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Calaveras and Marigolds: Celebrating Dia de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos, the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ holiday is celebrated annually from October 31st to November 2nd. During the 3-day-long festivities, family members celebrate loved ones who have passed away by bringing sugar skulls (Calaveras), marigolds as well as photographs to decorate family members’ graves with. Marigolds are used in these rituals …


FIFA: Bridging Cultures and Uniting People

In less than one month, Brazil will be hosting the World Cup.  Much has been in the news regarding the event and the internal tensions it has created in Brazil.  With so much stress and negative media attention, why would a country want to host the competition?  Why is it so important? Football, also known …


Why Do We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, a festive celebration held in many regions around the globe.  Mistaken by many outside of Mexico to be Mexico’s Independence Day, it is actually a day to commemorate the military victory at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 (an underdog’s story of a people’s struggle to remain independent).  …


“C’est la vie” in France

Living and traveling in a country offer two completely different experiences. No doubt that’s why the French, who live in one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, are more likely to thoroughly explore their own country before setting foot into another. This doesn’t mean that the French don’t appreciate other cultures. On …


L’Italiano Una Bella Lingua!

“Bravo”, “ciao”, “arrivederci” you don’t have to be in Italy to understand what someone is saying to you. These are all words most of us not only understand but possibly even use in conversation.


Norway: Land of the Midnight Sun

Norway is a small country of 4.5 million people in northern Europe. This stunning country has a lot to offer: Vikings, Leif Eirikson who first discovered America, the Nobel Peace Prize, Henrik Ibsen, and Edvard Munch among others. Nevertheless, what makes Norway so extraordinary is its beautiful and unique nature, which has shaped Norwegian life …


Being Colombian is an Act of Faith

by Jorge Luis Borges, writer. From a very early age, we are taught in school that Colombia occupies the premium corner of the South American continent: coasts in both oceans, a breathtaking piece of the Andes, magnificent extensions of rainforest, deserts, valleys….name practically any topographical miracle: it exists. As with all self evident truths, we …


India: The Land of Mystery and Diversity

India is a fascinating country. It is home to thousand year old ornately sculptured temples, the world famous Taj Mahal, modern skyscrapers, and prevalent slums. It is framed by the daunting Himalaya’s in the north, the Arabian Sea and Pakistan in the west and the Bay of Bengal and Bangladesh in the east. The southern tip …


Talking Politics, British Style

So closely tied in history and philosophy, so interwoven culturally, and of course, “divided by a common language” (to borrow from George Bernard Shaw), one can too quickly overlook the differences between the UK and the USA. This runs in spades when it comes to politics. Differences in the nature of government and in how …


The Past Lives on in Belgium

Belgium. This small country offers an abundance of delights for any visitor through its culture, food, architecture, languages, and history. Arriving in Brussels on my annual trip home, I am immediately taken back to fond memories of my youth. I am humbled to think that as a child I ran through the cobblestone streets of what …


Portugal: A European Treasure

Everyone has heard of Portugal, yet it is not the most popular of vacation getaways. Who are the Portuguese, and what is their country about?


Chinese Weddings: The History Behind Them

China is a fascinating place where East meets West. No place is this more apparent than in Shanghai, a bustling center of commerce in the east. The architecture of Shanghai’s waterfront bund district is more reminiscent of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue than of an oriental city. However, in other areas, Shanghai has preserved the traditional flavor in …

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