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Most of the cities in Tunisia has a number of flea markets. Tunis in particular, has many popular flea markets like El Hafisa, Ibn Khaldoun and Ariana El Hafisa attracting people from all backgrounds. Heaps of clothes are typically laid out on a board in these markets and the prices of the clothes are lot cheaper than in normal clothing stores.

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The market also sells high end luxury brands for a meager amount relative to the product’s retail value. The brands are mostly imported from United States and Europe. Therefore if you are a foreigner looking for cheaper and more unique clothes then this is the best place to sheerai a

Local Language Terms (Arabic):

  • sheerai a: buy

At a glance:

Tunis Flea market is cool

DID YOU KNOW?

French is widely spoken in Tunisia!

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Mariana Spinelli has been living in Malaysia for nine years after moving from Argentina. When asked about her experience in Malaysia she says “I simply love the climate because it is summer all year long. It is easier to buy clothes. We feel the country is also a lot safer compared to South America. The unique selling point of Malaysia is the multicultural community, from whom we get to learn about other religions and races. We found it so easy to adapt because the people here are so mesra. You have people of so many different cultures living together harmoniously. It is amazing to us and we enjoy being a part of this. We also get to see how people respect each other’s culture and how they accept one another.”

FZLATI150512 Andreina Voisin, from Venezuela also share similar views: “Living here is a great experience for the children as they get to learn about the different races and cultures,” which is unlike Venezuela where “you only have one kind of people.” Also “everyone speaks English here, so we didn’t have any problem communicating with the locals.”

Mariana and Andreina are two of many Latin Americans who share similar views about the country and finding it easy to adapt to the local culture. In fact, for them Malaysia is now truly a ‘home country.’

Local Language Terms (Malay):

  • mesra: friendly

At a glance:

‘Malaysia is truly Asia’

DID YOU KNOW?

Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home!

The government of Philippines have passed a historic legislation regarding birth control of its citizens. The law requires government health centres to provide free condoms and birth control pills, benefiting tens of millions of the country’s poor who would not otherwise be able to afford or have access to them.

babies-alamy-1354283604_284x189 For someone like Rosalie Cabenan, a 48 year old housewife, the law is too late for realizing any benefit. During her lifetime, she has given birth to 22 babies and has struggled ever since with health related problems, mainly because she never had the time to properly recover from her successive pregnancies. Her first child was born when she was just 14 taong gulang.

“I was always pregnant and there was no time to take care of myself because I had to keep working to help my husband feed the children. I have tried everything, a stevedore (dock worker), a laundry woman, fish monger and a vegetable seller.”

When she nearly died giving birth to her youngest, who is now six, she finally abandoned the demands of the Catholic simbahan to not use contraceptives.

A devout Catholic who still goes to mass twice a week, Cabenan nevertheless regrets following the church dogma so strictly and said she welcomed the Responsible Parenthood Law that officially took effect on Thursday.

Local Language Terms (Filipino):

  • taong gulang: years old
  • simbahan: Church

At a glance:

Hopefully no more HUGE families in Philippines

DID YOU KNOW?

Philippines is the world’s 3rd largest English-speaking nation!

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The government decision was made based on Taiz’s reputation as one of the most culturally active cities in Yemen. Ali Al-Mukri, a novelist, shares the same tone by saying “Taiz is worthy of being a cultural capital because of its contribution to Yemen’s culture and civilization.” The city is renowned for producing many acclaimed academics and authors. According to Ablan, this approval will help Taiz regain its reputation.

untitled Mohammed Amin Al-Sharabi, however, does not agree with Ablan and believes the moodina “does not need government endorsement to be recognized as cultural capital because it has been distinguished for its unique cultural status for centuries.” Besides he also feels that the decree will go invain unless the government decides to invest in infrastructure development such as schools, universities and cultural projects.

Local Language Terms (Arabic):

  • moodina: city

At a glance:

Taiz is a prominent cultural city in Yemen

DID YOU KNOW?

Yemen was once a rich nation!

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Indre-Adomaityte-389x286 Indrė Adomaitytė was born in the second largest city of Lithuania known as Kaunas where she obtained her bachelor degree in Communication & Information from Vilnius University. Her main interests include books, photography, volunteering, foreign languages, different cultures and traveling. She is one of many Lithuanians who is vowing to making a difference in the pasaulis through their personal goals and objectives. Currently she is working in Sri Lanka and shares her personal experiences of living in a different šalis and culture.

Explain your current assignment in Sri Lanka

I’m here for a 1-year internship through AIESEC, which is the largest student organization in the world, offering internships for students and recent graduates. I currently work as a marketing executive at a Sri Lanka-based international software development company.

Besides that, I’m trying to engage in some volunteering activities here in Sri Lanka. Recently I had a chance to help in organizing Colombo Beach Clean Up and I hope we will have more projects like that in the future.

What were your first impressions of Sri Lanka, the city of Colombo and did you have culture shock?

I was very excited about all the new experiences – different side traffic, taking a three-wheeler, spicy Sri Lankan food, eating with hands… The people seemed to be really warm and helpful and after 4 months spent here, I must say it is true.

I didn’t like Colombo much from the first sight though – too much traffic, not enough greenery… Later I experienced the better side of the city and I enjoy living here now. Anyway, Sri Lanka is a lot more than Colombo, you have to get away from the city to experience the real beauty of the island. I was really amazed how green Sri Lanka is when I went to my first trip.

Talking about the cultural shock, I think the most difficult thing was to get used to the fact that everyone can easily see I’m a foreigner as female foreigners get really a lot of attention here. Most of the time people are just being friendly but I still find all those “Hello”, “How are you?”, “Where are you going?” from strangers on a street quite disturbing, especially when I’m walking alone in evening.

beachcleanup Did you have any problem communicating with people?

At first I couldn’t understand the English accent of some Sri Lankans. My colleagues must have thought my English is really poor as I asked to repeat the same things over and over again… and sometimes I still couldn’t get it!

Anyway, now it’s much easier, since I got used to Sri Lankan way of speaking and common expressions. I wish I could speak Sinhala which is the main language in the country though. Most of the people that I interact with can speak English very well but I believe it is important to know the local language for better integration into the local community. However, I find Sinhala quite difficult to learn and I should allocate some more time for studying it if I want to improve my skills. I can currently speak only very basic Sinhala, so my friends are really happy whenever I learn some new words (smiles).

What’s the biggest difference between Lithuania and Sri Lanka, besides the weather and the language?

The cultures are very different. I would say that Sri Lankan culture was formed under the influence of different religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Even though the majority (more than 70%) Sri Lankans are Buddhists, other religions also play a significant role and form traditions.

Lithuania might be considered as a rather conservative country in Europe but for us it might be difficult to understand some taboos that exist in Sri Lanka. For example, kissing and, even more, hugging in public is not appropriate here. Therefore, Sri Lankan couples hide themselves from the eyes of strangers under umbrellas – let it be rainy or sunny day.

friendphoto How did you prepare for your trip? Did you just go buy a plane ticket or you prepared beforehand?

I was preparing for this trip for 10 years or so… Just kidding (smiles) Actually, some time back I had a Sri Lankan pen pal (we still keep in touch) and she told me so many things about her country that I always wanted to visit it and I was sure I will do it one day. Of course, I didn’t expect it to be a 1-year-long stay but when I received this internship opportunity, I didn’t hesitate for long.

Since I already had an understanding about the country, the preparation for the trip didn’t take long. Most of the legal issues, like obtaining Sri Lankan visa, as well as accommodation were handled by AIESEC but I still needed to arrange some documentation, obtain health insurance, buy some souvenirs to represent my country and, of course, say good-bye to my family and friends since I will not see them for 1 year (smiles)

When you live in another country, one often has good and bad experiences. What was your best and worst experience?

My best experience so far was an international youth conference that I have attended after my 3 weeks of stay in Sri Lanka. It was such a positive thing; I’ve met so many active young people from all over the country and overseas. Other interns who couldn’t attend the conference must have felt quite jealous as me and my Polish flatmate went on and on how fun it was.

Talking about the worst experience, once my flatmates and me got late to pay the bills for our apartment and the landlord placed a locker on our gate only allowing us to leave the house once we pay him the money. I think that was quite rude and insulting since he could have simply reminded us about the payment before taking such methods. Anyway, we had a conversation with our landlord and things seem to be sorted out for now.

Sri Lanka’s lengthy and bloody civil war ended in May 2009, how do you observe the healing process and reconciliation happening?

Based in Colombo, I rarely encounter with the outcomes of the civil war since the northern part of the country was affected the most. I haven’t been to that areas yet. Neither did most of the young Sri Lankans that I know. For years, the north of Sri Lanka was quite isolated from the rest of the country because of the war operations that were happening there. Only these days people start to discover the northern area and get familiar with the situation there by themselves.

As far as I know, there are different projects being done in order to help the people who were affected by the war. Various NGOs work towards that but the healing process after the 30-year-long civil war will take time. Anyway, in my opinion, Sri Lanka is recovering and moving forward very fast.

Unawatuna-beach-389x291 What can Lithuania learn from Sri Lanka and vice versa?
I believe that Sri Lankans could teach us how to live the moment and enjoy our lives more. Similarly like in Southern Europe, people in Sri Lanka tend to be more relaxed. Walk slowly, take time to enjoy their meals. Dance when they get a chance.

Talking about the things that Sri Lanka could learn from Lithuania, I would say that Sri Lankans should put more effort to preserve Sinhala and Tamil languages. At the moment well-educated Sri Lankans and youngsters tend to use a lot of English words in their daily language. It is really sad that most of the nicest phrases and expressions are told in English and not in Sinhala or Tamil. Also, most of the people who study in English have difficulties in writing in Sinhala as they rarely use the written language.

Do you think this experience is making you more mature? Do you feel that you are changing your cultural outlook?

Of course, every experience of this kind makes you more mature since you have to step out of your comfort zone and adapt to new living conditions and lifestyles. Most of us grow up with certain stereotypes about different countries and regions while living abroad helps you to get rid of these stereotypes. Living and working in Sri Lanka really broadens my mind and helps me better understand people from different backgrounds.

Source: This article was taken from a Lithuanian newspaper. For the purpose of authentication and originality, most of the writing is amended except the interview section.

Local Language Terms (Lithuanian):

  • pasaulis: world
  • šalis: country

At a glance:

  • Sri Lanka country familiarity: three wheeler vehicles, spicy food, hand eating, walk slowly, relaxed approach to life, take time in eating their meals, beautiful islands, Sri Lankan English accent, Buddhism, Sinhala language
  • Locals might find kissing and hugging in public inappropriate
    • DID YOU KNOW?

      Sri Lanka is the world’s largest tea exporter!

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According to Eleanor Goold’s experience (as an English expat), Hungarian people like to be direct and straightforward when it comes to asking questions. This can be anything from age, marital status and even how much you earn for a living!

imagesCA2I6RRJ If you are a woman from other countries especially from UK, it might sound a bit awkward, inappropriate or indecent if someone asks you questions regarding personal affairs. However that’s what you call culture shock when living in a foreign soil.

Besides it’s the Hungarian Language that lend itself asking such direct kérdések. For instance, in England if someone says “How are you?” they might not often mean it but just a casual way of starting a conversation. On the other hand if the other person is having a really bad day the polite response would be ‘not too bad’. However in Hungary it’s purely literal and Hungarian people tend to be very open and frank when it comes to expressing their personal affairs.

Local Language Terms (Hungarian):

  • kérdések: questions
  • kérdés: question

At a glance:

Hungarian people’s openness and honesty

DID YOU KNOW?

Hungarians are also known as Magyars!

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The temperature might be reaching as low as -11 degrees but for some Swedes thats still not cold enough! as over 100 Stockholmers ignored the below-freezing temperatures on Sunday and bared their legs on the city’s subway system.

27095_755_502 The strange outfit was part of the annual event participation known as the ‘No Pants Subway Ride’ which is celebrated in approximately 60 cities worldwide. The organizers, however, has strict guidelines for the participants who are not allowed to go ‘completely nude’ so as to ease the minds of other commuters.

Jarra, one of the organizers, thinks events such as these are “always good for a laugh” and creates happiness and buzz among människor which is the “most important thing.”

Do you agree with Jarra? Let me know your views?

Local Language Terms (Swedish):

  • människor: people

At a glance:

If you think life is too dull then ‘No Pants Subway Ride’ will make you think otherwise

DID YOU KNOW?

The idea of ‘No Pants Subway Ride’ was founded by a comedic performance art group based in New York City called Improv Everywhere!