SCOLA Travel Journal: Week Five

Fall has almost arrived here at SCOLA and the weather is getting cooler, I’m ready to go somewhere warm on vacation! I log on to People and Places and start searching when the colorful landscapes of Indonesia catch my eye. I’m ready to get out of my sweatshirts and long pants and into some shorts and sandals!

One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new country is converse with the locals, so before heading to On the Street Videos to travel to Indonesia, I make a pit stop at Insta-Class. Insta-Class is ready to use, multi-media language lessons produced exclusively for SCOLA by experts from around the world! The service has over 420 lessons for Indonesia that are easy for independent learners like myself to use. I log on and quickly brush up on my Indonesian. Soon I feel confident that I will be able to converse with the locals on my upcoming adventure.

My hands shake in anticipation as I log on to On the Street Videos to begin my journey. My first stop is Bali. Choosing a destination from People and Places was tough, and learning a new language on Insta-Class wore me out, so my first quest is to learn how to make a traditional Balinese dinner. The SCOLA provider gave detailed instructions that were easy to follow, thanks to the practice I received on Insta-Class! Once I eat dinner I have the energy to explore the rest of what On the Street Videos and Indonesia have to offer.

Since I was already in Bali I decided to do a quick tour. I had an excellent tour guide that showed me some of the best beaches and shops Bali had to offer. I learned a lot about Bali and was able to enjoy the warm weather I had been craving, so next up was my favorite activity: conversing with the locals!

Through SCOLA I was able to meet with a Balinese man to talk with him to learn about his daily lifestyle and work. This gave me further insight to Indonesia’s culture than any typical vacation ever could.

On the Street Videos not only allows you to explore and experience places, it also allows you to discover the locals and their lifestyles, including community and family, work and recreation, and so much more. I’m very lucky to have the service available to me, and you could too by logging on to www.scola.org for your free trial!

Visiting China: Tips and Taboos You Need to Know

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.

Greetings

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.

Conversation

4. Be cautious in political discussions.

Gifts

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!

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