Happy Monday! We have some great news for all of you who have been wanting to try SCOLA! Use username WordPress and password Scola2015 to log on to http://www.scola.org and access our language and culture resources for FREE! Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family!
In just a few short weeks many people around the world will begin celebrating Christmas- a holiday that is a favorite of many. Christmas isn’t celebrated in every country though, so today Somayeh, our provider from Iran, tells us about her favorite holiday in her country:
“Nowrooz or Nowruz (Persian: (نوروز is my favorite holiday. It means “The new day”. Nowrooz begins the first day of Spring and lasts for thirteen days. It is the start of the Persian Year. There are a lot of rituals before, during, and after this holiday. These rituals include spring cleaning or Khouneh Tekouni (literally means “shaking the house”), purchasing new clothes to wear for the New Year, visiting friends and family, and much more. In Nowrooz everything is new, everyone is happy and laughing, and people are kind. It seems that spring brings the sense of freshness. Nowrooz is my favorite holiday because it’s a new beginning.”
Want to tell us about your favorite holiday? Comment below!
Learn more about holidays around the world on Savoir-Vivre, coming soon to SCOLA!
Our provider Sulait from Uganda shares some facts about his home country of Uganda:
Uganda is a third world country in Africa that is commonly known as the pearl of Africa because of its beauty in nature. Uganda has many varying landscapes, including mountains like Mt. Elgon and Mt. Rwenzori. Uganda is a landlocked country, however the second largest river in the world, the Nile River, starts in Uganda.
Uganda was colonized by Britain until they achieved independence in 1962. Many people in Europe know Uganda for one reason: the notorious president Idd Amini Dada. The president treated his people very poorly and murdered many innocent people.
Uganda is a popular country for tourists. The variety of wildlife in their game parks attract many visitors. Many of their game parks boast animals such as baboons, chimpanzees, monkeys, leopards, snakes, giraffes, hippos and much more.
There are many different tribes in Uganda, and they each have different cultural beliefs and languages.
Agriculture is a big business in Uganda with 70% of Ugandans working as farmers. The local farmers grow crops to earn a living.
Want to learn more about Uganda? Check out over 3,900 authentic resources on SCOLA.org!
Imagine the international adventure of your dreams and then turn those dreams into a reality with On the Street Videos from SCOLA. Your first stop is Bangladesh, where you can experience firsthand what it’s like to be a freedom fighter. Our next stop will take you to Iraq, where you can uncover what life used to be like living in Baghdad as a Kurdish political activist. Are you tired of traveling yet? We hope not, because you’ll want to be wide awake on our third stop as we explore the culture of Myanmar at Sunday Buddha School at Min Lwin Kone Monastery. All this traveling has surely made you hungry, so our fourth stop will take you to Japan where you will learn how to make a traditional Japanese sushi roll. Eat up, because you will need your energy for the rest of your travels on this ninety country expedition, including a visit to the Philippines to go wake-boarding, attending a wedding in Mali, lending a hand to a beekeeper in Serbia as he completes his daily tasks, and so much more!
As you experience new countries and cultures with On the Street Videos you can also brush up on your foreign language skills. Each adventure offers an authentic experience in our providers native languages.
Not fluent in Burmese and are having trouble following along with the lessons at the Sunday Buddha School in Myanmar?
No problem! SCOLA.org is equipped with a variety of language services designed to help you expand your knowledge and vocabulary of over 175 languages! Log on to Insta-Class and practice your Burmese with over 200 ready-to-use lessons and then head back over to On the Street Videos once you have refreshed your language skills.
Can’t understand all the ingredients in Japan and are really craving that traditional Japanese sushi roll?
No problem! Log on to Spoken Word and chat with our native speaker Misuzu from Japan! Misuzu can answer any questions you have about Japanese language and culture. Soon you will be on your way to mastering Japanese…and have a full stomach!
These adventures are exclusive to SCOLA and won’t be beat by your local travel agency, so contact us today for your free trial! Visit www.scola.org where you won’t just read or learn about new skills, languages, and cultures, you will experience them!
Many people in the United States hold big celebrations for various milestone birthdays including a sweet sixteen where they can get their driver’s license, a bar crawl when they can legally drink on their 21st birthday, and smaller parties as they get older with their family and close friends. In China though, traditional birthday celebrations differ. Traditionally, Chinese people do not pay much attention to birthday celebrations until a person turns 60 years old. Sixty years is considered a cycle of life in Chinese culture, so the 60th birthday is regarded as very important and is celebrated with a big party. Chinese culture expects a person to have a big family filled with children and grandchildren by 60 years old, and therefore see it as an age to be proud of.
A person’s 61st year is seen as the beginning of a new life cycle. After the 60th birthday, celebrations are held every 10 years up until the person’s death, and generally, the older a person is the grander their birthday celebration is.
Sixtieth birthday parties can be large or small, but no matter the size the celebrations meal always includes peaches and noodles, which are the signs of a long life. When the noodles are cooked they cannot be cut short. Shortened noodles are thought to have bad implications. Although the celebrations are said to include peaches, the peaches, in fact, are not real. Steamed wheaten food with a sweet stuffing are called peaches because they are made in the same shape. Everyone at the party must eat the food as a sign of well wishes to the guest of honor.
If you’re planning on attending a traditional Chinese birthday party typical presents usually include two or four eggs, long noodles, artificial peaches, tonics, wine and money in red paper.
Besides the 60th birthday, some families in China also place importance on celebrating the third and twelfth birthdays for children. A child’s twelfth birthday celebration includes the birthday boy or girls friends and their parents. It is similar to a wedding ceremony with a delicious banquet and speeches by guests at the party.
Although many in China celebrate birthdays with the previously mentioned traditions, many Chinese people now seem to be following American birthday customs. Cakes with candles to represent how old a person is turning are becoming more common, along with making a wish when blowing out the candles. This is quickly becoming regarded as the best part of the birthday party.
What is your favorite birthday tradition? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re following us online you have seen we are currently on an adventure in Malawi for our May Country of the Month! James, our provider from Malawi sends SCOLA a lot of material for our services, and most recently he has sent us the material for the Country of the Month. James shares the following with you about his home country of Malawi:
Malawi is located in southern Africa. It takes pride in the fact they are often referred to as the “warm heart of Africa” because of the hospitality that its people show and that it has never shown civil unrest or went to war with any other country. The country is measured at approximately 118,000 square kilometers, with a population of about 16 million. The country has four major cities, Mzuzu in the northern region, Lilongwe in the central region, Zomba in the Eastern region and Blantyre, a commercial city, in the Southern region of Malawi.
Blantyre is called the commercial city because of the industrial sites it has, and the companies there. Blantyre is a busy city and after Lilongwe is the second largest. Blantyre has a large number of people with white collar jobs, so it is no wonder many colleges including a constituent college of the University of Malawi- The Polytechnic call Blantyre home. Along with the colleges and offices, you will also find small shops and established businesses in Blantyre.
Malawi is a landlocked country, surrounded by Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. Although Malawi is landlocked, the country has a number of pleasing features for people to enjoy. Some of the geographical features include the famous Mulanje mountain, game reserves and national parks, and most of all, the lakes.
One lake people enjoy visiting is Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the biggest lake in the country at 365 miles long and 52 miles wide. Fishing at the lake is a source of income to the locals who reside near it. Lake Malawi is characterized by a species of fish called Chambo. Chambo cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Besides the chambo, the lake also has very beautiful beaches with holiday resorts and lodges. Tourists find Lake Malawi very attractive.
Although Malawi is small it has over over nine ethnic groups, namely Chewa, Lomwe, Yao, Tumbuka and Sena.The names of the ethnic groups in Malawi actually reflects the kind of language people speak. For example, Sena people speak Sena. The biggest tribe in Malawi is Chewa, representing 32% of Malawians. Since Chewa is the biggest tribe, the national language is Chewa and it is the language taught in schools.
Chewa people are popular nation wide and internationally because of their culture. The chewa people are known for the gule wamkulu dance. The gule wamkulu was once performed for the queen of England. Chewa functions are always characterised by the gule wamkulu. The dancers wear musks and do not identify themselves because it is widely believed that they are beasts and in their vernacular language they are called “Virombo” or “ Nyau”. The beasts are many, just as their a lot of beasts or wild animals in the bush, which explains why the virombo are often changed.
Welcome to Malawi the “warm heart of Africa”. Enjoy.
Do you have a country you would like to learn more about and see featured as our Country of the Month? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us online to join in on our travels to our next Country of the Month: Belarus!
We know logging on to SCOLA can evoke many feelings for our subscribers: curiosity, inspiration, enthusiasm, fulfillment and excitement just to name a few….One feeling our services do not often stir up is fear. Soon though, that will be changing…Soon your fingertips will quiver in fear as you type in your username and password, your hands will shake as you move your mouse down to the World TV Online and Savoir-Vivre icons, and your whole body will shudder as you uncover what SCOLA has waiting for you.
Starting in May you may not want to log on to SCOLA alone. SCOLA will soon reveal paranormal events, mysterious urban legends and spooky myths that will make you want to sleep with a light on.
Savoir-Vivre is unlike any other service SCOLA offers. It is a global adventure in culture that allows our subscribers to travel the world, discover its people, and explore new lifestyles all from the comfort of their own home.
At first glance Savoir-Vivre may seem similar to other services like On the Street Videos and World TV Online. However, Savoir-Vivre focuses more on the cultural aspect of other countries whereas services such as On the Street Videos focuses on technical and instructional videos and our providers native languages.
With Savoir-Vivre you won’t just read or hear about new countries and cultures, you will experience them! This includes experiencing the aforementioned spooky urban legends and mysterious myths from places around the world. Hear firsthand accounts of Bali magic and supernatural stories from Indonesia, myths and legends from the Philippines and so much more!
Then, only the brave will move on to our new Hindi program from India on World TV Online. This show is only for our most daring subscribers, and even they will have to start sleeping with the lights on!
Fear Files plays on Channel Four every weekend at 8:05 p.m. on World TV Online. Fear Files uncovers the truth behind mystifying and unexplainable events that have occurred in various places throughout India. These horror stories are recreated after real incidents that you have to see to believe. The show focuses on supernatural elements, scary, puzzling mysteries and expert interviews in the paranormal field. Grab a friend because you do not want to watch this one alone!
Are you brave enough to experience spooky urban legends and mysterious myths from around the world with Savoir-Vivre and tune in to India’s paranormal activity with Fear Files? Contact us today for your free trial!
Last week we shared with you Dating and Marriage Traditions in China, so it only makes sense that this week we talk to you about what happens after marriage. What are the housing arrangements of the married couple? Who do they live with? Our provider from China shares the following:
For the Chinese people, family is very sacred, so the Chinese always have their family at the forefront of their mind wherever they go or wherever they are. In the past, Chinese people enjoyed living as one big family, where sometimes even as many as four generations lived together in the same home. Similar to a small community, there were distinct classes in these extended families. The eldest always enjoyed the highest status.
Just like any other community, these living conditions could not properly function without any discipline. People in China often say “A family has its own rules just as a state has its own laws.” Under these past, traditional housing arrangements some of these laws included the husband being permitted to beat their wives, the father being permitted to beat their sons, and parents were in charge of the daily life of their children, including their marriages. Also, in these small communities each clan had its own ancestral shrine, where their ancestors were offered sacrifices and worshiped. Every member of the family was obligated to honor their ancestors.
These days, things are quite different. The extended family housing arrangements have been replaced and small/core family housing arrangements have become more mainstream. Correspondingly, the lifestyle of the people has changed greatly, but their sentimental attachment to their family and the importance they place on family has remained unchanged.
Last week you learned tips and taboos when traveling to China. This week, we are going to teach more about the Chinese culture, specifically dating and marriage.
Traditionally in China, marriages were arranged by the parents and youth would not see their husband or wife until the day of their wedding ceremony. However, at the beginning of the 20th century things changed greatly. These days young men and women have the freedom of finding their own significant others. Many choose to date colleagues and former classmates.
Chinese people are very warmhearted and are eager to match single friends and family. It is a longstanding belief that this is good fortune for the match maker. So if you are in China and someone asks about your marital status, don’t be offended. It is a good chance they are trying to help you find a match.
In China, there are many ways to begin a date. If you arrange the date yourself, you do not need to acquire consent from the parents. If it is arranged by the parents or family friends, prepare to be very tired after the date, as the parents will ask a lot of questions. Typical first dates include going to cafeterias or a tea house. If the two people enjoy each other, they may go on other dates to restaurants and cinemas.
Currently online dating is popular in China. There are also many dating programs on TV.
Are dating and marriage traditions in China similar to those in your country? Tell us about it in the comments below!
The seasons are changing and many of you may be thinking ahead to your summer travel plans. If your plans include traveling abroad keep reading! Many foreign countries have taboos and laws that are essential for travelers to know before you arrive. The following list was shared with us by a SCOLA provider in China. He says many travelers from abroad may become confused and frightened by Chinese customs. This handy reference tool makes it easy for newcomers to Beijing to fit right in.
1. When addressing someone, it is customary to add terms of honor before their family name based on their age: lao (honorable old one), xiao (honorable young one) or occasionally da (honorable middle-aged one).
2. Most greetings begin with a brief handshake. When greeting the elderly or senior officials, your handshake should be gentle and include a slight nod. As an expression of warmth, it can be acceptable to cover the handshake with your left hand. As a sign of respect, Chinese usually slightly lower their eyes when meeting someone.
3. Embracing and kissing are not parts of a Chinese greeting or saying good-bye. Public displays of affection, or acting in too carefree a manner are not advisable in public.
4. Be cautious in political discussions.
5. Normally, Chinese will not accept a gift, invitation or favor until the second or third time it is presented. In their culture, this shows modesty and humility. If a person accepts too quickly it can make them look aggressive or greedy. The same goes for opening a gift in front of the giver.
6. When wrapping a present, be aware that Chinese give much importance to color. Red represents luck, and pink and yellow represent happiness and prosperity. Do not wrap gifts in white, grey or black, as those are funeral colors. When you are ready to present a gift, hand it off with both of your hands.
7. Acceptable gifts may include lighters, stamps, t-shirts and exotic coins, and the following gifts should be avoided: white or yellow flowers (especially chrysanthemums), which are used for funerals, pears, the word for Pear in Chinese sounds the same as separate and is considered bad luck, red ink on cards or letters symbolizes the end of a relationship, and clocks of any kind. because the word clock in Chinese sounds like the expression “the end of life”.
Food and Dining
8. Tipping is not normally practiced in China and almost no one asks for them. Only in some luxurious hotels are tips expected.
9. While eating, place chopsticks next to your dish instead of upright in your rice bowl. In China, when someone dies, their shrine may include two incense sticks stuck upright in a bowl of sand or rice. If you stick your chopsticks upright in your dish at the dinner table, it looks like the shrine and is comparable to wishing death upon person at the table!
10. When drinking tea, do not face the spout of the teapot towards anyone. It is impolite.
11. Don’t tap on your bowl with your chopsticks. People in restaurants where the food is taking too long and beggars tap on their bowls. It is insulting to the cook.
12. People in China dine out at least once a week with friends or family members as a way to strengthen relationships. The dinner will last long and include alcohol drinks.
Are you planning on traveling to China soon? Were these tips helpful to you? Let us know in the comments below!
Be sure to check back next week to learn more about Chinese Dating and Marriage Customs!
Want to learn more tips and taboos for international travel? Check out Savoir-Vivre…coming soon!