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International Family Customs

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Rome in a Nutshell

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Cinque Terre

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Traveling to Jerusalem

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Travel Through Europe by Train Tips

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Vietnam

Life in Vietnam

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Mongolia

 

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Japan Tradition & Culture

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India

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Traveling in Zurich Switzerland City Tour

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Sahara Desert

The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert and one of the harshest environments on the planet. It is third largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic, which are cold deserts.
At 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square kilometers), the Sahara, which is Arabic for “The Great Desert,” engulfs most of North Africa. The desert covers large sections of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.

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The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert and one of the harshest environments on the planet. It is third largest desert overall after Antarctica and the Arctic, which are cold deserts.
At 3.6 million square miles (9.4 million square kilometers), the Sahara, which is Arabic for “The Great Desert,” engulfs most of North Africa. The desert covers large sections of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.

This is the image many people have of the Sahara: a vast sea of sand dunes. The terrain is actually quite varied.

The Sahara is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the western edge, the Atlas Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Red Sea on the east, and the Sudan and the valley of the Niger River on the south. The Sahara is divided into western Sahara, the central Hoggar (Ahaggar) Mountains, the Tibesti Mountains, the Air Mountains, an area of desert mountains and high plateaus, Ténéré desert and the Libyan desert, which is the most arid region.

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Vienna Austria

Source: http://www.migration.gv.at/en/living-and-working-in-austria/austria-at-a-glance/geography-and-population/

Austria covers an area of 83,878 square kilometres with a population of 8,700,471 residents (as of 1 January 2016), including 1,267,674 foreign citizens (14.5% of total population). In 2015, an average of 1,813 million people with migration background lived in Austria, that is 21.4% of the entire population.
Vienna is Austria’s most densely populated province with 4,300 residents per square kilometre; the Tyrol is the least densely populated province with 57 inhabitants per square kilometre. In 2014, the average life expectancy was 81.1 years.
Austria is bordered by Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy.
Austria is a federal state comprised of nine provinces; each province has its own capital:

Economy
The Austrian economy grew by 0.9% in 2015. GDP at current prices amounted to approximately €337 bn (+2.4% in real terms) in 2015 and GDP per inhabitant equalled €39,120. Austria is in the upper sector not only within the EU but world-wide (source: Statistik Austria).

 

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Family Life In Africa

Around 70% of South Africans live in rural areas. They either farm or herd animals. They care for their families first and if they have extras the sell it at the market or trade it for other supplies.

Generally speaking you can expect to experience “First World” to meet the “Third World”, with people either living a rural existence or in big cities and not much in between. South Africa has a mixed economy and by UN classification South Africa is a middle-income country.

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Street Art Boston

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China

Source: http://chinaunique.com/educate/culture.htm

Family Life:
The traditional vision of family life in China is one of a strong family unit led be the father and husband, who largely has absolute rule and control of the family. Religion plays a major part in defining the roles and responsibilities of family members. Confucianism taught social order and behavior. This control also extended to selection of marriage partners, which was often arranged for the children.
Much has changed today in the family make-up. The father still remains the strong family leader and decision maker. At a minimum, he influences the major decisions of the children. But, normally he no longer exerts absolute control. The father no longer arranges the marriage, although this still exists in some of the most traditional families and in less developed areas. Children select their career fields, again strongly influenced by the father.

Dress and Apparel:
Long gone are the days of traditional Chinese dress. This is reserved largely for celebrations, tourists and other special events. While bringing some Chinese guests on a tour of American schools, we could only chuckle when one child asked what people wore in China. One of the visitors dressed in casual attire told the class they were looking at the type of clothes worn every day. He also went on to say that jeans were as common as anywhere else in the world.
In the typical wedding in China, the bride will wear a white bridal gown the same as is worn in weddings in the western world.
Business attire is similar to that worn anywhere in the industrialized world for a given trade. Business suits for marketing sales and banking, while dockers and shirts without ties are appropriate for factory professionals all the way to the factory manager. Laborers, however, will usually wear a uniform.
Color preference: You will notice a difference in colors. The Chinese have a preferences for browns, beige(or tan) and yellows. Black is a very popular color, especially in women’s dress and apparel. Bright red is also a popular color for special events, holidays and ceremonial events. Grays are also common. School children’s uniforms are brightly colored with white, blue and greens being common.

A tourist may find few people wear shorts, especially the men.
The ruggedness and dust in many parts of the country should encourage you to select more casual and  durable wear. Because of this reason, you may opt to bring some of the older clothing in your wardrobe.

 

 

 

 

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Safari Family Vacation in South Africa

My daughter was recently in South Africa and said it was wonderful.

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Switzerland

 

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Canada

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Bora Bora

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bora_Bora

https://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-live-in-Bora-Bora

I lived on Bora for 6 months. The people are incredible life is simple. Coconut trees, blue water, fresh fish and people who are very happy. It’s a great place to be.

Before long you begin to notice and recognize all the people on the island. The chickens that are every where will drive you crazy (you’ll get used to it though). The Super U is the biggest store on the island, just your average grocery store. The food trucks are wonderful. Steak and fries, chicken and fries and poison cru are daily things to eat. There are little shops all around the island that have little snacks.

The houses aren’t all wonderful and pretty. The people are pretty poor (life is so simple though that it doesn’t matter much). Exploring and hiking is great. Swimming and exploring is awesome. Visiting the outer islands is wonderful.

History:  The island was inhabited by Polynesian settlers around the 4th century C.E.[citation needed] The first European sighting was made by Jakob Roggeveen in 1722. James Cook sighted the island in 1770 and landed that same year. The London Missionary Society arrived in 1820 and founded a Protestant church in 1890. Bora Bora was an independent kingdom until 1888 when its last queen Teriimaevarua III was forced to abdicate by the French who annexed the island as a colony.
World War II
In World War II the United States chose Bora Bora as a South Pacific military supply base, and an oil depot, airstrip, seaplane base, and defensive fortifications were constructed. Known as “Operation Bobcat”, it maintained a supply force of nine ships, 20,000 tons of equipment and nearly 7,000 men. Seven artillery guns were set up at strategic points around the island to protect it against potential military attack.
However, the island saw no combat as the American presence on Bora Bora went uncontested over the course of the war. The base was officially closed on June 2, 1946. The World War II airstrip, which was never able to accommodate large aircraft, was French Polynesia’s only international airport until Faa’a International Airport was opened in Papeete, Tahiti, in 1960.

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Brussels

Source: http://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/24188-Life-in-Brussels-pros-amp-cons

Brussels has many attractive points as well as some disadvantages as a place to live. Here is my review compared to a few major developed cities in the world.

Brussels Capital Region

First of all, a good reason to live in Brussels is because it is the capital or headquarters of so many things. It is the capital of the European Union, of Belgium, of the state of Flanders… It is the headquarters of NATO, and of most big Belgian companies, as well as some major international companies, such as Toyota, Honda and Subaru Europe.

Salaries vs taxes

All this have contributed to make of Brussels the city with the second highest salaries in Europe, after central London. The drawback is high taxes on these high salaries. Belgium now has the highest income tax in Europe. This tax-money is reinvested in the education system, social security (including an overly generous dole), and health care. If you have a good job, no children and are in perfect health, this may not be the most attractive package for you, though.

Central position

Being at the heart of Western Europe almost makes of Brussels a convenient base for a company or business people often on the move. Thanks to the Thalys, Eurostar and ICE bullet-trains, Brussels is only 40min from Lille, 1h20min from Paris, 2h30min from London, 2h15min from Cologne, 3h30min from Frankfurt-am-Main. By regular train it is 2h30min from Luxembourg and 2h45min from Amsterdam.

Click here to see the TGV network from Belgium

Houses & Architecture

Brussels is a city of contrasts, lacking homogeneity. Beyond the small 17th and 18th-century touristic center, the city is a mixture of Paris-like 19th-century white-painted or beige stone buildings, as well as early 20th-century Art Nouveau and Art Deco houses.

The newer suburbs (further from the center and main roads), like Woluwe-St-Lambert, Auderghem or Watermael, are mainly in Belgian Art Deco (not colorfully painted as its American counterpart), a style that I personally despise.

Art Nouveau houses, common in Saint-Gilles and Uccle, can be very beautiful (e.g. Horta’s house), but are more often on the weird side, mixing different colors of bricks for a less than satisfying result.

Fortunately, quite a few neighborhoods (parts of central Brussels, Etterbeek, Ixelles and Saint-Gilles) are endowed with magnificent 19th-century architecture, such as these ones :

The richest and nicest neighborhoods are concentrated along the greenery of the Forest of Soignes to the East and South, and in no less green embassy districts such as Tervuren Avenue (in Etterbeek and Woluwe-St-Pierre) or Roosevelt Avenue (along the Bois de la Cambre).

Poor immigrant neighborhood make most of the West, North and North-East of the Brussels Region. These areas are best avoided, even for shopping or strolling.

Choosing one’s neighborhood will be one of the hardest thing to do if you move to Brussels. Choosing the quietness, safety and coziness of residential suburbs will be to the detriment of convenience and proximity to the Centre.

Public transports & cars

The bus and tramway network is quite extensive, with fairly good buses and tramways (although not really reliable for timetables). However, the metro of Brussels is probably the worst in every regard out of about 20 metros that I have taken in Europe and Asia. It is ugly, dirty, badly lit, it stinks, and exits are not well indicated (most don’t even have numbers). It doesn’t even have the quaint charm of old metros like Budapest, Paris or London, as it was built in the 1970’s, as brown and bright orange decoration remind us.

I only use Brussel’s metro because it is still the fastest way to move around, given the traffic jams or numerous traffic lights on the road. Line 2, going around the historic center, is particularly shabby. The irony is that the nicest stations are the furthest away from the center, and sometimes in the poorest area of the city, because they are the newest.

It is no wonder, given the little attractiveness of the metro, that about 75% of the commuters prefer the comfort of their car, and only 5% use the bus, tram or metro. The city consequently has serious traffic problems during the rush hours – a problem that the Belgian government is now trying to tackle. Between 4pm and 6pm, it can take over 2 hours to reach the motorway from the center, less than 10km away.

One of the problems in Brussels, compared to London or Tokyo, is that if you live in a nice residential neighborhood, you will absolutely need a car, as they are always far-away from the metro (for obvious reasons), and usually not too near from bus and tramway lines either. Residential districts also lack all kind of shops or conveniences, which makes the car all the more necessary. If you don’t have children or do not need a big garden, living closer to the Centre is fine, as far as public transports are concerned.

Restaurants & Supermarkets

One of the strongest point of Brussels is its food scene. Restaurants are usually excellent, whatever the range of price or type of cuisine. Belgian, French, Italian and Thai cuisines are probably the best to sample in the city.

Supermarkets in Belgium are mainly Belgian (Delhaize, Colruyt), French (Carrefour, Intermarche, Champion, Match) and German (Aldi, Lidl). My favorites are the two remaining Belgian chains : Delhaize has the best quality and the most varied and original products, while and Corrupt is cheaper than others at equal brand, and has an efficient cashier system. They are also the only two to provide a home-delivery service.

Parks and Greenery

Brussels does not lack greenery, and its parks and usually beautiful and well-tended.

Downtown, the Park of Brussels (pictured below) has a particular charm as it is encompassed by the Royal Palace, Parliament and other elegant 18th-century buildings. The park in itself has lots of broad paths with classical statues and fountains.

In the same style, the Jubilee Park, between the EU district and Etterbeek, enjoys the view of the world’s biggest arch of triumph, as well as some of the country’s biggest museums .

The Botanic Garden (pictured below) separates the business district from the dodgy neighborhoods of Saint-Josse and Schaerbeek, but is nevertheless the most beautiful of all as far as flora diversity and landscaping is concerned. The garden is built on hilly grounds and has an upper and lower part, divided by a road.

The Park of Laeken, between the Atomium and the Royal Castle of Laeken, enjoys an advantageous location thanks to its famous neighbors. Its royal status also granted it a refined appearance. Unfortunately, it has become the playground of the not-so-well-mannered immigrants of Northern Brussels.

The Bois de la Cambre (pictured below) is the largest park in the capital, and also one of its most pleasant. It is connected to the Forest of Soignes, which allows for longer hikes, or even horse riding, on sunny days.

Romania

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Life in Romania

Source: http://www.wanderingearl.com/what-its-like-to-live-in-bucharest/

While it is true that I tend to speak positively about almost every destination I visit, there’s a simple explanation for that. My views about a particular city, or even country, have little to do with the tourist attractions that may or may not exist or about the number of chances to take stunning photos that I may have during my stay.

Instead, I formulate my opinions based upon my interactions with local people, my wanderings around random, everyday neighborhoods and my keen interest in trying to ‘feel’ a destination as opposed to simply seeing it.

And when travel is approached in this manner, it is, quite frankly, difficult not to enjoy every single destination that one visits. One no longer needs to be ‘wowed’ by a castle or impressed by a museum. One only needs to wake up and walk outside, treating every moment as a potential, and interesting, learning opportunity, in order to fully appreciate your surroundings and have a most rewarding travel experience.

So it goes for me these days with Bucharest, Romania.

I’ve been living in Bucharest on and off now for about five months. I’ll tell you, the city is not an overly pretty one and it definitely lacks a ‘wow factor’ to impress foreign visitors. There’s a lot of gray, there’s no shortage of neglected buildings, communist-style apartment blocks and unattractive graffiti, and at first, it can appear as an overall gloomy place, which is why most travelers rarely stick around for more than two or three days.

But I feel quite lucky that I decided to stick around myself as the more I stay in Bucharest, the more I discover a city that deserves to be noticed by more people.

The problem is that most of Bucharest’s charm and appeal lies hidden, tucked far away into corners of the city that the overwhelming majority of travelers will undoubtedly never find. Most visitors seem to spend their time hanging around the pleasant, yet very small, Old City (Lipscani), but this area represents the tiniest fraction of what this city actually has to offer.

You need some time to discover the rest. You need to make connections with local Romanians who will guide you in the right direction and you need to explore every street and lane with the understanding that quite often, one must search behind the dark gray facade in order to find the cafes, jazz clubs, galleries and exhibition halls, parks, restaurants, independent cinemas and more that give this city an entirely different energy and identity.

For example, you can easily find an overpriced restaurant in the Old City, but just wait until you discover places such as Clubul Taranalui, a wonderful open-air eatery attached to the interesting Museum of the Romanian Peasant at Piata Victoriei, where the below feast of traditional Romanian food and local wine costs a mere $10 USD per person…

 

 

 

 

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Life in Scotland

Source: http://www.scotland.org/live-and-work-in-scotland/living-in-scotland

Many people have been drawn to Scotland by the career opportunities but also by the appeal of enhancing their quality of life. House prices can be cheaper, the commuting is easier and the countryside offers a wide range of activities from skiing and white-water rafting, to mountain biking and walking in some of the most spectacular scenery you will find anywhere in the world. And, of course, there is the golf!

From the remote countryside of the Highlands to the vibrant, cosmopolitan streets of Glasgow, Scotland’s cities and regions are fantstic places to live and work.

Work/Life Balance

If you like to live in the countryside, there are many towns and villages that are within an hour’s commute of many of Scotland’s business centres. But if you like to live in one of Scotland’s major cities, we have great public transport links, such as train lines and bus routes, reducing your need to use a car.

Another great thing about Scotland is the extra daylight in summer. It can remain quite light up to 11pm – leaving plenty of time to get out and about after work. You could be walking in the hills or taking a late-night stroll on one of Scotland’s many beaches – some of which are within 40 minutes of Glasgow and Edinburgh – and, in Aberdeen, the sea is on your very doorstep.

Benefits & Taxes

There are various benefits and taxes involved in living and working in Scotland. Benefits such as maternity and sick pay, child benefit and state pensions are paid for by taxes such as personal income tax and national insurance. Scotland has a fantastic vacation scheme, so your hard work is rewarded with a generous amount of paid holiday from your job to enjoy.

Transport

It’s easy to commute and travel in Scotland. Many people who come here say it soon becomes a major reason for wanting to stay. The ease of travel has literally changed their lives due to less stress, shorter working days and more free time in which to pursue other interests and activities. Find out more about getting around in Scotland.

Sport and Leisure

In Scotland you’ll find leisure activities to suit every age and taste. With everything from theatre and exhibitions, nightlife and children’s activities there are lots of things to entertain you during your down time in Scotland. Sport plays an important part in Scottish life and the Scots are famed for their passion and competitiveness. Sports invented by Scots include golf, football, cycling, rugby sevens and the Highland Games. You can participate in almost any sport in Scotland and you can usually find a local club or facility easily by searching the internet. Find out more about sport in Scotland.

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Quebec Canada

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Equador

Source: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/ecuador/introduction

Lonely Planet

Cultural Splendor

The historic centers of Quito and Cuenca are lined with photogenic plazas, 17th-century churches and monasteries, and beautifully restored mansions. Wandering the cobblestone streets amid architectural treasures from Spanish colonial days is a fine way to delve into the past. Beyond the cities, the Ecuadorian landscape unfolds in all its startling variety. There are Andean villages renowned for their colorful textiles and sprawling markets, Afro-Ecuadorian towns where days end with meals of fresh seafood and memorable sunsets, and remote settlements in the Amazon where shamans still harvest the traditional rainforest medicines of their ancestors.

Sublime Scenery

After days of Ecuadorian adventures, there are many appealing places where you can go to relax amid awe-inspiring scenery. Head to the mountainous highlands to recharge at a historic hacienda, or find Zenlike beauty amid a cloud-forest lodge near Mindo. There are peaceful, timeless mountain villages like Vilcabamba and picturesque former gold-mining towns like Zaruma that offer a perfect antidote to the vertiginous rush of modern-day life. And for a coastal getaway, you’ll have plenty of options, from tiny end-of-the-road settlements like Ayampe and Olón to charming towns on the Galapagos, with great beaches and magnificent sunsets right outside your door.

Wildlife-Watching

The famed Galápagos Islands, with their volcanic, otherworldly landscapes, are a magnet for wildlife lovers. Here, you can get up close and personal with massive lumbering tortoises, scurrying marine iguanas (the world’s only seagoing lizard), doe-eyed sea lions, prancing blue-footed boobies and a host of other unusual species both on land and sea. The Amazon rainforest offers a vastly different wildlife-watching experience. Set out on the rivers and forested trails in search of monkeys, sloths, toucans and river dolphins. Some lodges also have canopy towers offering magnificent views (and a better chance to see birdlife).

Andean Adventure

Setting off on a trek into the Andes can seem like stepping into a fairy tale: there’s the patchwork of small villages, gurgling brooks and rolling fields, with a condor slowly wheeling overhead. Although the view from the top is sublime, you don’t have to scale a mountain to enjoy the Andes. These verdant landscapes make a fine backdrop for mountain-biking, horseback-riding or hiking from village to village, overnighting at local guesthouses along the way. Ecuador’s other landscapes offer equally alluring adventures, from surfing tight breaks off the Pacific coast to white-water-rafting Class V rivers along the jungle-clad banks of the Oriente.

Why I Love Ecuador

By Regis St Louis, Writer

Whenever people tell me they want to visit South America, but don’t know where to begin, I recommend Ecuador. This is a country that seems to have it all: Andean peaks, Amazon rainforest, indigenous markets, colonial towns, sun-drenched beaches – not to mention a rather famous chain of volcanic islands full of fascinating wildlife. Adding to the appeal is Ecuador’s (relatively) small size and its ease of travel (good roads and an easy-to-remember currency). But best of all are the Ecuadorians themselves: kind-hearted, generous and proud of the great strides they’ve made in the last decade, they are in fact the nation’s greatest treasure. By Lonely Planet

 

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Peru

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Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).[ Nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.[4] While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River has driven the down-cutting of the tributaries and retreat of the cliffs, simultaneously deepening and widening the canyon.

For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon a holy site, and made pilgrimages to it.[8] The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540

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Living in New York

Source: Quora

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1. The diversity
I think this is by far New York’s biggest difference and biggest strength, but I don’t see it mentioned nearly often enough. New York City might be the most diverse place in the world. The racial and ethnic diversity is obvious, and anywhere else in the U.S. now seems overwhelmingly white to me when I visit. But there’s also a lot of diversity of age, economic level, and industry. When I visited SF, it seemed like everyone worked in Tech. Here, it’s the center of finance, marketing, publishing, fashion, you name it. Each person you meet is likely to be different from you in every single facet possible.

2. The activity
The “city that never sleeps” certainly does sleep – try walking around the east village at 7 am – but it’s still much busier than anywhere else. Residents tend to avoid the crazy places tourists frequent, particularly Times Square, but we still pass by thousands of people every day

3. The creativity
Living in New York is being surrounded by creative types – tech entrepreneurs, actors, dancers, designers, directors, painters, authors. The city itself is a constant reminder of others’ creative accomplishments, from the beautiful (and wildly diverse) architecture to the ads for new shows, bands, parties, meetups, museums, and more. Just being here is inspiring and can generate more creative ideas than you could hope to complete in a lifetime.

4. The accessibility
This applies mostly to food, but also to any other product or activity: you can find anything at any time of day. There are 24-hour coffee shops, drug stores, grocery stores, hardware stores. Even the Apple store is open 24 hours, for some reason. I use Seamless to order meals, and it tells me there are over 400 restaurants that are within delivery range of my apartment. Down the street is a Sri Lankan restaurant, a Vietnamese restaurant, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Belgian, Mexican, Afghani, Lebanese … and countless superb bagel and pizza places. There are bookstores open till midnight here. And as a comic book reader, there aren’t any other places in the country with such a wide selection of stores.

To read more goto: https://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-live-in-New-York-City

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Thailand – Sourch Asian Artmall

People traveling into Thailand are immediately impressed with this country. Not only is Thailand an interesting place full of rich history but it is also an exotic country.    The capital city of Thailand is Bangkok and here, life is anything but still.    People are milling about, businesses being run, and life is very busy. However, if you take a short trip from Bangkok, you will find a number of charming towns where ancient ruins, temples, and simple cottages exist.

One of the things making Thailand so intriguing is that it respects its past while embracing the future.                     Dating back 800 years, Thailand has established distinctive ways of life that draw people back to visit year after year. The culture and traditions blended with architecture and the arts are admired by people around the globe.                     The people of Thailand have proven that they can adopt foreign influence while maintaining their own special identity.

The country of Thailand is very agriculturally strong.                     While agriculture remains a key component of the lifestyle here, around the middle of the 1980s, agro-industrial economies were formed.  That led to foreign investors bringing modernization into the country, reforming the country, as we know it today.  If you plan to visit Thailand, you will find a country that continues to uphold its traditional Orient culture while offering modern day sporting events, entertainment, restaurants, and shopping.

Thailand has two primary national identities.                     The first element is that the people of Thailand believe in and revere their monarchy and second, the people have a strong faith in Buddhism.                     While tourist may not understand the unrivaled belief in this faith, it is passed down from one generation to another. Currently, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the ruler of Thailand, holding the longest reign of more than 50 years.

During 1997, Thailand experienced a difficult, economic time.                     It was then that the people drew their strength from Buddha.  To see for yourself the strong bond within Thailand, you want to travel to Cambodia, Laos, Mekong, Myanmar, or Vietnam.                     These areas are considered top travel destinations within Thailand, each offering convenient accommodations and travel options.

To celebrate the belief in Buddhism, you will find all types of festivals, gorgeous works of art, architecture, literature, and sculptures, each depicting a special story of the Buddhist lifestyle. In fact, more than 95% of the people of Thailand practice Buddhism, showing how deeply rooted this faith is.

Now keep in mind that people living in Thailand are supported and encouraged to practice whatever religion they choose.     For instance, you will also find Muslims, Christians, Confucians, Taoists, Hindus, and Sikhs.     Throughout Thailand are amazing temples that have a strong Chinese architectural influence, as well.                     Additionally, this diversity in religious belief is supported by the current monarchy.

The country of Thailand is a tropical place that typically has high levels of humidity. Located equally between China and India, the area that Thailand covers is about the same size as France, being 198,115 square miles. Because of its location, people consider Thailand to be strategically placed, making it the heart of Southeast Asia.      On the west and north is the border of Myanmar, Lao is on the north and northeast border, to the east is the Gulf of Thailand and Cambodia, and then to the south, Malaysia.

In Thailand, you will find very diverse landscaping, ranging from fertile plains that are dotted with rice paddies, to massive mountainsides. Additionally, Thailand offers pristine beaches covered with white sand.     The country is divided into four sections, which consist of the north, Caho Phraya river basin or the central plains, the Korat Plateau or the northeast, and the southern peninsula or the south.

These sections of Thailand are divided according to the natural lay of the land.  For instance, to the north, you will find primarily mountains that are made up of ridges, valleys, and dense forests.        Then in the central, you will find lush valleys, rich and perfect for growing crops of rice.  In fact, this section of Thailand is often referred to as the “Rice Bowl of Asia.”    Here in the central section is where you will find Bangkok.

To read more goto: http://www.asianartmall.com/thailandtoday.htm

 

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Daily Life in Poland

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Source: http://www.polandforvisitors.com/travel_poland/culture

The population of Poland is around 38 million. The World War II toll on Poland was a staggering 6 million-including 3 million Jews slaughtered in the Nazi death camps. At present, more than 98 percent of the people are Poles, with small groups of Ukrainians, Belorussians, Germans, Slovaks and Lithuanians.

The Poles speak a Slavic language and have a special fondness for English. In fact, English is the most popular foreign language in Poland. The Polish population is largely urban centric with 60% of the population living in cities. There are a number of large cities, including five with populations of more than 500000. Warsaw, the capital, is the largest with a head count of 1.7 million inhabitants. Krakow (Cracow), Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk, Szczecin and Lodz are some other large metropolises.

Poland’s national culture emerged as a synthesis of Latin and Byzantine influences and was further engendered by the numerous European occupations, throughout its history. Customs, traditions and mores display a diverse mix of the East and the West – a colorful cohabitation of the vibrant Eastern ornamental style and the somber Islamic influence.

Paper cut outs from Poland is renowned throughout the world for their artistic ingenuity. Folk cut outs is one of the indigenous art style and practiced widely in non-urban centers. The cut outs are used specially for Christmas and Easter home decoration. An interesting off shoot of this art is the wafer cut outs. Flour and water are the basic raw material out of which Polish women, devoid of any fine art training, shape designs of astonishing beauty.

Polish cuisine and dining table etiquette is a perfect reflection of the warmth in the Polish character. Having a meal with one’s family is not just consumption of food – it is celebration. Guests are always welcomed. Breakfasts are generally heavy with vegetables and cold cuts of meat. Dinners, even more so. Only suppers are a tad lighter, perhaps, keeping in toe with the universal proverb: After dinner rest a while, after supper walk a mile. The Poles are the original potato eaters and potatoes have been the darling of the Polish kitchens through centuries. Meat is also a mainstay (cold cuts and sausages mainly) and is grilled more or less ceremoniously at the country home, in the garden, or on the front lawn.

Poles are gregarious in character and love to show affection during interaction. The word “czesc” is Polish for “hi”, however, even an English “hello” is guaranteed to start an avalanche of greetings with faces beaming, all around. The first few minutes of any meeting is spent in greeting each other and shaking hands. Familiarity is expressed with embraces and pecks on the cheek. To the unaccustomed eye, it may appear to be disconcerting at first, however it is nothing but an example of Eastern fervor.

A foreigner never feels at a loss in Polish company. Even a smattering of English is ample for creating enthusiasm and he or she is immediately inculcated in the group. A foreigner being taught the rudimentaries of Polish is a common sight in street-eateries, cafes and restaurants. Amidst much laughter and fanfare, somebody is bound to suggest the tongue twister “W Szczebrzeszynie chrzaszcz brzmi w trzcinie” (say: Vuh Shchebsheshinyeh kshanshch bshmee fuh tchuchynyeh),” which is difficult even for the Poles. If all else fail, the universal gesture of bonhomie spiced with generous smiles save the day.

Bruderszaft is a fraternal toast, a sealing of comradeship and declining it can be seen as an insult. Relationships become more cordial after this ceremony and people graduate to using first name of each other. Bruderszaft is two people raising toasts simultaneously with arms interlocked and downing their drinks together. The last part is an exchange of kisses and a “Call me Marek,” – “Call me John”.

The prefix Pan (Mr) or Pani (Ms) is the safest way to address someone who is Polish. This should be accompanied by the first name, of course. Taking the surname of a person is seen as a slight even when a Pan/Pani is placed before.

“Ty” is polish for “you”. If one is allowed to call the other “Ty”, it means that the relationship is a lot informal. Nevertheless, familiarity has its own code of conduct. It is important to remember name days (a patron saint’s day – rather than birthdays). This anniversary is important for Poles and in no other culture, it is celebrated with equal fanfare. In order to avoid awkward situations, it is worthwhile checking the calendar and marking the appropriate date. If you miss the actual day, you can “make up” for the omission within the “octave” (i.e. the next few days).

Literary and artistic figures have played a major role in public life throughout Poland’s history. Poles are reputed to be avid readers and can be said to have a keen interest in the arts. Polish writers and filmmakers in particular are internationally renowned. Poland has a lively cultural scene with around 280 arts festivals taking place across the country covering all types of music, film, video, theatre and the visual arts. Poles are particularly keen on jazz music with around 30 jazz festivals taking place each year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Several years back, I was looking through information on my family tree and found a document that stated that part of my family lineage could be traced back possibly to Ethiopia.  This makes a lot of sense since we have some striking resemblance to persons from Ethiopia descent.

Life in Ethiopia

Source: https://abagond.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/life-in-ethiopia/

If you were an ordinary person in Ethiopia, what would life be like? Ethiopia has towns and even big cities, but most live in the country – and most are also Christian – so I take that point of view in what follows:

Work: Men farm, women cook, keep their children clean and looking nice, pound grain into flour and look for cow dung and wood for the family fire. Older girls look after children, older boys look after sheep. Most families  have about a hectare of land (less than three acres). All water has to be carried back from the nearby well, something that falls to women or children.

Work hours: Men work 80 hours a week, women 126 hours. You are supposed to take Saturdays and Sundays off, but how many do?

Pay: $123 a year (in 1998. That comes to 3 crowns a month, which is just what shepherds made in Shakespeare’s time). Most Ethiopians grow their own food, build their own houses and so on. Their wealth is in their animals: cows, chickens, sheep, etc. Like Jack in the Beanstalk, they sell one when they need money – for things like salt, coffee, oil, pots and clothing.

Housing: A small, two-room house. One room to store food, the other room for everything else. There is a fire that is always going. No electricity or running water.

Transport: Walking. The nearest market is one to three hours away on foot.

Dress: You have one change of clothing, maybe even ill-fitting, second-hand clothing at that.  If you go to school, you get a second change.

Food: Bread, maybe with egg and vegetables. Meat on special occasions. Everyone eats from the same dish with their fingers.

Family life: Families are big. Ethiopian women have about seven children. As a child you grow up near your cousins, aunts and uncles.

Holidays: Christmas, the Baptism of Jesus, Good Friday, Easter and the Feast of the Cross.

Education: Only a fourth of all children regularly go to school. School is free, but schoolbooks, school supplies and school clothes are not!  Early schooling is in your own language, but to go further you need to know Amharic or even English because that is what the books are written in!

Entertainment: Mainly visiting and storytelling. Most people cannot read and have no electricity. Men like to sit, drink coffee and talk.

It could be worse and sometimes it is:

  • Famine: Having little money and growing all your own food means that when the rains do not come it gets very bad: you can water only so much of your land by hand and sell only so many of your animals to buy food. A million people died this way in the 1980s.
  • Genocide and civil war: Ethiopia is in effect an empire, so for most people their land is ruled by foreigners, and evil ones at that who are not above wiping out your kind. A quarter million have died this way in the last 60 years.

 

 

 

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Living in Hawaii

For more information on Hawaii…go to the link below.

Source:   http://www.alohafriends.com/movetohawaii.html

Living in Hawaii can be paradise everyday but there are many things to consider before packing your bags and buying a one way plane ticket. Although it is hard to imagine anyone not wanting to live in Hawaii there are some who move to the islands without visiting first or have no choice in the move (like military) and find that Hawaii is not for them. The hardest part of moving to Hawaii is being so far from friends and family. Homesickness can become unbearable when you are 2,000+ miles from your loved ones! Another major consideration is that the cost of living in Hawaii is very expensive. We have been told it compares with other major cities like San Francisco and New York City. The island of Oahu is the most populated and is more expensive to rent or buy a house/apartment than the other islands. Outer-island housing is less expensive but there are fewer job opportunities. Almost all consumer items are shipped into the islands which adds to the cost because everything is shipped into Honolulu Harbor then on to other islands. Oahu’s grocery stores seem to be less expensive and offer a larger selection of items than the outer island stores we have checked out. There are wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco/Priceclub in the islands which makes food even more affordable if you have the space to store it. It does take a lot of effort to maintain a decent life style in the islands. Tourism is Hawaii’s major industry and a lot of tourism jobs are only part time paying workers minimum wage. Many of these workers rely on tips and work several jobs to make ends meet.

 

 

 

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Family Life in Japan

Source: SKwirk

Source:    http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-1_u-57_t-100_c-644/family-life/nsw/family-life/study-of-a-cultural-group-japan/way-of-life

Home

The standard of living in Japan is much higher than it used to be. The average wage is better and therefore life at home is better. While houses are still small, due to a lack of room, they are comfortable. Many things in a Japanese home are traditional. A family of four will live in a two- or three-room home, with a bathroom and a kitchen. In this instance the two rooms double as living and sleeping areas. See image 1.
Beds called futons are pulled out of cupboards at night and laid on the floor and then they are put back the next morning. The floors are typically covered in a springy mat called tatami. People do not wear shoes inside. They are removed at the front door and replaced with slippers. Today’s home in Japan is also generally full of modern appliances, like televisions and stereos. See image 2.
In Japan, only around 60% of people own their own home. In Tokyo only approximately half the population lives in rented accommodation. A lot of the time, the nearest place available to rent, or the nearest place that is affordable, is an hour from the city. Accommodation an hour from the centre of Tokyo is often still far more expensive than a place in the middle of another city. Very few young people today buy their own houses.

Home life

It is common in Japan for three generations to live under one roof. This is becoming less common today, but still exists, certainly in the countryside. The norm in Japan is for the husband to go to work and the wife to take care of all things domestic. This, also, is changing with more women going to work. Mothers play an enormous role in the lives of their children and the bond is very strong. Babysitters are rarely used and mothers often sleep with their babies. A mother will also spend hours with children doing school work. See image 3.

Few Japanese men help with housework. There is more pressure today for this to change. The finances of a family, though, are the responsibility of the women who handle most of the household expenses. There are exceptions in instances when something of value, like a car, is being bought. Husbands in Japan give their salaries to their wives. They are returned a sum of money as pocket money, otherwise how to use the rest is the wife’s decision.

Baths

Bathing in Japan is a part of life. It is ritualistic in the way that it takes place. In the home, due to a cleaning process beforehand, every member of a family will bathe in the same water one after the other. Mothers commonly bathe with their small children.

 

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Country Information – Spain

AFS USA

Source: http://www.afsusa.org/host-family/countries/spain/

At the crossroads of Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic, Spain has developed a rich culture. There are four official languages–Catalan, Galician, Basque, and Spanish–and seventeen political regions (comunidades autonomas), as well as a variety of cuisines, lifestyles, festivals, architecture and music.

 

Lifestyle and Family

Spanish families are typically open and welcoming, eager to make a good impression. Spanish families—including the extended family—tend to be close-knit, visiting each other frequently and sharing in large weekend gatherings. Family roles are modernizing in Spain, as they are around the world, and more and more women have jobs outside the home; but traditionally, the mother manages the household while the father works outside the home. Because homes and apartments in Spain tend to be small, siblings often share rooms.

Spaniards are more inclined to identify with their particular region than with the country as a whole.

Teen Life and Sports

Spanish schools focus primarily on academics. After school, Spanish teens often attend lectures, concerts and sporting events. Soccer (or futbol) is easily the most popular sport. Perhaps because of the climate and long daylight hours, Spaniards begin socializing later in the day and end later at night than their European neighbors. On weekends, teens often stay out late, going to movies, parties or hanging out together at the local café or town square.

Diet

In keeping with European tradition, lunch is the main meal of the day and is served around 2 or 3 p.m. Dinner is at 9 p.m. or later, and most families eat together. While each region of Spain has its own food specialties, Spanish cuisine reflects the country’s many historical influences. Generally speaking, Spanish cooking is Mediterranean in style with liberal use of olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes and peppers. Fish and seafood are abundant, but Spanish cooking emphasizes red meat and pork which are eaten nearly every day.

Language and Religion

Spain is a multicultural and multilingual country. Depending on the region, the community may speak Catalan, Galician, Valencian or Basque. At least 75% of Spanish people are Roman Catholic. However, most of them do not attend religious services on a regular basis.

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Living in Switzerland

The Reality is More Complex than the Image

Family Life In Switzerland – Bern

The image of Switzerland abroad—of purity, punctuality, precision—is entirely different from the reality within its borders. After four years, I am beginning to see that Switzerland is a far more complex country than first meets the eye. It’s a country that takes a long time to get to know, and it’s a country that takes even longer to get to know you, the stranger. It’s not a place to expect instant bonding and bear hugs.

Life for an expat in Switzerland can vary considerably from one place to another. There is a big difference between the German-speaking cantons, in the north, east, and center of the country, and the French- and Italian-speaking cantons in the east and the south respectively. Apart from the obvious language differences there are differences in the economy, cultural history, cuisine, political persuasions, climate, architecture, and the educational system.

Whatever its complexities and contradictions, Switzerland offers a lifestyle that most of us dream of, and it remains deservedly popular not only with the ten million tourists who visit every year but with the hundreds of thousands of non-Swiss who make it their home.

 

Health

Switzerland has a reputation for high-quality and efficient healthcare. Relative to the U.S. it is affordable, though residents of countries where healthcare is free or heavily subsidized will find the monthly cost of the obligatory health insurance quite shocking. A family of four could easily spend more than $800 a month for fairly standard insurance, dental care not included. All residents must have medical coverage, and you are given the first three months of your stay to sort this out.

Shopping

Urbanites looking for a calmer existence will welcome the smaller shops, the communities with butchers, bakers, and shoe-menders. Although there are plenty of supermarkets in Switzerland, the choices and hours may take a while to get used to. Closing times are 12:15 and 2 p.m., like many other shops and the post-office. Swiss farmers are among the most highly protected and subsidized groups of producers in the world—70 percent of Swiss agriculture is subsidized. In addition the cost of food is high, both in the supermarkets (some products are up to 40 percent more expensive than in neighboring countries) and when eating out. This can have serious implications for lifestyle, particular for North Americans who may be accustomed to take-outs and dining in restaurants.

Education

The standard of education in Switzerland is high, though it is difficult to generalize since the cantons are responsible for education. Kindergartens exist in all but the most rural areas and are free (operated by the local council). But there is no state-run nursery or schooling for younger children; lack of affordable childcare for pre-school children is a common complaint. Expats often remark upon the “streaming” of kids: children are divided based on their perceived abilities. While streaming is nothing new—in some cantons this can take place as young as 10 or 11—it can be quite a shock for expat parents. The notion that junior can float toward his future, finding his way later in life, is not a notion that finds much favor here. University education is for a minority. More than 70 percent of Swiss kids are trained in vocational schools of some sort. Switzerland offers a good choice of private schools, many offering an international, British, or American-based education. Expensive, yes, but many lucky expats have this as part of their relocation package.

Socializing

In general the Swiss are as reserved as the British. They probably won’t approach you or invite you out until you have invited them. Acquaintances will respond favorably if you invite them over for coffee, pizza, or a grilled dinner if you want to get to know them better. You can also take evening classes or join a sports club, and—most importantly—learn the language. When you see how many job vacancies are filled through the “who we know network,” you will understand the importance of social networking in Swiss society. Don’t underestimate it. Attend local community functions and those tedious meetings at the kids’ school, even if you don’t understand what is being said. Your absence will most certainly be noted. Probably the most important piece of advice with regards to socializing is punctuality. You will be expected no later than five minutes after the arranged time.

Money and Banking

A Swiss bank account has always been synonymous with fame and fortune. As a resident in Switzerland you too can have a Swiss bank account—though not a check book, which is rarely used. Banks charge for the bank account and for a credit or debit card. Mortgage interest rates are comparatively low. In spite of all the plastic options available to them—Internet technology, direct debit, and telephone banking—many Swiss seem to prefer cash. At the end of each month post offices will be full of people paying bills in cash.

Accommodations

The majority of Swiss rent rather than buy, and tenants are protected by excellent rights. A 100-square-meter apartment in a major city like Zurich or Geneva will start at around $1,500; expect to pay much more for something bigger or centrally located. Subletting is common—good news for expats who may not want to be tied to a long contract. Apartment blocks have communal laundry rooms, which you have access to only on designated days, and communal heating systems. In general, tenants behave in the most considerate of ways: no noise before or after certain hours, garbage to be put out at certain times, and all separated for recycling. Recycling is a way of life in Switzerland.

Transport

There’s an excellent train system throughout the country and reliable public transport within the cities. Though the trains represent good value, especially with a half-price card, the buses and trams are quite expensive for single tickets. In many cantons kids under the age of 12 travel free.

The Icing on the Cake

The Swiss eat more than 10 kilos of chocolate (around 22 pounds) every year. There is a greater selection of chocolate in my supermarket than fruit and vegetables. Everything that anyone says about the beauty of Switzerland is only half the story: waterfalls, glacier-fed creeks, rivers, lakes, pastures, breathtaking mountain vistas. Switzerland is safe. The crime rate is low (particularly for violent crimes) and it is a good place to raise your family. My daughter has walked alone to school since her second week here, at the age of eight. Life in Switzerland motivates people to do something they might not do at home: hiking, cycling, water-sports, skiing, and snowboarding are all common, easily-accessible weekend pursuits. Switzerland has a comfortable climate without extremes of temperature. It frequently snows in winter, but in the south the climate is almost sub-tropical: palm trees thrive and sunshine is the norm. Though it reveals itself slowly and is cautious and protective, at its core Switzerland promotes harmony and peace. In this day and age, ideals such as these seem almost quaint…but terribly attractive.

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The Israeli People

Source: Inter-nations

 

https://www.internations.org/israel-expats/guide/life-in-israel-15716

Israel being a self-defined “Jewish and Democratic state” and the only predominantly Jewish nation around the globe, about 75% of all residents living in Israel are Jewish. The spectrum of religious beliefs among Israeli Jews encompasses a wide range from secular atheists to the ultra-orthodox Haredim. The remaining 25% of the population are mainly Arabs — both Christians and Muslims — as well as several minorities such as Druze, Circassians, and Samaritans. The official languages are Hebrew and Arabic. Lots of Israelis have good English skills, though, making life in Israel easier for foreign residents.

You will soon notice that many Israelis have foreign roots. Among the Jewish population, roughly two-thirds are so-called Sabras actually born in Israel, while the other 27% chose life in Israel as immigrants. Most Jewish migrants come from Europe or the United States, but there are some with an African — especially Ethiopian — or Asian background, too.

In addition to the Jewish immigrants making aliya, i.e. returning to the Promised Land, life in Israel attracts poor migrant workers from countries like China, Nigeria, the Philippines, Romania, or Thailand. The living and working conditions of disadvantaged laborers have led to renewed media attention and public debates in recent years.

A Small Country with Extreme Temperatures

Israel is a fairly small state. If you exclude the occupied territories in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights, whose status has been hotly disputed for the last few decades, the nation is about as large (or little) as the US State of New Jersey. Much of the territory is desert or steppe, which accounts for the high degree of urbanization described above.

As the country is wedged in between the Mediterranean coast and the Arabian Peninsula, the landscape you’ll see during your life in Israel mainly consists of semi-arid regions and areas with a typical desert climate. In the hills and mountains, the heat is mitigated by rather rough winters, and the coastal cities profit from the maritime influence that brings a bit more humidity and slightly milder temperatures.

All in all, though, expats living in Israel should be ready to literally face the heat. Medical conditions such as heat stroke or dehydration are common among visitors and new residents, and you wouldn’t want to start out with a trip to the doctor, would you?

What to Do in Your Spare Time?

While living in Israel, expatriates should take the time to explore the country’s rich heritage and culture. Jerusalem in particular welcomes thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. Cultural life in Israel is by no means limited to its countless historical and religious sites.

Camping and hiking are popular activities, among sporty visitors and outdoorsy Israelis alike. If you prefer to enjoy your athletic activities on the living-room sofa rather than in the Eilat Mountains, soccer and basketball are the nation’s favorite spectator sports — an ideal small-talk topic for any expat.

Moreover, you can have a look into modern literature and media. Hebrew novelists and poets like Amos Oz or Yehuda Amichai have been translated into numerous languages, and recent movie productions such as Waltz with Bashir, The Band’s Visit, and Or (My Treasure) garnered heaps of international acclaim for Israeli film-makers. If all that is a bit too dull and high-brow for your taste, Tel Aviv’s many venues for clubbing and partying should make sure that life in Israel never gets boring.

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Irish Customs Around Family and Children

Children In Ireland – Story by Colm and Susanna

 

Something I still find remarkable after all these years of living in Ireland is how kind people are to young children. The Irish treat their children well.

When I am out and about with my kids, people we meet will always make contact with the kids as well.

They smile with them and talk to them as the little people they are about things that are important in their little worlds. In Ireland, people understand having kids as something to be enjoyed. And enjoying them means to have fun with them.

Kids are valued here, and have a lot of freedom to be kids. They can run wild and mess around and it will be tolerated as good fun and as ‘the kind of thing kids that age will do’.

A family on their weekend outing, watching a street performance in Galway.

Many people see disciplining as something for a little later in life. Irish people will spend money on their kids before the spend money on themselves.

Many who have lived abroad for years, return to have their children here. Ireland is seen as a great place to raise kids, even though, compared to other European countries, the services and benefits aren’t great.

Babies especially are doted over. Everyone here loves babies. Even grown men will comment on your baby and ask you about how she is doing, or give her a smile.

Therefore, if you meet people with babies in Ireland in any context, whether they are introduced to you, or whether you are out and about and are just talking to strangers, be nice and get in on the Irish customs around babies.

Comment, compliment the mother, ask about the baby, ’flirt’ with the baby. Whatever comes easy. It’s the right thing to do socially, and it’s fun.

 Irish Customs Around The Family

Family is a big thing in Ireland, and Irish customs around families are a good thing know about. In most people’s lives, family values will rank highly.

Parenting is still quite traditional in the sense that the State offers no option for paternal leave, and that in most families, men are still the main earners of family income. Therefore, in most cases, the Irish mums are in charge of family life.

When women have babies and young children, they will try to spend as much time as possible at home with them. Of course, this will depend on family finances and on each particular situation, but in whatever way they can, they will make their children the number one thing in their lives.

If mums are at home or work only part time, they will give lifts to school and afterschool events, to sports matches, to friends houses and so on. They cook the meals and organise school uniforms and homework. Dad will often come home late from work, but will make sure to be present for the important weekend events like swimming lessons, Gaelic football matches and birthday parties.

The family of origin is extremely important as well. One might not share many of the same values as one’s parents, but parents will be respected and visited regularly.

Most Irish people I have come to know will work hard exercising tolerance, avoidance or whatever it takes to avoid any conflict with their parents. Conflict is seen as being ‘not worth it’. There is a great awareness of life being limited, being ‘too short’ to be tainted by arguments. You could argue that avoiding conflict is an Irish custom.

Some siblings can be very close even in adult life. In rural areas, siblings will often end up becoming neighbors, and their kids will be best friends as well as cousins, being in and out of each others’ houses.

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International Families

Family Cultures Around the World

http://www.readersdigest.ca/

Source:  Reader Digest

13 Unusual International Customs You Never Knew Existed (1/14)

Gift-giving, table manners – what’s acceptable at home doesn’t necessarily apply in other countries. Here are 13 distinctive customs to use as your passport to new experiences and friendships.

Think you’ve got North American customs mastered? When travelling, it’s important to brush up on the customs and etiquette of the global village. What we consider polite and sensible behavior at home isn’t always perceived in the same fashion outside our borders. Don’t be labelled rude, or disrespectful on your travels – discover these unique worldwide customs and make friends wherever you happen to roam. Read more at

1. Avoid Giving Certain Flowers in Russia

Be careful when presenting flowers to a friend or business associate in Russia. Yellow blooms signify deceit or a relationship break-up. And skip red carnations, too. Traditionally, red carnations are placed on the graves of the dead, or are offered to surviving war veterans

2.  Don’t Expect a Thank You Card for These Gifts in China

Clocks, handkerchiefs, straw sandals and flowers are all associated with death and funerals in China. Deemed inappropriate and morbid, you’ll risk damaging the relationship if you present these gifts – for any occasion – to someone in China

3. Skip the Salt in Egypt

When tucking into a meal in Egypt, by-pass the saltshaker. It’s insulting to your host to sprinkle salt on your food. If you have to season your plate, it means that you find the meal’s taste repulsive.

4. Don’t Show Up On Time in Venezuela

Who needs a watch? Here’s one place where being early or on time is viewed as being rude. In Venezuela if you are invited over to someone’s home for a meal, it’s recommended that you arrive 10 to 15 later than the requested time. Early or on time guests are viewed as being too eager, even greedy.

5. Always Use a Knife and Fork in Norway

In Norway, table manners are extremely important. Most meals – including sandwiches – are eaten using utensils. To read more go to  http://www.readersdigest.ca/

 

 

Family International Travel

Best Family Trips

To learn more go to National Geographic http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/28/family-time-london-flat-with-kids/

National Geographic Traveler columnist Heather Greenwood Davis is the magazine’s family travel advocate, guru, and soothsayer.

Here’s her latest advice:

Reader Question: We need an affordable place to stay with our daughters in London. Where should we look?

My Answer: Deals are found away from the royals.

Choose chain hotels (like Ibis, Novotel, and Park Plaza) in “family-friendly” neighborhoods (restaurants that won’t flinch at a stroller, parks with more than grass to play on) accessible by the London Underground (aka “the Tube”).

Anna Tobin of CiaoBambino.com notes that Hampstead and its neighboring Hampstead Heath park are good locations for families. “Kids will enjoy a snack at the local crêpe stand and climbing imaginative playground equipment at Parliament Hill,” she says.

For more room to stretch out and to save on meal costs, book an apartment or studio stay. Studio2Let, GoNative, or Housetrip offer low-cost options.

Bonus tip: Purchase an Oyster card—the local Tube pass—to save you from having to fumble for change on every ride.

 

 

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WackyTrunk is an educational resource tool which promotes parenting tips, history, health, arts, culture, cooking, current events within a community of families. Our Verse: "Trust In The Lord With All Your Heart" (Proverbs 3:5)