AND small humans feel in relation to nature.

The Good Place

If you know me, you can probably tell by now I am not a huge fan of series. I dislike the seemingly controlling power Netflix has over me when they display the next episode starting in 5…4… get it. So usually I stay away from series (unless I am in a holiday), even though it means missing out on good content. However, this was not the case for The Good Place. I saw it mentioned in a couple of places, but none of my friends were talking about it, so I was sceptical to try it out. Oh, how wrong I was. This series is absolutely amazing, terribly clever and very ingenious in the way writers play with the universe they made. Oh, it’s also incredibly funny. Did I mention each episode is only 22 minutes long, so perfectly bite-sized?

Queer Eye

I’m not going to write a lot about Queer Eye, because you have probably heard of it, but I had to mention it because the latest season (released this March) was so good and as per usual, incredibly uplifting and heart-warming!

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In Conversation With Măriuca Talpeş

March 8, 2019

A conversation with Măriuca Talpeş, Bitdefender co-founder, about business, women, education and Romania


Măriuca Talpeş is undoubtedly one of the most famous women in the tech industry in Romania. Both her and her husband, Florin Talpeş, have been very active entrepreneurs, speakers at many conferences and very inspiring characters for almost three decades. Together they embarked on the entrepreneurship path in 1990, shortly after the Revolution, creating in 2001 what came to be the most sold Romanian IT product on the international market: Bitdefender, a cyber security software with more than 500 million users. Besides being the co-founder of Softwin, the parent company of Bitdefender, Măriuca Talpeş currently leads Intuitext, a company that aims to solve educational problems by creating software and online communities such as, or

N.B. In this interview, originally published in ELLE Romania, March 2018 issue, I wanted to talk with Măriuca Talpeş less about the ascension of Bitdefender on the market, which is something more frequently discussed in the local media, but more about her perspective on women in tech, female empowerment, work-life balance and more. She makes time for both playing an instrument and dancing, while still working tirelessly and being a very prominent figure advocating for girls education, so read the whole piece to find out how she does all of this and also to find out her advice for women who want to pursue careers in STEM.


I know you’ve been playing the flute for some time and participating in dance competitions. How do you find the power to do new things?

Time exists. If you have a passion, it’s all about putting it in your schedule and making it happen.

I do not think it’s a power, I think each of us has more recent or older passions. In terms of movement and dance, I have always liked dancing ever since I was a child, and after I managed to persuade Florin into it, we started dancing together almost daily. It brings great joy to our lives and great balance in professional life too. Regarding music, I always wanted to play the piano, but in my childhood I had a jam because of a very severe teacher, so I rediscovered the piano once Florin received an organ as a gift from his colleagues which ended up sitting at home covered, so one day I wanted to see how it sounded and since then I have not stopped. After several years of piano, I asked my music teacher if there was a wind instrument that would fit a lady and she recommended me the flute, which I have been playing for five years now and which I really enjoy. Continue Reading…


Some issues with our unquestioned media use

March 4, 2019

Small practical guide – Three questions we don’t ask ourselves about our social media use, but should


On average, an Instagram user interested in fashion opens the app 32 times a day. (Yes, you’ve read that correctly!) If these stats are currently only available for this app, think about how many times we open Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn or other apps! How many minutes, in fact, do these platforms steal from us? And are all these hours on our phones well spent? How much of the information we receive brings us value? How much value do we add to those around us? How many pictures mark us positively on a daily basis? These questions, and beyond, are things that we need to address if we want to optimize what we get from the time we spend online, both for ourselves and for those who follow us. After all, if at the end of the day, after lots of screen time, we do not have more information or a better mood/energy than at the beginning of the day, that says something about the quality of the content for which we sacrifice moments with our families, minutes to read or moments of silence in the privacy of our own minds.

In the following paragraphs I have made a selection of themes to ponder on for those of you who want to use these social networks in a wiser way. Beware, this is an article with many (many!) questions whose answers may not be the most comfortable.


  1. What do we transmit through what we post online?

“Three more hours until take off, so ask me anything.” “Stuck in traffic again, awesome, what about you, reply to my Insta-sticker with your mood” “I’m bored so I am trying out all these new filters. Which one do you like best?”

Sounds familiar?

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Laura Recommends

February Recommendations II

March 3, 2019

I will not bore you with yet another rant about how short February felt like, but instead I’ll leave you with my Recommendations list for the past month. Also, scroll until the bottom to open two translated articles from my ELLE Romania column. Enjoy!


A world built for men – The Guardian

This might be the best article I have read in the past months. It shows the risks women are put through because most safety regulations have been made for 75 kg 1.8 metres men, the hidden toxic problems behind nail salons, phone sizes and much more. It’s an absolutely eye-opening piece that you have to read!

The Millennial obsession with starting over – Medium

I got this article in one of my Medium newsletters and it hit home hard. It speaks about the obsession young generations have with moving from place to place and letting a move define them, while also falsely claiming that solely moving to a new place could change them instead of changing themselves first from the inside.

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Thoughts on speed traveling and mass tourism

February 26, 2019

We have seen it all and understood nothing

A story about a possible future Olympic discipline of speed traveling


We work an entire year for a seven day holiday outside our own country in which we aim to take pictures of ourselves at the same touristic attractions where other thousands of people have checked in before so we can come back home happy that we now have enough #tb photos to post in the next twelve months. This is all that’s left from our vacation and it’s a pity.

No wonder that increasingly more people have the possibility to become tourists once or multiple times per year. The plane tickets have never been cheaper (that is, if we talk about the economy class), the accommodation options are the most diverse ever, especially for those who want to avoid hotels or who do not have the budget for them (see AirBnB,, HomeAway and many other examples), and the pictures from our social media feeds keep encouraging us to explore Cinque Terre, climb to Machu Picchu, navigate on Lake Como or see the NYE fireworks above the Sydney Opera House. Could we not go as well?

Yes. If we choose to go to a place only because we saw others do it, hence we want pictures like them, we are the most eloquent example for the phenomenon of mindlessly adopting something without understanding its sub layers. And after all, why waste so much money on a vacation when you could spend only a part of them on image editing services in Photoshop?

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Laura Recommends

January Recommendations II

February 7, 2019

Happy New Year! (Is is still time-appropriate to say this?) Happy Lunar New Year! (I guess this is more appropriate to say now that I am publishing this article in the first week of February)


I hope you all got a wonderful start to the year. I know many people dreaded January (hence all these “January was a long year” jokes), but I personally loved it. I feel I have done a lot, grew some more and came across some truly interesting articles, videos and books I can’t wait to share with you. Let’s get started:



Two Dope Queens

I listened to their episode with Michelle Obama (I’ll start reading her book in February and I am super excited!) and I was surprised I haven’t listened to these two ladies before! They are so fun, energetic, refreshing and witty! Loved the episode and will certainly listen to more.

How I Built This

I must have listened to 5 HIBT episodes in two days because they were right up my alley: business women and men talking about the companies and the projects they started and the way they reached success. I loved learning more about companies I had no previous knowledge on (or very little info) such as Burton. Highly recommend that episode and the entire podcast series for those of you passionate about business.

Challenge Accepted – Celeste Barber

If you don’t follow Celeste Barber on Instagram, you are missing out. She is a brilliant Australian comedian who recently published a book. As the physical book was not available in the Netherlands, I opted to listen to it (she narrated it herself!) and it was such a nice way to de-stress. While the book doesn’t always seem to always have a red thread, it is certainly a fun, easy read.

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Laura Recommends

November and December Recommendations II

January 2, 2019

Happy New Year! I hope your 2018 was a good year for you and that 2019 will be even better. For those of you who thought I have abandoned my sacred monthly Recommendation project, I haven’t. It’s just that I have decided I will combine November and December into one big post (perfect for the holidays!) since these months are too crazy to pen down everything I want. You can check out here what I wrote last year during my November and December post.



Escher Museum, the Hague

I visited this museum in November after complaining I haven’t really seen a lot of museums in the Hague and this quickly turned into one of my favourite ones. It definitely offered more than I have expected, starting with the permanent exhibit of Escher’s visual illusions, the superb interior with square staircases, unique chandeliers and the fantastic interactive rooms perfect for testing how deceiving our sight can be. It’s certainly a fantastic place to spend 2 to 3 hours on a rainy day in the Hague.

Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden

I had no idea about this museum until I got out of Leiden’s train station and saw an ad for an exhibit about Bali. I was instantly triggered, so that obviously became a spontaneous stop during my day in Leiden. The exhibit was very well done, with many local objects, recordings, infographics, videos and so on depicting the local Balinese customs and way of living, while also highlighting the urgency of certain issues: mass tourism, plastic pollution and globalization. Beyond this exhibit, this museum of Ethnology has permanent and temporary exhibits on most regions of the world, from Asia to North America and Australia. I have to go back, so I would definitely schedule more than 3 to 4 hours for a thorough visit.

Femmes Fatales exhibit, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

I had been waiting for this exhibit ever since I first read about it online and on my birthday I finally managed to get there with my mom. It was absolutely fantastic – from the selection of pieces and designers (all female) to the set up of the rooms and the stories behind them, this was a very tasteful exhibit which displayed more than I anticipated, so it has definitely exceeded my expectations. If you decide to go and visit it, the museum ticket also includes the entrance to the permanent exhibits (such as the one on Delftware) and temporary ones (such as Splendour and Bliss – a fantastic show of Islamic art!).

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