Tag Archives: travel

25 (Serious & Fun) Facts about Norway

February 5th, 2015

norway

There is so much to be said of Norway, known for its breathtakingly beautiful natural environment, vibrant cultural life with cosmopolitan cities brimful of architecture that showcases the famous Scandinavian flair for design. But for the sake of brevity, in this post we’ll touch on a number of facts about the country and its education system and share a handful of fun facts. We realize we’re not doing Norway full justice, and apologize in advance, as there are so many interesting facts to share. We encourage you all to visit the links provided for even more fun facts and information.

First, we’ll start with the serious facts:

1. Known as the Land of the Midnight Sun

2. Head of State: His Majesty, King Harald V of Norway

3. Head of Government: Prime Minister, Erna Solberg (since 2013)

4. System of Government: Constitutional monarchy, Parliamentary democracy

5. Won independence from Sweden in 1905

6. Area: 148,747 square miles (similar in sq. miles to the size of Montana)

7. Population (2014): 5,109,059

8. Capital city: Oslo [Population: 624,000 (statistics 2013)]

9. Languages: 2 official Norwegian languages: Bokmål and Nynorsk), in some districts, Sámi is also an official language Sámi (spoken by the Sámi people), 100% literacy

10. Education dates back as far as the 12th century

11. In 1827 Norway introduced public education (Folkeskole)

12. In the 1970s and 80s the Folkeskole was abolished and the Grunnskole was introduced.

13. Education is free, even higher education.

14. Ministry of Education, Research & Church Affairs prepares the national curriculum for grunnskole (primary &
lower secondary education) and videregående skole (upper secondary school)

15. Compulsory education: 10 years (Grade 1-10)

16. Upper secondary school is 3 years after 10th grade and divided into general/academic studies track or vocational and apprenticeship tracks

17. Norway has seven universities, nine specialized university institutions, 22 university colleges, two national colleges of the arts and a number of private higher education institutions. Norway’s University of Oslo ranks 89th in the 2013–14 QS University World Rankings, and the University of Bergen at 151st

And now, we’ll share some fun facts:

18. The people of Oslo, Norway donate the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in London every year in gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during WWII. Source: Trafalgar Square Christmas tree

19. It is illegal to spay or neuter your dog in Norway except under specific circumstances regarding health, quality of life, or utility. Source: Should dogs be neutered?

20. Norway has the World’s biggest sovereign fund, where it has been saving almost all the money it gets from the sale of oil and is worth almost a trillion dollars Source: Norway: Is world’s largest sovereign wealth fund too big?

21. To encourage more men to assume a greater share of care-giving responsibilities, Norwegian law states that 14 weeks of parental leave is reserved for fathers. Norway is the first country to introduce compulsory paternity leave Source: Father’s leave still a burning issue

22. King Harald of Norway vowed to remain unmarried for life unless he could marry his true love; the daughter of a cloth merchant. They both later married with help from the Government of Norway and she became the Queen of Norway Source: Queen Sonja of Norway

kingqueennorway
Photo: King Harald & Queen Sonja

23. Norwegian prisons are known to be the most luxurious prisons in the world. Norwegian prisons have also won a design award. Though accommodations may be ultra luxurious, the criminals on release demonstrate the lowest rate of re-offending in Europe, if not the world.
Source: Crime and punishment, Norwegian style

norway_prison
Photos of prison cells and accommodations in Norway

24. A valley settlement in Norway that lives in shadow for nearly half of every year has installed giant mirrors on an adjacent mountain to redirect sunlight into the town’s square, all based on a plan that was thought up 100 years ago

norway_glass

25. If you own a TV in Norway, you have to pay an annual fee of $300 USD. Source: 22 Interesting Facts About Norway

Bonus Fact:

26. Wondering how much your co-worker, boss, neighbor, friend, or cousin makes? It’d be no secret in Norway where income and wealth are public record; a practice shared by other Scandinavian countries. Making the data public demonstrates the Scandinavian tradition of jantelag, which translates roughly as nobody is better than anyone else.

ACEI

ACEI (est. 1994) is a U.S.-based full service organization assisting individuals, colleges and universities, regulatory boards, employers and state and federal government agencies with the evaluation, verification and translation of international education credentials. In addition, ACEI’s webinars and training programs provide international education specialists with up-to-date information on world education systems, student mobility trends, and credential evaluation methodologies. For more information on ACEI and its services, please visit www.acei-global.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, History, Human Interest, Politics

25 Interesting Facts About Scotland

September 11th, 2014

scotland_map

On September 16, 2014, Scotland will hold a referendum that will decide its independence from the United Kingdom. Scotland is a sovereign state in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is part of the UK’s constitutional monarchy. If the referendum in favor of independence gathers the votes it needs, Scotland will secede from the UK.

As we wait in anticipation of the outcome of the referendum, we felt it would be helpful to learn more about this country and share with you a few interesting facts.

History

1. Scotland was an independent country and never took kindly to invaders but nevertheless it unified with England in 1707 when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of both England and Scotland after the death eased Queen Elizabeth I. Their merger formed the United Kingdom of Great Britain giving rise to factions which to this day opposed the unification. For more history check this link: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandshistory/

Geography & People

scotland_flag

2. The Flag of Scotland is a white X-shaped cross, which represents the cross of the patron saint of Scotland, Saint Andrew on a blue field. The flag is called the Saltire or the Saint Andrew’s Cross.

3. Scotland includes over 790 islands. These include groups called Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides.

4. The population of Scotland in 2011 was around 5.3 million.

5. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh while the largest city is Glasgow. Other major cities include Aberdeen and Dundee.

edinburgh
Image: Edinburgh

6. Scotland has three officially recognized languages: English, Scots (a relative of English) and Scottish Gaelic (a completely different language).

Education

7. As part of the UK, Scotland’s education system is separate and governed from within Scotland.

8. Scotland emphasizes on a broad education system and was the first country since Sparta in classical Greece to implement a system of general public education.

9. There are 14 Scottish universities some of which are the oldest universities in the world.

10. The University of St Andrews, founded in 1413, is the third oldest university in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge. It welcomed Britain’s first female student in 1862. It is also where the world’s first students’ union came into existence in 1882.

edinburgh_college

11. The world’s first infant school was opened by philosopher and pedagogue Robert Owen in New Lanark in 1816.

Economy & Resources

12. Aberdeen has become an important center for the oil industry after the finding of oil in the North Sea.

13. Edinburgh is Europe’s fifth largest financial center.

14. Scotland offers free water for its citizens, although oil and nuclear energy are governed by the UK.

15. Although their health system is part of the greater National Health Service, Scotland controls its implementation (which allows them to provide free prescriptions to everyone, something England does not do).

Government & Judicial System

16. Scotland also has its own judicial system and unlike most western systems, courts can reach the decision of guilty, not guilty, or not proved.

17. The police force of Scotland is separate from that of the rest of the UK.

18. Scotland also has its own distinct parliament, which is chaired by the First Minister of Scotland.

Inventions

19. Notable Scottish inventions include: the method of logarithms (1614), tarmac (1820), first-ever house to be lit by gas (1784), the waterproof raincoat (1823), the hot blast furnace (1828), the modern, rear-wheel driven bicycle (1839), the pneumatic tire (1845) and reinvented in a more practical way (1887) known today as Dunlop Rubber (now under the joint ownership of Goodyear and Sumitomo Rubber Industries), and the discovery of the anesthetic properties of chloroform in 1847 which was successfully introduced for general medical use. (There are many more inventions by Scottish inventors, a list too long for this blog. For more information check this link: http://listverse.com/2014/01/05/10-things-you-should-know-about-scotland/)

Fun / Odd Facts

20. Genetic studies are now pointing that the mutation for red hair, which now reaches a world maximum in Western Scotland and Northern Ireland, may have originated in Central Asia too. This means that Scottish people may be (partly) descended from ancient people from Central Asia. Surprised? So were we, so here’s one source: www.eupedia.com

redhair

21. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first toilets ever were possibly built in Orkney, Scotland in 3,000 BC.

22. Scotland is reputed for its whisky, known outside Scotland as Scotch Whisky. Yet, what few people know is that whisky was in fact invented in China, and was first distilled by monks in Ireland in the early 15th century before reaching Scotland 100 years later.

23. The most infamous Scottish dish is haggis, normally made with sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal’s stomach for approximately an hour.

haggis

24. Kilts, tartans and bagpipes aren’t Scottish inventions. Kilts originated in Ireland. Tartans ere found in Bronze-age or Iron-age Central Europe (Hallstatt culture) and Central Asia (Tocharian culture). Bagpipes might also be an ancient invention from Central Asia. These could be debated so here’s the link to the source http://www.tamos.net/~rhay/shenkman.html.

bagpipes

25. A few more Scottish dishes known for their odd names include: Forfar Bridie (a meat pastry), Cock-a-leekie (soup), Collops (escalope), Crappit heid (fish dish), Finnan haddie (haddock fish), Arbroath Smokie (smoked haddock), Cullen Skink (haddock soup), Partan bree (seafood dish), Mince and tatties (minced meat and potatoes), Rumbledethumps, Skirlie and so on. And, of course, there is the ubiquitous shortbread, Scotland’s most famous cookie.

Bonus fact!

26. Scotland, the official animal of Scotland is the Unicorn, appreciated for its purity and strength. http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/scottish-fact-of-the-week-scotland-s-official-animal-the-unicorn-1-2564399 .

seals

It was King James I who drew up a new royal coat of arms that included both the traditional English lion as well as the Scottish Unicorn. According to folklore (going back to the ancient Babylonians in 3,500 B.C.), the lion and the unicorn hate each other. The Unicorn is seen as representing spring and the lion representing summer. Each year the two fight for supremacy, and each year the lion eventually wins. A popular English nursery rhyme sums up the animosity and the old wars between England and Scotland:

The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown;
The lion beat the unicorn
All round about the town.

The lion’s supremacy may come to an end, if Scotland’s upcoming referendum tilts in favor of independence and secession. The unicorn will prove to be the victor after all.

Slainte! (That’s Good Health in Scots)

ACEI

http://www.acei-global.org

1 Comment

Filed under Education, History, Human Interest, Travel

20 Interesting Facts about Mongolia

April 17th, 2014

Mongolian_Flag

Mongolia lies in central Asia between Siberia on the north and China on the south. It is a land full of vast emptiness, nearly twice the size of Eastern Europe and with a population of 3,226,516 (2013 est.), it is the least populous country in the world. It is slightly larger than Alaska. The name Mongol comes from a small tribe whose leader, Ghengis Khan, began a conquest in the 13th century that would eventually encompass an enormous empire stretching from Asia to Europe, as far west as the Black Sea and as far south as India and the Himalayas. After his death the empire was divided into several powerful Mongol states, but these broke apart in the 14th century. The Mongols eventually retired to their original steppe homelands and in the late 17th century came under Chinese rule of the Manchu dynasty which divided Mongolia into Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia.

Mongolia won its independence in 1921 with Soviet backing and a communist regime was installed in 1924. The modern country of Mongolia, however, represents only part of the Mongols’ historical homeland; more ethnic Mongolians live in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China than in Mongolia. The State of Mongolia was formerly known as Outer Mongolia. It contains the original homeland of the historic Mongols, whose power reached its zenith during the 13th century under Kublai Khan. Outer Mongolia became a democratic democracy in 1990. Inner Mongolia continued to remain under Chinese control.


Here are some interesting facts about this landlocked country:

1. Chinese history dating back more than 2,000 years records periodic attacks and plunders of its farmlands, villages and town by China by marauding nomadic tribes from the west, which led to its construction of the Great Wall around 200 B.C. to protect itself from incursions. But by the 14th century, the Mongolian kingdom was in serious decline, with invasions from a resurgent China and internal conflict and warfare. The Great Wall is in Inner Mongolia.

Great_Wall

2. Ulaanbaatar (population 949,000) is the capital of Mongolia and its largest city. As a nomadic city, the capital used to move three times a year! The name means “Red Hero.” A 131-foot statue of Genghis Khan sits on the steppe about an hour’s drive from Ulaanbaatar.

Genghis_Khan

3. The official language is Mongolian (90%). Other languages spoken include Turkic and Russian.

4. Based on 2011 estimates, of the total population, 97.4% are literate (96.8% male and 97.9% female). There was a time when education in Mongolia was managed by Buddhist monasteries and only monks had access to it. Today, Mongolia has 178 colleges, universities and teacher training colleges, of which 42 are public. The National University of Mongolia (established in 1942), situated in Ulaanbaatar, was the country’s first modern institution of higher education.

5. The Ministry of Science, Technology, Education and Culture (MSTEC) is the central administrating body that formulates nationwide education policy and sets the standard for each level of formal education beginning with nursery education through university higher education.

6. Mongolia has a parliamentary system of government. The current president of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, attended both the University of Colorado at Boulder and Harvard University in the U.S.

Tsakhiagiin_Elbegdorj
President Tsakhiaglin Elbegdorj

7. The ethnic makeup of the people is: 94.9% Mongol (predominantly Khalkha), 5% Turkic (of which Kazak is the largest group), and 0.1% other (including Chinese and Russian).

8. Religion: 53% Buddhist Lamaist, 3% Islam, 2.2% Christian, 2.9 % Shamanist, 0.4% other, 38.6% none (2010 est.)

9. Mongolia’s natural resources include: oil, copper, molybdenum, tungsten, phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, wolfram, fluorspar, gold, silver, iron.

10. Mongolia’s agriculture includes: wheat, barley, vegetables, forage crops, sheep goats, cattle, camels, and horses.

11. Mongolia stands an average of 5,800 feet above sea level.

Mongolian_Mountains

12. Despite its landlocked status, Mongolia has many salt lakes. Mongolian lakes and rivers contain more than fifty unique fish species.

13. Mongolia has the oldest National Park in the world. Lying just South of Ulaanbaatar the Bogd Khan National Park dates its origin to 1778 — it predates Yellowstone by over 100 years. Established by the Mongolian government in 1778, it was originally chartered by Ming Dynasty officials in the 1500s as an area to be kept off limits to extractive uses, protected for its beauty and sacred nature.

Bogd_Khan_National_Park
Bogd Khan National Park

14. The Gobi Desert, the largest in Asia and the fifth largest in the world, is in Mongolia. The Gobi was once a sea and now filled with marine fossils. Roy Chapman Andrews made the first discovery of dinosaur eggs in the Gobi. His exploits inspired the creation of Indiana Jones. Many dinosaur fossils still lie exposed.

Gobi_Desert

15. Genghis Khan could not read or write, but he commissioned the first Mongolian writing system – the Mongolian script. Since the Soviet period, Mongolians have used the Cyrillic script. In Mongolian, the verb comes last. If you want to know whether a Mongolian loves or hates you, you have to wait till the end of the sentence!


script

16. Mongol Khuumii or throat singing involves producing two simultaneous tones with the human voice.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0djHJBAP3U

17. The three most popular sports are horse racing, archery, and Mongolian wrestling.

Mongolian_Wrestling

18. Animals native to Mongolia include:

a) Snow leopards: quarter of the world’s population of snow leopards live in Mongolia.

snow_leopard

b) The two-humped camel: survives temperatures from minus to plus fifty degrees Celsius!

camel

c) The Mongolian Takhi horse is the last wild horse in the world. Mongolians do not name their horses; they refer to them by color.

Takhi_Horse

and,

d) Eagles which are kept as pets by nomads. The Kazakh minority hunt with them.

Mongolian_Eagle

19. Mongolia’s diet is primarily meat and dairy products. The local alcoholic drink is airag, fermented mare’s milk.

20. In the streets of Ulaanbaatar you’ll find a large number of so-called MobiPhones. These are wireless phones operated by phone vendors who charge users 100 tugriks per minutes. The phones are about two times the size of a regular phone but you’ll see them at small kiosks around the city.

Bonus fun fact:
When walking down a street in a Mongolian town or city if you accidentally bump into a person or brush past them, don’t be surprised if the other person reaches for your hand. Go ahead and shake their hand or even just touch it to apologize and express that it was indeed an accident and not intentional. The same gesture applies if your leg accidentally hits someone else’s under the table. Remember to shake hands!

Sources:
http://www.mongolia-travel-guide.com/mongolia-facts.html#ixzz2yz0Oztou
http://www.factmonster.com/country/mongolia.html
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mg.html
http://listverse.com/2013/10/10/10-amazing-facts-about-the-mongols/

ACEI

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.
www.acei1.com

5 Comments

Filed under Education, History, Human Interest, Politics, Travel

Reverse Culture Shock: Symptoms & 5 Ways to Cope

December 12th, 2013

coping

International students coming to the U.S. are bound to experience different degrees of culture shock but they are just as likely to experience reverse culture shock, or re-entry, when they return to their home countries during semester breaks and holidays. Reverse culture shock is an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment, to some degree similar to the adjustments the international student initially experiences when living abroad and away from family and friends. The symptoms for reverse culture shock may range from feeling disconnected from family and friends because the person retruning feels misunderstood and is afraid of losing the new aspects of him/herself.

It is an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment, similar to your initial adjustment to living abroad. Symptoms can range from feeling like no one understands you or how you’ve changed to feeling panicked that you will lose part of your identity if you don’t have an outlet to pursue new interests that were sparked abroad. Some of the common signs of reverse culture shock are:

• Confusion
• Restlessness
• Boredom
• Uncertainty
• Rootlessness
• Isolation
• Feeling homesick for college and friends made abroad
• Wanting to be alone
• Depression

shock

How to cope with reverse culture shock?

Adjusting to the rhythms of life at home requires much of the same coping skills you had relied on as a student in your host country.

1. Sleep
Arriving to your home country brings with it jet lag and depending on how far away your home is from the host country, the more intense the jet lag. Be kind to yourself and get as much sleep as you can and don’t forget to stay hydrated and don’t skip on meals.

2. Stay Active
When not asleep, stay active, engage in exercise. Strenuous physical activity will help realign the balance between your sleep and awakened state and a speedier way of getting over jet lag.

3. Suspend Judgment
Behave as you did when you first arrived in your host country. Suspend judgment and criticism of your family and friends. Avoid making comparisons of how things are better where you went to college. Friends and family will be interested in your experiences and will ask questions which you may hear more than once. Assume the role of ambassador by responding and sharing your experiences that is inclusive and engaging. Don’t showboat or brag, A little humility at the onset goes a long way.

4. Readjust to Changing Relationships
Just because you left and feel like you have changed doesn’t mean that those friends and family members back home stopped having experiences of their own. You may find that you may have outgrown some childhood friendships and vice versa. Be prepared to adjust to this change.

5. Stay in touch
Don’t forget your friends from college. Stay in touch and keep your friendships alive even though you may be separated by thousands of miles. Luckily, today’s assortment of communication technologies from Twitter, Facebook, Skype, email, make it possible for us to stay connected wherever we live. But don’t overdo it! Enjoy your time in your home country and get involved so that you have stories to tell and experiences to share when you return to college the following semester.

And remember to keep a sense of humor throughout it all and know that the initial unease of reverse culture shock will soon wear away. The more you practice the exercise of adjusting and adapting to your two “homes,” the easier it will be for you to apply the same techniques wherever you choose to travel and live after you graduate.

ACEI

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.
www.acei1.com

2 Comments

Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Travel

3 Things I’ve Learned as a Transglobal Pilgrim

October 3rd, 2013

Transglobal

Learning by doing is one of the most powerful, and rewarding ways to enter into another culture. I studied the French language for 12 years before finally going to France, and it was there that the desire to “become French,” overwhelmed me. As an avid people watcher, I love to observe body language, gesture, facial expressions, and attitude. So, I perfected the art of mimic. I returned to the states and studied the language for another 3 years and when I could afford it, I took vacations in French speaking lands–– islands being my favorite.

Growing up in Los Angeles I also fell in love with the Mexican culture. It is inescapable in terms of cultural celebrations, holidays, and the coming and goings of daily life. As far as I am concerned, it is a necessity to learn to speak Spanish if you live in L.A. Of course you can stay on the surface, and observe others from afar, but what fun is that? To fully experience life in the multitude of Spanish speaking populations of the city, you have to do some cultural shape shifting.

I have found that my eagerness to relate is always well received and it opens up doorways to completely new and fascinating worlds hidden just under the surface of daily life. Ones that can make the most mundane trip to the corner store a richly rewarding experience.

I have only lived in Germany for about two years now, and I am trying to learn by doing, but I have not tried to mimic this time. I absolutely refuse to raise my voice 5 octaves when given the customary ciao––Tschüsss! Grown men over 25 go completely falsetto when saying it. Everyone does.

I do admit to a language deficit, but I always start off by saying, “Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut, Ich komme aus Kalifornien,“ my German is not so good, I come from California. By looking at me they just assume I am German, and they get a funny look on their face when I try complicated sentences, poorly. So, I’ve found that by offering an explanation up front, things usually go quite well from that point on. The Kalifornien always breaks the ice. The more fluent I become, of course the more I learn about how life here works. Here are three important things I have learned about my new land.

1. Taxi Cab Ride

The taxi cab driver that came to take us to my husband’s first doctor’s visit, post hip-replacement surgery, recently had a knee replacement himself. He came from Turkey a number of years ago, and spoke flawless German. I listened to the best of my ability as the two men exchanged stories and chatted in the front seat. It slowly came out that they had been at the same, quite famous Orthopedic Hospital for their surgery and recovery.

In addition, in Germany, everyone stays in the hospital for two weeks of monitoring and the beginning of physical therapy/ rehabilitation. The insurance companies pay, knowing they will still make a profit, because two weeks in the hospital in Germany is still cheaper than a second, more complicated surgery. It has been shown that 2 weeks of post-operative care, lowers the recidivism for most surgeries.

Wow–– It astonished me to learn that costs are structured, and social thinking dictates that absolutely everyone can get great care, and be given the exact same physical therapy and rehab, and go to one of the many “Wellness/ Rehab” centers throughout the German countryside.

On top of it, imagine that the Taxi Company in Bremen allows this recuperative time, and with full pay! Of course there are those who are privat versichert, those that pay for “Private Health Insurance” versus the Government mandated insurance everyone must have, the gesetzliche Krankenversicherung.

The privat patients do get priority with doctor’s appointments and surgery schedules, because the doctors and institutions make more money off them, and know they will always be paid without tedious Insurance Carrier negotiations.

The last time I was in New York I learned that the taxi cab drivers in the city all own and are responsible for their own cars, which was news to me, and I am sure that the Senegalese driver who told us that, did not have the opportunity to get the same medical treatment as his Turkish counterpart in Germany. I am pretty sure he did not get paid rehabilitation for a month in the countryside or a city clinic.
In Los Angeles, the taxi drivers are often educated professionals, immigrants from other countries. They are classically trained musicians, doctors and dentists from the Ukraine, Iran, India, or you name it. I am pretty sure that they also don’t have the opportunities for care that the taxi drivers in Germany have.

2. Ticket Revenue

Cities get inventive when it comes time to collect more revenue. In Los Angeles the car is still the dominant mode of transportation, however, the city is installing a very much needed rail system. The last time I was in Los Angeles, I took the first chance I could to ride the rail between Culver City and Exposition Park. I got a TAP card and happily passed on the traffic jams, and cost of driving and the exorbitant cost of parking. The Expo Line Phase 2, due to be completed by 2015, will connect Downtown Los Angeles and beyond, directly to the beach in Santa Monica. They still have to create an access system to get through the city to the Metro Rail Depots, but that will come. Check out the budding system : http://www.buildexpo.org/

But back to revenue. On the car dominant streets of Los Angeles, the costs vary; a jay-walking ticket – $191, a parking ticket-up to $68, a speeding ticket $210 and more, and let’s not talk about texting while driving.

First of all, Europeans would laugh in the face of police-person who tried to give them a jaywalking ticket, as it is done all the time. However, here, I am one of the few who cross against the light at a street corner! Everyone, waits for the light to turn green before walking, even when there are no cars around for city blocks.

Now that I live in a place with an amazing mass transit system, I have learned to never get caught trying to ride for free on the city trams, and definitely, not more than 3 times. Each violation costs 40 Euros and after the 3rd time it goes on record as a criminal offense. I remember thinking it was like our 3-Strikes Law in California. A bit over-the-top. The tram cost is 2,40 Euros one way for all destinations farther than 3 stops, so pretty much everyone pays, and the system runs great.

I know it costs more in Manhattan, something around $100 per offense. And the jury is still out in Los Angeles, as the whole inner-city rail concept is just now being brought back to life. At one time, Los Angeles had one of the most extensive light rail systems in the country, so I am sure the city will figure that out.

I learned by using the wrong, small piece of paper. I mistakenly used the receipt-for-the-purchase-paper (who knew?), paper-clipped together with the bunch of tickets my father-in–law had given me.

I stamped them in the machine inside the tram, as I had seen others do, and when the tram-police-guy came up and asked for my tickets, (the first and only time to date) I proudly handed him the stamped paperlet. He looked at them, gave a smug laugh, and told me they were Müll, trash. I was shocked, and tried to explain in my imperfect German that my father-in-law had given them to me, and I did not know the difference between them, so I did not think I used an invalid ticket.

It did not go over too well, trying to explain to him that I am not yet fluent with the language or the system. He asked how long I had been in Bremen and if I was a citizen. No, I am an American married to a German. Then he asked for my passport–– of course I didn’t have it. He did not like that answer, so I informed him I was a permanent resident and produced my card. He told me to learn German, and wrote me a ticket and admonished me not to develop a criminal record. Not fun. Public transport does not take kindly to fare evasion, it taxes everyone more.

Now that I am an immigrant, I just couldn’t help wondering what would have happened if I didn’t have my residency card…would it be something like not having your green card while Mexican in California? I think I will avoid that experiment.

3. The Market

Shopping for food is another way to begin assimilating into a new culture, and one that still comes with a bit of stress. In the markets, people are usually in a hurry, and everyone packs their own bags. There is no standing around while the checker or “bag-person” does it for you like in American markets, although we always packed our own bags in Los Angeles, much to the shock and appreciation of the clerk at the checkout stand. It seems only logical to help things move along.

In Germany it goes very fast, and between trying to pack my cloth bags, not break the eggs and translate in my head the amount the checker has just quoted me, I always break into a small sweat. Things can pile up quickly with the press of impatient shoppers breathing down your neck. You must learn to ignore them and pack with deftness and speed.

I remember the first Trader Joe’s in Pasadena on Arroyo Parkway in the 1970’, and until I moved to Germany I had no idea that it was bought by the German Aldi Nord Company, known here as Aldi. When I go to the Aldi discount market near us, I walk away with California Almond and California Walnut packages bearing the Trader Joe’s logo! However, I have to say, the Almonds are not as good as the California Almonds I get at the California Trader Joe’s. But it still makes me smile.

Buying food is different here. You absolutely have to go to the market every day, or every other day, max if you want to have fresh produce. The produce here does not last more than 2-3 days in the fridge. That is good on one hand, because you know with certainty that nothing has been done to prolong the freshness. It is bad on the other hand, because it takes more time, and is especially not fun in sub-zero temperatures to run out for lettuce and tomatoes.

Fresh Hummus here from the Turkish fruit and vegetable stand is utterly delicious and goes bad after two days, so I manage to eat it up. In the states, Hummus can last for a week in the fridge. Same goes for all dairy products.

Occasionally a piece of fruit, usually one out of season, will rot from the inside out. Aha! Evidence of being previously frozen. But I still prefer that to artificially prolonged food. I never understood why the Horizon Organic Half and Half lasted for a month? That just ain’t right.

Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jeanniewn@gmail.com

1 Comment

Filed under Education, History, Language, Politics, Travel, Uncategorized

10 Facts About the Education System of Brazil

June 13, 2013

brazil

This week, we’d like to focus on Brazil, the largest country in both South American and the Latin American region. It is the world’s 5th largest country both by geographical area and by population. Brazil’s population according to a 2011 World Bank report is 196.7 million.

brazilmap
Source: http://www.cia.gov

1. Pre-school education (Educação Infantil) is entirely optional. Nursing school is for children up to 3 years old and kindergarten for children from 4 to 6 years old.

2. Primary and lower secondary education (Ensino Fundamental) or Fundamental Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6-14.

kids
Source: http://www.economist.com

3. Upper secondary education (Ensino Medio) is ages 15 to 18. It is also free but not compulsory.

4. Higher education (Ensino Superior) is provided at public or private universities. Higher education is free at public universities.

university
Source: http://www.universitiesnews.com

5. The typical school year runs from February/March through November/December. Summer vacation is from mid-December to early February.

6. Admission to a public university requires students to sit an entrance exam known as vestibular for their specific course of study.

students
Source: guangziedu.net

7. Brazil increased public spending on education from 10.5% of total public expenditure in 2000, to 14.5% in 2005, and to 16.8% in 2009. Source: OECD (2012)

8. There are 50,972.61 students enrolled in basic (fundamental) education of whom 43,053,942 are in the public school system and 7,918,677 are in the private school system. Source: Bunge Fundacao 2012

9. Brazil has 357,418 practicing teachers and 6,739,689 students are enrolled in 30,616 undergraduate education programs. Source: INEP 2011 Higher Education Census

10. 187,760 students are enrolled in graduate studies. Source: Bunge Fundacao 2012

Alan
Alan Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit http://www.acei-global.org.

7 Comments

Filed under Education, History, Politics, Travel

20 Facts About Turkey

June 07, 2013

Flag_of_Turkey

In light of the protests that have erupted in Turkey against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we wanted to share a few facts about this country situated at the northeast end of the Mediterranean Sea in southeast Europe and southwest Asia. North of Turkey is the Black Sea and on its west is the Aegean Sea. Its neighbors are Greece and Bulgaria to the west, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania to the north and northwest (through the Black Sea), Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Syria and Iraq to the south. The Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus divide the country.

The history and culture of Turkey is such that coming up with 20 facts out of thousands was an incredibly difficult task. We know that so much has been omitted for the sake of brevity. The list below is a primer to this country’s rich heritage.

1. Turkey is officially known as the ‘Republic of Turkey’.

2. The Republic of Turkey was founded on October 29, 1923, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

3. Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary and constitutional republic.

4. Ankara is Turkey’s capital while Istanbul is its largest city.

5. It has a population of 71.1 million.

6. Of the 87% of the population that is literate 95% are male and 80% female.

7. The major religion of Turkey is Islam, while its official language is Turkish. Kurdish, Dimli, Zaza, Arabic, Armenian, Greek and Azeri are also spoken in the country.

8. Istanbul is the only city in the world built on two continents and has been the capital of three great empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman for more than 2000 years.

9. The part of Turkey in Europe is called ‘Thrace’ (an area about equal to the state of Massachusetts), while the part in Asia is called ‘Anatolia’ (an area about the size of the state of Texas).

10. Anatolia is the birthplace of historic legends, such as Omar (the poet), King Midas, Herodotus (the father of history) and St. Paul the Apostle.

11. Julius Ceasar proclaimed his celebrated words, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) in Turkey when he defeated the Pontus, a formidable kingdom in the Black Sea region of Turkey.

12. The oldest known human settlement is in Catalhoyuk, Turkey (7500 BC).

13. Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the two of the seven wonders of the ancient world, are in Turkey.

14. Turks introduced coffee to Europe.

15. Turks gave the Dutch their famous tulips.

16. Turkey has 94 State universities and 45 Foundation (Private) universities

17. Approximately 55,000 Turkish students go abroad annually for educational purposes.

18. Turkey has been sending more than 10,000 students a year to the U.S. since 2000 exceeding other European countries such as Britain and Germany.

19. Istanbul’s Robert College (established in 1863), is the oldest American school outside the United States.

20. Turkey provides 70% of the world’s hazelnuts; the nut in your chocolate bar was most probably grown in Turkey.

Alan
Alan Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit http://www.acei-global.org.

2 Comments

Filed under Education, History, Human Interest, Language, Travel