What Don’t We Know About Where You’re From?

DT7 - Where You're FromThanks to Jenna M. from Provo, Utah for this week’s topic:

There are people here from every non-North Korea country in the world. So tell us about the city, state, or country where you live or grew up. What are some things we might not know? What are the best and worst things about it? Common misconceptions? What should a visitor do that they won’t learn about in guidebooks?

Tim’s Answer: I’ve lived in New York for the last five years. It’s the best and the worst ever. I’ll save general New York thoughts for a future post, but some advice to visitors:

  • It’s a great walking city. If the weather’s decent, a good day plan is to just start walking in no particular direction and to go slowly and notice details. There are so many details in New York—it’s like a concentrated 300-year collage made by humans from every possible country and culture. In Manhattan, it’s hard to find one block without something interesting on it.
  • For longer trips or bad weather, get a metro card and subway map and just figure it out, you’ll save like $150. Plus something weird happens on 20% of the rides.
  • If you want to make a little field trip, go to the pizza restaurant Di Fara in Midwood, Brooklyn. The same guy has been making pizzas there for 40 years—he’s the Jiro of pizza. Of course, they’re outrageously good. Here’s one I got last year and the dude making it.

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  • If it’s your first time, know that there’s nothing at all dangerous or scary about New York. If you walk around a not-great neighborhood at 2am alone, something bad could happen, which is true of every city in the world. But in my experience, it’s a completely safe city.
  • Times Square is a hilarious cartoon-version of New York. It has nothing to do with the actual city.
  • Realize that when your friend’s apartment is the size of your fingernail, it’s not because they’ve fallen on bad times.

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  • Dan B

    So I live here in the Washington, DC area – there’s lots too do here and you can really just read about that anywhere. But I actually live just north of downtown in Silver Spring Maryland – just over the border. Silver Spring is named after…wait for it…a spring, which you can actually still see and find downtown. It’s a little sad to see because it was once this beautiful spring (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Spring,_Maryland) that people came from all over to bath in, drink from etc. It used to be a “rest and relaxation” type of retreat. Now, its just sort of barred up and sitting there in Acorn Park (weird ass name) across the street from a shitty Papa Johns.

    Also, the Discovery Channel is here and you can go poke around in the lobby at the different displays they have. During Shark Week they turn their entire building int a giant shark by hanging an inflatable head, tail and fins from the roof (Google it dudes). Silver Spring also hosts the largest Ethiopian population outside of the country itself. This leads to really busy Sundays as folks file out of church, talk, mill about with their families and, more importantly for me, absolutely incredible food that is served with as much love and care as you’d find anywhere.

    All in all, it’s a pretty awesome place to live, its close to downtown DC and beer is relatively cheap.

    • Yelena Key

      Oh man, I was hoping/expecting someone to make a post here about Washington DC, but I didn’t expect someone hitting more closer to home than mentioning North of Downtown Silver Spring! Well neighbor, you summed up a great description and I only have 3 words to add: Quarry House Tavern.

      I’m sure you’re in the know, but for others, it’s a bar with no windows, no TV’s, but this basement has been serving alcohol since the 1930’s and their beer selection is reason enough to go. 🙂

  • izzynobre

    I’m Brazilian.

    A lot of people don’t know we speak Portuguese (Spanish is a reasonable guess, considering it’s the language of basically all of Latin American), or that electronics are so insanely expensive down there as to have become bonafide status symbols — iPhones or PlayStation 4’s are staples of rich people, for instance.

    Tim’s article about Nigeria hit home for me because like Nigeria, Brazil is plagued by a lot of socioeconomical issues, yet Brazilians are generally pretty happy people. Also if I remember my statistics the country is like, 98% Christian, which when you think about it is kind of eerie.

    • Augusto

      I’m not sure if it’s something that is actually happening or the people i know, but i have been noticing that the people around me (not particularly rich people) have been buying these things to the point where an iphone is no longer a status symbol. Maybe people just stopped giving a shit about saving money or something. Like i said, maybe my perception in this is bad, but i see teens being raised by single moms walking around with iphones, buying new consoles, 4 year olds getting tablets from their parents, this kind of thing that was outrageous a few years ago.

      Also, the 2010 census found that 8% of people had no religion and 2% believed in spiritism (mostly Kardecism i think).

      I think things have been changing a bit since you moved to Canada. It does seems like things will get a bit worse again, however.
      I also think i should note that i’m not from the northeast, things are surely not quite like this there, but i also am not from the south or São Paulo. I’m from Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais.

      By the way, i really like your blog.

    • felipezavan

      Izzy, que bom te ver aqui, acompanho seu blog/canal 🙂

      Izzy, good to see you here, I follow your blog/youtube channel 🙂

      I’m from São Paulo.
      And I’m an atheist. Oh, how lovelly it is to be an atheist in Brazil…

      • Camila

        Especially if you live in Minas Gerais… people here are soooo narrow-minded 🙁

    • Camila

      Off-topic: people in Brazil have been making money by RENTING iphones… insane!

    • Marcus

      Izzy? Great to see you here man.

      Everybody should read this guys blog, although it’s written in Portuguese (using google translate should not be a issue), it’s a great source of knowledge about Brazil.

  • Anas

    I’m from UAE (wehere Dubai is). I ride camels to school.

    • Katharina

      That sounds really interesting. Could you tell us more? Do you have to cross the desert to get to school?

    • jfenbauer

      no way. REALLY?

  • Another Brazilian here. I’ve lived in Sao Paulo for the last 6 years. I guess nobody knows that in Brazil we have 2 types of Polices: one is called the Civil Police and the other was created during the dictatorship and is called Militar Police. It’s a little like division of labor: the Militar arrests and confronts criminals (in a very violent way), the Civil takes care of the investigation.

    The only problem…
    They don’t like and don’t talk a lot with each other.

    The result?
    Only 8% of the homicides in Brazil are investigated.

    When we are talking about a Country that has 16 of the 50 most violent cities in the world (3 in the top 10), I think that is a big issue…

    When, in this years presidential elections, no candidate proposed a more efficient criminal approach (like drug decriminalization or the merger of the 2 polices), I guess we don’t have a good looking future ahead.

    But, hey, everybody in the world likes us, right? Come down here to the Olympics!!

  • Gabroldean

    I live in Boulder, CO, but I don’t want to tell everyone how amazing this place is because then you’ll all move here 😉

    In all seriousness though, I would tell someone visiting here to hike at Chautauqua or in Rocky Mountain National Park, go see live music at the Boulder Theater, The Fox or The Gold Hill Inn, hit up the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, go on a brewery tour and try some of the abundant and delicious craft beer around town, and try to make it to one of the small, quaint bordering mountain towns like Nederland or Jamestown if time permits.

    Also, all the people who live here really do wear flannels and rock climb all the time.

    • roger_orange

      As a secular Buddhist with contrarian tendencies, I secretly dream of Boulder but fear it might be too much of a good thing.

      • G

        There’s a really great Buddhist, spiritual community here. Tons of places to meditate, retreat and do yoga!

    • Melissa Eldridge

      I lived in Denver for 5 years and would visit Boulder on occasion…as a New Englander I thought (at the time) that the people in Boylder were too hippy-dippy for my tastes, but I’ve relaxed as I’ve gotten older…I think I would love it now

  • sabs546

    I live in Blackburn England
    what I like to think of as the least interesting place in the world
    It’s not all bad but it’s not that good either

    the good point of this rather large-ish town but not yet a city place is that the entire thing is built on a hill this isn’t as bad as it sounds, you’ll eventually get sort of used to it and at the top you can see the sea in blackpool (not many people notice and not many people know where the top is and they mistake it for the castle (I think) at the top of corporation park which is also cool) but it goes higher up than that
    the view from there is pretty damn nice and I got a good panorama of it.
    also it’s fairly eventful, a few fires, a terrorist once, and some other stuff (not good stuff but nonetheless it’s more interesting than your daily life)
    for some reason all the whites life on once side of the town and the miscellaneous people on the other which made us come on tv once because it looked like some kinda feud was happening but honestly there’s nothing, everyone is fairly nice and the town is racially split because… well not sure it just ended up that way nobody hates anyone
    colleges, primary schools and nurserys are ok

    the bad points (are sort of in the good points)
    not many interesting things happen, it’s a town so it’s not like london or manchester so you wont see us on the news often
    there’s nowhere to go when your bored as far as I can recall
    theres a fair evey once in a while, town (or the mall) coporation park aand yeah but in the distance theres a looooooot of fields which are alright to look at (the towns got a lot of greenery for some reason)
    people barely know about it and were constantly confused with blackbpool
    to get the weather from bbc news we have to look at out neighbours manchester because were not a city
    a lot of the high schools suck unlike all the other forms of education and theres only the one town university (which is actually a good one but people think less of it because of the town it’s in and the fact that it’s £2000 cheaper than the other ones

  • Carlos Schults

    Another one from Brazil.

    I think another common misconception is the notion that every brazilian loooves soccer.

    Even though soccer IS insanely popular here – to the point that people will think you’re a little bit weird if you don’t root for any team, especially if you’re a man – it’s becoming increasingly common not to give a shit about the sport.

    • felipezavan

      I’m brazilian (from São Paulo), and I don’t care about soccer too.

    • Camila

      I’m also brazilian but haven’t seen this increasing disregard for soccer. In fact, people around me seem to be more and more addicted to it. I think it’s ok if you like sports and feel like following a team or something like that, but I really hate those people who seem to be soccer-driven. The ones who are always late for work but would spend two or three days in line for buying a USD100 ticket. 😛

  • L

    Singaporean here.

    1. We’re really small. If you think you’ve lost your way, go to the nearest bus stop, take a bus all the way to the MRT (train) interchange and figure your way out. It’s (pretty much) impossible to get lost.

    2. Places like Sentosa, Orchard Road and Marina Bay Sands (that infinity pool thing people are obsessed with taking photos at) are very touristy and honestly, the shopping is dead boring, unless you’re into seeing the same brand stores in mall after mall. Look up temples, visit the zoo (which is pretty good, to be honest), run in MacRitchie Resrvoir. I may be cynical here, but there’s nothing much to do.

    3. Eat at a hawker centre. Just know that if there’s a packet of tissue or an umbrella or SOMETHING on the table, it’s been ‘choped’ (i.e. reserved).

    4. Food, especially at a hawker centre, is good and cheap. Again, eat at a hawker centre.

    5. It is hot and humid all year round. Yes, it gets rainy toward November-February, with lots of thunderstorms, but hell, the rain’s welcomed. DRESS APPROPRIATELY. Don’t come in a sweater and leggings. Grab that t-shirt you never wear and bermudas/shorts. A hat and sunglasses WILL make you look ultra-touristy though.

    6. We’re not the friendliest people, but treat us nicely and we’ll treat you nicely too.

    7. The Singaporean accent may sound a little weird and very sing-song. This is due to a combination of ‘borrowing’ words from everywhere: Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and the various Chinese dialects. (We have creative swear words that you can’t understand, promise.)

    8. Oh, and gum isn’t sold here.

    • Tela

      what would happen if you got caught chewing gum?

      what would happen if you got caught…spitting it out on the ground?!

      • R

        You would be fined – we jokingly call Singapore a fine city because of its many fines.

      • Lydia

        You can chew chewing gum, but you just have to dispose of it properly. It’s not sold in the country though. If you get caught spitting it on the ground you get fined, yeah

  • Claudia

    I’m Colombian but I moved to Swaziland 6 years ago. Nope, not Switzerland. Swaziland is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world and is a tiny landlocked country between South Africa and Mozambique. The king has 15 wives. No Ebola here (despite of the fact that I love in Africa, a huge continent). It’s a green beautiful mountainous country and when I go for walks I see bucks and monkeys 🙂

    • jfenbauer

      i’ve always found it amazing that many people in the US sort just assume Africa is a ‘country’! craziness. one could fit China, USA and several other large counties inside the continent. stupid map, makes it look a lot smaller than it is. Eastern Africa has always been on my list of places i would love to see, from Ethiopia down through Mozambique. but now i should add Swaziland, eh?

    • AllisonErin

      Swaziland! Wow, I am surprised to see someone from there in the WBW forums! When I went in 2000, there was not a lot of technology around (or at least, not a lot that you could see easily). But 14 years is a long time so I’m sure there have been many changes, especially in Mbabane.
      My favourite part of Swaziland was being up in the mountains. On a clear night, you could see into the Milky Way, which was the most amazing experience. Definitely a Step 3 / Whoa moment for me which I’m sure Tim would approve of.

  • Douglas

    I used to live in South Korea for 12 years before I moved to America.
    The place is very tense but peaceful to live at the same time. The news is always shaming and blaming the government and protests against many issues are constant. The one I remember the best is the Korean and American beef trading issue in 2008, Mostly because its the first protest I actually was in. I remember people shouting and tipping buses, knocking down police man, and destroying public buildings. And then after that three years later there was a huge epidemic (I don’t know what they called it in English). There were people dying in the same town with the disease and survival was a constant issue and since Korea is such a crowded place in some areas which I lived in, sitting in the subway with a major epidemic spreading was truly the most scariest experience. War is also on everyones minds because of the other side.
    How ever South Korea isn’t always a bad place to live. The peaceful rural parts of South Korea is truly in my opinion, better to live than living in a normal town in America. Theres no drama about issues with anything and its a quiet and peaceful place. There are also many pre modern Korean temples scattered all across the country which really reflects the rich history and amazing architecture the past people can build. Tourism locations are amazing too. In such a small country you will find endless places to visit even as a citizen of South Korea.

  • Aina

    I’m from Spain, and when people her Spain, they associate it with Flamenco, Paella, Sevillanas… basically all the traditions from the south and the west. But I’m actually from Asturias, which is in the north and our traditions have very little to do with all of that! Asturias is Celtic, and tha tradition is cider and bagpipe there. So we have more in common with Scottish or Irish people than with the south in terms of traditional music / traditional art. Also in terms of landscape, it’s a really beautiful underrated place: green as hell, with paradiaiac beaches (if you don’t believe me, google “beaches around Llanes”) and the mountains (picos de Europa) just half an hour drive away from the coast. It’s not very touristy at all and if you’re looking for a more genuine experience of non-touristy spain, this is the place! But don’t expect flamenco in every corner 🙂

    • unexpectedly

      I’ve traveled all over Spain and northern Spain is my favorite! I haven’t been to Asturias specifically, but Cantabria, Galicia and Pais Vasco. You can clearly see the Celtic influence, and the bagpipe thing is so true! In Santiago de Compostela (one of my all time favorite cities) we could hear the bagpipe from dawn to dusk and the buildings and streets of the old town were also built from grey stone, I felt almost like being in Scotland, even kinda Hogwarts-y. It definitely wasn’t the stereotypical Spain experience. And the nature in northern Spain! The mountains and the coast and the little villages here and there and the glorious sunsets… ahh the memories.

  • Shorus

    Well, I am from capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent. I have a feeling as if i am the only one here from this place ;). Uzbekistan is like a centre of Central Asia :).
    I believe it’s plenty of places you guys can visit here, we have a dozens of sightseeings, so some of you might heard of Samarkand, and yes, it is a city in Uzbekistan.
    Well, If you decided to visit it, I would hardly recommend you not to come at summer time, coz it’s bloody hot here at this time of year, or come If you are one of those extrimal guys :D.
    Talking about people, we are all kinda friendly here… emm… I’d say we used to be. Back when Uzbekistan was a part of USSR it was famous for its friendlyness, you could find people of any race here and all lived pretty much happy. But now I feel like young generations are spoiled (I am young myself, but I believe i am not one of them), they got much less respect toward other people especially if this stranger is someone from another nation. Yes, racism is hard with this one. Most of people living here, I’d say like 95% of them are Muslims and I wouldn’t have anything against only if it was ok. Most of them that one bad muslims who think their religion has answers on everything and anyone who is not a muslim automatically becomes kinda enemy to them, they wouldn’t even give a place to sit in a bus to some elderly person who they think is not a muslim and it sucks. Really. I hate these people and sometimes whole my country. BUT! It doesnt apply to everyone here, there still nice people with kind heart, but I hate seeing how youngsters are getting more cruel and selfish.
    I think I also should mention that being educated is not respectfull here. People would rather give some respect to overly self-confident douche with a good car, whose IQ is comparable to chikens IQ than to one with a high education. Being scientists sucks over here. NO ONE EVER wants to be scientists here and its damn sad! People associate scientists here with that guys in glasses with white smock and think have no respect towards them like at all. Maybe because you hardly can find any of them. Its not that dream job here. It is not mainstream. Well, i am not saying being scientists is the only good profession to choose, but i hate this lack of intelligent people to talk to.
    I am really sorry for bad english and this kinda rage and flame towards my home country I really didnt want to come with it, but its sad truth and I think you guys are the ones who should know this.

    • AllisonErin

      Shorus, that was really interesting, thank you! Your English is not too bad at all 🙂

  • fred

    I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. A few arb things about the city – although there are loads of pedestrians, there are almost no sidewalks anywhere, which makes it an interesting exercise to walk a stroller or doing a morning run while dodging cars. Joburg is known for its wealth disparity – I recently heard that the Maserati dealership selling the most vehicles globally is the one in Sandton, Johannesburg. Not sure if this is true, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it is.

    • Thea

      this is interesting. I was considering appying for an exchange in Bloemfontein… do you know anything about the place? would you recommed it?

      • Wim K

        Bloemfontein is VERY different to Joburg. It’s a much smaller city, and much more Afrikaans – which tends to mean slower paced and more conservative. It’s a beautiful city though, and the people are friendly and accessible. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and it’s known as South Africa’s “boring” city, but there’s a growing youth scene there, especially since the growth of the University of the Free State.

        Source: I’m a Capetonian who’s visited a few times.

        • Thea

          thanks! 🙂

  • Sisse Mølgaard Poulsen

    So I live in Denmark. People seem to think we are so very happy here. Which is true, but you really can’t tell since our facial expressions in public are very hard to read as something else than kind of angry. A lot of foreigners/tourists have claimed us to be hard to get to know and not very openminded. This is kind of true, but then again not really. The secret is courage from you guys, really. Talk to me on the bus, please. Give me a smile and a compliment and I will most likely be your new best friend and invite you to a bunch of Danish stuff. This is true.

    • Katharina

      That’s interesting that you say that. Because I have had this experience. I moved to Denmark 2 years ago (from Germany), I haven’t really made any danish friends. I always thought it was because I didn’t speak Danish well enough…

      • Sisse Mølgaard Poulsen

        If you speak English (or even German), we would be able to talk to you. You don’t need to speak Danish well (since it is so very difficult!), and most of us speak English (and a lot of us understand German to some extent). I teach both English and German, so I would be able to friend you though 😉 But if you have some specific Danish-related questions, please do not hesitate to ask me!

  • Russell Scott Wollman

    Right now I live in my birthplace, Raleigh, NC. It was a pretty sweet small city for a long time after my birth in 1953. In the middle 1960s it began to boom and hasn’t stopped since then. It spread ‘way out, which meant traffic, more traffic, and now, killer traffic. Everyone’s in a car, except for the handful of people on gigantic buses…

    Which brings me to New York, which has to be one of the top cities on the planet. I visited a couple of times recently. I had a blast there simply because of the multitude of people of all kinds there. I love that people are so accessible there. I talked to people on the train, on the bus, on the subway, and on the sidewalk. Nearly all were really friendly and open, helpful and easy to talk to. The energy in NY is powerful, infectious. The food is good almost everywhere. Just seeing the city and all its diversity is fodder for the soul. NY is a beautiful place, all of it, with its chaos and excitement, its parks large and small, and the feeling I had inside was that I could do anything there. I could be independent and connected. Anything goes there. Creativity blossoms there.

    I felt invigorated even when I walked alone. And I also felt an interesting humility, which arose from being among so many people: I felt that I was simply another human on this earth, making my way as does everyone, which was a welcome antidote to my sometimes overinflated ego.

    That’s what being alone does to me. My mind goes off and away into completely ludicrous thoughts as I try without much success to keep myself entertained.

    I would never consider living in a large city without mass transit. If you can’t see the people you live among and have the chance to talk to them as I did in NY, there’s no reason to live there.

    I should move there…

  • d

    Bit confused- do we write about where we are From or where we are At?
    I live in Cambridge, UK. It’s the one with the University in it. Yes, there is another one. The US one (Cambridge, MA), also has a university but is non-confusingly called something different.

    Anyhow, this particular Cambridge is an adorable tiny little town with weird mixtures of University and Town and Science Parks. It’s also nestled in the centre of a very rural area with large fields stretching as far as eye can see. A lot of them are oil seed rape which is bright yellow when in flower and gives everyone hayfever.

    Visitors may not realise how old fashioned and just plain old things can be over here. A lot of the University departments and old colleges still have old wooden furniture and dining halls with super uncomfortable wooden benches. People from the US in particular seem to suffer from severe culture shock when they first visit, but other countries too. Sometimes, you will win a super prestigious fellowship to arrive here and realise you have to share an office with 10 other people including students and are given a foot square of space for your things, if you are lucky. Plus everyone considers you a bit of a nuisance for not knowing the local ways.

    Everyone cycles in Cambridge and cycling and footpaths are consistently a gray area and a huge bone of contention. Visitors don’t realise they have to look both right and left the whole time because cyclist are often allowed to go the wrong way (and fast) down the one way street. Oh yes, lest I forget – there are so many one way streets, it’s incredibly easy to get lost and stay lost if you drive.

    On the plus side, you can walk across the whole town in about an hour or so.

    I don’t know that there is anything interesting to do here that’s not already in the guidebooks, but if you come, you should definitely do one of the official University tours, the guides are mostly well informed and tell very interesting stories you wouldn’t easily hear elsewhere. And if you get the chance to be invited to a college dinner – accept, dress smartly, and enjoy the port.

    • Colleen McKinnon

      Everything I know about Cambridge UK, I learned from the BBC series Inspector Lewis. Lol.

      • Jack

        Lewis is set in Oxford

    • bupster

      When I first came to Cambridge as a student, the biggest shock was the fact that you don’t get a timetable – you go and buy a Lecture List from a tobacconist and work out where you’re meant to be from there. Except that there isn’t a map. I think it’s like a final filter – if you’re not bright enough to work out where you’re meant to be you shouldn’t be there. I’ve now lived here 15 years and am quite used to referring on a daily basis to places that are literally on no maps, anywhere. And it’s still a recurring surprise to realise quite how old things are – I showed a group around a few weeks ago and realised that the church I was pointing to was a thousand years old.

      Cambridge has endless discoveries to make. There’s a story behind everything and most of it isn’t obvious. I’d disagree with the above correspondent – if cyclists are allowed to go down a street, it’s not one-way, so look around you; cars are not the main means of transport and if you keep thinking like you’re in a car-based city you’re going to hurt yourself. There’s no real reason to have a car in Cambridge to be honest; I don’t drive and do everything including my weekly shopping by bicycle. But I do agree that if you get invited to a Formal Hall (a college dinner) you should go. It’s wonderful. I also recommend sung Evensong in any college chapel; it’s an experience you won’t ever forget.

  • Katharina

    I’m from Germany but I have been living in Copenhagen, Denmark for the last 2 years. Here are some interesting fact you might not know:
    – Danes are very good at speaking English. And I mean everyone, even people 70+ years old
    – The bike is one of the most popular means of transportation in Copenhagen. There are more bikes than people in the city and the infrastructure is very well designed for bikes (there are bike lanes and even traffic lights just for bikes). And people also bike all year, in all kinds of weather. There is a saying here that “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”
    – The work-life balance here is great. Most people leave the office around 4 or 5 pm and that is considered normal. Also Danes appreciate flat hierarchies and believe that everyone should be treated equally, even if one person is the boss. This creates a very relaxed working atmosphere.
    -Denmark (as most of the other Scandinavian countries) has a rather high gender-equality-rate. And this can even be observed on the streets, as fathers take care of children as much as women. It is common to see fathers pushing strollers or even bringing their kids to work from time to time.

    • Brian

      Would you say that Denmark is a better place to live than Germany?

      • Katharina

        That is a really tough one to answer. It depends on so many different factors. Personally I plan to go back to Germany, just because it is my home country and people there speak my native language and I will most likely have better chances at finding a job (I’m finishing my Masters degree right now). I also miss the shopping experience in Germany, since Denmark has a very limited brand selection and of course a different assortment of groceries.
        But if you can find a job in Denmark and make some effort learning the language, it is a very nice country to live in. Yes, there are high taxes but you also get a great wellfare system for it. In general, the standard of living is quite high.
        To sum it up, it probably depends a lot on your circumstances, which country would be a better place to live… Hope I could help you out

        • AllisonErin

          Is it necessary to speak Danish to get a job in Denmark? Or can you get a job with English, and then learn Danish after you’re there?

          • Katharina

            Once again, this is not so easy to answer. It depends a lot on your educational background and the type of work you are looking for. There are a few international companies such as Microsoft, Novo Nordisk etc where the company language is English. If you are lucky enough to get a position there, you would only need to learn Danish for everyday life. But any jobs that require you to deal with Danish customers or even something in Marketing Communications would be difficult to get. Also in most Danish companies, communications (emails, meetings..) in the office will be in Danish (this might depend on the company of course). I’m not saying it’s impossible to find a job without speaking Danish, but if you are seriously thinking about coming to Denmark, I would recommend to learn Danish first. At least the basics. The nice thing about Denmark is, once you get here and register with the authorities, you will get 3 years of Danish classes paid by the state.

            • AllisonErin

              Thanks so much for your detailed reply! I think for 2015 my goal will be to learn basic Danish 🙂

    • Thea

      I’m half Dutch and this sounds quite like the Netherlands too. It’s funny cause a lot of people I know keep comparing the Netherlands to Denmark as if they feel there’s not a big difference, and I never really got why they kept doing it. Maybe now I see why 🙂

  • Elisabeth

    I grew up in Houston, Texas. You might not know that it’s the 4th largest city in the US, is a wonderful city for the arts, and is one of the best and most visited medical cities in the world. It also has an amazing selection of restaurants and foods from all over the world. The bad: 1.) It’s very very industrial and polluted and 2.) It really only has two seasons – hot and humid as hell or cool and gray (but you could say Hurricane Season is a third). If you visit, you should go to an art museum like the Menil or rent a kayak and paddle the bayous with the alligators and spectacular birds!

    • jfenbauer

      i’ve heard about your museums and would love to get there some time.

  • airtrafficamanda

    I was born and raised in Seattle, moved away for a few years, and recently came back. The reputation of Seattle is true, everyone is very friendly: you’ll always be greeted with a smile, people hold open doors for you, and road rage is often internalized – in other words, we’ll cuss you out inside our car, but we won’t really bother to honk at you or flip you off.

    But what some people don’t know about Seattle is what we call the Seattle Freeze: people are very nice, but only on the surface level. New to the city and want to go out for a few drinks? Good luck talking to anyone at the bar. Going to the gym and need a workout buddy? Everyone has their headphones on. Trying to make small talk in line for some coffee? It’ll happen, but you’ll never see that person again.

    Everyone in Seattle seems to be very set in their ways, and unless you’re in school, people won’t go out of their way to introduce new people into their lives. Even as a Seattle native I’m experiencing the Seattle Freeze. When the friends you grew up with in school go on to pursue different careers and spend all of their time with their SOs, it’s hard to break through the surface again.

    Coffee and beer are great here, though.

  • roger_orange

    Western North Carolina: Too pretty to be considered a complete shithole, but the area east of Asheville has almost nothing going for it but meth and unemployment.

    Los Angeles: 96% of the population has nothing to do with the entertainment industry.

  • Eiron

    Belgium

    Not too many people know where or what Belgium exactly is, especially in America 🙂

    Well, Belgium is not some kind of beer company or a city somewhere in Europe. We are a very small country with only 11 million people. We sure love good beer, fries and chocolate but that is a bit too much of a stereotype for the average Belgian.

    We have 3 official languages and the country is divided in three parts:

    – A Flemish part, very similar to Dutch, like British / Australian accents are. Here live the most people.
    – French part, this is a bit faded glory. It’s like everybody is poor over there. Also here is most of the real nature.
    – German part, we got this from Germany after WWII as a ‘Sorry’. A small part no-one really cares about.

    This is also why we learn 3 – 4 languages at school. (English and own language included) Of course, this also is the reason why we don’t really have a (decent) government. Although this actually doesn’t affect our daily lifes at all.

    From a social perspective, the 15% immigrants in the whole country are probably 80% of the people in the ‘big’ cities. Most Belgians live in small towns and villages of pop ~10k with only 3% foreigners.

    Once your in Belgium, you’ll notice immediately how anti-social many people are. Saying ‘Hello’ to random people is NOT OK. Sitting next to a stranger on the same bench in a park is also NOT OK. Heck, if there is a bench further away than the next one go for it. In a store the only person you might ever talk to is the cashier and even that will be limited to a simple cash or credit. I could go on and on, but simply, we don’t have too many spontane conversations and we won’t do anything that is not socially acceptable. People care a little too much about others and personal status.

    Not too many people here are still religious, at least for the native Belgians. There is not much interesting to do here, we don’t even have a national sport. On the bright side we are a kinda rich country and most of us live in pretty decent houses.

    Living in Belgium is OK, but I see that many other countries have a way more open mentality.

    • Laura

      Oh I lived in Belgium for a bit and I found everyone to be quite friendly! Then again, I lived in a small university town (Louvain-la-Neuve) so maybe that was just the one town. Then again, I live in France now and maybe it’s just by comparison that I found Belgians to be friendly! 🙂

      • Eiron

        Indeed, France is worse. I’ve tried talking to people in Paris and people just straight ignore you or wave you away. Maybe that’s just because that was the big city.

    • Aina

      I’ve been living in Belgium most of my life, and quite frankly I have a TOTALLY different experience. Maybe it’s related to where you live? (where do you live?). I live in Brussels and I find people very open minded here. I’ve had tons of chats with strangers in buses, trams, benches, at the supermarket… to quantify, it’s rare that a day goes by without a couple of positive interactions. and I can go weeks without a negative one. And Brussels isn’t even the friendliest place in Belgium. Every time I go to Liège for example I just have the feeling everyone’s my friend there, they’re so lovely! (btw, not everyone is poor in the french speaking side, it’s not ven a stereotype, where did you get that idea??) All in all, I think neither of us can generalise our experience of a city or town to the whole country, because its degree of variation is way too large.

  • R

    From Singapore – it’s a tiny city in Southeast Asia (SEA), right off the point of Malaysia on a world map (you may need a magnifying glass to find us since we’re so small)

    1. We are geographically NOT in China – we are in SEA
    2. We are a food haven – but look in the unconventional areas, we have good food at affordable prices
    3. We are a “kiasu” (afraid of losing) bunch of people.
    4. We speak Singlish – English with various other languages like Malay, Chinese, Hokkien etc mixed into it, it’s all part of our multiracial culture.
    5. For things off the beaten path, I suggest you visit the museums and reservoirs around Singapore. We have a 24 hour shopping centre too, it’s called Mustafa and worth a visit.
    6. If possible, visit our offshore islands – I recommend biking at Pulau Ubin and going to see Chek Jawa.

    • I keep hearing the Night Safari is absolutely amazing. Is that true, or just a tourist thing?

      • Lydia

        Hmmm well it’s a pretty great place! You should visit Night Safari if you come to Singapore

    • R

      Also, as a fun fact – Singapore remains the only country to be forcefully given independence. To cut a long story short, we merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak in 1963 to form Malaysia. However, problems arised and we ceased to be a state of Malaysia on 9 August 1965, gaining independence.

      • Van

        As a fellow Singaporean, just want to add another fun fact that we have an accepted practice of using tissue packets to “chope” (reserve) tables in food courts and hawker centres while we go queue for food.

  • marisheba

    I live in Portland (Oregon), the current “it” city that is easy to love, and easy to roll your eyes at.* I grew up here though (and then left for a little over a decade before returning), and this city is home for me in a way no other place can ever be.

    Here’s the thing about Portland: Are all of the hipster-craftbeer-fancycoffee-farm-to-table-artisan-twee-crunchy-hippy-fixie-riding-nakedbikeride-can’t-spit-without-hitting-an-artist-or-a-musician stereotypes true? ABSOLUTELY. But what is also true is that none of those things define living in this city, and most of those things can be easily avoided if you so desire. I want people to understand why I love Portland, which really doesn’t have to do with the stereotypes (though I do enjoy many things on the above list).

    In the end, Portland is just this cozy little river town. It’s accessible, small, well-designed and close-knit with excellent transportation options, but still big enough to be a city; people here are the most amazing mix of wildly creative and ambitious, while being relaxed and mellow. It’s a place where the predominant ethos is work-to-live, not live-to-work, and where quality of life is generally valued above quality of income. If there’s something you want to do here, and you have the educational background and energy to do it, you can probably make it happen, beginning with duct tape and twine, and moving up from there. Other places I’ve lived (such as the Bay Area) have seethed with a subtle undercurrent of intense competition and image-crafting, and despite the abundant hipster crowd, I just don’t feel that here. It’s supportive and collegial, with a whole lot of people that want to build things up.

    And it’s beautiful. We’ve got the river with its 12 bridges, the mountains, the coast an hour away, the desert 2 hours, etc. Everyone gets outdoors here, hikes, bikes, skis, rock climbs, etc., and while the winters are grey and damp, the summers are glorious.

    Of course, the other less-well-known aspect of Portland is that we have some serious equity, class, and race issues. We are chock-a-block bleeding-heart liberals, yet we don’t have our own house in order on that front. There is major income inequality here, and affordable housing crisis that has been on a slow drip for decades is suddenly ramping up like crazy. It’ll be interesting (and possibly heartbreaking) to see how Portland survives it’s transition to being an expensive city; certainly the ability to make a good life on the cheap has been one of the engines that has driven many of Portland’s wonderful attributes.

    *I think Peak Portland has already passed however, and the big hipster crush that everyone has had on Portland is on the want. For this, most of us here are grateful.

    • The Delicate Place

      Born and bred Pittsburgher here. I currently live in the heart of the city. We are the new ‘IT’ city aka the new Portland according to online trend mags/polls. My grandfather was the VP of US Steel in the 80s pre-crash of foreign dumping.

      Growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out or ‘aht’ as I’d say in my Pittsburgh accent. I moved to Hershey for a while but came back to the city in 2011 and have no intention of leaving. Pittsburgh is a blue collar town built on principle and hard work. We’re stubborn and given the rise of some top notch universities here, tech and biomedical advances have put us back on our feet after the Steel crash. We currently are in the midst of a renaissance and I am thrilled to be here during this exciting time.

      It’s one of the few cities with such a low cost of living that you can actually go out and enjoy yourself. Housing is still pretty cheap but i’d imagine that won’t last if things continue at their current pace in the next 5 years.

      • marisheba

        I know a few folks who went to college at CMU, and they LOVE Pittsburg like nobody’s business! I’ve never been, but I’ve always had a feeling I’d really like it there. Must be something about hard-working scrappy river cities 🙂 Minneapolis is another city I love–I think of it as Portland’s sister city in the midwest–maybe Pittsburg is the East Coast equivalent? 🙂

    • marisheba

      Portland funfacts:

      *Many characters in The Simpson’s are named after Portland streets (Flanders, Quimby, Lovejoy): http://media.oregonlive.com/ent_impact_tvfilm/photo/simpsonsmapjpg-82bb2a779ab96355.jpg

      *Portland has the largest inner-city wilderness park in the US (Forest Park), and the smallest city park (Mill Ends Park, 452 square inches). There’s also a dormant volcano in the city limits (Mt Tabor), just a mile or so outside of downtown.

      *Chuck Palahniuk is a Portlander, and wrote his own seedy-side-of-Portland guide, called Fugatives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, OR

      *Portland has the largest number of strip clubs per capita in the country. It’s because free speech is protected so robustly in Oregon’s constitution that it’s unconstitutional to exclude them through zoning. (An unintentional outcome of a very cool thing).

  • Gokhan Arslan

    I live in Istanbul, Turkey.

    • It is a very old city (founded nearly 2700 year ago).
    • Bosphorus (Istanbul Strait) divides the city in two, so the city is comprised of two sides, asian and european. Almost every historical places are located on the european side, most of those are heritages from Ottoman and Byzantium Empire.
    • Turkish people don’t speak English well, except for the young ones.
    • Traffic is a mess. Public transport is always easy to access but always crowded. Metro (subway) is complimentary to bus rapid transit.
    • We got decent food, the cuisine heavily relies on meat. I am a vegetarian for a very long time but those who are interested in red meat and fish, can find themselves in heaven. Marmara and Black Sea are home to various types of fish. Pizza is not good in an average restaurant, avoid it. However, olive oil is a big thing in west and south coast of Turkey, so you should try delicious dishes from Turkish and Greek cuisine made with olive oil.
    Tip: The term “zeytinyağlı” means made with olive oil and it implies that the dish contains no meat (most of the times) and is served cold.
    • Our national alcoholic drink is Rakı. Rakı cannot be consumed anytime and anywhere like vodka or beer, but it must be accompanied by food and it is mostly consumed at night. Don’t leave Istanbul without attending to a “Fasıl” night in Istanbul, music is like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1xyLv5mA2M.
    • There are huge differences between “boroughs” of Istanbul. In Taksim area which is known as the center of nightlife and entertainment, you can attend to a gay parade and nobody bats an eye, and then when you walk for half an hour to the south and you get to Fatih where you might get lectured and systematically harassed by conservatives for wearing a mini skirt. An eternal fight between secular and religious people reigns in the city.
    • Pork is not sold, except for in expensive deli’s and it is, of course, expensive.
    • Istanbul is home to several football teams, three of them are the biggest and arch enemies. Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe. Even if you are not a fan of football, you should visit at least one game, and ask for the translations of cheerings from a local friend.

    • glen

      ps. People don’t have a camel ride in Istanbul. 🙂

      • Gokhan Arslan

        True, we don’t use camels for transport BUT what do you think döner is made of 🙂

    • AllisonErin

      My trip to Istanbul and Turkey a few years ago was great, thanks for refreshing my memories!!
      And you do have good pizza, only it’s a bit different: Turkish pida, with yummy toppings! 🙂

      • Gokhan Arslan

        Wood oven baked pide is very tasty indeed. People who eat for the first time are usually surprised when they see it is served with side salad and lemon:)

    • Miss Manse

      I visited Istanbul a few years back – it’s absolutely gorgeous and there are so many cultural things to see! I was slightly annoyed at the people constantly trying to sell me things but I guess that’s what you get for obviously being a tourist. We went to an authentic spa a local recommended us and it was a great experience!
      It was a horrifying experience lifting off from the airport and emerging from a visible cloud of pollution though – you breathe that all the time?!

      • Gokhan Arslan

        Overly insisting street vendors and waiters are trademark of our people, especially if you are a woman. We definitely believe someone assures them that the women from other countries find them really really attractive.

        Istanbul doesn’t have the top quality air for sure, but I couldn’t relate to that smog thing and I drive by Atatürk airport every day on my way to work. Maybe there was a fire somewhere around 🙂

        • Miss Manse

          “Overly insisting” haha yes. It’s a pity you can never just look at all the nice things without getting the vendors all excited. “Half price because you’re blonde!” seemed to be a running joke amongst them too..!

          We were already in the air and I was looking over the city, I don’t think it’s something you’d see from ground level. It could’ve been an especially bad day though, maybe weather might have had an effect on what it looked like? I don’t know.

          I ended up looking through some pictures from the trip, here’s a picture from an interesting night 🙂

          • Gokhan Arslan

            Is that “tef” guy stripping with a naughty face? I mean I’ve heard the economy was bad and people are doing second jobs but, come on, stripping?
            I find out more about my city thanks to you:)

    • Guest

      Regarding the olive oil, I found a funny post. Countryballs are all about stereotypes so this isn’t meant to offend anyone 🙂 http://9gag.com/gag/a0PwoxL

    • Daniel

      I went to Turkey about 3 years ago, I went there for olimpiyat turne programi, it was awesome. I must say from the several cities I’d been when I was there, I love Istanbul the most. I must say the football supporters were total lunatic there, one afternoon I strolled about three blocks wearing my Fenerbahce soccer jersey and got scolded by Galatasaray’s fan. It was petrifying, they looked deadly crazy. And for the meat motion, I second that, meat is everywhere. Idk whether it is genuinely from Istanbul or not but I love Iskender the most. And for the overly insisting street vendor award goes to: Eminonu street!

      Last, Istanbul people are so misafirperver (those whom I met, at least). One they know I speak Turkish, they are all family! Istanbul rules! Beni Taksim’e gotur :p

      Greetings from Indonesia.

      • Gokhan Arslan

        Turkish speaking foreigners are always the center of attention over here haha. I don’t know a single man in the country who wouldn’t attempt teaching top swear words to a foreigner who seems a bit eager to speak basic Turkish:) Sounds like you got the best out of the city, glad that you had such a good experience!

  • Itai Dagan

    I’m from Jerusalem, Israel. I know that there’s a TON of opinions regarding Israel and I hope I could share some of my experiences growing up and shatter some myths.

    I had a pretty happy childhood, Jerusalem is very divided, some neighborhoods are strictly secular while others are completely orthodox, ultra-orthodox, or Palestinian (which could be either Christian or Muslim). I grew up in a relatively secular neighborhood but it got more and more religious as the years went by. Now there’s only one place that open on Shabbat (from Friday night till Saturday night), but I like the quiet I have there at times.

    At a certain point in my childhood suicide bombings were pretty bad (around 2001-2004). That means that a lot of kids’ parents in my class didn’t let their kids ride buses. They either gave them money for taxis or drove them everywhere. I personally didn’t stop taking the buses (my parents said that people are overreacting and that the risk is minimal) but I distinctly remember a short period in which I was scared that I’d die. (Side note: A brother from someone in my class died in a suicide bombing, a cousin of a good friend of mine as well, there’d been two suicide bombings within a kilometer of my house, and a third attempt).

    I have to note that I DON’T think that my suffering is greater than that of the Palestinians their deaths outnumber ours tremendously (tried to google but failed to come up with a reliable estimate), I simply wish to share some of my experiences.

    I don’t like politics. Israel is complicated, very complicated. I don’t think there’s a definite solution to the conflict (let alone an easy one). I believe that there should be two states, close knit, and that people from every state would be able to travel between them without much hassle or fear. But that’s probably naïve. A lot of people on both sides are very extreme, I’d be called an “arab lover” from the extreme rightists in Israel and they go against all leftists on social networks, usually cursing us and wishing we would die, which is kind of depressing to read.

    Even so, even though 99.9% of what’s being talked about abroad regarding Israel, I simply don’t want to occupy myself with politics. I just want to live my life. I don’t know how to end the conflict, I know it’s horrible, but I don’t want my life to revolve around it, and frankly I can’t see that happening if I’m going to stay and live here. A lot of people have nothing but contempt for people that left Israel or thinking of doing so, but I seriously don’t see a bright future here. I wish I could live in a place where I don’t have to send my kids to the army, where I don’t have to read about horrible hate on both sides on a daily basis, I don’t want to fear for me, or my family’s life, but since I was born Israel has been involved in several conflicts, all with casualties. With me and my two brothers being in reserve duty, the chance of dying while being on duty actually exists, albeit being miniscule.

    I’m a regular guy, and I have nothing but love for this world, but the reality in Israel depresses me. I don’t wish to fight my whole life in a battle I’m not sure I’m gonna win. That battle being: achieving a normal, and (relatively) carefree life. I DON’T mean “defeating” the Palestinians, they have as much right as me for happiness.

    I’d be happy to answer any questions with complete honesty, feel free to ask.

    • marisheba

      Thanks for your perspective, it was really interesting.

    • Gokhan Arslan

      No kid should grow up wondering if they are going to die on their way to school. People like you are the only hope to put an end to this conflict.

    • Dani

      So are you saying that you can’t realistically see an end to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict happening at any point in the near future? Or ever…? Would you say that the ongoing conflict heavily impacts your day-to-day life?

      • Itai Dagan

        I wish I could say I do. But as things escalate both sides are getting more and more extreme while the sane, peaceful people who might have a chance of heading towards a solution are not able to get to positions of power. The right wing on both sides is getting stronger, I don’t see how we can turn that around. There are elections coming up (since the coalition was disbanded) but thinking that the left wing parties will rise to power is simply a ridiculous thought.

      • Udi

        I agree with everything Itai said – except for the final conclusion. It is true – things don’t look very optimistic at the moment. There’s a lot of mistrust between Israel and the Palestinians, right wingers from both sides are getting stronger and it appears that no side is actively pursuing peace. However, on times like this I remind myself of the 100 years war between France and England (lasted 116 years – people were born and died during that time – they must have believed that the war will never end). Now, all is well. So, I’m pretty sure this conflict will be resolved *some* day – hopefully I’d be alive to witness it. On a more practical perspective – in the 80’s (I think) a left winger prime minister (Golda Meir) said that there is no Palestinian entity. 30 years after, the prime minister of the most right winged government of the recent years speaks publicly on the two-states solution. So it appears that the concept of peace is developing well. Of course it’s not enough but to me it’s enough to believe that this conflict will be resolved, maybe in 10/20/50 years.

    • Russell Scott Wollman

      Israel, I imagine, is a very dynamic, creative country, made up of really energetic people with tons of drive. It is harder for me to imagine living among what must be 24/7 tension in the Middle East. When the people in the region create peace within themselves, peace will have a chance. It’s a collective matter. People have to go deeper than religion, of course, which is a man-made business. The problem of space is critical, too. Lots of people on not a lot of land.

      Everyone there should learn Transcendental Meditation.

    • Sandra Sinclair

      I hear you. And I imagine there are many in Israel who agree with you. The whole situation is unbelievably complex with so much history, hostility, and hard feelings that it doesn’t seem it will ever be resolved. The only word for it is heartbreaking. (and no, I’m not Jewish, but that’s what I think)

    • Dan José Wanamaker

      It was weird seeing “Israel” spelled correctly so many times in a row… I spend too much time online

      • Aina

        how is it spelled usually?

        • Dan José Wanamaker

          Oh, I see Isreal a lot

    • Yotam

      I’m an Israeli myself, and I agree with everything you’ve said. After so many years I just got tired of this conflict. I don’t know what the solution to it is. I don’t think anybody does, even those who run the government. The intensity of this place is too much for me. I didn’t want to be born here. I want to live in a normal country, where the biggest debate is about whether or not to allow people to smoke weed and where the biggest event of the year is not a war but a football game.

  • Melissa Eldridge

    I grew up in a tiny town called Burriville, Rhode Island. It’s in the northwest corner of the state and borders both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

    Burrillville is actually made up of 7 tiny villages and extremely rural. I grew up in the village of Mapleville. I am only 40 years old, but:
    1. I went to kindergarten in a one-room red schoolhouse
    2. My house had a ‘pole’ number, not an actual address
    3. We picked up mail at the post office which had been operating since the 1800s
    4. We didn’t get cable TV till 1992.

    The movie the ‘Conjuring’ was based on a family/house on Round Top Road, a town over. That area of RI is also known to have some of the country’s best natural aquifers. I grew up thinking that well water was the most amazing water in the world…..man, was I wrong.

    When you grow up in RI, you end up with what I call ‘Small State Syndrome’. You don’t drive anywhere that is more than 20 mins away. NYC was 3 hours away. I only went once as a kid. Boston? One hour. Hardly ever went. The ocean was 1/2 hour away. You would think we were packing for Mars when we went on the weekends.

    I was raised Catholic. In Rhode Island, there are a lot of biblically-named towns, like Bethel, Galilee, etc. You know that above the crucifix it says ‘INRI’….so, as a kid, I thought all that jazz happened to Christ “In RI”. Very confusing because of all the desert talk. As I got older, I learned that it was not in RI, it was in the Middle East. Fine. So I started to think that every church had it’s own cross…. INMA, INNY, etc.

    I think that’s a problem unique to catholic children in RI who tend to over analyze. 😉

    • Raia

      How many people lived in Mapleville when you were growing up there? And would you say you enjoyed and benefited the old-fashioned, simple way of life or would you have preferred growing up somewhere a bit more modern?

      • Melissa Eldridge

        Hmmm. I’m not sure how many people were in Mapleville. There were about 20,000 people in the entire town by the time I graduated. I graduated with 101 kids in 1992.

        I grew up in a log cabin that my dad built by himself. It seems so crazy to say, just so bizarre. I used to be so jealous of my friends who had exotic things like ‘drywall’ and ‘wall to wall carpeting’. What I wouldn’t have given to have my REM posters lay flat!

        Anyway. Did I benefit? Perhaps. But I was bored a lot. My brother and I would walk the woods and push over dead trees for fun (that’s actually a very satisfying pastime). I rode my bike everywhere, endlessly. The town is hilly and beautiful…but, I couldn’t wait to escape. I would never move back. I live in Michigan now and perhaps I will move again some day, but not back to Burrillville.

  • shalala

    Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina:

    1. no, there’s no war there

    2. it’s not connected to Russia in any way and we don’t speak russian, we speak Bosnian

    3. people are really heart-warming

    4. the topography is amazing! if you happen to come in the winter, you can enjoy the proximity of the mountains or even enjoy the free-style ride in the city.

    5. public traffic is a mess. luckily, it’s a small city.

    6. Sarajevo Film Festival is a must!

    7. also, google “bobsleigh sarajevo”, it’s on of the calmest places on the Earth

    • Bjanka

      I was born in Sarajevo 🙂
      You forgot to mention the AWESOME food! Cevapcici and somun (mince fingers in a wood-fired bread), pita (not the Greek bread, but local savoury pastries with fillings).
      And yes, people still ask me if I speak Russian 🙂

  • susan

    I’ve lived in Seattle all my 70 years, except during college in California. In fact my mother was born here in 1912. When I was growing up, the Smith Tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. I shopped at Starbucks #1 when it first opened–for tea, not coffee–and still shop at the first Costco. I can remember when Nordstrom’s was a shoe store only. We called that airplane factory Boeing’s, not Boeing, that place owned by Bill Boeing. My dad built Flying Fortresses there during WW II.

    It doesn’t rain here nearly as much as everyone thinks. The weather patterns have changed. Instead of continuous drizzle, we have more hard rain storms that blow through and leave clear, clear days. But you never know when that will happen, so there is no sure time to visit. There is almost no snow, and no humidity in the summer. And it always cools off at night. I’ve spent time on the east coast, but could never live there, breathing tomato soup all night long.

    We have marvelous parks. Discovery park has a 2.8 mile loop trail through forest, and a bit of meadow with incredible Sound and mountain views. There is a smaller park with Old Growth Forest. We have both water and mountains to east and west, and many hills, so it is hard to find a place that doesn’t have a view nearby. There are close-in family neighborhoods; I live on Queen Anne Hill behind the Seattle Center. Ten minutes to downtown, 15 to the University of Washington, streets you can walk your dog on at 2 a.m. But the traffic is getting terrible, particularly through the Amazon jungle in South Lake Union, just below the Hill. And rents and house prices have skyrocketed because of all the well paid techies. Public transport needs improvement, especially for ways to get up the hills. Even downtown is hilly and needs good legs to get around.

  • Instant gratification monkey

    Berlin.
    Besides what you’vhttp://www.frikkinawesome.com/images/city-sky/

    • Valeriu

      He he I also live in Berlin, can only confirm, especially the food. East and west Berlin feels like 2 different cities.

      • Instant gratification monkey

        And food and restaurant tips is also the Berlin small talk topic no.1 – 10.

    • Remko

      You had me at 1). I’m definitely visiting Berlin next year!

      • Instant gratification monkey

        And I believe Germany actually has the greatest variety of bread types in the world. So breakfast is not only late, but it’s truly good!

        • Aina

          Totally agree on the best bread ever found in Germany. Not in France
          .

    • Being German and having lived in Berlin for five years now, I’d like to add that Berlin doesn’t feel like the rest of Germany. Instead, it’s like it’s own microcosmos, with rules being more lax and laws not being enforced as strictly as in the rest of the country. The many international people make it a very cosmopolitan place (and some open up authentic restaurants, hence the great variety of food).

      There are many many big and small art events and music gigs, I’m sure many of you have heard of the electronic music scene and clubbing culture here. Some clubs are open throughout the whole weekend and there are also a lot of popular club nights during the week. The city of Berlin actually subsidizes some of the clubs and alternative locations, because it is a large tourist magnet – Berlin’s biggest source of income, since there is not a lot of industry. This is also the reason why our salaries are lower here compared to the rest of Germany, and also why stuff is cheaper.

      Because Berlin has swallowed up some smaller towns in its history of growth, and because of the former West/East divide, there is not really one city center. All districts have their own atmosphere, with different building styles, different shopping and bar/restaurant streets and parks.

      These days ‘gentrification’ is a hot topic. Due to the influx of people and the scarcity of flats, rents are rising and former tenants have to move away. Districts like Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, where a lot of artists, students, immigrants, and squatters with leftist political background used to live, became very hip and have changed a lot in the past few years.

      Finally, the history: It is evident everywhere, whether it’s the remnants of the Berlin Wall, Socialist or Third Reich architecture, or buildings from the Kaiser era. They are artifacts of what makes this city so unique.

  • Lala

    I grew up in a small town in upstate NY called Chili (Chi-Lie). I didn’t realize the rest of the world pronounced it Chill-e until I left. When I moved to Texas, people said the south was racist. But I didn’t see a person of color in NY until I was 10 years old- ever. The north may not be racist, but it is segregated.

  • Grace Bridges

    Auckland, New Zealand here! Wonderful place to grow up. I went and lived in other places for several years but ended up coming back. So, the facts:
    – There are about 50 dormant volcanoes within city limits. Most are parkland and you can easily climb to the top for great views.
    – The largest and newest volcano (around 500 years old) is Rangitoto, an island just offshore. Hiking to the top is an unforgettable experience, crossing fields of jagged black lava rock.
    – There are about as many beaches as there are volcanoes. Auckland has more coastline than any other city in the world, as it’s built around two harbours with entrances on both the east and west. On summer holidays (Dec 25/26, Jan 1/2 especially), the beaches are totally crammed with people.
    – Auckland itself is great, but if you come, be sure to get out of the city as well. The rest of New Zealand has quite a different character. Parts of it are /very/ Middle-Earth 🙂

    I’m sure there’s lots more I could say, but I’ll leave it there for now. Happy to answer any questions!

    • Steph Lewis

      I like that your post focuses on all the natural beauty of your place 🙂

    • The Delicate Place

      I spent a a month in the north and south islands. New Zealand is the most beautiful place on earth imho! Thanks for sharing!

    • Stacee

      You forgot to mention that you don’t have anything venomous and no snakes. Coming from Australia I was shocked to hear that.

  • jfenbauer

    Iowa City, Iowa

    Iowa is between Chicago and Omaha. and yes i have to say that a lot. Which is actually okay with me. Iowa City is head and shoulder above all other places i’ve lived the easiest place to live. (previous homes have included Seattle, SF, Tuscon, Detroit, Taipei, Hong Kong, Denver and many others.) it’s tempting to become complacent and start to think that all wee little midwestern towns have as much culture and education as we have here. one just gets used to it. spoiled by it, really.

    the University of Iowa is here and accounts for about 50% of the population during the school year. it has a good liberal arts school which brings in a wide variety of fine arts, is a great one night stop over for all sorts of bands that are touring through the major cities in the area, and has popular sports teams if you like that sort of thing. it’s home to the first – and often sighted as best – creative writing program in the states; the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. i get to hear at the very least one Pulitzer Prize winner read each semester, and every few years we get a Noble Prize winner come through to visit. it’s a small enough town i get to go to the after reading parties and actually chat with them too. always interesting. it is a ridiculously educated town. we literally (old definition) have PhDs driving city buses. it’s ridiculous.

    it’s very walkable. it’s very safe. it’s very friendly. it’s quiet. it’s relaxed. it can be down right boring, which i like. the surrounding area has little gems scattered throughout. there are a lot of big open spaces out here because the farms are enormous, but fewer than 10%(ish) of the people in the state are farmers. so……. no, we didn’t grow up on a farm.

    we get to meet every single person who runs for POTUS personally and shake their hand if we want to. there is no season that is not an election season in Iowa. it is only flat if you are driving on Interstate 80. (Nebraska is the same way) come out and ride RAGBRAI if you don’t believe me. we’d love you to visit!

    then get out.

  • Mambo

    I grew up in Medellin, Colombia. The city has some bad reputation from a very traumatic period in the 90’s, when I was doing the growing up thing. Well, I realize that most people don’t know anything about Medellin except the previous fact, but I’ll share anyway a couple positive things:
    – People are extremely kind to foreigners (and this is true for the whole country). Maybe we want people to forget about all the evil in our past, maybe that’s just how we are, but almost everyone would get out of their way to take you some place if you ask for directions, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t speak spanish.
    – The city is crazy about Christmas, just google christmas lights in medellin and you’ll see.

  • Thea

    I live in Turin, in the north west of Italy – we had the winter olympics in 2006 if you guys remember.
    It’s an odd city, in the sense that foreigners that come here get nothing of what is the stereotype of the italian for the rest of the world. People in my city are quite reserved, busy and doing their own thing. Also, it’s a very mixed city, there are both a lot of italians from other regions, especially the south (after WWII there was a huge migration to the city because of the automobiles factory FIAT), but the foreign population is also pretty big – but I have the feeling integration could be much better, italians don’t speak English that well, plus here they’re super shy.
    An interesting thing that I notice about myself when I meet Italians from other regions (usually when I’m out of my city) is that I’m perfectly used to any accent from the south, while I’m not used hearing Milan’s people accent, which is a much closer city, 2 hours away by train. They call Turin “the greatest capital of the South”.
    The city is very nice to visit for history freaks, it was a Roman city, the a Medieval city, then a Renessance city and a Baroque one, and especially of the latter two, architecture from that period remains. Also, the King used to live in Turin which makes the kitchen in my region extremely rich and rafined – around Turin we have Ferrero (the company that makes Nutella), a huge red wine production, truffles and Eataly and the Slow Food Movement is born here 🙂

    What you shouldn’t miss is the San Salvario area on a Thursday-Friday-Saturday night. For some reason we thought it would be cool to hang out in an area with such little bars that not enough people fit in them, so the streets are always full of people hanging out and drinking of the street. I find it a cozy messiness 🙂

    • Matt

      At least I’m not the only italian.

      I agree on the stereotype of the super friendly italian wich we are not, we are reserved way more than northern people with strangers at first.

      We behave as those wild dogs you meet around keeping distances and suspiciously staring at you ready to run or fight until you throw a piece of meat to us an then we are like best friend forever, never-leave-me-again, can-I-jump-on-you.

  • Jiri Roznovjak

    I grew up in a small town called Vsetín in a highland area in the eastern Czech Republic.
    1. Part of the town is on a hill. You can climb up a castle on the top and enjoy the view.
    2. The surroundings is just hills and forests.That makes it awesome for hiking and mountain biking,

    3. In the winter you can go normal or cross country skiing (nearest slope 5 minutes away).
    4. Eating out is incredibly cheap (at least for an outsider).

    The nature is really nice around here; sadly many young people move to bigger cities or out of the country for better job opportunities (including me).

    • Lizzie

      I love hearing about cities I didn’t even know existed, like Vsetin. Thanks for sharing!

  • František Ficek

    I’m from Prague, Czech republic. Capital city of a small country in central Europe eventhough the rest of the world say it’s eastern Europe. But c’mon who want’s to be associated with Russia… We have cheap and good beer and struggling economy like any other post-communist country. People often think that Czechs are taking a “meh” approach to nearly every situation and they unfortunately right. Lately it takes us a lot of time to take a stand on any issue. And our president is an asshole.

    But the beer is still good, monuments breath taking and girls pretty, so we have this going on which is nice…

    • AllisonErin

      Prague is so beautiful! And the Czech sense of humour is hilarious and wonderful 😀
      The castles and monuments sprinkled around the country are some of the best in the world (the bone church in Kutna Hora is shocking and fascinating!)

    • jfenbauer

      i have always wanted to go to Prague. someday i’ll make it there.

  • Valeriu

    From Chisinau, Moldova here. The largest wine cellar, as well as the largest wine collection (over 1.5 mln) is there. The wine cellar has a total length of 200 km, 55 of which are in use. The streets are named and you use a small car as means of transportation.

  • Stewart Finlay

    I’m from Hamilton, New Zealand. I’ve been to quite a few countries and enjoyed them all (USA & Canada especially). New Zealand is small, way out in the middle of the ocean, with no snakes or dangerous animals etc. However we are in a globally connected world so we pick up all the good and bad things we see and hear. We have the same sort of politics and the same sort of problems as everywhere, just a different accent.

    To me, New Zealand (NZ) is home, I’m happy here away from all the hustle & bustle, I can do whatever I can afford, with little to worry about. Most folk are friendly and relaxed and have time to say “Hi” and show an interest if you are a visitor.

    Our countryside is a complete miniature of whatever you will find anywhere on earth except you can drive from the plains to the mountains and back to the sea in hours. As in the rest of the world, the tourist spots are really interesting, but as usual those they will try and extract the maximum from you pocket, and most of the souvenirs are, even if designed in NZ, made in China. NZ has three main islands and you will find the pace of life relaxes the further south you travel. Crossing between islands on a ferry is three hours of relaxation and beauty.

    If you can drive on the left in a right hand drive vehicle you will be awed with the beauty and freedom of our country, green is really green, weather changes so quickly, air is so fresh, you can see for miles and actually get there simply. We are the same yet different, a very young country as far as history is concerned but catching up fast.

    I love my country but must say everywhere I have traveled has its beauty and wonder, we just have it closer together. 🙂

    • Tim Urban

      Andrew and I both spent a college semester in Wellington, NZ. Really delightful place in the world. And god the South Island is gorgeous. Still kind of shaken up from the 140m Nevis bungee jump.

      • Emily

        Hi Tim, I am from Wellington! What suburb were you living in?

  • Bella

    Denmark is not as happy as everyone thinks.
    Plus my hometown have the highest criminality rate compared to inhabitants. Everyone knows either a drugaddict or a burglar.

  • Tabatha Soltay

    I have lived in Ottawa, Canada, for nine years now. Canadians joke that Ottawa is the city that fun forgot because it is
    full of bureaucrats and politicians, but I think of it as Canada’s best
    kept secret. There is a huge foodie scene, an emerging craft brewing scene, and an amazing underground arts
    scene.

    We have the distinction of being the coldest capital city in the world. But it is actually lovely in winter; people here really embrace it. The canal through the city freezes over and people skate to work (seriously) and just 20 minutes out of town we have the Gatineau Park which has some of the greatest cross country ski trails in the world. The first two weeks of February are “Winterlude” with ice-carving competitions and other fun activities. The summers (all three months) are lovely too. Everyone here is obsessed with patio season and there are over a dozen craft breweries in the city. We have all the convenience of being a major city (just over a million people) with easy access to the outdoors.

    If you make to Ottawa, spend some time in the Gatineau Park and swim in the lakes, walk along (or skate) the canal and buy a beavertail (these are doughy sweet treats). You can also tour the Parliament building; it was reopened just days after the tragic events in October. In summer you can have a picnic on the grounds around our Parliament building and on Wednesday’s through the summer there is even free yoga classes on the grounds.

  • Astrid

    I’ve lived in Paris since I was born and I don’t think I could live anywhere else. A lot of French people don’t like Paris that much, they say that the weather is bad, that the people are mean, that the subway is always crowded and disusting, that everything is crazy expensive. All of it is true, but I realize that I don’t care. I like that the weather doesn’t get too hot in summer. I think the subway is the best and most practical way to travel. I know that I can be mean myself when I’m in a bad mood, so I don’t blame the other people when they look stressed and short-tempered. And yes, rents are high, but really not as much as London or New-York.

    Plus, on top of that, I really is a dream city. You have gorgeous monuments and buildings everywhere you look. The Eiffel Tower is a wonder every time I see it sparkling. There are tons of movie theatres and amazingly rich museums. It’s the center of the country and you have fast trains that can take you anywhere really fast: sea, mountain, other European capitals… you name it. It’s a magical place.

    • Sandra Sinclair

      I lived there as a student – loved it. Now I live in Montreal (after growing up in the States) so I have some of both worlds. Would like to go back for a good long visit but alas, c’est l’argent qui me manque 🙁 .

  • Sophie

    Harbin, in China, close to Russia. Every year the river freezes over and we build a giant ice and snow amusement park, complete with ever taller slides, ice recreations of well-known architectures around the world lit by super gawdy multicolored lights. Visiting this festival is an activity every child of Harbin remembers and every adult takes their out of towners to.

    Our culture and cuisine is more heavily Russian influenced than any other parts of China. We all had one or two blonde friends who speak Chinese with the native twang growing up, our words for bread and soup and skirts and many other things are actually Russian transliterations. We’ve many Russian churches still intact as well.

    Also at some point harbin was home to the most number of Jews outside of Europe (or something along those lines, anyway there were a lot.)

    • Sophie

      Oh Anthony Bourdain did an episode there, I was hella flattered because our cuisine isn’t anything worth bragging about.

    • Gnip

      This is really interesting to know! Thanks for sharing 😀 Is there a lot of ethnic Korean Chinese in Harbin?

  • Pascalle van Straten

    I’m from amsterdam, the netherlands where i’ve lived for about ten years now. I grew up in a town more to the centre of the country. Amsterdam is known as a drug and sex walhalla, which is true for the drunken tourists that flock about in the city centre, all the natives try and avoid them as much as possible, or freak them out as much as possible by trying to hit them whilst cycling past as fast as you can. It’s a beautiful historic city, as there are many in the country. Windmills we don’t have that much anymore, that’s more a thing from the 17 th century when we used them to make more land. What is true is that we cycle, a lot. Everyone owns a bike or two. ( an old one you use to go into the city as then it doesnt hurt as much when it gets stolen by a drunk tourists, and a proper one with the child seat on the back, or if you have two kids another one at front, yes we all cycle with the kids on the bikes and nobody except expats wear helmets.) the country is dead flat, no mountains, only a little hilly part in the south, called limburg, one of the 12 provinces in total. Amsyerdam is in north-holland, rotterdam in south holland. I was born in gelderland ( forest and bible belt) and then you have friesland ( with their own recognised language), groningen ( which has regular earthquakes because of the gas we take from under them , big income for us, but we are running out), drenthe ( farmers), overrijsel ( farmers and historic cities), brabant ( farmers that speak with a soft ‘g’ ( northern part of the country speaks with a hard ‘g’ , try scraping your throat, yeah, you got it, that’s a hard ‘g’))’ zeeland ( the original, the one at the other side of the world was named after this one) and flevoland, which was part of the sea untill the 1950’s. You can drive from border to sea in about 3 hrs. Oh and it has islands, 5 , but it connects to the mainla d daily as the ‘waddenzee’ that separates them falls dry at low tide.

    Verstuurd vanaf mijn iPad

  • Douglas Spessatto

    I’m from Florianopolis, Brazil. Its a small city in the south of the country, capital of Santa Catarina state. The city is built in an island. Some fun facts:

    01. As an island, we have 42 different beaches. Each one of them has a different attractive: we have the calm ones, nature surrounded ones, party and glamour, surf corners… You can choose the one that fits your personality the best.
    02. Marijuana is kinda common stuff here. Its not legal, but everyone treats it naturally.
    03. Social inequality is pretty visible: you have a bunch of 1-million-dollar condos in one avenue and two blocks away, you have massive shantytowns.
    04. Its said we got the most beautiful people in Brazil.
    05. On summer, its said we have the best parties too.
    06. Despite being an island, we have just two bridges conecting us to the continent. One works fine, the other is innactive for 20 years and has been in reform since then. Corruption and bureaucracy haven’t helped the work to be done. The results: massive traffic jams everyday on rush hours, specially on summer.
    07. We recieve people from all over the world annualy, but the city mentality, in general, is still provincial.
    08. The city is a mix of urban, beach and nature enviroments.

    Google it for some nice pictures! 🙂

  • Zhenya

    Hi, I’m form ESTONIA, not sure if any other WBW reader is also from here? 🙂 We are just 1,3 million people living in 45,227 km2 small land on the coast of Baltic sea. So actually for this size it has very small density of population and we are very used to have a lot of privacy. We like to build houses far from each other (3 or 4 km would be perfect) but of course nowadays there are blockbuilding with hundreds of appartments in it aswell in the cities. Although we have just one bigger city, our capital Tallinn (about 400 000 people). A big percentage of a population (appr 25%) are Russian speaking people and I am one of them. I can not say “Russians”, because hundreds people like me and I were born in Soviet Estonia and have never lived in Russia, so I call myself Russian Estonian.
    People here are used to live in their own quiet world, not talking much to each other, especially to strangers. We are known as a slow nation, everything we do/say is supposed to be very slow, which is not always true. We just don’t show our emotions in a way like southern people do. If we don’t like something we most probably will whine about it than yell at somebody.
    As people may think all the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lituania) must be so similar and kind of united, but we are not. Estonia is closer to Finland what concerns language and traditions. We have even the same melody of the Anthem. Estonians can understand Finns without even learning the language, but in fact Finns can not understand so much of Estonian.. strange.. but true. Oh and even though Finns like to come to drink heavily to Tallinn, we still love them and take Finland as an example for Estonia.
    The thing that you could probably know Estonia for is for it’s technological achievements in the digital world. Estonia is often called e-Estonia, because most of the things you can do online. Things like voting for parlament, apply for university, job or any document, pay for whatever tickets, participate in population census and much more. Also The Skype software was created by Estonian developers and is mainly developed in Estonia. Just recently Estonia has made possible e-Residency. E-residency is a state-issued secure digital identity for non-residents
    that allows digital authentication and the digital signing of documents. You can read more about it here: https://e-estonia.com/e-residents/about/
    Also interesting thing about my country is that almost everybody here speaks at least 3 languages. Someone better someone worse, in my case I speak 5 languages and I want to learn more, but at least all the young people here speak English. So when you come to visit, do not worry, you can get around with English without problems 😉

    • Interesting post Zhenya … I know much more about Estonia now than I did before. I understand what you mean about “e-Estonia” …. I live in Australia, but have an Estonian cell phone number which I use when travelling overseas as the call charges are very reasonable and the service excellent.

      • zhenya

        Oh wow, that’s interesting, would never think someone from Australia can just use Estonian phone number 🙂

    • Sandra Sinclair

      Fascinating – thank you!

  • Adam

    I grew up in New Haven, CT. Something that is absolutely true and that every New Yorker or Chicagoian (Chicagan? Chicagonite?) is in denial about is that we have the best pizza restaurants in the world. Hands down. Go to Pepe’s, Sally’s, or Modern Apizza and you will see what I’m talking about.

    I live in Baltimore, MD now, and people have a very specific opinion of Baltimore, essentially that it’s exactly like “The Wire.” Some places are like that, but neighborhoods like Canton, Fells Point, and Fed Hill are awesome places to live and go out in, and I really have not felt unsafe in many places at all. It’s actually a really awesome city.

    • Sandra Sinclair

      Baltimore has wonderful seafood 🙂

    • NYC_Chic

      LOL are you kidding me? Best pizza in the world in New Haven!? bahaha

      • Adam

        Have you even tried it? Because I’ve had New York pizza in NYC many many times in my life, and New Haven pizza is just better. Of course, New Yorkers love to pretend like NYC is the center of the world and therefore obviously has the best everything.

    • NYC_Chic

      I suscribe to the belief that pizza that is consumed while sitting down is not real pizza. PIzza should be eaten folded, while standing. MMMMhhmmm I could go for a plain slice right.

    • jfenbauer

      my first thoughts when i hear “Baltimore” are John Waters and crab cakes.

      • Adam

        Crab cakes is perfectly accurate as well (and taste amazing)

  • George Kirby

    I live in a little village called Gotham, in Nottinghamshire, UK. It’s pronounced ‘Goat-am’, not ‘Goth-am’, but it’s the ultimate origin for the name of Batman’s Gotham city! That’s my claim to fame 😀

  • Janine

    My home town Colchester is the oldest recorded town in Britain, and currently according to research after London it’s residents are also the most creative in the UK. Also I have lived here all my life and I love it, it is awesome, you should love it too. Fact. 😀

  • Leo Santana

    HI, i’m from Salvador,BraSil, and after some travels around the country, i realized how this city is really a culture apart from the rest of the region, and from the country itself. Here are the descendants of the majority of the slaves brought here from africa, and i think that’s the thing that makes the city be the way it is.Though we are’nt as dark as an african, nowhere else in the country you can find so many black people, and the religion,the music, the words we use here,all have great african influence.It’s a beautiful and awful place to live,and the best and the worst of the city are the inhabitants. i think that 225 years after the end of slavery, the society has yet to change the way he treats people who are in a privileged position, and the ones who did’nt born so lucky…but at the same time, we are a very friendly people, and most foreigners who come here have that impression….

    (english is not my first language,so forgive me if i’ve wrote something wrong :] )

    • Pete Murray

      Leo, your English is better than many who own it as a first language. And you’ve just given me another place I need to visit.

  • Jorrit Praamstra

    I live in Groningen, the Netherlands. It’s a relatively small city (200.000) which feels like a village for most of it’s inhabitants because of the dense city centre and the huge amount of social activities that take place there. It’s also a big student city, there’s over 50.000 students studying here. These are some things that are typical for my country:

    – Most people from abroad don’t or barely leave Amsterdam since they think that’s all the Netherlands has to offer. While this is a fun city, you’ll mainly see tourists there all day long. For a better (in my opinion) experience with more native people it’s much better to visit other towns as well.
    – The stereotype of people using a lot of drugs, because it is allowed, simply isn’t true. Since most regular drugs are allowed people don’t really get excited about it and this results in relatively low drug use.
    – Most Dutch people are pretty keen on travelling and almost everyone speaks proper English.
    – Dutch people can seem pretty rude and straightforward, especially in touristic areas. However, if you get to know them a bit they are usually very friendly. But it is very different than some other countries where foreigners are always heartily welcomed.
    – We’re a country of beer lovers, in most cities you’ll find loads of pubs pouring fancy local beers.
    – In the summer, definitely visit one of the 5 Wadden-islands, each has a different atmosphere and they all have their own unique features and nice spots to hang around.

  • unexpectedly

    I’m from Helsinki, Finland.

    A lot of people don’t really know anything about Finland. Top education, healthcare, Nordic welfare system, that’s what they might know about (and those are all true as well.) There are some common (and ridiculous) misconceptions like people asking whether there are polar bears and penguins just walking down the street, but of course we don’t have them except in the zoo. Those are the most over the top ones though. Then there is other stuff like people thinking we have winter all the time (we don’t have snow even now here in the south) or that we speak Russian (no, our language, Finnish, is not even remotely related to Russian) (also we are not similar to Russia/Russians in any other ways either, nor do we like being associated with Russia… mostly we are not, but even if it happens sometimes we get annoyed. It’s a pain in the ass having to be a small western country situated right next to them, but other than border, we don’t really have anything in common. We don’t have anything against Russians as individuals but man, as a state…)

    The weather in Finland. It’s crazy when you meet people from countries where the weather might be exactly the same for months so they never have to think about it. People think the Brits are obsessed with weather, but those people have never been to Finland. We simply have to be obsessed with it, since it changes constantly. It also is shit. I mean, the summers are absolutely great. If you’re coming to Finland, come during the summer (unless you go up north to Lapland). It’s lush and green, hot (yes, hot) (but some days it’s cooler as well… you know, our bipolar weather…) sunny (sometimes it rains as well, but mostly sunny) and we have so many lakes (thousands and thousands) and a long sea coast that it’s just really beautiful, and the nights don’t get dark at all. Also the people are much happier (and more friendly) during the summer and there are loads of festivals and events. But like, right now.. the worst month in terms of weather would be November and just generally this time of the year. Dark, grey, chilly, drizzly, just depressing in all ways (I think we had like, 13 hours of sun this whole November) and the whole nation seems to be in a state of collective depression (of course, Christmas brings some joy in the midst of it all).

    Jeez, you can clearly see I’m from Finland since I just spent that whole paragraph talking about the weather… oops.

    We have quite a lot of tourism, but it’s slowing down currently. I think there are two big reasons to why we might be unappealing to a tourist: the weather (talked about that already…) and the prices. We are one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, countries in the world. In a way it’s nice for us, because when we travel we are bound to be pleasantly surprised by the prices. But for a tourist coming here… well, I guess the expensiveness tells something about the quality and standard of living. Our wages are good as well, in order to be able to afford living here.

    Helsinki is very different from the rest of the country. Here people are generally liberal, green, international, well-educated. To generalize the rest of the country, there are a lot more “hillbilly” type of people there. For instance, the parliament just recently voted “yes” on same sex marriage, but it was close. The closeness of the vote actually came as a surprise for many living here in Helsinki, since we’re surrounded by people who support it. But a lot of countryside people have voted for MP’s who are conservative like that. It sucks really, sometimes I think Finland just has a lot more stupid, close-minded people than other countries. That’s probably not true in the end, though.

    Some funny/quirky/weird things:

    – We return our bottles and cans to the supermarkets because we get money from that. The system is genius really: no one will throw them on the ground, no one will even throw them to the trash can because everyone wants the money. And the bottles and cans will be recycled. We pay a bit extra for them when we buy, and then we get that extra back when we return them. It actually took me ages to realize they don’t do this in other countries.

    – Thursdays are associated with pea soup. I have no idea why.

    – There’s no sitting next to a stranger in public transport if there is room elsewhere. We are a bit weird with our personal space, so if you have an option to be further away, it’s an unwritten rule to choose that instead of sitting next to someone.

    – We have a low self-esteem as a nation. We are obsessed with what people from other countries think about us. We actually have this meme thing “Suomi mainittu, torilla tavataan”, which means something like “Finland mentioned, meet you at the market square”. Market square, because that’s where we gather to celebrate our epic wins (and I’m talking about epic celebrations with like 100,000 people… not bad for a nation of 5 million. The two last ones where the 2011 Ice Hockey World Championship and when we won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007). So everytime there is any, no matter how insignificant, mention of Finland or something/someone Finnish in foreign or international media, someone always comments “Suomi mainittu, torilla tavataan”. (Yes, self-irony is popular over here… :D)

    • Steven Mello

      A few states in the US have a similar recycling program. Some people actually make a living going through garbage, collecting cans and bottles.

    • Blissmariss

      Canadians recycle too – same system. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the glorious SAUNA! 🙂

      • unexpectedly

        Gosh, I forgot all about the sauna! How could I – i love it. Then again, I think it’s probably one of those better known things about Finland. That being said, it’s true that it is probably exotic for foreigners so I might as well say something about it here.

        There are over a million saunas in Finland; every household has one, and the Saturday Sauna is a thing. I myself like to take a sauna at least once a week. Almost all families also have a lakeside (or seaside) summer cottage, which obviously includes a lakeside sauna. It’s really the best feeling, first meditating in the hot sauna and then jumping into the lake to cool off. Ultimate Finnishness.

        Here’s actually a wonderful article on the sauna and its meaning in our culture, by BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24328773

    • Zhenya

      Hei, I’m from Estonia and we also do the same thing with bottles/cans 😉 Also i understand this so well, when people are looking for as much privicy as possible, the same thing happens here- in the public transport everyone tries to stay further from each other.

      • unexpectedly

        Yeah, I figured there must be SOME countries that do the recycling thing, we can’t be the only one. But when the subject has come up with foreigners I’ve met, they’ve always been so amazed by the system so I thought I’d write it down anyway.

        And yeah, personal space is definitely a big deal in this part of the world, haha.

    • Miss Manse

      Suomi mainittu, torilla tavataan 😉

      Anyway, there are other cities than the Helsinki-Espoo-Vantaa -area (we forget that a lot since most events and people are concentrated around there), i.e. Tampere and Turku. On an international scale they’re quite small (couple hundred thousand people max.) but significant in terms of the whole country. I think I only realised this after moving to Tampere for university.

      Also, Lapland! It’s a good holiday destination, there’s always something different for every season – gorgeous nature, midnight sun, great for winter sports, home of Father Christmas & northern lights!

      • unexpectedly

        You’re right in everything – I realized I didn’t mention the other cities and I thought some dismayed Finn from somewhere else would come and tell me off for being a stuck-up Helsinkian who’s never been outside of Ring III. I’m glad you’re being rather nice about me not mentioning the others, haha! I didn’t do it because I thought my comment was already long enough… I am actually from Espoo myself tbh but I just wrote Helsinki because it’s basically the same when you look at it from a foreign point of view. Also, I have been outside of the Capital Area plenty of times, including Tampere and Turku 😉 (and especially in Eastern Finland since my family is from there originally and we have a summer cottage there).

        I love Lapland as well, and definitely can recommend that for everyone! Skiing, reindeer, gorgeous nature, northern lights… it’s great!

        • Blissmariss

          Oh my goodness, the Tampere Tappara have the CRAZIEST hockey fans in the world!

        • Miss Manse

          Ahaha, everyone knows there’s no life outside Ring III! I’m also from Espoo (and normally just say Helsinki to foreigners – come on, Espoo’s basically just suburbs) and our summer cottage is in Eastern Finland 🙂

          Oh yeah: In Finland it’s unusual if you DON’T have a summer cottage. Next to a lake. Which is probably weirder than we realise.

    • Katharina

      FYI: the same recycling system for bottles and cans exists in Germany. I actually think many european countries have a similar system.

      • Camila

        You would be surprised to learn that we do have such recycling system almost fully functional in Brazil. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of not-so-nice things about us, but the truth is that we recycle almost all aluminum cans and plastic bottles we make. The bad side is that contrary to what you European guys do (taking the recyclable items away yourselves), there’s a horrible habit around here of throwing them on the ground, with the excuse that “someone will eventually collect it”. 🙁

      • jfenbauer

        in the us, it’s state by state but in Iowa we have the same system. there are a bunch of homeless folk that live on returning found cans. instant custodial services for idiots who throw things on the ground.

  • Cyanmoon1

    Dear visitors to Dublin: Do not waste your time drinking in the Temple Bar area. Only tourists do this. It is noisy, tacky, and while expensive to the wallet is cheap in every other sense of the word.

    • Sean

      Any noisy and tacky tourists should feel free to stick to Temple Bar exclusively.

  • Sandra Sinclair

    Two quick things about two places – where I’m from, and where I live now.

    I was born and grew up in the state of Michigan in the USA. Michigan consists of two peninsulas, surrounded by the five Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan Erie and Michigan) that also border Canada. Many people who grew up in the US will know that part, but what they usually don’t know is the habit that Michiganders from the lower peninsula (which is shaped like a mitten with the thumb on the right) have when asked where they live or grew up. Without fail, such a person will raise one hand so it faces the other person in the right direction, and will point, saying “I was born here (middle of the palm of the hand in my case = Lansing); and I grew up mostly here (down where the palm merges with the fat part near the thumb = near Ypsilanti, about an hour west of Detroit); and my sister now lives here (very tip of the thumb = Port Austin)”.

    Now I live in Montreal, and what I think most people don’t know about Montreal (besides just what a great place it is to live, despite crazy politics) is that it’s an island in the middle of the St, Lawrence River, which is part of a seaway created in the 1950s that enables ocean vessles to go all the way from the Atlantic Ocean through the Great Lakes to a port in the state of Wisconsin.

    Reading a bit further to where someone says New Haven has the best pizza makes me think also of Montreal bagels, which beat any other bagels to bits. They are hand kneaded, rolled into a rope and made into loops, then baked in wood-fired ovens. For some reason, this is the way the Jewish immigrants who came to Montreal did it, and I tell you, once you have had them you will never go back, especially to the mass-produced ones you get in grocery stores.

    • Pam Collins

      Montreal bagels are the best!!!

  • LC

    I’m from Sydney, Australia. (Not be confused with Sydney, Canada). I live abroad and people often delight in telling me that they think Melbourne is a better city than Sydney. They are wrong – not because Melbourne isn’t a great city in its own right (and has a much better transport system I’ll admit), but to compare the two would be ludicrous, as they are so different. Sydney on the surface seems like a tourist’s nightmare. However – It is full to the bursting with art, culture, quirk – the best and most varied cafés and restaurants in I think the world and truly excellent people. Melbourne’s culture is accessible to anyone, but I like that in Sydney you have to do more than merely scratch the surface to get at what makes it a truly unique and special place to live.
    Hot tip – don’t go to Bondi. It’s an overcrowded tourist trap. Little Bay, Coogee and Gordon’s Bay are my three favourites.
    And our current state of politics is a poor representation of the country as a whole…

  • Fiel

    Estonia here.

    Last summer when me and my friends were hiking, we saw, amongst other wild animals, a young bear. (This is not so uncommon. There are about 500 bears living in Estonia and some of them are quite curious beings. We’ve also got plenty of wolves but they (despite having a much more sinister reputation) are actually proven cowards.)

    When evening came we were sitting by the camp fire, singing, and between the songs I shared interesting facts about bears as I googled them during the songs. (As a home of Kazaa, Skype, TransferWise, etc., Estonia is famous for its advances in the information technology field. So having wireless connection anywhere in the woods seemed natural.)

    If this sounds exciting, come and check our country out. Everyone’s welcome and winter is a great time visit it (even if the bears are all asleep). http://ucdean.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/tallinn-winter.jpg

    If right now you can’t travel here physically, you can still get a glimpse of E-stonia by becoming an e-resident of Estonia. It’s a new solution designed to provide everyone with secure e-services that so far have only been accessible to Estonians. Read more here:
    https://e-estonia.com/e-residents/about/

    • Olga J.

      Tallinn is so beautiful. Used to go there often and stay with friends in the old part of the city.

    • Zhenya

      Hey, so glad to see one more person from Estonia here! 🙂

    • Lynn

      That place in the photo looks beautiful!

  • PRChica88

    I’m from Puerto Rico. A lot of people don’t know that most of the island is fully bilingual in English and Spanish. Our official languages are in fact English and Spanish. We are in a weird situation where we are part of the US, but we are not a state. Our official term is “Estado LIbre y Asociado de Puerto Rico” which translates to “Associated Free State of Puerto Rico”. We do not have a president, only a governor. Our president is the President of the US, although we do not get to vote in any presidential election.

    Our association to the US means that we are granted citizenship upon birth and we get to take advantage of US programs like government assistance (welfare, food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc…) and Social Security benefits. And unlike every other Hispanic group, we can freely travel to the US without visas or passports (this makes other HIspanics hate on us–for lack of a better term). This also means that ny US citizen can travel to PR without a passport–they only need a State ID.

    Question I get asked often: Do Puerto Ricans want to become the 51st? In my opinion the answer is no. We are pretty satisfied with the status quo. Plus, we would have to be voted in as a state, and I don’t think that would happen. This video explains it well.

    Puerto Rico 51st state?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSgVRkDD_m0

    Interesting fact about Puerto Rico: We have ALOT of days off. We celebrate all US federal holidays AND our own. I believe we have 31 calendar days off total. Also, we are known to have the longest Xmas season ever. Starting from Thanksgiving Day all the way to January 16 (after a time called Las Octivitas). This is non-stop party time.

    • PRChica88

      Edit: ***Question I get asked often: Do IIII want Puerto Rico want to become the 51st? In my opinion the answer is no. IIIII am pretty satisfied with the status quo***

  • Leeann

    Hi from Melbourne, Australia. Even the whole of Australia is absolutely magical, I can say that Melbourne is definitely the best city in Australia. Apart from being named as the ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ for the fourth year running, we are made up of so many different cultures that we have magnificent art, culture and we are definitely a foodie’s paradise. We have fantastic weather – you can get all four season’s in one day and as per the rest of Australia, we have a fantastic attitude to life and are welcoming and friendly. Come visit, you’ll love it! Leeann 🙂

    • Whanata

      Also in Metro Australia, we do not ride on Kangaroos. We do not have Wombats or Koala as pets in Metro Australia. I don’t think we flush differently

      I live in Sydney 😛

      • jfenbauer

        no wombats for pets? shoot. and i was all ready to move there. 😉 just kidding i get the same kind of stuff said out here in fly-over land

      • Stacee

        In Metro Australia? I grew up in the country and there was still no riding on Kangaroos. Also Koalas are vicious. No one would want one as a pet. I remember being chased by a wombat when I was little too. Scary.

    • Kelly Benson

      You forgot the sports! Melbourne is the sports-lovers capital!

      I live in Melbourne but grew up in a small country town about 3 hours east. It’s the kind of place that most people haven’t heard of, but it is the gateway to some amazing national parks and real off the beaten track places. Great for camping, you just have to watch out for the dropbears 😉

      • Leeann

        Oh my goodness, how can I forget the sport??? Sports loving capital of the world!! 🙂

  • Joshua Warhurst

    I’m from a small suburban town called Ashland, Massachusetts, with a population of about 17,000.

    It was home to the maker of the first electric clock, so lots of things are clock-related in our town. Not only that, we have the largest Hindu temple in New England. And a haunted house!

    That said, perhaps the most noteworthy thing in our town is actually the fact that we had a dye chemical company in our town called Nyanza, which dumped waste into the local rivers. People who swam in the waters near the plant between the 1960s and 1980s had a 200%-300% higher chance of cancer, giving our town the highest rate of cancer in the state. Crazy.

    I now live in Shichikashuku, Japan, with a population of 1500 and shrinking, where 45% of the population is over the age of 65. It’s a nice change. The town’s name actually means “seven inns”, referring to the once seven distinct parts of town where travelers coming from the capital would stay on their way up north. Now, of course, the town no longer has that purpose, and instead most of the residents are farmers.

    The town is quite rich though, because of the hydroelectric dam. There’s a huge lake, which is actually artificial, filled in sixty years ago. There was a part of town where the lake now is, and all those residents were forced to move for the lake. Those people are living quite well, of course, as is the town, with all the money they make. It means even in the middle of nowhere we have smartboards and flat screen TVs in every classroom.

    Anywho, in spite of people in both places saying how lame their respective places are, I love both towns.

  • Christian Murga Cotrina

    Hi, I am from Lima, Peru.

    Well, what you might not know is that Lima is a HUGE city (almost 10 million people) located in a desert. The city’s growth has been so fast in the alst 40 years that it is very disordered, specially in the north and east parts.
    I think that Lima’s weather is almost perfect. 17-20 °C on winter and 23-25° on summer (except when there is a El Niño). It almost never rains here, but the humidity is very high!
    What do you know about my city? Maybe I can help you answering your doubts!

    • Talia

      I’m dying to visit Peru, sounds like there’s never a bad time to go!

      • Christian Murga Cotrina

        It is NEVER a bad time to visit Peru 🙂 There are tons of nice places to check!

    • PRChica88

      Wow I didn’t realize Lima was so big!

    • Jon

      Peruvian restaurants are hot in San Francisco! Love the ceviches and the japanese influence.
      I would love to visit.

      • Christian Murga Cotrina

        Ceviche is delicious! I love it when they mix octopus, fish, squid and pota 😀

  • Stefan Barkow

    Hey all,

    I’m from Chesterton, Indiana. We’re a town near the
    southernmost shore of Lake Michigan that is so set on being a small town
    we have refused to elect a mayor or to become a city even though we’ve
    been big enough for years. Our town is great–friendly people, lots of
    parks, etc.–but not really noteworthy compared to other Midwestern
    towns. Except in one regard. For decades, we were the site of an annual
    “Wizard of Oz festival,” commemorating the 1939 movie by that name. I
    have no idea why. To my knowledge, the town has absolutely no connection
    to the movie. I guess someone years ago just decided that it was going
    to be our bizarre little thing, and BOOM, the next few decades were
    spent putting small dogs in baskets and screeching “I’m melting! I’m
    melting!” in witch-voices. We would even pay for the munchkins, the
    actual tiny human beings who sang “We Represent the Lollipop Guild” in
    the movie, to come to our town and wave from the limo we rented for
    them. And I don’t know if this is the most logical or illogical part of
    all of it but, roughly coinciding with the (natural) deaths of the munchkins, the
    festival is no longer held. Now, Chesterton is not known for anything. And I
    don’t know if that is better or worse than before.

    • jfenbauer

      no mayor. i love it.
      “putting little dogs in baskets” lmao

  • Jon

    I have now lived in San Francisco for 10 years with my spouse and 3 kids. I was born in Korea but grew up in Canada and lived in Manhattan 10 years before moving to California. As a little boy I lived in Govan Saskatchewan in Canada and I bet I’m the only one here who’s lived there!
    San Francisco is a very well known place so here are some things most people may not know about this beautiful city. It’s not just full of liberals, hippies, gays, hipsters and techies different neighborhoods are like different tribes and we have our share of bankers and finance types in pacific heights/presidio heights/seacliff. It’s a relatively small city given it’s fame and profile at 830k. At the danger of overly generalizing it is a city of wealthy caucasian families, middle class asians families (mainly chinese) and hispanic families. The public schools have less than 10% caucasian students since in general middle class white families have moved to marin, east bay, or down the peninsula. San Francisco has some of the top private schools in the country where the children of previously mentioned wealthy neighborhoods attend. The prices of family size homes has reached a point that one has to be in certain industries to afford it so it’s very self selecting – VC, private equity, hedge funds and successful tech start-ups. Most doctors and dentists are priced out of these areas.
    Next time one visits San Francisco tour various areas and note how different the locals are in these neighborhoods. Tour Valencia street in the Mission, Castro street, Irving street in Sunset, Broadway in Pacific Heights (and Washington St in Presidio Heights), Seacliff Ave and El Camino Del Mar in Seacliff area. While you are in Sea Cliff make sure you go to Baker beach (a lesser known by tourists) for a picture perfect shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you go across the GG bridge instead of the crowded view area go up the hill to the Marin Headlands parking area. You do need to then walk 100m slightly up hill but will be rewarded a glorious view of the GG bridge with the city of San Francisco in the background.

    • Steven Mello

      Fun fact about San Fran, there is no parking in the entire city. Also they have completely vertical streets. Lol, seriously though, bring a bike.

  • C KARTIK

    Indian.Born and brought up in Delhi. Bad ass capital.Great food.Chilly winters,festivals,loutish leery men,soon to be called the rape capital of India.Friends or enemies,you make them here;they stay with you for life.

    Currently living in Mumbai;nothing Millennium or Maximum about it.Poverty all around,sticky humid weather year around.Sharing a similar geography as Tokyo/NYC,rentals,cost of living is sky high.

    Commuting by public or private vehicles is a huge hassle.
    When the denizens are not scurrying around they can be a lot more helpful than denizens of other cities.

    One of the safest places for women.

  • DeeDee Massey

    The saying is true. Everything is bigger in Texas. That includes pizza.

    BIG CITIES

    Pizza destinations are only a few hours’ drive from Dallas.

    Naples – 2 h 10 min
    New York – 1 h 37 min
    Chicago – 4 h 46 min

    Actually, those are all small towns in Texas, so local commercial pizza options are pretty limited. Actually actually, Chicago is a ghost town now remembered in a historical marker and a street name in a town now known as Lamesa. 🙂 Thankfully, awesome pizza is easy to find all over Dallas, which looks a bit like a gigantic pepperoni pizza on maps.

    https://maps.google.com/maps?sll=32.8206645,-96.7313396&sspn=0.443264,0.7034033&q=pizza&output=classic&dg=ntvb

    BIG DREAMS

    According to the Campisi family history, in 1946 they opened Texas’ first pizzeria in Dallas at a bar called
    the Idle Hour on the corner of Knox and McKinney. In 1950, they moved their restaurant to its current location on Mockingbird Lane near Southern Methodist University.

    In 1958, two Texas brothers, Joe and R. L. Spillman, opened the first Pizza Inn, across from Southern Methodist University. Meanwhile, two Kansas brothers, Frank and Dan Carney, founded the competitor franchise, Pizza Hut, and opened their first store in Wichita. In 1971, Pizza Inn tried to buy Pizza Hut but
    the deal failed over some territorial conflicts. Pizza Hut sold to PepsiCo in 1977 and moved their corporate headquarters to Dallas in 1995. Frank later became a franchisee of another chain, Papa John’s.

    BIG LARGENESS

    Last year, Dirt Road Cookers from Hondo, TX, broke the Guinness World Records for the the biggest commercially available pizza by producing a 46 square-foot pie.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/huge-texas-pizza-sets-world-record-article-1.1430794

    BIG HAIRY DEAL

    The preceding information consists of facts anyone can look up on the internet. What you don’t know is that today, the best pizza in the state is homemade on special occasions by yours truly. It’s 16’’ in diameter, has a beer crust, and is loaded with Texas-style barbequed beef. However, the sauce is so secret that I don’t even know it, because I make it up as I go each time.

    • DeeDee Massey

      P.S. I just remembered when a Aggie (from TX A&M University), travelled up to Dallas for a game against SMU and tried pizza for the first time. The waiter taking the order for the large supreme-with-extra-cheese pie asked if he wanted it cut into 6 slices or 8 slices. He said, “Better make it 6. I don’t think I could eat 8.”

  • Steven Mello

    I’ve been living in Nashville for about six months now. I don’t have much free time, so I haven’t experienced it very well, but I can share what I’ve learned so far.

    In my opinion, Tennesseans are bad drivers. There seem to be far too many accidents, especially when it rains and even more so when it snows. Not sure if it’s true, but I heard the Tennessee court said it was our right to drive up to 20 miles over the speed limit.

    It seems like they are constantly closing, tearing down, rebuilding, and remodeling everything, especially opry land. (Theme park, then mall, then closed, then mall, then hotel, then mall and hotel.)

    That’s all I can think of at the moment.

  • Tara Shankar Chakraborty

    I’m from Kolkata, India. Being the world’s second largest population, its a shame for us that our projection among most other foreign nations is often erroneous and misguided. So here’s some random facts-

    1. I’ve seen in youtube videos that people is condescending to Indians because of their accent. This might come as a shock, but English is our 2nd language! We Indians are constantly striving to improve the English literacy in here. You can’t really blame the accent, can you? Moreover, we must have the knowledge of at least two other regional language up our sleeves! That counts as a bonus point, right?

    2. India is a great place for any traveller. There’s so much diversity wrapped in a tiny piece of land, you’re bound to be spellbound! Come visit Kashmir and you’ll know why it is hailed as the ‘Heaven of Earth’. Come visit Kerala and serenity will get a new definition to you. And don’t forget to visit Kolkata! You’ll fall in love with the Bengali culture, the humdrum yet ever-enthusiastic troops of people and the College-street. No such book have ever been published that you’ll not get your hands on if you come to College-street, as the saying goes!

    3. We invented the number zero to let you guys show how many ****s you give about each other!

    4. Last but not the least, India’s venture to Mars cost less than the film Gravity! Mangalyaan, India’s interplanetary project was launched in November 2013 at an estimated cost of USD 72 million while the hollywood movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney was reportedly made at an estimated USD 100 mn. We can be poor, yes, but who says we aren’t frugal?

    Love, from India.

  • Michael

    What you don’t know about where I’m from is that there used to be a large horticultural research farm with an apiary and an extensive orchard, and a family farm that had been in its family for generations. Who needs green when there could be asphalt? Asphalt is wonderful stuff, and instead of planting crops, you can plant big box stores. Big box stores grow and grow, and they attract the nicest people.

  • Stacy Vinciguerra

    I grew up and raised a small child in the shadows of the Magic Kingdom in
    Anaheim, CA. As such, most of this response will be about Disneyland –which is
    really it’s own little microcosm anyway.

    How to pack for the day at Disneyland:

    Personally, I have a “surfer” backpack with a waterproof inner compartment that I used to
    bring when my son young. There are some areas and rides where you could get wet
    .If you have small children, plan for a change of clothes and way to carry wet
    clothes. Alternatively, there are lockers near the front gate that you can
    rent.

    I bring snacks and water bottles with us and rarely buy food at the parks. Disney
    will allow you to take in any food that can be eating while walking around the
    park (think sandwiches, not spaghetti). The food at Disneyland is expensive and
    not very good, so why not save the money and bring your own snacks? **This also
    gives you a big advantage in getting on more rides! You can spend an hour or
    more waiting in line for food, ordering, getting your order, sitting at a table
    and eating said expensive and mediocre food, or you can eat a sandwich or
    granola bar in line for a ride. **If you do eat at the park, CA Adventure’s
    food is of much higher quality than Disneyland.

    Crowds:

    October, January, and February are the least crowded months, so
    if you can swing it, go then.

    Midweek is the least crowded at Disney, so if you spend a week
    in Anaheim, go to Disney midweek, and check out the beaches on the weekend
    (Disneyland is about 30 min from Huntington and Newport Beaches)

    If you get Park Hopper passes (which I recommend), spend the
    most crowded part of the day (approximately from lunch until dinner) at the
    less-crowded California Adventure and spend the morning and evening at
    Disneyland.

    Choose the order of your rides strategically – go for the “E-
    ticket” rides (like any new ride or any ride ending in the word “Mountain”) at
    opening and closing when the lines are shortest. Also, you can use Fast Passes to get a few
    more of these heavy draw rides in.

    During a parade is another good time to get some of those big
    rides in.

    If you are planning to see a parade, go to a show (such as the
    Tiki Room, Aladdin, or Mickey Mouse
    Clubhouse) or explore an exhibit (such as Tom Sawyer’s Island, Innoventions, or
    Redwood Creek Challenge Trail), choose times when the park is crowded to do
    this – better to use those few precious hours of light crowds on the rides and
    then wait the crowds out doing things that don’t involve lines.

    Small Children or Special Needs:

    There are private nursing areas, rocking chairs, baby food and
    microwaves as well as changing tables and toddler sized toilets park) in a
    center at the end of Main Street – right next door to the first aid station. **If
    you have a child who is afraid of the automatic flush of some public toilets,
    these are a the only non-automatic flush toilets in the park.

    If someone in your party has a physical or cognitive disability
    that inhibits their ability to stand in lines, it is possible to get passes
    that allow them to avoid the lines. There is much more info on that – and other
    suggestions (such as social stories) on their
    website. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities-services/

    Other:

    Use public transportation to save your feet whenever possible. If you can take the
    train or monorail to get closer to somewhere, do it! It’s fun & you get a
    break from walking (same goes for transportation to get you down Main
    Street)

    Speaking of Disney transportation: if you ask (and nobody beat you to it!) you
    can: ride in the front or back car on the monorail, pilot the Mark Twain
    riverboat, and ride on the tender of the train! **there are special rules about
    the train they can only allow it if you start and end at Main street station,
    and as long as they don’t need to refuel on that round trip.

    Some of the trains have cabooses. They are usually open and very pretty inside
    – if you don’t get to ride on the tender, I’d try to get in the caboose 😉

    Look for hidden Mickey’s! These are Mickey-Mouse shapes (the three circles that make up his head and ears) hidden in everyday things (example: 3 stone tiles on the ground that are arranged to look like Mickey)

    If you end up eating out in Anaheim (as opposed to within the Disneyland Resort), there are some great (casual dining) Italian restaurants within a 5-10 min drive from the park: Mari’s Pizza, Momma Cozza’s,
    or Cortina’s.

    Have fun!

  • Elizabeth J.

    Redding, California, which is about three hours north of Sacramento, pop. 100K.

    Stunning scenery, inexpensive cost-of-living, unpretenious, no traffic, no smog, wide open spaces. Hot HOT summers but I love it since we are surrounded by lakes. Crime and drugs, yes, but I can’t tell how it compares to other towns our size.

    We have been poisoned by stiff political partisanship as there is a large population of Tea Party extremists and conspiracy de jour theorists but a few of them were thrown out in the last election, thankfully.

    I love California, warts and all, and couldn’t live anywhere else. And Tim, Hwy 101 is amazing.

  • Alexandra Novikova

    Hi, people. I’ve lived in Syberia my entire life (Novosibirsk city if anyone’s interested).

    When I meet people from other places and tell them I live in Syberia the only reaction is: “Wow, this place is like… cold”. So that’s everything people know about Syberia.

    The thing is, yeah, it can be cold. In winter. Which lasts for, like, half a year. It can be really cold, like -40 C, or something like meh cold, around -20 C. This year it’s also really snowy. Started snowing in mid October and we’re neck deep in snow by now. But our climate is called Continental (I’m not sure if there is such a term in english). The thing is, we have really cold winters and really hot summers. So in summer temperature goes up to 40 C sometimes which is not really nice. Most of the time it’s 25 – 30 C. Like a normal summer. We’ve got a beach here and everything.

    So, yeah, now you know. Tell your friends.

    • Thea

      really fascinating. 4 hours by car by the closest town is a lot…

      • Pascalle van Straten

        if you live in the Netherland, that will take you out of the country in any direction. here, if you drive more than 30 minutes it’s a ‘killer’s commute and you get up extra early for it 😉

        • Thea

          I know! I’m half Dutch myself 🙂

        • Alexandra Novikova

          I work in a companion town of Novosibirsk city. It’s called Akademgorodok. It’s kind of like a University town with a lot of Institutes around it, it was specifically built for scientists to live and work in.
          It’s an hour drive from my home, which is somewhat in the center of Novosibirsk.

      • Alexandra Novikova

        I went on a european bus tour once. Felt like I was just driving out of one town and immediately into another. Weird.

    • jfenbauer

      you are talking some serious spaces out there. weather sounds just like the midwest of USA. can change from 0 to 15C in less than 4 hours. some there?

      • Alexandra Novikova

        Spaces really are huge. When Napoleon and Hitler tried to invade, the farthest they got was Moskow. Just for the heck of it, go find Moskow on a map. Then find Cape Dezhnev – the eastmost point. Guys never stood a chance.

        All places on the same latitude have somewhat similar climate, so yeah, I guess it’s the same. And it can change quickly because of strong winds. We had a storm this summer, temperature dropped from 30 to 10 in 2 hours or so.

        • jfenbauer

          poor little dictators, didn’t own a globe. makes world domination problematic. lol

    • Shareiro

      Exile. First thing that associates when I hear Siberia. My grandparents were exiled and my mom was born in Siberia.
      I know decades passed since and things changed.
      Anyway interesting thing how these historical events mark peoples minds.

  • Blissmariss

    I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

    A few things you may not know about Vancouver:

    – Vancouver is known as Lotusland to the rest of Canada because we don’t actually get a real Canadian winter. Really, we don’t – I grew up where there is real winter…Vancouver doesn’t have one – despite the fact that we hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. Proof, the city has (rumoured) two snowplows. BUT, you can go golfing in town and skiiing on the north shore mountains in the same day…the snow is close by.

    – Vancouverites do yoga. Lots of it.

    – Vancouver has GOOD FOOD – the best sushi, pho, and dim sum. Oh yeah, and BC has the best beer. Vancouver contributes to that statement.

    – Vancouver is known as the no-fun city. It’s kind of true if you want nightlife. We’re too busy going to yoga and hiking.

    – Which means that Vancouver is one of the healthiest cities in Canada…actually I think Vancouver is one of the healthiest in the world. I don’t have any statistical proof, but people are generally of a healthier size that many of the other cities I have traveled to in recent history.

    – Vancouver is the most expensive city to live in Canada and even North America according to the Economist last year. Many may debate it, but crackshackormansion.com might give you a sense of the real estate crap we deal with here. Seriously, play the game for one minute, just one. You’ll get the idea.

    – We have a big ass park – Stanley Park – smack dab downtown Vancouver
    which is bigger than Central Park in New York and nearly completely
    surrounded by a seawall along the Pacific ocean. Killer whales have been
    seen from the park. There’s a cannon, the nine o’clock gun, that goes
    off every night at 9 PM from Stanley Park. And last week they removed a
    WWII mortar shell from the park found by some dude with a metal
    detector…crazy.

    As ridiculous as Vancouver can be (there’s a Housewives of Vancouver), it’s a pretty sweet place to live.

    • Ben Lee

      fellow Canuck here..one thing the world needs to understand about Canadians as well is that Canadians are some of the most laid back people i have ever met..
      -but, you do not mess with their hockey..i had just arrived here in Canada and was just starting to enjoy the social phenomenon that is hockey when i was caught in the Vancouver riots in 2010..i have never been so terrified in my life, running from one place to another, living the life that i only experienced before in the form of first person shooter zombie games..except that this time, i have no gun, will go to jail if i manage to acquire one and use it, the zombies are real people with real people skills, like you know, running, and i get to experience real terror like never before..
      -if you spend the majority of your day in downtown Vancouver, don’t be surprised if the downtown core looks like the surface of Mars today, like a wasteland tomorrow, and like the year 2354 the day after that..most people don’t know till now that there’s A LOT of shows being shot in Vancouver, and the province of BC as a whole..
      -WEED! WEED EVERYWHERE! (can’t stand the smell of it, but to each their own..)
      -nightlife: i kinda disagree..its all a matter of expectations and perspectives, i guess..do you want a Vegas like night out? welp, prepare for disappointment then..but Vancouver and even Victoria is not so bad when it comes to nightlife long as you keep an open mind and adjust your expectations accordingly..i came from the Philippines where the drinks are dirt cheap and the clubs only close when people go home..i organized a stag party before where we kept it going for 36 hours and the club owners LOVED us..
      imagine my letdown when i came here and learned that alcohol is expensive hence the necessity of “pre drinking”..and that local laws mandate clubs to close at 0200 hours at the very latest..
      -Vancouverites and Victorians are the most weather sensitive people i have met..unless its a sunny day, there will be complaining to some degree or another..i witness people from the East Coast snort with derision when someone complains about how cold it is getting now during the winter here out west..i kind of make the same snorting noise when people complain about “heavy rains”..i came from a country that doesn’t consider it rain yet unless the splatters in your windshield has the diameter of a baseball and merely standing in the rain can cause breathing difficulties because of how closely spaced the sheets of raindrops are..

      BUT..Vancouver and Victoria are my first loves, i don’t think i will ever trade it for anything else..

      • Blissmariss

        About the hockey, normal and hardcore hockey fans steer clear of the ridiculousness of riots. That shit’s just not cool and completely embarrassing for the city.

  • Craig Blurton

    I’ve lived in Hong Kong since 1996. Most people in the U.S. can’t find Hong Kong on a map. News coverage of Hong Kong in the U.S. is focused primarily on the highly developed urban areas, but Hong Kong is so much more than tall buildings and busy streets.

    Out of a total of 1,108 sq km in Hong Kong, 3/4s is countryside. Twenty-four country parks and 22 nature conservation areas have been set aside by the Country Parks Ordinance that provides a legal framework for the management of the parks and special areas.

    Yes, Hong Kong has some of the most urban areas on the planet, for example Ap Lei Chau, the small island that borders Aberdeen Harbour on the southside of Hong Kong Island, is the third most densely populated island in the world. Any list of districts of cities by population density will always have several Hong Kong entries, but Hong Kong also has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, marine reserves, sweeping beaches, mountains, waterfalls and forests. It is a phenomenally beautiful place, including the urban areas. Come and see for yourself.

    • jfenbauer

      i love HK and really miss living there. love it. i always said, ‘it’s a great place to live but only meh to visit’.

  • Felipr1

    Colombia:

    Drugs are very frowned-upon in most cities

    ’nuff said

  • Jerome

    I’ve lived in New York City for seven years, but I grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

    Virginia Beach has a HUGE military community, mostly Navy. That’s because it’s next to the city of Norfolk, where the largest naval base in the world is.

    Virginia Beach has an excellent public school system. I’m everlastingly grateful for the education I received there.

    There is a large Filipino community in Virginia Beach. It’s the largest ethnic group after African-Americans.

    The beach itself is fine, but I didn’t grow up going to it very often. We would go maybe twice a year. My parents are from the Caribbean, so they’re used to perfect beaches.

    The state of Virginia itself is gorgeous. The Shenandoah Valley is perhaps my favorite place on earth. If you’ve never been to Virginia, I’d suggest visiting Charlottesville first (unless you really want to go to the beach). D.C. is worth visiting too, of course.

    • Jerome

      Oh I forgot what visitors should do. For Virginia Beach, people should go to Seashore State Park, especially the petrified forest. Honestly, there’s not much to do besides go to the beach. But people are very friendly.

      For the state itself, as I said, Charlottesville is AWESOME. Visit UVA and go hiking. Richmond is also a great city to visit. Natural Bridge is also great.

  • I was born in Penang Island, Malaysia and have been living here since forever.
    It’s just a tiny island on the map but I’ve grown to love it here. Beaches are basically at every corner.
    Penang Island is most famous for its street food though. I’ve grown up eating Penang food and I can say that it’s pretty damn awesome. In short, Penang is a food heaven.
    Other than that, it’s a world heritage city. Tons of historical sites. It kinda blends history and modern life together. There are still many places that I have yet to visit even though I’ve lived here for 21 years.
    The weather’s quite alright, hot and damp all year round.
    The only annoyance I have is that since it’s a small island, traffic jams are apparent throughout the day.

    Everyone should come visit this little island when they can. You’ll be in for a treat!

    • Tom (Manchester, UK)

      I loved Penang when I visited. Man, the sun’s hot down there!

  • Jenna

    I grew up in Wasilla, Alaska until I moved to the lower 48 for college.

    Here’s the answers to the top questions that I’m always asked:

    -What is the weather like there?

    In the winter, the weather was usually between 5 degrees F and -20 degrees F. In the summer, a normal day was around 65 degrees F. Once or twice a summer, the weather would reach 80 degrees or so. Once every few years, the weather gets up to 90 degrees or higher and people start dying (figuratively) because no one has A/C.

    -Do you own a pet penguin/polar bear?

    No.

    -Do you live in an igloo?

    If I’m feeling snarky, I’ll tell the asker that I left my flat iron on and melted the igloo but we’re in the process of rebuilding. Then we will both laugh awkwardly and I’ll explain that I actually live in a normal house.

    -Do you have a dogsled?

    I personally don’t but one of my friends in high school ran dogs. She did the junior ididarod but had to drop out when some of her dogs turned on each other and started fighting. I think she had to be helicoptered back.

    -How did you get your car here?

    A surprising number of people don’t seem to realize that AK is connected to the US by way of Canada. They think that Alaska hangs out off the coast of California with Hawaii since that’s how it is always portrayed in maps. I think that this may be one of the biggest red flags for the quality of America’s public education system.

    -Do they pay you to live there?

    Yes.

    Yes they do.

    You know what? It rocks.

    If you ever go to Alaska, I HUGELY recommend driving along the Kenai Peninsula, especially between Anchorage and GIrdwood. This road goes around the inlet and you look up these cliffs to your left where there are Dall Sheep, and look over the inlet on your right where there are whales- usually Belugas. My family always plays, ‘Count the Dall Sheep’ and ‘Look for the whales!’ whenever we go through there.

    Also, if you’re ever offered a chance to go up Hatcher’s Pass, TAKE IT! You won’t be sorry.

    P.S. – this picture was taken from my bedroom window.

    • Pete Murray

      As one of those Australians who will travel anywhere (which covers most of us) one of the first places I visited in the US was Alaska – weird I know. I think everyone should go to Alaska. Problem is, if they did it would ruin one of the best reasons for going there – all that space and room to move. I bet 98% of Americans don’t know what they’re missing out on.

      • jfenbauer

        my uncle and cousins moved to Nome in 1969. i’d have to disagree with you Pete, i think a whole lot of americans know what they’re missing, but it is really expensive to get there. these days your ‘average’ american is working two jobs. so….. it’s complicated. 🙂

        • Jenna

          Wow, Nome is pretty far North! How do they like it?

          • jfenbauer

            two of my cousins are still there, one moved back to the lower 48 when she got married. my eldest male cousin retired a few years ago from the state patrol. his beat was Barrow. man oh man, he has some great stories!! when my uncle retired from teaching he moved to just outside of Soldatna and took up trapping. he was an amazing man. (was serving at pearl harbour “that day”)

            so yeah, they love/d it!

      • Jenna

        Not weird at all- I’m glad you enjoyed your visit! As one of those Americans who has only traveled to Mexico, I sure wish that I could say I’ve been to Australia! It’s on my ‘bucket list’. If you could recommend one place to visit around your home, what would it be?

        • Pete Murray

          Jenna, I’d like to say ‘all of it’ but Australia is huge, there’s not many people in it and as a result everything is a long way from everything else. While the big cities all have something to offer they are kind of the same the world over (in my opinion). Sydney might as well be SF, Portland reminded me a lot of Adelaide and Melbourne could be……Memphis? (Just with the second biggest Greek population outside of Athens). Perth is the most remote and isolated ‘city’ on the planet. I spent the last decade of my life in remote South Australia. Coober Pedy (in the middle) and Ceduna (coast) and I would give you the same advice that any of us who have lived there would – get into the outback and see it. The weather is the opposite to Alaska in every way possible but the remoteness and sense of space (there’s nothing there but plenty of it) is quite indescribable. That said, you’d have to be mad to spend a decade there…… I went to Far North Queensland for the first time this year and instantly fell in love with the place. Cairns and the surrounds, particularly further north really are paradise. So the far less populated north (including Darwin, Broome, etc) would be my pick.

          A famous British/American author once wrote (something along the lines of) ‘there’s only two annoying things about Australians – they will happily tell you they live in the greatest country on earth. And secondly – they’re right…’ Seems fair to me.

        • Stacee

          Tasmania (the little island below the mainland of Australia). It’s beautiful, diverse and the food is spectacular. A yes, it is part of Australia

    • Jenna

      OK I’m going to give the picture one more try…

  • Bri

    Hello I live in Atlanta Georgia!

    The first thing people need to know is how quickly the city has grown. I grew up in the biggest suburb area Gwinnet county which has well over a million people now and was all farmland 20 years ago. That being said almost no one is actually from here and I joke all the time I’m one of the five Atlanta natives.

    That being said Atlanta is insanely diverse and people from all over the world make their homes here. I live next door to a massive (and stunning) Hindu temple. I actually have a place of worship for all 5 major religions walking distance from my house.

    However unfortunately the conservative religious right heavily dominates our public offices. Most people under 40 are fed up and threatening to move somewhere else because of how behind the rest of the county we are regarding gay marriage and weed. Buying alcohol was illegal on Sunday until 2011.we still had sodemy laws until 2004. The younger politicians are frustrated and want change but know they have to cater to the senior citizen crowd who are more likely to vote.

    The rave scene here is exploding with events happening basically every night. Getting Tomorrow world was a huge deal and we have a Georgia burning man.

    We are also the new Hollywood with tons of movies being shot here because of our good weather and huge tax incentives. Mocking Jay was shot here.

    Our public transportation is a joke a likely to stay that way. Things are way too spread out to make it a desirable option. Yes traffic is just as bad as every one says.

    Everything does shut down here when it snows. I know we were a national laughing stock last year but before that we had zero snowfall from 2010 to early 2014. I font even remember the last time we got snow before that. It does look like our climate is shifting and it’s time to invest in such things but until recently we didn’t have the population or amount of snowfall yo buy plows and all that.

    • Bri

      Also Coke a cola was invented here and we have the world’s biggest aquarium.

      • Stefan Barkow

        I drove there just for the aquarium when it first opened! It was quite amazing. They had all four whale sharks then, and we sat in that auditorium room and watched until we got to see all four of them swim by at once.

    • Mel

      Is the Hindu temple in Atlanta, or is it in a surrounding city?

  • Kirsten

    Born in Invercargill which is the most southern city in New Zealand. In 1965 the Rolling Stones played here and Keith Richards described Invercargill as ‘the arsehole of the world’.
    Now living in Sydney Australia, which is an absolutely gorgeous city although today we are all distracted by the siege taking place in Martin Place in the city. Thoughts are with those people still being held hostage.
    New Zealand and Australia are fantastic countries and I hope readers get the chance to visit. If your interested in Australia read Bill Bryson’s Down Under for the real story on this great land.

  • Frank

    I’m from Luxembourg, the place where nothing happens….. EVER!

    Completely boring, no earthquakes, storms, wildfires, not even civil unrest. But nevertheless it’s a nice place to be, if you like your calm. Lots of forests and meadows, most often nice weather and the people are mostly OK.

    …..but boring 😉

    That’s why I left for Mauritius some time ago for 3 years. That’s an entirely different place! One of the culturally most diverse places in the world, with very nice, friendly people, gorgeous mountains and marvelous beaches.

    You have untouched forests and bustling, India-style cities.

    Man, I should have stayed there…….

    • Vivante

      My first Indian Yoga-Guru came from Mauritius and I had to wait for 30 years before I had a chance to see it myself, and I loved it. He always described it as one of the places where all the different groups (Indian, Chinese, Africans, French, English) got along peacefully and had evolved a common “Creole” Kitchen, sort of Indian food in a Wok: delicious! The indian kids are free and easy, everything is clean, you can eat indian snacks on the street with no fear of getting sick (as you frequently do in Delhi!), and the countryside is truly gorgeous. Why on earth did you leave? Can foreigners get work there?

      • Frank

        Thanks for your reply, Vivante!

        My wife is from Mauritius, that’s why I was able to stay there, as normally foreigners are not allowed to buy property there (quite strict immigration laws, unless you buy a government sponsored villa in a high luxury district for about 1.000.000 Euros…. then the villa comes complete with a mauritian passport….. and only 10% taxes).

        We wanted to start a business, but well, sometimes things go wrong. Back to Luxembourg it was.

  • Beebles

    Living near Detroit, Michigan has taught me that it really isn’t something that you can truly know about unless you live IN the city. Growing up in the suburbs is almost no different than growing up anywhere else, in both the financial situation and attitude towards Detroit. My parents have told me horror stories about the crime there, and yet I know people living there who defend the city on facebook all the time. One think you might not know is that Detroit doesn’t feel like a city until you get to downtown where the DIA, Wayne State University, and the GM building are. Everywhere else just feel like (and often are) empty neighborhoods with rotting abandoned houses and overgrown lots. Crime IS a big problem in these areas, and has been and don’t let anyone tell you different – that being said the city is definitely changing, what with the recent influx of hipster white people and some businesses opening up. Whether or not this change is for better or worse remains to be seen (and I say that because there still isn’t racial integration for these white people, as one might think, nor are these business targeted towards the residential blacks in either hiring or serving).

    • Cassandra M. Sieja

      I’ve been to Detroit numerous times, as I live about an hour from there. Its sad how things have gone in Detroit, as at one time it was a booming cultural center. I wish I could have seen it then. A lot of people who live in a certain place try to defend their city because they don’t see what it has become when they are living it every day, and some of them are in denial. The truth is, those are the people who need to wake up and make the changes necessary to bring Detroit back to life. It really could be a wonderful city, it just needs its citizens to take a stand.

    • Melissa Eldridge

      Hey there, I live in Milford, work in Commerce (but just took a job in Warren)….are we neighbors?

      • Beebles

        Yes! I live in Madison Heights, so I’m about an hour away from you. I should have figured that there’d be other Michiganders who read waitbutwhy haha

  • Dylan Burden

    Hi, I’m from sunny South Africa. I grew up in a couple of main cities here, Durban and Johannesburg, but most of my life has been spent in Johannesburg (Jo’burg or Jozi for the locals). Durban is a coastal city with a very laid-back lifestyle in comparrison to Jo’burg, where it’s a lot busier, but that’s because it also has the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-saharan Africa.

    Most people are familiar with apartheid and the segregation that took place here for a long time. It was a very nasty thing that the government did, but we are still dealing with it now, 20 years later. I’m not saying that we still have apartheid, but because of apartheid, things are not as great as they could be. BBBEE, for instance, is an abreviation for Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment, which is how the government is giving back power and money to the black population. A company cannot partake in government tenders or processes, unless said company has a BEE certificate. To obtain a BEE certificate the company has to employ a certain number of people of colour. The more people of colour you have, the better your BEE rating – level 1 being the entry level, and level 3 being ideal to the government. The company I work for has a level 2 rating due to a lack of female black employees. This sytem causes companies and universities to accept/hire a person based on the colour of their skin before considering whether or not they are the most qualified or suitable person for the position. Sounds like racism to me.

    There is still a lot of racism here in SA. A lot of white people were raised and conditioned to hate black people while growing up in the apartheid system and vise-versa. It will take a long time for this to change.

    At the moment we are facing an energy crisis. Our primary provider of electricity is unable to provide enough electricity to the entire coutry and this has resulted in what we call “Load Shedding”, a euphemism for rolling blackouts, where parts of the country are ‘switched off’ for a few hours at a time. This occurs fairly regularly.

    I think a lot of people have misconceptions about African countries. We don’t have animals like lions and tigers roaming freely through the streets. We have not had any ebola either.

    Despite the inconveniences that we face here, SA is a massive, beautiful country with many beautiful people. I would urge anyone to visit, especially in summer. We also have a great music scene here with many talented musicians. Oh, and our favourite past-time is braaing.

    • Gretchen

      braaing?

      • Blissmariss

        BBQ 🙂

    • Wim K

      Knew there had to be more South Africans on this page!

  • American2345

    I grew up in the sticks of Upstate NY (about which I could say many things), but now I live in Bamako, Mali. I haven’t been here long, so I am still learning. So far, I have learned:
    If you move here, you need to adopt a Malian family name. This will enable you to trash talk against other families, and may even get you a discount at the market. I would liken it to Dallas Cowboy fans versus…every other team in the U.S.
    The country is 80% Muslim, but Bamako is a very friendly place, no matter your religion. People here make a big distinction between Islam and “Jihadists.” It makes me sad to hear Americans failing to make this distinction.
    “Taking Tea” is the thing. No coffee to speak of. But it’s not just a different drink, it’s HOW you do it. No grabbing a to go mug and slurping as you drive. You sit. You wait. Your host cooks the tea, and when it’s brewed, he/she adds a frightening amount of sugar, then pours it back and forth between two glass tea cups until the sugar is dissolved and it becomes something like a hot cup of Jolt. There is a lot of ceremony to the pouring as well; it goes back and forth with a lot of flair, with the pourer raising the pouring cup higher and higher each time. Then you sit and drink. Then you are friends. Then important matters can be discussed. And you are so focused because of all the caffeine and sugar racing through your veins…
    The place is overrun with motorbikes. I say motorbikes rather than motorcycles because they are the kind of small, lower powered deals you might see in the States at motocross. EVERYONE rides them, and they swarm all over the streets. Men, women, children, and everyone is wearing flip flops, and by the way carrying refrigerators or couches with they drive.
    Mali is incredibly dusty and sometimes windy, and let’s face it, dirty in a third world way. And yet people wear the most stunning African outfits, that always seem super-clean. I don’t get it. On Friday, everyone is dressed to the nines, offices close at 11:30 (so civilized!), and everyone goes to Mosque, then home to relax.
    But, Bamako will fool you. Just when you think you are deep into the third world, you will have an experience like the following: Saturday Dec 13th, we heard that someone was showing the new Hobbit movie, so we went to this place, with low expectations: maybe a pirated movie on a VCR? WRONG!! It was largest, cleanest and fanciest movie theater that I have been to. Better than any major US city. AND, no ads or previews, JUST THE MOVIE. It started PRECISELY on time, great resolution, AND 3D!!! Tickets cost us the equivalent of $6.
    I love my new home, and I expect to keep on learning for a long time to come.

    • Camille Dannenhoffer-Lafage

      Wow!! That is so awesome, thanks for sharing!

  • Unfortune

    Hi small village in the south east of France speaking here. I think you guys might find this interesting since everyone we usually hear speaking about France is from Paris and thigs can be a bit different in other parts of France.

    I live near Marseille which is the secondes/thirdest biggest city in France (the other big city is Lyon) and that is quite a unique city.
    First the city is sadly famous for its criminal activity, the city was once known as the french Chicago (in the 50’s, 60’s 70’s) and for legitimate reasons since 80% of the heroin that was taken in the USA then came from Marseille. Now organized crime is still a thing but not so much, it is now mostly about A LOT of guys selling weed. For this reason and because Marseille has a huge immigrant population, the city is seen by french as the most dangerous city in France and lots of people don’t want to go or live there because of this (seriously when you hear a non Marseille guy talking about the city it is really like they were talking about Gotham City).

    But looking at stats, the city is in the average of criminality rate if you compare to others major city in France, moreover you have a lot of very nice neighborhoods where it’s very safe (obviously!).

    It is also famous for its weather, it’s like sunny all the time, in summer it’s hot but rarely too much and the winters are just chill enough to make you enjoy the 8 months where you have a very nice weather.

    That’s a beautiful city and more people should visit it, it really has a soul.

    I live myself in a small village near Marseille (a lot of very beautiful small village in the area) and that’s nice because it’s like living in the countryside but having two major cities you can go to in something like 20 minutes of driving.
    Yes I said 2 cities, the thing is, we have a city of 200 000 inhabitants just 30 minutes north from Marseille, it is called Aix-en-Provence and unlike Marseille it has an excellent reputation in France (and even abroad). A lot of rich people live there and the city is often seen as a “small southern Paris” because people there are really into culture, biological food, and this kind of hipstery lifestyle shit (no offense I’m a bit into that too).

    Funny thing, two cities are quiet rivals and refuse to cooperate, a shame because IMO the two cities would really complete each other.

    PS : Everybody drinks here an alcohol made from anise, “le pastis”, it’s 45 degrees so you just have to put some fresh water and ice in it (or not, if it’s really late). It is a great way to get drunk when it’s hot.

    Pour les francophones qui liraient, je me permets de vous inviter à visiter un petit site sur lequel j’écris : snackable.fr , les articles de la rubrique stories sont un peu dans le même genre que ceux de WaitButWhy (grande inspiration pour nous), hésitez pas à y faire un tour 🙂

    • Camille Dannenhoffer-Lafage

      Hey there, I’m French too from Lyon (which is an awesome city, but I’ll get into that in another post). I think it’s so true what you say about Marseille and how it’s seen by most as the French Chicago. And I did not know about the rivalry with Aix-En-Provence, that’s so funny!

      I just wanted to add a few points :
      1. There is a lot of rap music originating from Marseille that is extremely popular (although in decline a bit now). Think of it as the Detroit of France for that purpose.
      2. How can you be from Marseille and not mention the soccer team? Olympique de Marseille is a reference in European soccer, mostly because the team was once the best in France. However the end of this golden age has not tempered down the enthusiasm of hardcore soccer fans and the team has one of the craziest fan club in Europe, called the “ultras” (think sports and mob mentality).
      3. The accent!!!! Where do I even start? The Southern accent (not only used in Marseille but in most southern France) is very singsongy and so different from Northern France that it is the source of many jokes and puns.
      4. The Calanques. Honestly I think it is the best secret about Marseilles and its regions. All of the tourists want the white beaches of the Cote d’Azur but the Calanques are where it’s at. I haven’t been in such a long time, but I keep amazing memories of this place : so authentic and wild.
      5. The driving rules. Or lack thereof. Last time I was there I thought I was in Italy (I mean no disrespect but it feels like the jungle driving there).
      6. La bouillabaisse. It’s a fish based stew that is honestly delicious, although I think it’s hard to find a good one at a restaurant that isn’t a) a tourirst trap or b) overpriced.
      7. Influences from North Africa and other cultures : because it’s a port there is a large population of immigrants in Marseille. Most of them are very well integrated but they are massively over-represented in the projects. Racism is a big problem in France. On a more cheerful note, it means that Marseille has some amazing food with influences borrowed from other cultures (harissa on everything!!).

      That’s my point of view on Marseille but I’m not from there, have only visited a few times and have been living away from France for a few years now, so please excuse me if what I’ve said is not accurate. Although perceptions of a city always linger for a while, refreshing your perspective is always the key to understanding it better.

      • Unfortune

        Hey thanks for the great comment.
        Everything seems pretty accurate !
        I did forget the soccer team and you’re right, it’s a bit like a religion here and even if I’m not that much into soccer it is my duty to support the team 😀

        So true about the jungle driving, I have always wondered which city has the worst driving rules, Marseille or Paris…

        Anyway looking forward to reading your post about Lyon 🙂

  • Ben Lee

    this is gonna be a quite lengthy post since i have 2 countries i consider home now..i was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to West Coast Canada when i was 19 years old..

    Philippines:

    What are some things we might not know?

    **its a beautiful country that has been underserved by its isolation from the Asian mainland and the bad reputation it has been receiving over the past decades due to graft and corruption, atrocious poverty levels, and violence/questionable safety for tourism..if you choose to fully experience what this country has to offer, bring something larger than a backpack..this is not a tiny European country that you can just waltz into and waltz out of within a matter of weeks..it has a lot to offer from a broad spectrum of interests..being a native Filipino myself, i don’t think i can describe the beauty of this country without sounding biased, so i’ll post a link to an American’s blog that has fallen seriously in love with the Philippines and continues to do so, still living in country as far as a i know and learning new things about it.. http://www.idreamedofthis.com/

    What are the best and worst things about it?

    **One of the best things about this country is the people..beautiful sights are a dime a dozen..you can go to any place in any country and come home with several flash drives’ worth of striking photos..what complements the physical beauty of this country is the Filipino people themselves..nowhere will you find yourself stuck in the boondocks, with the sun about to go down and you having no lodging, and then finding a family that is not only willing to take you in free of charge, but will also sacrifice their papag for you and sleep on the floor..a papag is the ordinary bed of the poorest of the poor, made out of hardwood, and if they’re fortunate, cushioned with a few thin blankets, something that is better than sleeping on the floor of their home, which is most probably hard packed dirt..i can’t say that this is available to foreigners only due to the intrinsic colonial mentality of the Filipinos where anything foreign is worshipped because i have experienced this myself as a native Filipino..before leaving for Canada, i decided to explore my own country and i found myself in that same situation i described above..the family that hosted me was willing to sleep in the dirt floor and offer their bed to me, made me breakfast, corrected my maps, made sure i have enough supplies in case i get lost again, and even guided me back to the nearest bus terminal..hospitality gains a new definition when dealing with a Filipino..

    **One of the worst things about this country is the same thing that made it best: the people..while it’s true that no country is without its share of criminals, pickpockets, scammers, etc.etc..but Filipino criminals take it to a whole new level..i was a Filipino myself and i had to bring my A – game when it comes to street smarts while i was exploring the country..i was robbed three times in a single night while walking down one street in Manila..by the time i made it to the police station, all i had with me was my underwear, my undershorts, my shirt, and my hat and a lot of bruises..corrupt policeman are in every street corner as well, so if you’re driving, make sure you have some kind of dash cam or recording device going on since the possibility of being shamed on the internet tends to deter most of them..scammers are one of a kind in this country as well..they will hit you from left field and come away with your hard earned money..a tourist wanting to do some good? check the status of that orphanage you’re planning on volunteering in first and make sure it’s a legit orphanage and not a front for mob syndicates..life is very cheap in this country too, so if you’re some kind of bleeding heart political/environmental/human rights activist coming over to the country and planning to cause a ruckus, consider yourself warned..

    Common misconceptions?
    ** this is a link to the Philippine government Department of Tourism’s site about common misconceptions about travelling to the Philippines..
    http://www.tourismphilippines.com.au/travel-to-the-philippines/country-profile/facts/
    the only thing in that article i don’t agree with is the part about the Southern Philippine islands..for now, i think Davao City is the only place anyone can visit in the Southern Philippines without constantly fearing for their lives..there has been an upsurge in the rates of muslim separatists/jihadists, abducting people for ransom to finance their activities..

    What should a visitor do that they won’t learn about in guidebooks?

    **it depends..if you want to see raw beauty unspoiled by tourists, both local and foreign, i recommend grabbing a map and plotting on it the major destination points advertised in guidebooks..then, visit a few towns close by and speak with the locals..chances are, they will be happy to showcase the pride of their town that is usually overshadowed by the nearby tourist attraction..
    i.e.; any town in the Mountain Provinces is worth visiting and exploring..they are what i consider uncut gems in that they beauty is overshadowed by Baguio City and Sagada..
    if you’re into the humanist experience though, what im about to suggest is kinda risky, but i was able to pull this off without harm to myself or loss of property..i went to a slum, a squatter’s area before as part of my “soul searching” experience before leaving my country for good..i offered a family a month’s worth of their wages if they will allow me to live with them for a week and treat me like one of their own..i ate what they ate, i drank what they drank, slept where they slept, joined their parties, did their day job with them (scavenge the trash heap for recyclables to be sold), was introduced to their friends, was given a seat of honour at an “inuman” (drinking) session at night, and got to know them better as human beings..for prudence’s sake, i had to go see a doctor and take a thorough full body assessment with complete lab work and scans included when i was done to make sure that i didn’t pick up anything..my biggest fear was contracting tuberculosis or hepatitis, but the worst i came away with was some head lice..but it was all worth it in the end..i learned that all it takes to bring me from my social and economic status down to theirs is a single stroke of bad luck and that if i can’t be thankful for what i have right now, at least i should enjoy it NOW and not worry so much..

    (im typing this from my work computer, i have to go in a few minutes, i’ll post as a reply my Canadian experience when im able to)

    • Ben Lee

      to recap, i came here to Canada in 2009, i lived in a small town just outside Vancouver BC for the better part of two years and then moved to Victoria BC which i currently call home..
      Vancouver and the rest of southern BC has a really mild weather..i was really amused initially hearing people complaining about how “hard” the rain is “pouring” out there..that was thinking back to my experience in the Philippines, where your ability to breathe air in is seriously impeded by sheets of rain falling down on your head during a “serious downpour”..
      i was a heavy smoker and drank a lot upon arriving here and constantly made fun of people contorting themselves in funny positions (yoga), running aimlessly everywhere, eating random crapola (muesli, shakes, etc.etc.) all for the sake of fitness..
      5 years later and here i am, twisting my nose at the merest hint of cigarette smoke, drinks only when my job or social standing requires it OR when sampling a new microbrew, enjoying my homemade kale-banana-mango smoothie with protein powder and genuinely looking forward to my 2 hour gym session after work where i average 7km. daily on the treadmill and then lift random heavy things…
      (i gotta admit that being a young adult when moving here, my economic expectations still need some working on..i don’t know a single thing about budgeting my money when i was in the Philippines since we weren’t really struggling with money..when i first moved here, my only criteria for spending was: will i have enough left over for my essentials + drop something into the savings account?
      now that im an adult, living on my own in a country where the expectations of what should be considered expensive vs. cheap is completely different from what i grew up with, i have to constantly police my spending..i just learned that spending $100 to buy christmas gifts for coworkers/acquaintances is too much..having said that, apparently, living in BC is ridiculously expensive, even by the standards of economic idiots like me..)

      so..here it goes..from the perspective of an outsider, describing Vancouver/Victoria BC Canada..

      What are some things we might not know?
      **Vancouver and Victoria has a really diverse population of people coming from all kinds of backgrounds..so prepare yourself for a delicious cultural surprise (mostly food) upon arriving here..
      I disagree about people describing Vancouver and Victoria as “boring” when it comes to parties..Victoria has the amazing Rock the Shores, Rifflandia, and other equally superb festivals all year round..Vancouver was the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics and is now enjoying the benefits of the sheer amount of money dumped in it to make the place attractive to tourists and to keep them coming back..
      speaking of Rifflandia, i’ve never been to Amsterdam, but i’m pretty sure it’s like Vancouver/Victoria..people smoke pot everywhere..im not a big fan of the things and hate the smell of it..people tell me that i moved to the wrong province whenever i complain about people smoking weed left and right so i just shut up about it..some of that bitterness towards marijuana is due to the fact that i can’t enjoy it..i literally can’t..doctors told me that i have an exceptionally high drug tolerance..i just shrugged it off until i had my wisdom tooth taken out early this year..i went over my dental insurance because the dentists had to dose me with triple the amount of propofol necessary to knock someone of my size out..so a joint is just a really smelly overpriced cigarette for me..

      What are the best and worst things about it?
      **Best thing is the melting pot phenomenon..sometimes i feel like i don’t even have to leave to experience another culture..want to experience the best of Somalia? i’ll just crash one of my Somalian staff members’ cultural gatherings..in fact, that is what i generally do..i just attend social gatherings held by cultural sub groups..sometimes i crash them, sometimes i get invited, but most of the times, they are open to the public..
      **Worst thing is the blatant racism..if you’re just passing through, i guess it’s okay, as long as you make it really obvious that you’re a tourist..Canadians complain that they are being overly tolerant of immigrants to the point where their national identity as Canadians is being sacrificed in order to compromise with the newcomers and it is that the immigrants themselves should be the ones bending over and leaving their country and culture behind and work harder to assimilate into being a Canadian..new immigrants complain that they are being treated as second class citizens because of where they came from and that their rights to preserve their culture or religion is being deliberately trampled by mainline Canadians in order for them to join up and assimilate completely..
      i say both groups have their points..Canada herself is a country made up by immigrants..since most of those immigrants came from the same regions, any differences back then was usually overlooked..i.e.; the irish tolerated the scots, the irish and the scots tolerated by the english, the aussies and kiwis just walked by with their heads down avoiding eye contact..
      unless, the differences are really obvious, like skin colour..then we get the case of a boatload of indian immigrants (then still under british rule) being blocked at the harbor and forced to leave Canadian waters..i think it’s Canada learn to accept that people from white Europe is no longer coming over by the boatload to feed much needed new blood and skills into its country..Canada needs to accept that darker skinned immigrants will be coming over to stay for good and they need to just suck it up and choke down their racism..
      BUT, immigrants need to learn that they’re coming over to Canada, not India 2.0 or Philippines 2.0, or some crap expectation like that..they need to bring over the best of their best, and leave behind the worst of their worst..
      solid Filipino family values, generosity, tolerance and hospitality? sure..bring it to the table..over dependence on the family unit to the point where there are 3 generations living under the same roof and the matriarch/patriarch still breaking their backs to feed them all? letting the church dictate every single aspect of your life? leave that crap behind in the Philippines..if your daughter wants to avail of Plan B, the Pope has no jurisdiction over that matter here in Canada..
      extreme devotion to the welfare and life of family members? sure Gurpreet, teach us how you guys in India do it..but leave the honour killing behind..that crap is not tolerated here..
      another worst thing i hate about Vancouver/Victoria are hipsters..kinda makes my blood boil..let me paint you a mental picture here..a guy wearing stylishly scuffed boots, artfully ripped jeans, faded plaid shirts and a full beard, tucking into a $40 burger, carefully making sure his beard doesn’t get any of the mushroom aioli in it because he just applied beard oil on it..
      see anything wrong with it?
      i just came from a dirt poor country and i don’t understand why a country so rich has some of its citizens deliberately portraying themselves as poor people..it almost feels like a mockery of the real deal that i have witnessed and seared to my mind..
      but..to each their own..i guess..

      Common misconceptions?
      nothing..no one even knows about Vancouver/Victoria..lol..
      so it’s kind of a good thing, i guess? i live just a few blocks away from the headquarters of some of BC’s finest microbrewers: Philipps brewery and Spinnakers..having been so easily hooked into cigarettes when i was young, i knew that i have this kind of “dependent personality” so i had to make sure i don’t overdo it enjoying the hundreds of amazing beers (flavours!) they produce, else i end up broke and alcoholic..
      there are also plenty of vineyards producing amazing wines in the lower mainland..i just had this amazing icewine that im sure came from Mission BC..i just forgot the name of it..might have to check to see if i still have the bottle when i come home..

      What should a visitor do that they won’t learn about in guidebooks?

      EXPLORE! TALK! don’t confine yourself to the rigid instructions a guidebook has..you are in one of the safest countries i have ever been in..unless you literally walk up to a criminal and punch him in the balls, you have nothing to fear in this country..when you’ve finished exploring the Vancouver Museum, or the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, take the time to explore the surrounding buildings and appreciate the history behind them..
      before you enter that restaurant in Bay Street Victoria to have that bowl of pho, make sure you step back and take a look at the big picture, at how amazing it is that the edible cultural offerings of at least half a dozen countries lie available to you in just a 4 block radius..

      i think i talk too much..
      was i making any sense back there?

      • AllisonErin

        GREAT write-up. Kudos for tackling the immigration topic, it’s a tough one in Canada right now and you did a good job showing both sides.
        My favourite part about Canada is the food, for sure. I can have ANYTHING I want (provided I’m in a large city), almost any time. I want Ethiopian? Done. I want Mexican? Done, authentic too. I want Japanese? Done, and the fish is so fresh even though some is imported. Spoiled for choice, to be sure!

  • Vivante

    I moved from Boston to Cologne, Germany over 40 years ago (I married a German). I loved Boston, where I spent almost ten years as a student with all the advantages of cheap housing ($50 a month for a cockroach-ridden one-room apartment right across from the Harvard Library), an intellectual environment (with bookstores that stayed open all night), lots of political action (picketing Woolworth`s, fighting segregation) , a great folk music/coffeehouse scene where people like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan were young unknowns playing around the corner from my apartment…but I got more and more politically aware, and the Boston cops radicalized a lot of naively idealistic students. When my fiancé got a good job offer in Cologne, I wanted to leave the States. Our last evening in Boston was a day after the murder of Martin Luther King-not a very good departure.

    My new home is Cologne, Germany. When we arrived, it was still pretty post-war: ruined buildings, almost no traffic, very low prices, lots of grey-on-grey. But things were picking up fast, and the population of Cologne is more easy-going and cheerful than some of the other big cities. A great art scene started growing, new music from Kagel, Stockhausen, Globokar and others grew more fashionable, the food got better and better and the parties were always great. Carnival is a very big thing with the Cologners and gives everyone a chance to party for most of the Winter. The beer (“Kolsch”) is delicious and people are really friendly. Cologne is a very tolerant city–one of the “ten laws of Cologne” is “jeder Jeck is anders” which means “every Clown is different” (and that´s no reason not to drink a beer with him). There is not one single “War Monument” or other military statue in the city.
    Jazz is still very big here and lots of American musicians play in places like “Stadtgarten” or “Subway”. There´s a big alternative music scene.
    And of course we have a wonderful soccer team and the Cologne Cathedral.So we have the best place to live in Europe, as far as I´m concerned!

  • Pam Collins

    I’m from Halifax, Nova Scotia. NS is part of the Atlantic Provinces in Canada, and our province is pretty tiny (only PEI is smaller). Here are some cool facts about NS and my hometown of Halifax:
    1. NS is almost an island, and its shaped somewhat like a lobster claw. In fact, we are famous for our lobster!
    2. Halifax, the capital of NS, has three major universities all within a very close radius to one another.
    3. Halifax is very LGBT friendly.
    4. Our park on the city’s edge is called Point Pleasant Park and we lost half our trees there during Hurricane Juan.
    5. We have one of the deepest harbours in the world.
    6. Another island connected by a causeway to our almost island is Cape Breton Island, where along the Cabot Trail they have the most spectacular fall foliage you will ever see.
    7. Five months after Hurricane Juan, we had a huge 2 day snowstorm in Halifax that everyone nicknamed white Juan. The storm dumped 90cm of snow and the region was paralyzed for a week. This is unusual in that being a coastal province, we usually have more rain than snow in the winter months.
    8. If you drove the entire coastline our of Province from one end around to the other, you would travel almost 6500 kilometers (4000 miles).

    • Sandra Sinclair

      Everything I saw in NS was beautiful, but I especially fell in love with Lunenburg… a city where you can walk comfortably down quiet streets from your seaside dinner (yes! lobster!) to your campground without worrying about traffic or exerting yourself much 😉

      • Pam Collins

        Agreed Sandra – Lunenburg is also a world UNESCO heritage site 🙂

        • Sandra Sinclair

          I did know that…a wise choice! I also was fortunate to see inside the St. John’s Church restoration while it was still in progress, with one of the workers who explained some of its aspects, and I couldn’t resist buying a kaleidoscope with glass from the original windows, so I guess that means I have a stake in the place 😉

    • Kevin H.

      I just visited Halifax for the first time this summer! Beautiful city with warm, friendly people. The locals kept asking me why I came all the way from Los Angeles (where I live) to visit, and many seemed surprised when I told them that Halifax had been high on my list of cities to visit for most of my life. I hope to visit again in the future.

    • Simone

      Hi there from Australia Pam – one of our favourite home-grown bands, “Weddings Parties Anything”, wrote a song about Halifax called “Knock-backs in Halifax”, which was about a tour they did which included NS, where they ended up in some dive of a nightclub and realised that crappy clubs are the same the world over. Sounded like they had a rubbish night but I have always had a soft spot for Halifax as a consequence!!

      • Pam Collins

        that’s too funny Simone…so many great bands from Australia that I love…boy and bear, angus and julia stone….

  • Jacob Nestle

    I lived the first several years of my life in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved to Tennessee (I live in the Nashville area) when I was eleven.
    I was a little mad at my parents.
    However, I’m glad now that I live here.
    So what’s one thing people don’t seem to get about Tennessee?
    We’re not all southern belles and rednecks. Country music idealizes TN as being mega-southern, but–at least where I’ve lived–it’s really not. Now, there are people who criticize my pronunciation of lawyer for being the “Yankee way” but they don’t really mean any harm by it. And there are definitely plenty of people who fit the redneck description and play it up–but they aren’t usually going to be total dicks about it, they don’t actually (usually) do stupid stunts. They’ve just been raised this way.

    When I travel to other areas of TN, I see white trash all over the place; I see junk on the side of the road; my accent gets me weird looks and the fact I say “you guys” instead of y’all is enough to ban me from some social circles. But this area is like a microcosm of the US; tons of people move here all the time, from California and Indiana or Colorado. We have a huge refugee population, and I can honestly say we’re one of the biggest areas where I’ve seen the Christian Church grow and do charity work while a mosque stands ten minutes down the road.
    It’s a great place, and country music stereotypes us way too much.

  • Bilguun

    Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
    I’ve lived in UB (short for Ulaanbaatar = “Red Hero”) for more than 10 years and I can say that it’s a unique experience. It’s really whom you know and what you make out of it.

    1. In summer its mostly around 30 degrees Celsius (but chilly in the evenings) and in winter its mostly around minus 20-30 degrees, reaching -40 in January. The winters are long and there is almost no spring or fall, but the summers are the best.

    2. No, not everybody lives in yurts, and yes, we shower, and no, I don’t own horses/cows/sheep nor do I ride a horse to school/work.
    The traditional nomadic lifestyle is still very present in the countryside, but in the city we live a pretty ‘Western’ lifestyle – with cars, tvs, smartphones, brand clothing etc.

    3. approx. 1 million people live in UB. The city was mostly built by the
    Soviets, but nowadays 70% of the city are ‘yurt districts’ – where
    people live in yurts.

    3. Although most of the population lives in cities, our mentality is still very strongly “nomadic” – so you will notice some major differences from other settled cultures.

    4. You can do the usual stuff like visiting exhibitions and museums (young contemporary artists have a lot to offer), sightseeing, attending live music nights and dwelling at cafes, bars or pubs and taste the Mongolian beers and vodkas. But the best food and most fun is usually at ‘home parties’ (so don’t expect too much from the night live)

    5. A lot of people are into hiking in the mountains (not even 20 min from the city center) and spending the day in the fresh air.
    Zaisan mountain is a popular place for a look at the city – with or without car.

    6. Most families spend the summer in the suburbs, where many own a small wooden house.

    7. Chinggis Khaan is a big deal – we’re proud of him. But sometimes Mongolians go a little overboard with naming everything after him.

    8. Don’t spend too much time in the city – the countryside has
    much more to offer, especially if you’re an outdoorsy person.

  • Matt

    I’m from northern Italy, the country is a mix of very different cultures, beliefs, traditions and landscapes.

    For a tourist is a wonderful place to visit: good weather (when is not all flooded), very good food, most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, high mountains, crystal clear water & warm beaches (some of them), all the history you want, ok lakes, unique countryside, picturesque towns all in 300.000km2.
    Quite difficult to travel: expensive gasoline and planes, traitors trains.
    Here almost every region had an history as independent state and is deeply different from others. For example
    I live at 20′ from Verona (Romeo&Juliet) (in pics), 1h from Venice, Alps or Tuscany, 1.30h from Milan or Florence.

    All this fragmentation is a downside in the economical situation: there is an huge gap from north to south in almost all, language too and we have problems to understand each other.

    Politically situation is well-known messy and I can sum up in “Complain for everything” and “Not my job”: situation must change but let’s let others do the hard work, tax evasion is horrible but I can do it because everyone does, I defrauded the state wich is perfectly legal because other do more so is dead easy for politicians to become popular just pointing the one to blame so we can feel right to do the wrong because I “have to survive” and we are in this situation because immigrants/political class/communists/rich people. For this racism from every wing is wide spread across the country.
    We must be a part of a class in wich we interact as The Non-Character-Breaking Friend You Have to be “On” With, if you are in doubt of wich class is your interlocutor and want to start a conversation blaming immigrants or the political class is a 100% sure shot.

  • Jim B. Johnson

    I live in Syracuse, New York and grew up in a small village nearby.
    1. We have some of the best drinking water that you will ever find. Skaneateles Lake, where most of it is from, is incredibly clean.
    2. Because of Syracuse University and our immigration center, we have better and more diverse restaurants than a city of our population deserves to have.
    3. From the heart of downtown, you can find yourself in rural farmland in 15 minutes, a beach on Oneida Lake or Lake Ontario in 30 minutes, Finger Lakes wine country in 45 minutes, or the Adirondack Mountains in an hour. Canada is two hours away and New York City is four.
    4. Contrary to what you might have heard, Syracuse isn’t a winter hellscape. We do get a lot of snow because of our proximity to Lake Ontario, but winters are not super-cold here and we do a remarkably awesome job of clearing our streets. It blows our minds when couple inches of snow shuts other cities down. People who hate snow take solace in the fact that we have no earthquakes, tornadoes, poisonous snakes or spiders, wildfires, or flooding. Just snow.
    5. We have a strong lake-culture in Central New York. It is very common for people to head to “the lake” (we have roughly infinity of them around here) for the weekend. Lots of boats and rural lake houses for R&R.
    6. During the summer, people get out of the house and they mean business. There is a festival every weekend (almost always multiple festivals, actually) and people mean to take the fullest advantage of them before winter returns.
    7. Like all rust-belt cities, we aren’t what we used to be in terms of population and business compared to when we peaked in the 1950s. This has lead to a very vocal group of cantankerous old malcontents who spend their time complaining and degrading everything about the city and region on our news website. It’s very embarrassing for the rest of us.
    8. Syracuse is currently experiencing an incredible downtown residential resurgence. The apartment occupancy rate is hovering around 98%. Elsewhere in the city, housing is some of the most affordable in the country.
    9. Syracuse is a college basketball city, first and foremost. Our college football program has fallen on hard times after being a historic program a generation ago. Minor league hockey and baseball continue to be popular, and lacrosse is one of our most popular high school sports.
    10. Syracuse is part of a region of central NY which had a HEAVY influx of Italian immigrants at one point. The predominant religion in the region is Roman-Catholicism. You can’t throw a rock on a Friday without hitting three fish fries.
    11. Our big mall is a gaudy fortress of commercialism. It got a sweetheart tax deal to get built while delivering very little of what was promised. It makes life a struggle for small local businesses and generally caters to people with very poor taste.

  • Cassandra M. Sieja

    I’ve lived in and around Toledo, Ohio for all of my life. To be honest, I love it here because it is home, but I really can’t wait to get away. For some reason, there is a lot of negativity in this area of the state. There really aren’t a lot of recreational activities and the ones that do exist are not very reasonable priced. The job market is dismal, unless of course you want your basic run of the mill minimum wage job. But the thing is, I have traveled to other places, even just other places in Ohio, and seen the many opportunities, and the positive outlooks that the citizens have. Toledo is not like that. It’s just sad here, and I know I could put my skills to better use elsewhere. The size of the city is pretty nice, as it is not too big or too small, and it only takes about 20-30 minutes to get from one end of the city to the other. One interesting fact about the city is that it was almost a part of Michigan, but Ohio won it in the Michigan-Ohio War of 1835-1836. I think that is why we take our Michigan vs Ohio State football rivalry so seriously (I am a Michigan fan, by the way). Our weather here is volatile, we are supposed to have four distinct seasons but it is hard to tell what those are. Just in the past month, we have had temperatures in the teens, all the way up to the high 50s. One week you wear a coat, the next it’s shorts. You just never know around here, it’s always a surprise. We’ve gotten the nickname “Little Detroit” because of our increase in shootings and abandoned buildings, as well as our decline in population over the past few years. I just know that I would rather live in a city where more people are trying to make a decent life for themselves instead of whining, complaining, and seeing what they can get for free. I love my hometown because I have made a lot of memories here. I’m sure I’ll make a few more, then it will be time to move along.

  • Maria Luisa Medina

    Hola! Saludos desde Monterrey, México!!! I live in the third largest city in Mexico (about 5 million), the city of mountains, located in the north east, just two hours from the border with Texas. This is a city of contrast, pride and tradition. We are a very US influenced area (in almost every aspect of life) but keep the traditions alive and love being northern mexicans, known for being hard workers, strong willed and honest. Like most cities in the world there are huge areas of nice and green and beautiful houses and people with money and there are huge areas of less fortunate people that have to work from dusk till down to try to make it through the day. We take pride on our big industries that were born out of nothing and built a strong city, an industrial city. Still, we have been weakened by nature since a few hurricanes have almost destroyed the city, the last one on 2010, hurricane Alex. The city has not been the same since, it has taken a lot to recover and who knows when it will completely (i.e. traffic is a bitch). So, talking about water and weather, on the one hand we live in a hot deserted area, with temperatures that get as high as 40-42 C in the summer (and sometimes fall and winter), water is sometimes not enough. And on the other hand with get flooded every year in rain and hurricane season. And then it gets freaking cold in the winter. And sometimes you can have all four seasons in one day (minus snow, unless you go closer to a mountain), and I’m not kidding. So people say we have the most stable weather in Mexico ’cause it is always shitty. But it’s mostly hot, all year long.
    We like good food, beer, a nice “carne asada” on the weekend with friends over (similar to an american barbecue), ranchero music. And yet we also like to have nice fusion-whatever-new-food-restaurants, american brand stores, drink wine and be classy for a moment. We are really really hard workers which makes us different from other parts of the country, we hate wasting time, time is important (did I mention traffic is a bitch that steals time away?). People in Mexico say that we are cheap, but the thing with this myth is that everything costs a lot here, the city was built out of nothing, everything costs a lot, so we are careful with money and resources, and we hate wasting time and resources, so no, we are not cheap, we are careful. I don’t know, there are so many cultural, historical things to say to describe this beautiful yet difficult city, but I guess this would be a nice introduction. Arriba el norte, verdad de Dios que sí!!

  • Eli Peter

    I grew up in Shoreline, Washington. It’s more or less a small chunk of mundane suburbia outside of Seattle. It was originally part of Seattle before becoming independent, so there’s no real city center, no tall buildings, etc.

    But one interesting quirk: William Boeing, founder of the Boeing Company, lived in one of those houses in the mundane suburbia, in fact it’s one of the only historical landmarks.

  • Rodolink

    Hi I’m from Guadalajara Mexico,
    1. We don’t use ponchos, sombreros, and eat “nachos” all the time
    2. We love going to the movies on weekends and cinema is not that expensive like other countries
    3. We do love tacos but they are not only one cuisine, every thing you put in a tortilla is a taco 😀
    4. We love salsa and lemon poured on everything, but there are lot of people who dont
    5. Theres Tequila and Tequila 100% being the latest of better quality (look for the label CRT on the bottle).
    6. Minerva is a great beer you need to try
    7.Our public transport is awful (although you can get everywhere on the bus) and we have more cars per capita than most of the cities in the country.
    8. Guadalajara women are the most pretty 😛
    9. We’ve been experiencing bad moments of political and social insurgence in some of our states, but still is safe to come

    Thanks to all!

  • LColleen

    I am from three places.

    Michigan: Actually has a pretty devote climbing community. The climbers have to drive forever to play on actual rock–but they work really hard to be good.

    Being a teacher in Michigan is like being trapped in a tiny crate trying to shove pieces of relevance out of the air holes. You realize trying to maintain academic dignity will one day deprive you of oxygen, but many people do it. Hug all of the Michigan teachers. They are broke, and disparaged and dealing with factors like obesity, poverty and sustained ignorance that heavily influence their classrooms.

    North Carolina; The Scottish Highland Festival is the greatest festival in the world. Everyone should go. Also, the music of the Appalachians is rich and wonderful…even if you’re not into banjos, it’s amazing. And, Southerners have quirks, but the people I grew up with were kind hearted, incredibly intelligent, stoic and hilarious.

    Montana: Is the greatest and most intense place to live. I am persistently scared of grizzly bears. The hiking, kayaking, skiing, beer drinking, driving, exploring, fishing is amazing, and likely to stay that way–because to live here you have to be tough. It’s lonely a lot of the time. Finding good produce in Winter is ridiculously difficult. I’m pretty sure as I type this…I have scurvy. The male to female ratio hovers around 7:1, we have one of the highest suicide and alcoholism rates, and many people move here to escape.However, many people report high levels of happiness and gratitude. It’s so odd and amazing. People age slower here. I think it’s the altitude and the sunshine. Teaching in Montana is poverty with a view. The cost of living hovers around that of a major metropolitan area ($900 for a one bedroom basement apartment…sure! $4.50 gallon of milk? You bet!) but Montana teachers are paid what rural Ohioan’s are. That’s tough sometimes. But also the mountains? To die for.

    • Chick cop

      I’m also from Montana! Love living here, but would prefer if it hadn’t already dropped to -20F a few times this winter. People always joke that the view is worth $20,000, because that’s how much less you’ll be making than if you went someplace else! No matter… My husband and I both moved from larger cities, are fully sold on the sparsely populated, wildly outdoorsy, simpler lifestyle.

    • Karen Edgerton

      Thanks for standing up for teachers. They deserve so much more than they get. When I first moved to MI I heard the lottery provided money to schools. I was so impressed! Then I found out the government takes back an amount equal to what the lottery gives. Bastards.

  • ArdeeJo

    Montreal, Quebec, Canada, born here. Suffering under repressive language laws. British conquered New France in 1760, Allowed Catholics to preach revenge of the cradle to illiterate habitants who had giant families and were xenophobic. The pill was discovered in 1964 then turned to traitorous separatism instead of breeding. Bombs, discrimination, exodus of hundreds of thousands, silent politicians in Canada. Did you know this?

  • Simon

    I live in Québec City, the capital of the province of Quebec in Canada. I’ve lived there my whole life.

    The temperature here varies constantly here, especially during the winter. We might have a mild day at 0C (32F) then the next day it will rise no more than -20C (-4F). Yes we measure the temperature in Celsius. The worst is when it rains in January when we already have a good cover of snow. The ice forming in the streets can be pretty dangerous. In summer it can get hot because of the humidity (40C, 104F).

    We have very strict regulations here to keep our french language predominant. These regulations can be such a pain sometimes. For example, 65% of the music on the radio must be in french. Also, last year, the company where I work had to change all the texts on its equipment so it was written in french, including coffee machines, printers and computer keyboards. This regulation is mandatory for companies with 50 employees or more. Even my version of Windows must be in French, we don’t have the liberty to choose the English version. After that the government wonders why its having difficulties doing business with other countries.

    But don’t worry, tourists are always welcome here.

    • Rodolink

      In Mexico we use Celsius too 😛 Oh and here on winter we can get to 10°C and people are freezing with tons of cold clothes XD

      • Simon

        French language is a big thing in the province of Quebec. I understand that sometimes we have to be careful not to loose our french heritage but sometimes the regulation goes too far. These regulations are decided by the “Office québécois de la langue française” which means the Quebec’s Board For The French Language.

        For the temperature it’s the other way round here. Some people die when its over 40°C (the older people).

        A thing I forgot to mention about temperature, during the cold days of the winter we sometimes have to install a block heater in our cars and plug it in an electrical outlet so the motor warms up a bit before starting it, because the intense cold is hard on the battery.

        And most people have a pool next to their house, even though we use it only for 2 months during the year. Look at this satellite map: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Charlesbourg,+Quebec+City,+QC,+Canada/@46.8510181,-71.3173381,522m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x4cb8a322fb3a5271:0xc25e1da339276987

        • Simon

          Darn, the link is messed up. Here is an image instead.

    • Rodolink

      That thing about the language regulation sucks bad

    • Pam Collins

      I spent my honeymoon in Quebec City – its like going to some old town in Europe without leaving Canada. <3

  • irppu

    Helsinki, Finland:

    -The rudest possible thing you can do is walk around in another person’s home with your shoes on. When entering someone’s home, always take your shoes as you come in and leave them next to the coat rack.

    -Cursing and swearing is more like a pride thing here than something of shock value. You’re allowed to use the “F-word” on TV or radio and no one cares. This does not mean that everyone constantly swears, but it does not shock or offend people either. The best swear word to use is Perkele, it is a nickname for the devil. You can also come up with your own curses and will get bonus points for creative profanity.

    -Finns are really weird about their personal space. Don’t stand close to strangers and definitely do not touch them! If there’s room, stand as far away as you can. (I was 21 years old when I realized that in other countries it’s not considered rude to look at strangers in an elevator.)

    -Finns hate small talk and will not engage in it. If you’re gonna say stuff, make sure it’s either important or meaningful.

    -Tap water in Finland is excellent pretty much everywhere. You can fill up your water bottle from a tap in a public bathroom and it’s better than Evian. Usually when I have to buy a bottle of water (to get the plastic bottle) I pour the original content down the drain and instantly refill with tap water because compared to the local water the bottled stuff tastes stale and dusty.

    -Drinking culture here is pretty much keep drinking till you can’t stand up straight anymore. This is highly annoying to anyone sober. Drinking outside in public places is now illegal but does not seem to make any difference, there’s still drunk people everywhere constantly. Weekends are even worse.
    The craziest drinking day is Mayday eve April 30th, that’s when the public drinking ban goes out the window as everyone and their cousin’s aunt’s nephew heads downtown to get wasted and raise hell. At 6 pm every year there’s a ceremony near the central market place and they put a white graduation hat on a statue of a woman called Havis Amanda. There’s also all sorts of performances and events, on nearly every street corner.

    -Do not drive over the speed limit or if you do, don’t get caught. Speeding tickets are issued by your overall income so the richer you are the more you have to pay. If you’re a millionaire you might end up paying hundreds of thousands of euros for going 20km/h over the limit (and this has indeed happened to a couple of people).

    • bunnyparsnips

      Finland sounds awesome. Small talk is the worst.

    • d

      I would be moving to Finland right now if it weren’t for the weather. As it is, I am already looking for somewhere similar with median 21C.
      Also, small talk and lack of personal space are the worst.

    • Lizzie

      Interesting point about small talk. Do people in Helsinki greet each other with a polite reciprocal “how are you?” like in the US or some other countries? Or does that count as small talk?

      • Elina

        As a finn I take “how are you” as a sincere question. I had a roommate from US and every time she asked that I started telling about my deepest troubles and thoughts on life. 😀 Took about a week to understand that’s not the point. So I guess I did not know small talk then. 🙂

  • Jo Wilson

    Birmingham, UK

    Birmingham does have more canals than Venice … but it aint Venice 🙂

    Whilst recently voted one of the worst accents in the UK I find it quite charming, making even the most sensible remark seem like the punchline of a joke.

    The balti was invented here and there is always a balti-house nearby, being a curry which is served in the dish its cooked in (the latter being definitely true, but the first part might be a myth brummies invented).

    Brummies are not to be confused with yam-yams (people from Wolverhampton) or people from the black country (area formerly mining villages) …. as an aside, though, both areas worth a visit if you like trams and living museums 🙂

    Its a growing city undergoing a lot of change, New Street Station for example is mid – renovation changing from an outdated pile of concrete to some great shiny bulbous eye thing that looks simply incredible.

    I think for me its the contrast both architecturally and culturally of old and new which makes Birmingham so awesome.

    Oooh and we also have chocolate factory. … which 90% of the population wont have visited but its there if you think a great day out consists of watching a production line 🙂

    Our biggest flaw is that we probably don’t shout about how great a place it is and even reading back my own comments I can see that they are laced with sarcasm (in a nice way)

    Bye for now

  • Judy Ruth

    I am from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Earlier this year my town was in the news because a large sinkhole opened up under the National Corvette Museum, swallowing several classic Corvettes. What is less publicized, is that the well-known psychic Edgar Cayce once claimed that Bowling Green was the location of the mouth of Hell. He suffered great personal loss in a fire here. This makes more sense of the coincidence of a random circular sinkhole opening under a round room where humans come to lust for the power and prestige of expensive sports cars to burn fossil fuels for ego-glorification.

    As a counter-force, we have young musical geniuses in abundance. My favorites are Sleeper Agent (no relation to “the sleeping prophet” –or?), Morning Teleportation, and Cage the Elephant (recent Grammy nominees). They sing songs of love and expanding consciousness and fighting the good fight. Any and all of these people will serve as protective talismans should you venture our way. I do advise you to make the trip because you have not lived until you have had the confection known as a Creme Horn from Riley’s Bakery, a locally owned shop that truly only uses the finest ingredients. If you are very wealthy, perhaps you could call and Dan will ship you some. But I think you’ll have to risk coming in person. It’s worth it.

    We are also home to Rand Paul who speaks of running for president sometimes. Whether he is from the dark side or the light side is a bigger call than I can make. I have my suspicions on the matter, though. So come on over, pick up a sack of creme horns, put Melaphobia on the earphones, peer into the gaping car-eating maw at the museum, and contemplate Bowling Green, for surely we are the cultural center of the New Age. Let me know if you get anything definitive on Rand Paul.

    • jfenbauer

      is Bowling Green in the Appalachian mountains?

      • Judy Ruth

        More mid-state, about an hour north of Nashville, TN.

    • Ben Lee

      i was hooked into world history back when i was in high school..in the Philippines..
      i was especially interested in Israeli and American history..
      the majority of that interest in American history was focused on the Clark family of Virginia/Kentucky and how their contributions to American history was largely forgotten by the American people..
      i stumbled into it when i read a historical fiction novel that was based on the Clark family, “From Sea to Shining Sea” by James Alexander Thom..i was intrigued at the claims purported by the book and was shocked at how much of the details in his book was grounded in fact..
      George Rogers Clark himself at one point almost single handedly doubled the size of the American territories with his daring exploits, driving back the British and hostile Indians and getting paid in the end by the people he saved with personal ruin..i can’t imagine how much it took for a genius like him to keep fighting despite blow after blow like that throughout his life..
      i actually was able to lead a small battalion and win a mock war/siege during ROTC exercises by replicating the small unit tactics employed by George Clark during his attack of Fort Kaskasia and Fort Vincennes..
      although i eventually chose to pursue a career in the medical field, i also messed around a lot with historical studies,.i was briefly given a post as teaching assistant in History classes attended by Liberal Arts students..
      whenever i introduce a class to the Clark family, it is always met with surprise and disbelief that such a significant contribution to the birth of a nation was buried and ignored..
      i feel that if not for William Clark’s exploration of the Northwest with Meriwether Lewis, the Clark family name would have been forgotten and buried into oblivion..
      for an amateur historian like me, it saddens me that Kentucky is better known for its horses and bourbon rather than the amazing family that birthed it into the world..

      • Judy Ruth

        I know, Ben! How many times when travelling, or as a foreign exchange student, I got “Fried Chicken!” as the sole acknowledgement of Kentucky. If only once, “Oh, the poetry and environmental activism of Wendell Berry!” it would be so thrilling!

  • Andaco

    I’m from Mexico City and what people don’t know it’s that, Mexico City is the city with the most museums in the world. It’s a place full of culture, but with many sociopolitical issues thanks to lack of education from it’s people. Neverless, still amazing. And the food is amazing, believe me or not, the mexican cousine is a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage.

  • Jay Kay

    My name is Jason Kay (no, not the lead singer of Jamiroquai – yes we are close in age, but he’s the one with hair and the envious car collection). I’m currently living in Chatham, NJ (again) which is about 30min west of NYC. It is a commuter town to NYC, with great schools and is a good place to raise a family. And that’s about it. Did I mention that it is close to NYC?

    Previously I’ve lived in Crested Butte, CO. It’s just slightly different. At about 4-1/2hrs from Denver in the middle of the 1,000,000 acres that comprise the Uncompahgre National Forest – The wild flowers are amazing, the mountain biking is epic, the backcountry is as busy in winter as it is in summer. If you like to be outdoors and active, there is something for everyone – Skiing, snowmobiling, all manner of snow sports, hiking, biking, climbing, rafting, sailing, boating, hunting, fishing, bird watching, tennis, yoga, Jeeping, and more. Most people combine activities, like 4-wheeling, camping, hiking, and fly fishing. Or snowmobiling and backcountry skiing. And then since everyone has spent serious calories, they replenish them at one of the numerous bars and restaurants in town. Yes it is a resort town. Yes there are a lot of locals that still live in town. Yes they are trying to keep it that way. Go visit and see for yourself. No I don’t get anything from it except to keep my friends there and being able to go back and visit. It is a breath-taking place – beautiful scenery and people. It could also be breath-taking as it sits at 8800′ (2682m)

  • Jacob

    I am from Comstock, Texas. Most people don’t know anything about it because it is a tiny west Texas border town (pop 300). The main industry is sheep and goat ranching and if you ever visit – check out the Devil’s River, Seminole Canyon State Park, and Lake Amistad. Out a little farther is Big Bend National Park – which is definitely worth the visit.

    My dad was the trapper for the area – meaning that he killed or relocated the predators (coyotes, bob cats, and mountain lions) that killed the sheep and goats. The up side to this for me as a child was that I got to travel with him all over the county on private land – finding fossils, arrowheads, and native american paintings. It was a great childhood.

  • Richard

    Stockholm, Sweden.

    I have lived in Stockholm my entire life, it is an marvelous city!
    If you only spend one day in Stockholm, the one thing you first will notice is that the city is crowded with small coffee-shops everywhere, and I do mean Everywhere! Together with the finns, Swedes love their coffee. And they like it strong..

    Swedes are very polite, but often try to do all they can to not make contact with strangers, especially on public transit.

    The “old-town” in Stockholm is beautiful. It’s like an little island in the middle of Stockholm and all it’s ground is covered with cobblestones. It’s one of the nicest places to have a beer in summer evenings, and the surrounding city is also buzzing with nightlife along the waterfront.

    Actually the whole city is full with little details of the old architecture from centurys ago, it’s highly recommended to just walk around the city and see for yourself.

    Many subway stations is like one big painted picture. Stockholm is very proud of it’s subway-system, and artists has been going loose and creating some amazing arts on the stations.

    Go skating on the ice in the Stockholm archipelago if you are visiting in the winter!
    Generally we do speak very good english.

    I love living here…

    • Lizzie

      Great details- this makes me want to visit Stockholm! Thanks for sharing.

    • M.B.

      Nice story! Stockholm is definitely on my list of cities to visit. I hear Sweden is very expensive though, especially alcohol. Can you comment on this? I’m from the Netherlands, and a beer at a bar would usually cost around 2.20 – 2.70 euro. I heard it’s like 7-10 euro for a beer in Sweden, which is insane! 🙂

      • Richard

        Hi M.B!
        Alcohol is a bit more expensive than most places Europe (alcohol tax). In a nightclub you will have to put up around 7 euro for a beer yes!:)
        Other than than alcohol, everything else is quite normally priced I guess!

  • I’ve lived in two places so I’ll share a little from both spots.

    I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida now. Fort Lauderdale is a great place if you love an endless summer, palm fringed beaches, and yacht lined waterways. It’s more relaxed and laid back than Miami, but Miami is only about a 30 minute to 1 hour drive south (depending on traffic) if you want to do Miami. Fort Lauderdale is the yachting capital of the world, it’s home base for the show ‘Below Deck’ on Bravo. There’s over 160 miles of navigable waterways, rivers, and canals. If you visit, you can take the Water Taxi (yes we have a water taxi that’s painted yellow like a NYC taxi and everything) around the main waterways and the New River. You can stop off at waterfront restaurants and bars, or go shopping, and get back on for it to take you to another part of the city and even the beach. Fort Lauderdale has the second busiest cruise ship port in the nation. If you’ve taken a Caribbean cruise, chances are you set sail from Port Everglades. I’ll wrap with my favorite expression about living in Fort Lauderdale: I live where you vacation!

    I was born and grew up where Bugs Bunny shoulda made a left toin, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Which couldn’t be more different from Fort Lauderdale. It took me about 3 years living away from home before I really started to appreciate everything that was great about New Mexico, except for the green chile which took me about three days. Actually I knew I was going to miss the green chile before I even left. Here’s the thing about green chile, you won’t understand it until you’ve stayed in NM long enough to become addicted to it (I have it shipped to me regularly). It’s something you can’t get anywhere, NM has the most ideal conditions to grow it successfully so it can’t be found anywhere outside of the southwest region unless you have it shipped like I do. It’s basically a condiment you add to just about anything you eat, not just enchiladas and burritos, but hamburgers (writing about this is giving me a green chile hard on right now), mac-n-chees, pizza–as a matter of fact you can call up Pizza Hut and order the Roadrunner, which is pepperoni, italian sausage, and green chile. That’s how big of a deal it is, national chains like McDonald’s and Subway have green chile as an option. Einstein Bros. even has a green chile bagel! It’s a thing.

    Anyway, other things I would suggest doing, It’s super tourist-y but fun: The Tram, which is a cable car aerial tramway that takes you from the Base of the Sandia Mountains to Sandia peak where you can see the whole city and the other side, beautiful views! Side note: Sandia translates to watermelon in Spanish, early settlers gave them that name because every evening when the sun sets they turn that color, so we get a spectacular sunset in the west and watermelon colored mountains in the east.

    Another super tourist-y thing: Old Town Plaza. My advice, skip it and take the 45 minute drive north to Santa Fe and see Old Town Plaza there, it’s light years better than ours (don’t tell anyone I said that).

    The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This is probably the biggest thing I took for granted when I lived there. Every year during the first week in October the on drive to work it was totally normal to see the perfectly clear, blue sky speckled with hundreds of brightly colored hot air balloons. Absolutely breathtaking when I think about it now, and when I see pics posted on social media. When I lived there, it was hundreds of thousands of tourists all driving around with you, slamming on breaks to find a place to pull over to take pictures, or worse, trying to take pictures while driving! The balloon chase crews cutting you off and speeding around to in an attempt to get to their balloon when and where it was going to land, so it can become a nightmare. If I had just taken a moment to be grateful for the beauty, there were times when I did, just not often enough.

  • I’m from Aurora, Colorado, United States. Yes, that Aurora, Colorado, the one you might know of because of the Batman movie theater shooting that happened here a couple years ago.

    I looked briefly through the comments for another Auroran, but didn’t see one, so thought I’d share my thoughts- please holla at me if you have any other thoughts about Aurora.

    Even before the shooting happened, Aurora had this reputation for being a little more ghetto than other places in Colorado. I remember when I got to college, up at CU Boulder, I met a guy from Highlands Ranch who was shocked that I hadn’t been a part of gangs, or something like that. For the most part though, Aurora is just like any other suburb, there are nicer parts, there are worse parts– I guess this is a little interesting: the original “main street” of Aurora, (though is was never named such), was east Colfax, which is currently in the Northish Westish part of Aurora, part of where it borders Denver. This area is one of the places that maybe resembles the dingy area that some people picture, but it’s recently began to be renovated again, so even that isn’t exactly true. The further South and East you go, the nicer it gets, and at a point where it gets to be too nice to still be called Aurora, they decided to call it Centennial.

    I grew up sort of in between the nice Aurora and the less nice Aurora. I spent my very young years frequenting the pawn shops on the Colfax strip with my dad (don’t judge him, pawn shops are fine places for children), I went to Elementary school and middle school in that part of town, but I went to highschool right on the border where Aurora becomes Centennial. And what’s funny about that is that, depending on who I meet, I’m not necessarily considered a “true” Auroran, because I went to a highschool in the nicer part of town. This is a weird in between space, it feels like being bi-racial in some ways (I’m half Filipino, half white), in some circles I feel like I’m too white, and in some circles, I’m too Filipino. I don’t want to get de-railed there, but you see the analogy, the guy from Highlands Ranch thinks I’m a gang member, the kids who went to Aurora Public schools think I’m an uppity ultra white conservative etc etc etc.

    Most people I know that grew up in Aurora really don’t like it much, and I think it’s either because it’s too suburban, there’s nothing to do here, or it’s too gross/dirty/poor. A girl I had a crush on in college once told me that Aurora didn’t have any culture, and that Fort Collins, her hometown, was way better. And anyway I’m rambling but let me set the record straight:

    Aurora totally has culture, Helen. But the cultural parts of Aurora are mostly in areas that are a little less nice. For example much of Aurora was centered around the now non-existant Fitzsimmons army medical base, which was established during WWI by the US Army for the purpose of treating casualties of chemical warfare.
    The Aurora Fox theater is right down the road from where Fitzsimmons once was, and was built so that military persons would have something to do while at Fitzsimmons. It still hosts performances to this day. There are numerous houses and structures in this area that have been standing for about 100 years. You just don’t know as many people from this area because you’re too hip to know seedy Aurora people.

    Aurora has other cool stuff too, though! The Anschutz medical campus is located in Aurora, and is once of the best medical campuses in the states!

    Dry Dock Brewing company, located in Aurora, is one of the best breweries in the world! They’ve won 18 Great American Beer Fest medals, five world beer cup medals, and the Brewer’s association small Brewery of the year award!

    Aurora has tons of parks! Which does make it a great place for suburban cultureless types…

    Anyway. I’ll stop quoting from various wikipedia pages. I like Aurora, it’s pretty weird, which is all you can really ask for from a place. If you go to Aurora, go to one of their many dive bars, late at night. Something strange is bound to happen.

  • Emily

    I am from and live in Wellington, New Zealand. The capital of New Zealand and self-proclaimed “coolest little capital in the world” which I love. I live in a small suburb East of Wellington called Wainuiomata, I commute to the city for work every day which takes around an hour in heavy traffic, even though it is only around 20km away.

    The thing I love most about New Zealand is the green, everywhere is green, and it is SO green. I love the fact that the furthest inland point of New Zealand is roughly 120km. You can really never be more than 100km from the sea. The beaches are absolutely beautiful. There are many wonders to see, so many things to do. Plenty of adrenalin sports, bush walks and other outdoor pursuits.

    There is a very ralxed vibe in New Zealand, the people here are very friendly and approachable and will always have time to help others. I think there is a great feeling of community in New Zealand, possibly because we are such a small country.

    The climate here is not too varying compared to others below I have read, winter tends to be 5C and summer can be around 25C. Snow fell in Wellington in August 2011, what was described as the ‘perfect snowstorm’, the first time since the 1970s. It was an amazing sight.

    We are the first country in the world to see the sun on each new day.

    • Jenna

      Hi Emily! I have a question for you- and I hope that I’m not revealing too much of my ignorance here! I’ve always wanted to come to New Zealand to see wild kiwi birds. Is that something that is possible in your area?

      • Emily

        Hi Jenna, great question! As the kiwi is predominantly a nocturnal bird, it would be very difficult to go into the bush and spot one yourself at night, but they certainly do exist in the wild. There are some small islands that are dedicated to preserving our native birds, and the department of conservation tag and track them. I am certain you can do tracking as I have tried it myself. Of course at most wildlife parks or zoos there is usually a nocturnal room where you can see kiwi and morepork owls in their habitat. Nothing really compares to seeing an animal in the wild though.

    • Camille Dannenhoffer-Lafage

      Hi Emily! Just a quick question, I heard that buying furniture in NZ is very expensive (even at Ikea and the likes), can you confirm?
      Also, is there really a place on the side of the road where you can buy fruits/vegetables out of a box and leave money for your purchases without anybody there selling them? (basically relying on the trust that people will pay for what they get out of the box). If true, that is amazing!!!

      • Emily

        Hi Camille, interesting question! I wouldn’t specifically know if furniture is terribly expensive to buy here as I don’t really have a comparison! We don’t have Ikea that I know of, but we have other furniture stores all of which I would say are expensive, do you have the la-z-boy brand where you are from? The most simple fabric la-z-boy recliner in our stores looks to be around $1,000NZD, just for a single chair. if you convert that to your currency you might be able to get a comparison. We have cheaper stores that sell some furniture, such as the Warehouse, but they tend to have rather limited and seasonal stock. I would liken the Warehouse more to Ikea, as it’s all flat-packed and you build your own. Just with WAY less stock.

        There is plenty of rural stalls that sell seasonal produce at low prices which you see as you travel the country, some are manned but there are some that work on an honesty basis as well.

      • rresaff

        I live in central MA, USA. We have a lot of small farms with the honor system cash boxes. I thought a psychological study was done to prove that those boxes work well, but they’ve definitely been around for years so must be pretty safe.

  • AJG

    I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. Some things about my home city that you may not know:

    – Jerry Springer was the mayor.
    – When I was young (80’s) the KKK used to march around the main part of the city during the holidays. People protested this, but it was legal. In 2001, there were race riots in the downtown area, but I understand that race relations have since improved considerably.
    – Cincinnati overlooks the Ohio River, and Kentucky is on the other side (it’s also near Indiana), and the Cincinnati airport is in Kentucky. Since the city also bordered a slave state, it contains many hiding places that were part of the underground railroad (some of them have been turned into a museum).
    – Cincinnati is in the same time zone as New York and the weather is similar to NYC (although a bit more humid).
    – Cincinnati has historic architecture a good art/music scene for a city it’s size.
    – There is a booming craft beer and food scene in Cincinnati and the city area is becoming much more popular and fun than the outskirts and suburbs, which was not the case in the end of the last century.
    -With that said, the food brands that Cincinnati is known for – LaRosa’s Pizza, Skyline Chili, Montgomery Ribs – are far from the best foods in Cincinnati.

    • Dillon

      Also from Cincy! So rare to find another of us

  • Bill

    Im from São Paulo, Brazil.
    And is a normal country, is not a 24/7 party or orgy like many europeans and americans think.
    São Paulo is bigger than any USA city, has the largest japanese community outside Japan, also Italian, Lebanese and Bolivian.
    Brazilians don´t feel Latin americans, the mainly reasons are the different language (portuguese not spanish), and Brazil is more diverse than other latin american countries ( having all shapes of colors, from Very white, to mixed, to very black, and every color in between).
    Is a very unequal and classist country, though, is not really racist, but skin color is often related to social class.
    There are more Asians in Brazil than native americans.
    Most of Brazilian have never been to Amazon, is absolute far away from the big metropolitan areas ( except Manaus and Belem).
    Is the country with the total number of murders in the world (though, is very far from the highest homicide rate in the world).
    Unlike the dancing or soccer stereotype, there are a lot of fat people in Brazil, and the number is growing each year.

    • d

      “is not really racist, but skin color is often related to social class.”
      Em. See, now, I’d have said that’s exactly what racist means?

  • AlmatyGirl

    I am from Almaty, Kazakhstan.

    I am actually glad that Borat made us popular. At least people don’t ask me 20 times to spell my country, they just say “Ah, Borat?” Unfortunately not everyone knows that the movie itself was shot in Romania…

    Anyway, here are a few facts about Kazakhstan. I am not gonna get into politics and corruption and dictatorship… Otherwise the post will be too long.

    – We have two official languages: kazakh and russian, which are very different from each other. Kazakh is more like turkish. So imagine that every sign, ad, brochure has to be in two languages. You know how much of a pain in the ass it is if you work in advertising industry.

    – China is our neighbour, means a lot of chinese clothes is sold in Kazakhstan. You can get into a bus a see people wearing LV, Prada, Armani fake clothes. It looks ridiculous, but no one pays attention, people are so used to it.

    – We are used to extreme temperatures. In summer in can be +43C, in winter -30C. The heating in our buildings is from hot water and we pay monthly a fixed amount for sq m not for how much water we used for the heating. So it’s super hot in every house, people wear shorts at home in winter.

    – We eat horse meat and no one thinks that it’s weird. It is something that kazakhs have been eating for centuries. Kazakh food consists of mostly boiled or fried dough and horse meat and lamb. It has to do with the fact that Kazakhs were nomads and could spend 10 hours every day riding a horse, which required a lot of energy. Horse meat is expensive though, so it’s usually cooked for celebrations.

    – Christmas is not big deal in the country. Everyone gets crazy about the New Year. Fireworks can last 5 minutes non-stop at the New Year midnight. People get drunk, eat and walk to their friends’ houses to drink and eat even more. You are expected to give presents not only to your family, but to your friends and colleagues (ones that you work closely with) as well.

    These are first fact that came up to my mind…

    • Thea

      I knew that Borat was shoot in Romania and that that image has definitley little to do with real life Kazakhstan… but still I have to say that I keep having little information about it so this was interesting. A thing that blew my mind is that I met two half German, half Kazakhi girls (who were living their whole life in Germany and definitley were not the types of people who would defend their country whatever it takes) and that they told me that yes, the President had been elected for the third term with 95% of the preferences, and that he was a de facto dictator, but that “that was still a good estimate of the amount of people that actually did vote for him”…? and that “although he’s a dictator large majority supports him cause he’s the best option for the country”…? Could you tell us your point of view? If it’s not too long complex and boring for you of course 🙂

      • AlmatyGirl

        Hi!

        First, i’d like to say a few words about who actually lives in Kazakhstan. In major cities like Almaty and Astana you will see a lot of people with white skin and blue eyes. Usually their parents/grandparents moved there from Russia or the Ukraine during the 2nd WW and stayed.

        Also you will meet surprisingly a lot of people with german surnames. Their families were forced to move to Kazakhstan after the 2nd WW. 10-15 years ago a lot of them moved to Germany looking for a better life after USSR collapsed. It was a tricky thing, because many people who moved were descendants of actual germans and didn’t know either the language or culture. I know quite a few families who went back to Kazakhstan because the German society didn’t accept them. Anyway, it’s a separate topic 🙂

        Answering your questions:

        1. People in major cities love the president for two reasons.

        First, he helped Kazakhstan become the most developed country in Central Asia after USSR collapsed. It’s nice to think “hey, i don’t live in a village, i have education, infrastructure, malls, 4G etc. Could be much worse”.

        Second, it’s easy to make money if you are in business, because everything is super corrupt and can be bought (the last step of the corruption ladder is the president itself). The official system of laws and rules is super complicated and a pain in the ass but you can always avoid it by paying to the right people.

        2. People in poor regions of the country hate the president. Because as you see you will live well in that country only if you can pay for your comfort. If you are a villager you are fucked up. Social system itself is very underdeveloped as i mentioned above, agriculture is dying… So if you are not rich, you have nothing to thank the president for.

        3. This is the history of the elections in the country. NOTE: officially you can be a president there only 3 times in a row:

        1991 – USSR collapsed. Nazarbayev was elected with 98,7 % of votes. NOTE: There were no other candidates to vote for. Yes, you got it right, he was the only one.

        1995 – His term is about to end and he does a referendum where asks people if they want him to stay. The pole showed that people said “yes” and his term was extended until 2000. NOTE: as the system is so corrupt, no one believes in the honesty of the polls.

        2000 and 2005 – new elections, of course he wins.

        2010 – IMPORTANT he CHANGES THE CONSTITUTION that “the first president of the country will be the president until death”. Here you go, no more need to fake elections. I don’t think that there is any other country in the world who has such statement in their constitution…

        So i gave you not my opinion, but described the situation in general. You can make your own conclusions.

        • Kristiyan Ivanov

          That just feels so wrong. I was with the impression that because the country was developing so fast, everyone’s happy. I remember meeting a girl who was studying in Bulgaria and I was wondering why she had decided to come here, but now I get it.

          • AlmatyGirl

            That’s the thing… it’s developing not harmoniously in all its fields.

            The irony is that we could live like Norway. Easily. It’s not about resources, it’s about management. But their management knows how to think strategically, but not like “i need to do anything to get as much money as possible right now for myself, my friends and my family and then i don’t care what happens”. And this is the mindset of the politicians of the high level and people in business in Kazakhstan.

            But still if you are in a city and earn more than 800USD per month per person there, you won’t have any reasons to complain which are right in your face. Visiting Almaty or Astana you will find the country as quite friendly, developed and nice.

    • Shareiro

      You forgot to mention that Almaty used to be capital city before capital was moved to newly build (and very ugly to my personal opinion) new city Astana 😉

    • M.B.

      Jegshemesh!

  • Sam

    I am from Beirut, Lebanon and here are 10 facts about Lebanon and Lebanese:
    1/ More than 90% of Lebanese live with their parents until they get married (Guys and Girls), and if you don’t get married, you stay at your parents place.
    2/ Lebanese value education and Lebanon’s educational system is considered the best in the middle east.
    3/ Lebanese don’t like to be tagged as Arabs, although, biologically they are not Arabs (At least the non muslim ones).
    4/ Lebanese like to party every day, don’t give a fuck about the country’s political, financial and economical status, well in Lebanon the more the situation is bad, the more you’ll find people releasing their anxiety and partying.
    5/ Lebanese are born “Proud to be Lebanese”, obviously, for no particular reason nor achievements
    6/ There’s more than 19 different religions in Lebanon, and this is this is how politicians brainwash and control their people.
    7/ Money/Power can buy you evth in Lebanon, officers, fake attestations, canceling a fine.. Just whatever you wish.
    8/ I really think that Lebanese are the most social, friendly and positive people, just come visit, and you’ll feel it, you’ll make 10 friends, they will insist on inviting you to their homes, their mom will cook traditional Lebanese food for this occasion, and you are not allowed to leave before you get some coffee.
    9/ Lebanese like fashion, they are always over dressed and a bit of show off won’t hurt them.
    10/ They also fancy beauty, Beirut is the city with the top ratio in population/plastic surgery made, mostly nose breast jobs, face lifting, ass jobs and so on…

    Briefly, it’s a place where you can say without hesitation: It’s not about the country, it’s about its people 🙂

  • Hey. Im from this city called chandigarh.. In india.. Its quite a cool place, primarily coz its an amazingly planned city. I didn’t just grow on its own like most other cities and yet it has a strange sense of culture of its own.. It was meant to showcase and be the guiding light of how post independence india wants to be like. Its really quite brilliant and very different from most other cities..’the my city is great hoo-hoo’ bit is just a very small undertone of why i think this way. Hopefully.. I did an entire write up about chandigarh a while back.. A part of ‘that’inspired moment after reading whatbutwhy’s odd places blog series.. when i wanted to do one for my city, since he dint… If interested , You can read the entire thing here, im posting the link..
    http://Www.domesticatedmonkey.WordPress.com (move to the post titled – Chandigarh.)
    (Tim, if u happen to see this message, would be super if u could go through, and give me some feedback on my writing sense .. I’m quite a fan of ur writing, which will probably reflect as well.. Cheers sidharth

  • Jenna

    Provo, Utah

    -There are two colleges in Provo- Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. You can pretty much assume that a lot of the people that you talk to here are smart.

    -Randomly pick any twenty-something-year-old man (this works best if you are somewhat near BYU’s campus) and the odds are pretty good that he is fluent in a second language. It is likely Spanish but could also be something a little more random like Japanese, Cambodian, Italian, etc. This is due to the fact that a lot of men here have served LDS missions in different areas of the world.

    -Utah Lake is super duper nasty because of waste that was dumped into it 20-ish years ago. In the winter, the mountains that run North-South trap the smog from the cars and yucky fumes from the lake and make the air really vile. It’s not a good thing.

    -The police here are very nitpicky about parking, speeding, registration, etc. They are also very willing to shut down the city’s main streets for marathons, parades, etc.

    -There are a ton of really great restaurants here that have a huge variety of foreign foods. The most popular of these is probably Bombay House which does Indian food or Tucanos which is a Brazilian grill. I also HIGHLY recommend Cafe Rio!

    -I love the kindness that is here and the sense of community. I feel like most people are willing to drop what they are doing to help out their neighbors or strangers. It has been a great place to call home.

    • Essence Grigio

      I am from Salt Lake City and have lived all over Utah. I agree with your statement about kindness, I think that goes across the whole state though. Every person I have ever met who has visited Utah has said it was one of the friendliest places they have ever been.

      Smog is disgusting, when you go to the mountains and can literally see yourself driving out of it, so disturbing.

      I might have to argue with you as a local about cuisine though (please note I say this with a smile, I love our state’s mexican food because it is good). I would say that in Provo Batos might be better then Cafe Rio. That being said I would rather buy my tamales from a guy in a walmart parking lot, go to the corner taco stand next to Sears there are two so I split my visits between them, visit Red Iguana, or eat at any Mexican restaurant in Rose Park (Salt Lake City) over Batos or Cafe Rio. Literally, I live very far away from Utah right now and I would kill for a Sears taco, no joke. Also to be home for the color festival.

  • Sarah R.

    I live on Whidbey Island. It is the second longest island in the lower 48 states, but some people here claim it is the longest because they think Long Island isn’t an island. People can get here by one of two ferries or a bridge. It is a beautiful place where you can look at vistas of water surrounded by jagged, snow-covered mountains. It has lots of older people because it is hard to find living wage jobs, and back to the earlier point of it being so beautiful that people retire here. In droves.
    It has a naval air station that has a love/hate relationship with residents. It teaches people about the polarities that are possible when you both act like an occupying force and bring financial benefits. That leaves people arguing constantly about whether to love it or hate it, and then we forget we are all just people wanting to be healthy and wanting to do our work.
    It has lots of small farms in a state that has lots of huge farms. It has the first National Historical Reserve in which most of the land is privately owned. It has one road going all the way up the island, and sometimes you can drive portions on that road and not see another car

    • Lizzie

      Lucky you! I love Whidbey, though I don’t live there. I ran in the island’s half-marathon last spring, which is a great way to soak in the scenery. Beautiful, beautiful place.

    • Chick cop

      We used to vacation on Whidbey Island when I was a kid, and I desperately wanted to live there! I love how green it is, all the wildlife, and the amazing rocky shoreline…. All the memories of have of it are beautiful, wonderful, and rainy. I hope to introduce my husband to its beauty one of these days!

  • Krattz

    I live in Melbourne, part of the state of Victoria in Australia:

    People (Melbournians I suspect) have started calling Melbourne the world’s most liveable city….. that’s a load of bullshit, it’s not the worst city in the world by any means but its definitely not the most liveable city even in Australia let alone the world. I’ve lived here most of my life, since I was 3 and half (I was born in Perth, Western Australia in case anyone cared) and if you ask me it all comes down to the weather. I’m sure you’ve heard about the weather in places like London which tends to be drizzly and cold but the thing about weather in those places which is different in Melbourne is its stability. What I mean by this is that in such places if you wake up in morning and its raining you can tell it’s probably going to be rainy and/or overcast for the next few hours possibly clearing up later in the day, you have a vague idea of what the weather is likely going to do next, it’s somewhat predictable.

    In *Melbourne* however it can be sunny and calm one moment than within one or two minutes heavy hail can start than in *another* minute or two go back to being sunny and calm. I’m not kidding nor am I exaggerating. A more common weather pattern in Melbourne will be: cold in the morning (overcast about 60-70% of the time if I were to guess) then in the afternoon it may clear out and *sometimes* become warm and then unbelievably cold again with rain a possibility at any point in the day. Any one of these things can happen or not happen at pretty much any time and as I said before conditions can drastically change in a few minutes. In Melbourne you can frequently get all four seasons in one day. Summer tends to be obscenely hot (and yet still suddenly change to hail and back again in minutes, I keep mentioning this because it just doesn’t seem possible and yet it happens) which serves as a reminder that we do *actually* live in Australia and not Russia or somewhere similar.

    Now this is all a huge pain in the arse when it comes to planning your day and makes vitamin D deficiencies much more common (because of the lack of sunlight) and harder to manage (which in turn affects vitamin C absorption) but I believe it also indirectly makes Melbourne a less friendly city. Melbournians are thought of by many other Australians as quite rude or at the very least not very sociable (admittedly I count myself among the antisocial of us) and I think the weather may play a part in this. This will take some time to explain so bear with me.

    There is a mental disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-V) called “seasonal affective disorder” where an individual experiences bouts of depression in relation to the changing seasons. For example sufferers can have bouts of depression during the winter months (whilst having completely normal moods and behaviours at other times of the year) which is why it is also called “winter depression” (although it can also occur in summer where it is instead called “summer depression”).

    A theory in modern psychology called the biopsychosocial framework states that in order to have good mental health, an individual should:
    a) be healthy biologically speaking (not having issues with the production of serotonin, dopamine or other chemicals as well as not be sickly all the time)
    b) have access to important social phenomenon like friendship groups, family members and romance
    c) be free of aberrant psychological phenomenon like phobias and excess stress

    So putting all this together, my hypothesis is that Melbourne’s miserable weather:
    a) interferes with our vitamin D (and by extension vitamin C) levels which compromises our physical health
    b) can affect our psychology in a manner similar to seasonal affective disorder
    These two can result in some people becoming less sociable which can affect not just their own but other people’s ability and or willingness to build and maintain social connections exacerbating the problem considerably (you don’t feel like being polite or friendly when those around you are rude)

    And I guarantee you, they don’t mention any of *this* in the guidebooks…

  • Camille Dannenhoffer-Lafage

    Hey everyone! I’ve had a blast reading you guys and decided to tell you a few things about my city. I’m from Lyon, France.

    If you’re not from Europe, chances are you’ve never heard of it, or you’ve heard of it but have no idea where it’s at (and it’s NOT by Paris). I’ve found that the best way to describe its location is to say that it’s 3 to 4 hours north of Marseille and 1 to 2 hours west of the Alps. Here a couple of fun facts about my city:

    1. It is situated in a valley, at the intersection between the rivers Saone and Rhone. That means that the weather is very temperate (which I did not realize until I left France), and it is the perfect combo for growing grapes, hence the abundance of good rich red wines in the region.

    2. On the topic of wine, we heavily celebrate the Beaujolais Nouveau every year (which gives you a nasty headache comes morning). “Beaujolais” is three things : the name of a river, the name of the Region in which said river is, and the name of the wine. Keep in mind, French people do not joke around with wine and their names, the government decides who can use which names or “appelation” and the criteria are extremely complicated (more on this here: http://www.terroir-france.com/wine/rates.htm). Anyway, what a lot of people don’t know is that Beaujolais nouveau is a very young wine: harvested in September/October, in your belly 8 weeks later. It’s a rather good wine but it’s not sophisticated by any means. For more on wine, here is my cheat sheet: https://www.harborcompliance.com/blog/2013/10/07/self-employed-celebration-wine-chart/.

    3. Lyon used to be the Capital of France. You heard right, before Paris was a thing, Lyon was “Lugdunum” under Roman times and because of its strategic location (not far from Italy and Spain, and on two rivers) a whole lot happened there. This means a few things:
    a. We have catacombs, just like Paris. However, forget about seeing them, they are permanently closed to the public because too unsafe.
    b. We have an “Old Town”, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just Google “Vieux Lyon” for cool pictures.
    c. We have an old amphitheater, which is the place to be in the Summer for a series of concerts/plays/live shows called “Les Nuits de Fourviere”. Nothing quite like enjoying a concert in a 2,000 years old amphitheater in my opinion (although bring a pillow, your ass will feel numb after about 20 min).

    4. We have a really awesome park called “Parc de la Tete d’Or”, which is basically the Central Park of Lyon except it’s at the scale of the city. It is smack in the middle of it and there is a zoo, which I loved when i was a kid, a lake/pond where you can rent a small boat and go explore, an island accessible via a tunnel in the middle of the lake (totally awesome and no one ever goes there), and a rose garden so insanely beautiful in the Spring, among other things. Just like CP the nicest houses/condos in town border the park, and it is THE place to go running in your lululemon attire if you’re into that sort of things.

    5. Best way to explore the city is probably by foot, or by Velov, which are rental bikes with stations all around town. Most lyonnais (inhabitants of Lyon) will tell you they were the first city on France to have those, although it’s not true. They are truly awesome though! Just don’t rent one at the top of Fourviere to go downhill, there’s typically no spots to give it back at the bottom of the hill!

    6. Fourviere and la Croix Rousse. Those are two of the best neighborhood in Lyon. Both used to be crappy, low income areas a few centuries ago, and now there are quite expensive and trendy. Both are beautiful and perched on a hill. To go to Fourviere, I recommend taking the “funiculaire”, it’s so unique, I’ve never seen anything like it.

    7. The soccer team, Olympique Lyonnais (or OL). Used to be really good. They won the French Championship tittle something like 7 or 8 times in a row when I was a teenager. They have a deep rooted rivalry with Saint Etienne, a nearby city club and they absolutely HATE each other. The best anecdote I have regarding the intensity of this rivalry is that one time I was at the stadium watching OL against another French team, and at halftime they showed the score of the other games going on at the same time. When people saw that PSG was beating Saint Etienne, there was an uproar in the crowd and everybody started cheering like crazy. You know they don’t like you when they start to cheer for the PSG!!

    8. The food. Lyon is the gastronomical capital of France. That means that in the land of the best cheeses and hom-nom-nom meat, Lyon has the tastiest food. On a side note, the General de Gaulles did say “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”. Oh man, I could go on and on but I’m gonna try to keep it short: it’s mostly unpretentious and “terroir” (local), at reasonable prices. I found a cool blog article for those who want more (http://www.choosy-beggars.com/index.php/2009/04/27/lyon-frances-gastronomic-capital/). Because I am not in France right now I don’t want to spend too much time on this point, it’s making me too nostalgic.

    9. Proximity to everything! Two hours of TGV from Paris, 1 and a half hour from skiing in the Alps, 4/5 hours from the Mediterranean, and a few more from Italy, Spain. All of that without being posh/hipster nor too expensive.

    TL, DR; Lyon has the same advantages as Paris: museums, history, beautiful architecture, excellent food without being as expensive, crowded and full of Parisians (duh!)

    I’ll be there myself from Dec. 23rd until Jan. 4th if anybody is going there and need a local guide 😉

    • M.B.

      Very interesting read! Thanks for sharing that. I grew up in a family where hating french people was actually a thing (God knows why though, probably based on stupid stereotypes) so I had quite a skewed image of french people. Thankfully, my opinion changed drastically after meeting many very friendly and cool french people, and actually growing a brain over the past years I guess 😉

      Anyway, your story made me want to visit Lyon, a very well written piece! If I had a relationship at the moment i’d definitely plan a weekend there, but I guess i’ll have to keep it in mind for any future romances 🙂

      • Camille Dannenhoffer-Lafage

        Hey M.B., you should totally come visit and you would also have a blast going there alone, lots of opportunities to meet other single people and make friends in Lyon! The nightlife is great and there is a huge international student population as well so it’s really diverse! I recommend dancing on one the nightclub-boats, pretty cool.

        I’d be curious to know what were the reasons for hating French people in your family (even if it’s stereotypes). I haven’t really met a lot of Americans that had a negative view of my country (although I’ve had my share of stupid questions), but I think different generations tend to remember different things.
        – My grand-pa’s generation for example think all American are awesome because they helped liberate France and made really cool movies.
        – My parents’ generation has quite a bit of distrust towards them, given their “involvement” in South America, Vietnam, the Golf… at the same time they were busy doing flower-power stuff. Also, the Freedom fries thing probably didn’t help.
        – The younger generation though is passionately in love with America, but in a “Shallow Sharon” kinda way (they love the concept of the U.S.). All they see is Obama, Jennifer Lawrence and pop music and think it’s all so hip! I once saw a girl in a mall in Lyon wearing American flag leggings with a tee-shirt saying “don’t mess with Texas”. She thought she was the coolest thing around and my American friend couldn’t believe his eyes!

        • M.B.

          Hi Cam,

          Thanks for the tip! I hope to do quite a few trips in the coming years, and information like this definitely makes the choice of destinations even harder 🙂
          I’m not actually American though, i’m Dutch. Maybe I should have mentioned that, although it shouldn’t make too much of a difference. I’d say hate is a strong word, but besides my family, I notice plenty of negativity towards French people in my surroundings which I can only explain by silly stereotypes. I currently work for a German company, and have a French boss (kind of funny right) and he is very pleasant, as well as another French co-worker of mine and some French students i’ve met over the years. I have actually no bad experiences with French people at all, so I really don’t get where this stereotype comes from. (Stereotype that French people are arrogant, selfish, unwilling to speak other languages and so on) So far none of them turned out to be true in my experience.

          Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. I come from Utrecht, which isn’t a very famous I guess, but it’s one of the largest and most beautiful cities of the Netherlands (Just google Utrecht, the Netherlands if you want to be convinced haha) I would recommend anyone to visit a for a few days! It’s not so touristy as Amsterdam for example, which is a big benefit in my eyes.

          Bonjour!

          p.s. Nightclub boats sounds really awesome.

    • Thea

      I’m planning to apply for an Erasmus there! 🙂 you made me even more excited 😉

      • camdl86

        Awesome, you’re gonna have a blast if you do! Which university would you be at? Feel free to ask me any questions 😉

  • Katherine

    I am from Auburn, NY, which is a small city of about 30,000 between Syracuse and Rochester, NY.

    -Auburn has a maximum security prison that the city was literally built around. Chances are, if you live in our around Auburn, you know someone who works at the prison (or several people). I used to live a street over from the prison, and when I walked my dog on weekend mornings I would see lines of (mostly) women and children waiting to get inside and visit.
    -I work in an office, and when I look out the window I get a beautiful view of the prison.
    -The prison in Auburn is where the electrical chair was used for the first time. History! (hah)
    -William H Seward’s house is in Auburn (secretary of state to Abraham Lincoln! Woot!) and it’s a museum. Harriet Tubman’s house is also in Auburn. Also, Theodore Case is from Auburn, the man who created sound on film. Lots of history in this small area.
    -Fingerlakes region. Chances are, if you’re going to a bachelorette party or a birthday party and you’re over the age of 21, you’re going on a wine tour. And you’ll rent a limo bus.
    -Crows. Famous crows. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/02/nyregion/like-capistrano-but-with-crows-and-shotguns.html

    We used to have a redneck esque shooting contest to try to thin the birds out, then somebody got shot and they stopped it (this article, written in 2003, was before somebody got shot). The crows are a nuisance. They rip open garbage bags, they drop their waste all over businesses, they are noisy…BUT…I can’t help but seeing something really neat in seeing the sky filled with thousands of crows while I drive to work at 6:45am.
    The trees will be filled with them to the point that they look like they are filled with black leaves. They leave when the sun comes up, and when the sun sets they are back in their roosts by the thousands.

    I grew up here, and I moved away for a little while, then I came back and now we are raising our son here. I had a lot of contempt for this area growing up. It was too small, nothing to do, nothing to see, nowhere to shop, everyone knew everyone. As an adult (28) I have a greater appreciation of that. I like this area. It really is home to me.

    • Jim B. Johnson

      Hi neighbor!

      • Katherine

        Hi neighbor! I got all excited when I saw you posted from Syracuse. I get weirdly thrilled when I see someone from the 315 area posting on this website. Hah!

  • mihirpatelmrp

    I am from India (born in Gujarat). I won’t even try to talk about India as whole because –

    1) It’s overwhelmingly diverse (30+ languages, significantly different climate, cultures, food and so on)
    2) I haven’t seen much of India myself. So far, I have lived only in Gujarat (I grew up here), Mumbai (I went to college here), Delhi (I work here) and Bangalore (my client’s is based here).
    3) I tried reading history of India but there is just too much of it no matter what I pick

    So, I’ll stick to Gujarat and my personal experience.

    · Mahatma Gandhi was born in Gujarat
    · Alcohol is illegal here. Night life is non-existent 🙁 (Bootlegging is rampant though and you can easily get it delivered to your doorstep and have a great house-party :P)
    · People here are big fan of food. They are enthusiastic about everything ranging from Mexican, Italian, American, Chinese, Lebanese to other types of Indian dishes, provided, it is Vegetarian and sufficiently
    spicy.
    · Sharing food with others is considered quite normal here. You’ll often see people insisting complete strangers sitting next to them to take a share of their home-made snacks they have brought with them.
    · People here are a bit too enthusiastic about festivals in general. They are always looking for excuses to celebrate festivals; sometimes even those that are not their own!
    · Navratri festival is close to everyone’s heart and is a big deal here. If you are in Gujarat around Navratri time you should definitely visit Baroda’s United Way Garba festival. It is just mesmerizing to see 40k+ people dancing together in perfect synchronization.
    · People are usually averse to showing off. It is hard to differentiate between a Millionaire (in USD) and any other normal individual based on their attire or language. Infact, showing off wealth is considered
    slightly shallow/superficial in some circles though earning is not.
    · Most of the people are pretty open to self-depreciating humor. You can often make fun of them and they will most likely take it light-heatedly (as long as it not about Navratri J).

    As far as India is concerned you should think these key-words: Gandhi, Yoga, Software Engineers, Kamasutra, Population, Poverty and overwhelmingly diversity. Rest, you have to explore…

    • babettesays

      The sharing of food with strangers sounds awesome! I love that!

      • mihirpatelmrp

        That is what a friend I made in Canada said when I passed my nachos dish towards him. He was a bit confused and felt a bit awkward at first. But when I asked surprised – ‘why not? Everyone likes nachos!’ he didn’t really have an answer. So he finally heeded. Turns out he was there with his cousins and everyone happily joined in afterwards. And the best part – he sponsored drinks for everyone on our entire table 🙂

  • Rocío Vera

    I am from Mexico city. It’s a huge, and I mean HUGE city with 23 million people. Of course it is somehow chaotic and traffic can get extremely bad.
    As in all of Mexico, social inequality is a big thing here, which is one of the worst things about my country along with the corrupt government and drug cartels related violence in some states.

    Still, I love my country and love living in Mexico city and would highly recommend everyone to visit. There’s so many things to do and see for every taste and style of traveler, from archeological sites, colonial buildings, museums (there are 150 museums in the city!), shopping, nightlife, etc. and of course an amazing culinary offer from high end local and international restaurants to street carts or street market food with everything in between. Most of the mexican food found in other countries is not really what the authentic thing is, and for our friends in the US, in Mexico there is not such thing as a hard shell taco! ;). In fact, every state in Mexico has it’s own gastronomic universe. It is so that UNESCO declared mexican cuisine a cultural world heritage, so yeah, food is a big deal in all of Mexico.

    Some random things:

    One common misconception about my country regards tequila, it is really not meant to be drank as a shot, that´s insane and what young party people do to get stupid really fast, haha. Most of the mexicans who drink tequila take it slowly, one small sip at a time.

    About piñatas. Every kid’s party must have a piñata full of candy and sometimes small toys. What you probably don’t know is that piñatas are not the small colourful donkeys you see in movies, most kids choose theirs in the shape of their favourite cartoon character or superhero in trend, which is kind of weird as piñatas are meant to be destroyed…

    We celebrate the day of the dead (Día de los muertos), which is a tradition that goes back to prehispanic times. It is actually a two day celebration (one day for the dead adults and the other for the dead kids and babies) that’s meant to honour and remember our loved ones that have left us. Many people go to cementeries and decorate the tumbs and they actually have a party there, with music and lots of food and drinking. Most people build altars in their homes or even workplace in which you put the photos of the departed, their favourite food, candy skulls, color paper decorations and lots of bright orange flowers called zempazuchitl. There’s also a special bread called bread of the dead that we eat during this time and it is delicious. The candy skulls are given as gifts and we put the name of the person for who it is in the forehead, this is a kind gesture and we don’t find it weird or macabre. Also during this celebrations, it is common for people to write “calaveritas” (small skulls) which are like small poems or rimes about a person in which they depict how this person is going to die in a funny way, it is mostly done for political characters as a satire or famous people, again for us this is not unsettling or weird, just part of the fun. Another curious thing about this celebration is that it takes place on november 1st and 2nd, so it coincides with halloween, and as we are strongly influenced by the US, we also celebrate halloween, so it kind of gets mixed up at some point and we end up having a 3 day celebration of dead and monsters and halloween costumes and candy skulls and altars and flowers and pumpkins ands bread of the dead, etc. It’s really nice.

    So there are a bunch of other things I could say about my city and my country but this is already too long, so I’ll leave it here with just some random facts. If anyone has a question or needs a recommendation, I’ll be glad to answer, but the main thing is: you should come to Mexico, it’s a great place. 🙂

    • Makena

      Hey I’m form nairobi, was in mexico this yet and found it weirdly similar to Kenya in many way! That was surprising and cormforting… Awesome country!

      • Rocío Vera

        Glad you liked it here! Never would have thought about the similarities with Kenya, though I´ve never been there. I hope one day I get to visit your country 🙂

  • Mi-ran

    Seoul, South Korea.

    I’ve been living in this city for my whole life. I have ambivalent feelings about the city.
    For me as introverted as can be, it’s the worst city since it has the highest density of population.
    But my family and all my friends live here so i can never imagine living somewhere else. I want to share two things about the country and some things about Seoul.

    1)South Korea people also call themselves just Koreans and the map hung in the class and used in the weather station shows the whole peninsula. And the constitutional law of Republic of Korea(official name of South Korea) claims the whole peninsula as the territory and that the north is currently occupied by the anti-government organization. But in real life, we are as ignorant about North Korea as you are.(I learned everything I now know about north korea from Tim’s post.)

    2)This country has the second highest suicide rate and the lowest birth rate. We’re growing old really fast.

    3)Wifi. It’s everywhere. It’s free. It’s fast. You can access internet in cafe, in restaurant and even underground.

    4)Public transportation system. It’s one of the best. You can go pretty much everywhere in Seoul by subway alone.

    5)Bukchon. It’s the small region of the city where you can see traditional korean-style houses. People still live in these houses after modifying the inside of the house. And there are some shops. They are pretty. I think it’s the perfect mix of the tradition and modernity.

    6)Crazy drivers. It’s not just one person who don’t know how to drive. Everyone drives badly. At this point, it’s kinda culture.

    7)Night owls will be welcomed here. You can do everything you can do at daytime at night. 24/7 convenient store, cafe, bars are everywhere.

    8)Fried chicken. It’s good. you should try one when you visit.

    • Gnip

      Love South Korea, living there for a year, had been circling around the coast from north to northeast east, then down south, then travel back up to Seoul, including DMZ to Busan and Jeju (and many other cities that I have forgotten their names), one of the best year of my life 🙂

      The drinking culture is awesome, but don’t mix soju and beer (The Bomb), it knocks most people out. Fried chicken is a must-try, drinking with beer 🙂

      The traffic in Seoul though: delivery men drive on the pedestrian walkway and the impatient taxi drivers (even though the passengers are not in rush). The taxi fare is surprisingly cheap—the same goes for the public transports like bus and subway!.

    • M.B.

      I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by south korea, but maybe thats also because of the e-Sports thats very much alive over there. I’m hoping to plan a trip to South Korea and Japan (like Tim did) within the next few years. I expect a major culture shock 🙂

  • mathgeek5000

    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    Americans need to understand: We are more like you than you think, and we are more different from you than you think.

    I once went to Denver, and I asked, what state are we in, to the info desk at the airport. The man there looked at me like a “duh” look and said Colorado in a “duh” voice.

    So an American comes to where I live, and asks, are we on the east coast or the west coast? (at least I knew Denver was in central US) and I patiently tell him that we are on the east coast.

    This man was 30. I was 10.

    • Dude Man

      “So an American comes to where I live, and asks, are we on the east coast or the west coast? (at least I knew Denver was in central US) and I patiently tell him that we are on the east coast.”

      I take it this didn’t happen while you were in Vancouver.

    • Mark

      Here’s why… all the maps in our US schoolbooks show every state as a different bright color, and then above them is this chopped off generic white block labeled “Canada”. It’s no wonder… 🙂

    • M.B.

      As amazing as that sounds, i’ve actually met people on an airplane while flying to Curacao and they had no idea where it was in the world. Literally not a clue. It’s really weird that you plan a vacation, or travel for whatever reason, and you don’t even know in which direction you’re flying.

    • Essence Grigio

      For the record I absolutely loved Vancouver. I visited prior to the Olympics as my step-mother worked for them at the time. There were so many vintage clothing stores and your indoor market was so intricate and fun. It reminded me of other indoor world markets, like in Dublin or Calcutta, but with local products for Vancouver. I was also taken back by how beautiful the city was the night I came in. We drove to the park outside the city with all the trees, I can’t recall the name, and then got out and walked around. The clouds and encompassed the city in its own personal bubble like a snow globe. All the lights where shining from the town on the hill across the water and the city was a mass of dark tall buildings with sparkles from the street lights. The bridge lights shown bright and green, the reflection of their color spread across the clouds illuminating the whole sphere in an emerald green glow.

  • Cabeto

    Hey Everyone I have thorougly enjoyed this weeks discussion! I’m from Bogotá, Colombia in South America.

    Colombia has been in the eye of the media for all the wrong reasons for a lot of time… Guerrillas, Drug Cartels, Corruption Scandals that put other countries to shame… but all those are not really what makes Colombia what it is…

    Starting with the basics: it’s spelled ColOmbia, not ColUmbia, that is probably one of the things that will quickly irritate almost any Colombian person without fail.

    We are a country with 50 million people, almost 20% of which live in Bogotá, the capital city. My country is one of the most biodiverse in the world, hosting around 10% of the plante’s biodiversity. We are the first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fishes and amphibians. We owe this to the fact that we have coasts in two oceans, the Andes mountain range and the whole Amazon Rainforest we own alongside Brazil and Perú.

    We also have one of the widest ranging altitude swings in the world. We have coastal regions that are even 4 meters BELOW sea level and mountain peaks that exceed the 5,700 meter ABOVE sea level. Bogotá is normally temperate, averaging 15 celsius during the day and 10 during nights but a 2 hour drive places you on a tropical level with 30 celsius during the day and 22 at night. As you can see, the best word to describe Colombia would be: Diverse.

    Our transportation systems have historically been sub-par even for a developing country. (Try building roads that cross 3 mountain ranges with ridiculous altitude and inclination changes) This lead the people to be heavily segregated, creating very distinct regions with their own accents, cooking styles and values. Visiting the capital will not give you a full view of anything in Colombia because of this, everything from it’s people to it’s food, weather or landscapes is wildly different with just a few hours of (very inexpensive) travel.

    Right now the outlook for the country is bright, we are on a good economic situation, the war with the guerrilla groups is basically over and peace is being negotiated as I type and we have started working towards reintegrating combatants to the society. We still have a handfull of problems, namely corruption in the local governments but show me one country that doesn’t have them…

    Basically, this is an open invitation to visit, take the leap, buy a ticket and see how spectacularly diverse my country can be. It is one of the most mindblowing things ever. I STILL don’t know many parts, customs and typical foodstuffs of my own country because there is literally TOO much to do here. The Amazon alone has over 200 fruits that can’t be transported outside of it because of how delicate they are, spoiling very easily and requiring extreme care and swiftness when serving them to humans.

    If you would like to know anything else about the country, general or specific, just let me know and I’ll enjoy replying to the best of my abilities.

    Keep these insightful posts coming! I’m loving it!
    Cabeto.

  • Jacob Burch-Konda

    Kingsburg, California

    Just because it’s in California, everyone thinks we are raging liberals. It seems like no one knows that the majority of people in California’s Central Valley are Conservative, drowned out by the millions living in our state’s metro areas. My town was founded by Swedes, retains Swedish architecture, festivals, and shops, and contains a church on every street corner. Our economy relies on agriculture, and we live in one of the poorest regions of the United States. Weird how theres more to California than what Hollywood portrays!

    My favorite things:
    -Knowing someone in every aisle of the supermarket
    -world’s largest teapot
    -the question “do you know any celebrities?”

    Least Favorite things:
    -knowing someone in every aisle of the supermarket
    -California stereotypes
    -having nothing to do

  • Jon Lizarraga Diaz

    Hey! I’ve been living in New York for over three years now and I subscribe everything that Tim said above. But for 21 years before that I lived in the equally awesome in a very different way city of Pamplona, in Spain.

    1. Let’s start with the obvious. If you’ve heard about Pamplona before it probably was because of the Running of The Bulls. The truth is that this tradition is just a tiny part of a huge (and fairly insane) festival called the Festival of San Fermin. This festival happens every year from the 6th to the 14th of July and it’s incredibly intense and diverse. Basically for nine days everybody wears the same white and red outfit, there’s a ton of concerts and music everywhere in the streets, all kinds of activities for kids, people eat A LOT all the time, and there’s more drinking involved than anybody would like to admit. It’s amazing.

    2. In contrast to being the capital of Insanity for those nine days, the rest of the year Pamplona is a very quiet city. So quiet that the crime rate is almost non-existent.

    3. It is a very old city, I’m talking BC old. You can’t dig a hole in the city without finding some kind of ruins. This is not specific to Pamplona, most European cities are super old, but it’s still pretty cool.

    4. The city has actually two names. Pamplona is the Spanish name and Iruña is the Basque name. The reason is that Pamplona/Iruña belongs to one of the regions were Basque is spoken, together with other regions of northern Spain and Southern France. A good amount of the people in the city speak Basque and most signs in the city are in both languages (If you are interested in languages I suggests you read about Basque. Is this incredibly old and complex, almost impossible to classify riddle of a language).

    5. If you go to a bar or a restaurant in Pamplona (or any other city in the surrounding regions) you won’t find tapas. What you find is Pintxos, which could be described as a different version of a tapa. Pintxos are very simple or extremely elaborate but always delicious representations of the local gastronomy.

    I could go on and on about each of this things and many more, but I like to keep it simple. Here’s a recommendation; if you find yourself in Spain or France, take a detour and visit Pamplona. We are very welcoming people.

    • babettesays

      Hooray for the Basque shout out!

  • rresaff

    I live in Massachusetts, USA. I’ll add in a fun fact.

    We were one of the first areas settled by Europeans and they
    needed food. Over 90% of the state was at one point cleared for farmland or
    housing. Now we get our food like most Americans, from the supermarket by way
    of the industrial farming states. Much of that cleared land has grown back over
    and there’s a state park within about 15 minutes of any residence. It’s not the
    forest that used to be there though. There are few patches of old-growth
    forest, that has never been cut, and you can feel the difference in the
    undergrowth, see the different varieties of trees, smell the different decay.
    The trees may have burned or fallen naturally, but it’s a totally different ecology
    than the areas farmed. And they are literally patches in the midst of the
    cleared ecology; you can usually see a straight line where the farm once ended.
    I like the Midstate trail coming from an Audubon sanctuary, over Wachusett
    Mountain, down toward Leominster State Forest in Leominster and Princeton. You
    can take a child and be done in a day, if you’re in the area. You also can’t
    hike anywhere without tripping over a stone wall. People knew how to build a
    wall back then.

    Since we aren’t a good industrial farming state we have a
    lot of small, local farms selling high quality meats, produce and dairy. As you’re
    walking…

  • Radite

    I was surprised the no one ever mentioned Indonesia, despite of its population being the 4th biggest in the world, so I’ll just start one

    I live in the small city of Sidoarjo, a small hub city connecting Surabaya, the 2nd largest city in Indonesia to eastern part of Java Island. Yes, Indonesia has vast amount of island (a whooping 17,000ish) and Java, even though not the largest, is the most populous island in Indonesia. It’s located in west of Bali (Yay, Bali). Indonesia has the most diverse culture in the world, I shit you not. We have like hundreds of ethnic group which sometimes has its own language, I shit you not too. But still, our main language is Bahasa Indonesia. I’ll spare you the other detail about Indonesia, you can find it in Wikipedia. Me, as a javanese, has our own ethnic language. And it’s an complicated one. For instance, we have a different set of vocabularies, depending with whom we are talking, which is mostly grouped by age. We have our set of vocabularies when speaking with our peers called ngoko, and another set of vocabularies when speaking with our elder called krama. So, mastering javanese language it’s a bit like mastering 3 different language at the same time (still working on my krama).

    Sadly, there’s nothing special in where I live, the only tourist attraction is a huge dam, built to contain a excess mud emerging from underground caused by a drilling error. And it is so huge, you can drive a car above the dam. If you looking for scenery, you can drive south for 2-3 hours and hike (not literally, you can take jeep) to the Mt. Bromo (3300 m) which is known for its legendary sunrise scenery. Or you can go to Batu to just enjoy the high altitude and cold weather (not that cold, just like 1 Celcius)

    The weather here is nice, typical low altitude tropical weather. 24-32 Celcius and rarely below. Yet sometimes at the summer, the heat can be unrelenting. You can get tan for free here by just walking midday.

    The food, the food is nice. One of the perks of having a culturally diverse country is you get to have a hugely diverse cuisine. Every ethnic groups usually have their own signature dish. One of the most famoust cuisine is Padang cuisine, which you can find in almost every city in Indonesia.

    The people, the people here is alse nice, they are extremely friendly, given you can speak with them properly. Even though Indonesia has the largest muslim population in the world, we’re not that strict. But still, in city largely populated with muslim, drinking alcohol is considered rude, so you better keep it to yourself. Public transportation is a mess here. The only reliable way to reach somewhere is by taxi, or you can drive there yourself. People mainly travelling by using motorcycle, which is can be annoying, even dangeros for those who were unfamilliar with South East Asia traffic condition. There is little to none pedestrian, which made us being less considerate about pedesterian crossing the way.

    The best time to visit Indonesia is during summer. Due to our intense rainfall, rain can be so intense, it starts flooding the road.

    Yes, people mainly know (sometimes, they don’t) Bali Island is located in Indonesia, which has a strong Hindu culture. Indonesia is much, much more than just Bali.

    • Ng Jia Yeong

      Hi there, from Malaysia here, selamat petang 😀

  • Dock Miles

    No matter how many times they flush it, you can still hang on to the under-rim of the toilet. For decades! I don’t know where this is except it’s white and full of water often.

  • lynnth

    hi, folks
    here’s someone from ukraine

    i was born and raised in lviv, it’s a cute old city in the west where almost everyone speaks ukrainian. even though that’s the official language of the country, people in ukraine are mostly russian-speakers and many even find it funny that there’s actually a whole nice city where people speak ukrainian in everyday life

    polish tourists like to visit lviv since it used to be ‘their’ city once, and villagers from western ukraine like to visit poland as migrant workers

    for four years i’ve been living in kiev, the capital of the country. here i had a chance to practice my spoken russian with a friend from dotetsk, a city in the east which is practically ruined at the moment. even before the country began falling into pieces during the ongoing war, it was never a ‘united’ country due to the cultural differences between the western part, which was never under russian empire, and the rest, which was /it can even be dangerous to speak ukrainian in some cities, since no one there would like you much/

    erm, looks like i’ve written much, and it’s mostly about boring stuff. anyway, the life here doesn’t feel boring. it can’t be when it’s mostly about survival and anger towards the authorities
    however, if you happen to visit ukraine as a tourist, you won’t have to worry about that) there’re certainly places worth seeing, beautiful girls worth talking with, food worth enjoying and weird stuff worth taking pics of

    and, yeah, the dollar and euro currency rates are simply awesome now /ukrainian currency is ‘hryvna’/, sightseeing, eating out and public transport are surprisingly cheap for the foreigners, and although it may not be the best idea to fly over eastern ukraine, the rest of the country is as safe as usual)

    for the last 5 months i’ve been living in finland though, and i can say it’s like a dozen times more safer, pleasant, expensive //and boring// to live in)

  • Ella

    I’m from New Zealand. Two facts:

    People don’t like Aucklanders. They are referred to as Jafas, which stands for just another Aucklander- I’m sure you can guess the middle. Personally I think it’s because it is really the only true city in New Zealand- the other big cities like Wellington and Dunendin, while having many suburbs and businesses, still seem to have quite a rural feel about them. Often between suburbs you’ll find a couple of farms – or even just empty sections where someone grazes their cows or horse. You can’t really escape the country in New Zealand. Anyway, Auckland has less of that.

    There is a bit of a joke that instead of six degrees of separation in New Zealand, there is only two. There is a telecommunications company founded with that name. I will tell you, believe it or not, it is actually often true. My father is from a small town called Gore at the bottom of the South island( they make really nice whisky, and you must try cheese rolls!) and he reckons two degrees is overstating it. Honestly, everyone knows everyone down there.

  • Liz

    Hi all,
    I’m from Buffalo, New York. People from Buffalo love Buffalo.

    Some facts:
    -Buffalo is not close to NYC. It’s about a 7-8 hours drive.
    -We are close to Canada. I was so surprised when I started traveling and I met Americans who had never been to Canada!
    -Buffalo has a large immigrant population. There are currently about 10,000 people from Myanmar.
    – Buffalo had a rough few decades but is currently on the upswing. Harborcenter was just completed- it is the only 3 rink complex in the US.
    -Even though our sports teams suck, people from Buffalo will always support them.

    I highly recommend that people visit Buffalo!

    • Jack

      Buffalo Bills fans are crazy man. The amount of dedication to that team and the fact that the stadium is always filled whenever I go even though they are nowhere near a good team is amazing.

    • Jim B. Johnson

      Having spent almost no time in Buffalo, I really like Buffalo. Charlie the Butcher’s Kitchen and the Blue Monk are some of the coolest places to eat.

    • Isabella Brito

      I studied abroad in Buffalo for the 2012-2013 school year and I can say it was amazing to see all the people involved into making the city a better place. Architects, artists, small company owners, all around people seemed to be very optimistic about re-building the city to its old glory.

      PS: If you happen to be driving on Elmwood near Buff state don’t forget to check out the projection towers in front of the Burchfield Penney. They were co-designed by me 🙂

  • Philipp

    I was going through all the posts and did not find any Austrians (Austria, not Australia… first and most common misconception), so I like to fill that role.

    1) Austria is not Australia, but a small middle-european country without kangaroos.
    2) We speak German but don’t like to be associated to much with Germany (similar to Switzerland I guess, my current home)
    3) We have a very rich history and harbour one of the highest-quality-of-life cities in the world, Vienna. We used to have an emperor (of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) until the first world war (which we started), and were the home of many amazing musicians, artists and authors and pioneers, from Sigmund Freud to Mozart to Kafka. In many places, you can still see some of the old grandeur, and some people still posses the attitute of formal high-society regarding manners, ettiquette and self-entitlement.
    Unfortunately, we are also responsible for the 2nd world war, as our university of arts envisioned Hitler as not suitable for painting at the time, leading him to persue his political career in germany.
    4) We have a rich environment with many mountains (we are mostly within the Alps), lakes, forests and rivers.
    5) Skiing and wintersport is a big thing here, while we suck at soccer
    6) Austria is still a rather catholic country outside of cities, and we are not doing great on migration and being colorblind. Also there is still a persistent right-wing political party nobody seems to agree with but sometimes scoring up to 30% of all votes, go figure…
    7) Education is usually very broad and exceptionally well up to university level, where we lack funding (because of politics) to really do well. That’s why many academics flee austria after undergrad studies to do their PhDs and PostDocs in other counties, usually finding themselves to top20 universities with ease.
    8) Austrians have a very pronounced hang to irony and sarcasm, which seems to lead to many irritating moments with americans and germans, when they are taking you for full. But we tend to do great with southern folks.

    • Kristiyan Ivanov

      8th one is the best 😀

    • Van

      Firstly just wanted to say I enjoyed my time in Vienna & Salzburg on 2 holidays past couple of years. Coming from Singapore, where we love to eat, I was just delighted by the variety of cakes and pastries in the cafes (:

  • Chick cop

    Good morning, all! I hail from Bozeman, MT, USA, which is a few hours south of the Canadian border. With a population of about 20,000, its the biggest “city” for about 100 miles. A few quick facts:

    1) Excellent skiing/snowboarding. I live within 45 minutes of 2 ski resorts (used to be 3, but one bought out the third).

    2) Fantastic college (not the one with the sex scandal. We’re the OTHER Montana college). The engineering, nurses, and agriculture programs are some of the best in the country. The college by itself, if you were to split it off from Bozeman, would be the 10th largest city in Montana.

    3) 45 minutes from Yellowstone National Park but a lot of the animals you see there are all around, not just inside the park borders. We regularly get black bears in town in the fall, when they’re bulking up to hibernate. They aren’t really dangerous if you leave them alone. Moose, however, will kill you.

    4) One of the highest drunk driving rates in the country. In fact, until about 10 years ago, it was not illegal to have open containers of alcohol in your car. Yep, that’s right, it was acceptable to drink and drive in the state of Montana until about 2004. Ironically, Montanans are the least obese people in the nation.

    5) Fewer cowboys than you’d think. Bozeman is often called “Bozangeles” because of its trendy, artsy side. There are many more ranchers and farmers on the east side of the state (where its flat), but the mountains in my area prevent a lot of ranching and farming (and the weather kills things off fairly easily). Consequently, produce is EXPENSIVE here!

    • Karen Edgerton

      Lived in ND for years. Drove through Montana to ID (family there) and Montana is awesome!

  • Cleon

    I am from Thessaloniki, Greece.

    After the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews from Spain in 1492 by Isabella and Ferdinand, many of them settled in major cities across the Ottoman Empire, including Thessaloniki, also known as Salonica (the city became part of the Greek state in 1912). Along with their families, they brought their language (Ladino), rich customs, and entrepreneurial spirit, all of which shaped the culture of my city to a large extent.

    By the mid 1500s, the city’s population was over 50% Jewish (Muslim Turks were next, followed by Orthodox Christian Greeks), and by the mid 1600s, over 60%. Since the 1700s, the Jewish population’s decline began due to a variety of social, geopolitical, and economic factors.

    In 1943, with Greece under the yoke of Nazi German occupation, virtually all Jews in Salonica were sent to concentration camps, and their eventual death. Thus, a seminal chapter of my city’s history and heritage was despicably annihilated. Today, the Jewish community is in in the hundreds.

  • Michael

    I live in Long Island. If you’ve ever seen Long Island Medium or Jersey Shore, well… that’s pretty much the whole story. We’re sorry.

    • Chick cop

      I forgive you. I think.

    • Karen Edgerton

      There’s you! That gives it hope. Sincerely.

    • Kate

      We forgive you 🙂 🙂 🙂 but kick out the Long Island Medium

    • Brian

      I grew up on Long Island, but moved to CT. You could also mention that Nassau County on Long Island is one of the most over-priced places in America to live when you compare cost of living to average salaries. The last Ice Age also saw the glacial sheet stop almost half way down Long Island, so that the north side is pretty rocky and hilly while the south piece is pretty flat. So we have that going for us.

  • Wim K

    Bit late to the party, but eh. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. Biggest misconception out the way: that’s the Republic of South Africa, an actual country – not just the “south of Africa”. Second biggest misconception: SA is a first world country. We’re far more than just a safari destination. Some little known facts:

    1) The world’s first heart transplant was performed right here in Cape Town.
    2) One thing I’m sick of is people from overseas not believing me when I say I’m from Africa because I’m white – 1 in 12 South Africans (about 6 million) is white.
    3) We have over 11 official languages and countless more unofficial ones. If you’re not at least bilingual in South Africa, you’re either a toddler or a foreigner. Thankfully we almost all speak English.
    4) Cape Town is Africa’s biggest tourist attraction and one of the most visited cities worldwide. Give it a quick Google Image search to see why.
    5) Don’t come to SA and expect lions in the streets. What the hell? I don’t expect to see kangaroos in Sydney or buffalo in Buffalo (?)…
    6) South Africans are incredibly friendly, but whatever you do, don’t bring up politics with us. It’s a very touchy subject in post-Apartheid SA. Mandela, however, is pretty much revered across the board (except with the right wingers, which is pretty much a nice way of saying racists).

    To end this off, please guys, stop making assumptions about Africa. We have WiFi hotspots, coffee machines, BMWs, skyscrapers, aircons, iPhones, and fancy restaurants just like the “rest of the world”. Don’t come to SA and expect a bush holiday (unless you’re heading to our national parks, that is).

    • I had my honeymoon in SA and went from Cape Town up the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth, eventually. I would say that the scenery is closer to slightly greener Mediterranean countries more than anything.

  • Shareiro

    My country has the best/fastest WiFi 😉

    http://blog.rottenwifi.com/countries-best-public-wifi/

  • Auntie S

    I no longer live in Bahrain, but since no one has mentioned it, I’ll share a few factoids:
    1. It has the 7th highest population density in the world (and few people live in the southern half of the main island). Fewer than half the population are native Bahrainis.
    2. Like in other Gulf countries, automobile license plates with low numbers are prized and are often sold/auctioned for big $$.
    3. You don’t need to speak Arabic to travel/live there. The language of business tends to be English, especially in a retail setting, where the salesperson is most likely to be Indian anyways.
    4. “Sweet-water” = fresh (not salty) water.
    5. The sandstorms aren’t the “blowing cloud of sand” depicted in the movies; they are usually a day of a fine, smoky-smelling dust hanging in the air. You will have to do some serious house-cleaning afterwards.
    Bonus #6: Bahrain’s location is fantastic for visiting just about anywhere in Europe, Asia, and Africa (most places are < 8 hours away by air). Traveling to most other Gulf/Middle Eastern countries is quick and simple, and these are excellent trips because you probably won't get trampled by hordes of tourists.

  • Kristiyan Ivanov

    Plovdiv, Bulgaria 🙂
    It’s in Eastern Europe, next to Greece and Turkey, but not so known (or at least not known with anything positive). Well, some of you may know us with yoghurt and roses. What else you should know:
    – Currently (the last 25 years :)), we are having problems with democracy and reaching other Euro countries’ standard.
    – We have rich history and wonderful nature and we are proud of them! /// There are Roman Theatre, Roman Stadium, 7 hills and an old town just in Plovdiv – Just google it for some pictures 🙂
    – Our national drink is rakia. It could be made by a huge variety of fruits and contains 40% and higher alc.
    – We have wonderful cuisine, most of our favorite meals contain meat, but there are also some exceptions. If you ever come visit us, you should try as many dishes as you can! I am not sure if couple of weeks would be enough 😀
    – Most old people (and even some in their 30s) don’t speak English. However, a lot of young people are open minded and friendly.
    – Although our economical situation is bad (jobs hard to find, salaries barely enough to cover taxes and first needs like food, ethnicity problems in smaller towns and villages) a lot of young people are trying to make a change by staying and fighting the problems (instead of going abroad and doing the same work for 10x more money), which of course is a good sign for the future 🙂

  • Dylan Tang

    Taipei, Taiwan!
    It’s the capital of the Republic of China, which claims all of China and also outlying areas like Mongolia and parts of India, but in reality only controls Taiwan and a few other islands like Kinmen. It’s actually the same government that overthrew the Qing Dynasty!

    -In the 1940s, the ROC was an Ally of The Allies (during World War 2) and fought alongside America against Imperial Japan. After they won, they got totally ignored by everyone else, which allowed the USSR to give Mao Zedong enough money and weapons to conquer all of Mainland China. Eventually, when they had retreated to Taiwan, America stepped in and prevented the complete destruction of the ROC, Because of that, China and Taiwan are still technically at war, and both countries refuse to recognize the other.

    -It used to be a pretty scary place, with military police in the streets and a thing called the White Terror- basically, if anyone suspected you of being a Communist or in any way against the government, you would be taken and never seen again. This finally stopped in the late 1980’s

    -Taiwan used to make all the things, but now mostly things are made by China. Taiwan focuses mostly on high-tech things- most processors inside computers, for example, are made in Taiwan

    -Taiwanese people are crazy nice, especially given their history, and the food here is amazing! And really cheap!

    -Many people in big cities- Taipei and Kaohsiung, mostly- can speak English, but outside of that you’ll need to speak Chinese to get around.

    -There’s a lot of youth unrest here, because the young people of Taiwan feel their future is being stolen by China. Many people aren’t sure how they’ll get jobs after they graduate, as one by one the factories shut down and are sent overseas. Additionally, China is putting more and more pressure on Taiwan. For a long time, the only thing keeping China from conquering Taiwan was American forces- but now, with America so dependent on Chinese money (and vice versa, obviously), people are getting paranoid that if China invaded America would complain but not actually do anything.

    • Jo.C

      Lived in Taipei for 6 months. Great place with the nicest people!

  • Karen Edgerton

    Grand Haven Michigan is famous as the ‘Coast Guard City USA’. There is a HUGE festival every October. It is really awesome because we are right on the shore of Lake Michigan and the Coast Guard doesn’t get near the recognition it deserves!

  • Ruzicka

    I come from Lund, a small university city in southern Sweden.

    We’re 80 000 people here, most of them students, and that makes Lund the 11th biggest city in Sweden.

    It’s a pretty old city, from around year 1000, and there is quite a lot here to show for that. Most of the roads in town are built from cobblestones, a lot of buildings are really old. We have a big, old cathedral. There was a really bloody war here 1676 between Danmark and Sweden, in which 50% of the soldiers died, and we have a monument from that.

    Since it’s also a university city, there is a big university hospital, lots of exchange students and scientists from abroad, and of course lots of scientifical research going on. MAX IV and ESS are both located here. Unlike most universities, Lund University is not located on a specific campus. Instead, it’s buildings are spread all over town. In addition to this we have 15-ish so called “nations” spread all over town, which is basically student clubs that organize pubs or lunches or night clubs or sports events or fancy dinners or breakfasts for insanely cheap prices.

    I have lived a year in Japan, a year in Germany and have visited 16 other countries, but I always find myself coming back here anyway. ^^

  • Kate

    Nairobi, Kenya.

    Some things you probably don’t know about Nairobi and/or Kenya:

    – When tourists come to the country and buy guide books on Swahili phrases and words, they all learn that Swahili for Hello is ‘Jambo’. Well, it is …BUT only tourists say Jambo! No Kenyan born will ever greet anybody else by saying Jambo… ever!

    – Most Kenyans speak at least 3 languages – their mother-tongue, Swahili and English.

    – The best food in Nairobi is in what is called a “kibanda” which would be a roadside food kiosk. No ambience, but finger-licking amazing food! Really… amazing food.

    – “Sheng’ ” a language that is made up from English and Swahili is only spoken in Kenya and is so dynamic that what the ‘sheng’ i spoke 5 years ago is now outdated and the words not used anymore. The sheng’ differs depending on which part of Nairobi/Kenya you’re in.

    Something you should know about Kenya if you don’t already know: we have amazing beaches, natural national parks and more animals than you can see in a day. Oh and the the wildebeest migration is real and oh soooo fascinating!!

    • NT

      Home 🙂

      • Silvana

        Hey Kate! So… How do you say hello of not Jambo, I got intrigued… And, is it a safe place to visit? For a western woman 🙂
        I would love to eat in a kibanda

  • Marcus

    I’m from São Paulo, Brazil. And I don’t live in a jungle.

    I traveled a lot through my country and I’ve never (ever) been near a jungle. That should be surprising to hear for most of the people that live in other countries.

    And most of the people that live in São Paulo really hates Carnaval. That should be surprising too.

    São Paulo is the 9th largest city in the world, with 21 million people living in its metropolitan area. SP is larger than Mumbai, Moscow, London and Los Angeles…I bet that is another surprise about my city.

    We are not really different from any other person that lives in a big city. We have crazy traffic jams (everyday), pollution and so on. We have the greatest cousine I could possibly imagine…if you happen to crave a australian ribs on the barb or a steak tartare made by the 6th greatest chef in the world, at 2 in the morning, you got it.

    Most of the people living in my city do not have brazillian ascendency. We are sons, and grandsons of immigrants, especially from Italy, Portugal and Spain. I happen to be a mixture of four nationalities: Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Yugoslavian (I know it isn’t a country anymore, but my grandmother was too young to acknowledge which region she was from. BTW, her last name was Linza, maybe someone here would help me find her former “country”.)

    Well, there’s so much more about São Paulo/Brazil, but I really don’t know what to write here. If anyone wants to know more about my city, please, just ask.

    • suzanne

      I have been in SP last yearfor new years eve because my partner is from there (I’m from Barcelona). What shocked me more was:

      -How fucking huge that city is

      -The black windows in the cars

      -The amount of assaults in the street (you never ever get hurt in Barcelona, as a girl I can walk around almost any area in ANY time, with your handbag, and nothing happens). Almost all of my partner’s friends and relatives have been robbed by gun at least once

      -The amazing food: catupiri (best cheese in the world), cosinha, picanha, pastel, agua de coco, cachaça…

      -The fabelas and the huge difference between social clases

      -The hospitality and the warmness of the people

      -Maybe it was a wrong feeling but I don’t meet any foregin people while I was there, everyone was from same Brazil, and people call me “gringa”

      I really enjoy the time I was there and I hope to visit your city again and soon.

      • Marcus

        Glad to know u visited us. I really hope u liked here.

        Yes SP is huge…I live here for 12 years now…and I’m sure that there’s much of the city that I just don’t know about.

        The black Windows in cars (actually it’s tinted Windows) are a security asset…robbers can’t see what’s inside the car…so they don’t know if you have a gun pointed at their face or something like that. And it helps keeping a fresher environment inside the car, cause u know it’s hot in here.

        Urban violence is a big issue here…Brazil have a huge gap between social classes and little education to poor people…what makes urban violence a never ending issue.

        Great food is a Brazilian trait…and SP is a city that unites national and international cousine…so everyone who visits us loves eating out and enjoying our restaurants.

        It’s not fabelas, but favelas…and it is also a byproduct of social differences…it is very expensive to live in SP…even for higher income classes.

        Hospitality is also a Brazilian trait…we love to welcome foreigners and make then feel at home…I don’t know why, but everybody here is very nice to gringos.

        BTW…gringo and gringa means foreigner…don’t worry, this word is not used in a pejorative way at all.

        I’m glad to hear you liked SP…and hope u come back soon.

        • suzanne

          thanks fot the information!
          actually I wasn’t bothered for “gringa”, i was shocked that there is not too much foregin people.
          and yes I hope to come back! I’m already with los of “saudage” 🙂

        • Jerome

          Hi Marcus! I’m going to be in São Paulo for 10 days in February. Any suggestions for things to do? I love art, reading, nature, live music, and good food. Nice to meet you!

          • Marcus

            Things to do and places to go when in SP, from the top of my head:

            Arts – Pinacoteca do Estado and MASP (public museums that holds great arts exhibitions)

            Reading – Livraria Cultura in Avenida Paulista (a big bookshop that also have arts exhibitions from time to time)

            Nature – Parque do Povo and Parque do Ibirapuera, but if you have time you must go to Ubatuba (a coastal city 3 hours from SP that have amazing waterfalls and beaches)

            Live Music – In january SP will hold great live shows (like David Guetta, Foo Fighters and Sublime), but in February, been the Carnaval month, there won’t be much shows to attend. If I were a foreigner I would attend a “ensaio de escola de samba”, that’s a warmup form Carnaval.

            Expensive restaurants – “D.O.M.”, “Fasano” and “Paris 6”
            Not so expensive but great cousine – “Lelis Trattoria”, “Jardineira Grill” and “Terraço Itália”.

            Well, that’s it…hope you enjoy your stay.

    • Mo

      Linza is not a typical surname for any of the former republics of Yugoslavia. What was her name, that might help?

      • Marcus

        Her name was Romilda, but I’m sure it won’t help, cause it’s a typical brazilian name. I believe she was re-registred when she came to Brazil as a child.

        Are you from one of the republics that used to form Yugoslavia?

        Maybe I’ll be able to get some more information and send to you, if that’s ok?!

        Tks for your help so far.

        • Mo

          Yes, the northern one. 🙂 Sure, I’d be glad to help if I can.

  • Brian

    I’m from Danbury, CT. Home to the Danbury Fair Mall, which is the largest mall in New England, and formerly the hat capital of America, making about 25% of all hats made in the country. Admittedly, I don’t know who holds that title now, but pretty sure it’s not us.

  • Jay

    I’m from a city called Germantown, which is very close to Memphis, TN. Some things of note in Germantown is that a local bank uses the beats logo. The Memphis zoo is close-ish, but you have to go through the “bad” part of town to get there. Thinking about it, there is not much in Germantown other than a civil war museum, so I’m going to talk about Memphis. MLK was shot here, Elvis was from here, there is a high crime rate (I think, I don’t go to actual Memphis that much), we had the yellow fever kill a bunch of people. I do find that whenever I have been to other parts of TN, people sound more southern. I think that has to do with Memphis being either 1st or 2nd largest city in TN.

  • Mahi

    Third word, African, Middle Eastern country with an ancient history coming through: Egypt

    So I’ve been living in Cairo, Egypt, for 20 years (that’s all my life), and I guess it’s safe to say that it’s the kind of city that grows on you. It’s a huge cosmopolitan city, full of beautiful contradictions that give you this weird love-hate feeling about it. We can’t live with it, and can’t live without it. In Arabic it’s called “Al-Qahera”, which means both the victorious and the oppressor.
    So here are a few random facts about Cairo:

    1) The basics (if you know absolutely nothing about Egypt):
    No I don’t live in pyramids/ tent/ the desert. Most of the Cairenes live in apartments (and with their parents till they get married)
    No, camels are not used for transportation.
    No, not all Egyptians women are veiled. And even if they are, most of them just wear normal clothes (jeans, T-shirts…) and cover their hair. But absolutely no reveling clothes on the street.
    Yes it’s a Muslim country (Islam is the official religion), but not an Islamic State (the Islamic religious law, shariaa, is not the primary basis for governance).

    2) Things we have:
    – (Most) of your typical favorite western brands of food, clothes, shops…
    – Really diverse cuisine. Egyptian food is rich, and we love to eat.
    – Ok level of English in Cairo and touristic cities. You don’t need to speak Arabic to get around. Nearly everything is written in both languages.
    – Hospitality. Perfectly normal for a stranger to offer help
    – There’s more to our history than pharaohs. We’ve been part of many empires: the Roman, the Greek,
    the Muslim, the Ottoman and the British
    – Beautiful nature: the Nile, the sunny beaches, the desert…
    – Traffic jams. Lots of them.
    – Amazing night life. Cairo is one of those cities that never sleep. Perfectly normal to get stuck in a traffic jam at 2 am.
    – Home delivery for everything: McDonald’s,that milk you forgot to buy, ironing and laundry services…
    – Social inequality and lots of slums. And the “good” places to live and to hang out could be very close to the “bad” places
    – Public buses with free Wi-Fi…

    3) Things we don’t have:
    – Good government prioritization (see buses with Wi-Fi)
    – Traffic rules: you can cross the street whenever and wherever you feel like it. And let’s
    hope the cars let you pass.
    – Nobody minds their own business
    – Snow (never seen it in my life)
    – Respect for women rights

    4) Things we’re currently trying to have: Democracy (struggling since 2011), a good health and education system

    There’s a lot more about Cairo and Egypt, so feel free to ask questions.
    Thank you Tim and “Jenna M. from Provo, Utah” for this topic.

    • Udi

      Hi Mahi, thanks for this comment.

      I’m from Israel and I have a question, I hope it’s not inappropriate to ask:

      Do Egyptian people hate Israel and Israelis? From what I understand, in Israel we believe that everyone hates us, including people from countries we have a peace treaty with (Egypt, Jordan). That, like, we’re the bad guys in their movies. Is that true? Do you share this negative opinion on Israel? I’m not trying to raise a political issue here, I have tons of criticism on my government as well, I’m just curious.

      Thank you

      • Mahi

        Hi Udi,
        I don’t mind the question at all, hope you’ll be ok with the answer as well.

        To be honest, the problem is that we associate your government’s actions with the whole nation, and just generally assume our interests are very different.
        I’m no expert on the subject, but I personally think that the way Egyptians view Israelis is prejudiced by the media and the educational system (in schools and also what parents teach their children). We shouldn’t build our opinion concerning a whole nation based only on the government’s policies or on extremist movements; yet again we bearly ever meet anyone from Israel to begin with! So it’s, sadly, purely political.

        • Udi Eylat

          Yeah, I can understand that, thank you for your reply and perspective. I have a couple of friends who visited Egypt and specifically Cairo (but not only) a few years ago. They said that they didn’t feel comfortable to mention they’re from Israel, but in every occasion people noticed they were from Israel (probably recognized the Hebrew) they didn’t feel threatened or uncomfortable, it looked like people didn’t really care about that so much. Also, of course, they enjoyed their visit very much.

          Thank you Mahi, I wish you well

  • wobster109

    I’m a bit late to this party. . . but. . . .

    Middleton, WI, USA. It’s basically part of Madison WI. Something really beautiful about Madison is how it continues to feel like a small town even though it’s not so small! Madison itself is ~230k population, and including surrounding areas it’s about twice that. There’s this rule that buildings aren’t allowed to be taller than the capital building. Another nice thing is how incredibly clean it is. There’s practically no litter in the streets, ever.

    Now something special about Middleton. We had 75% voter turnout this November, even though it wasn’t a presidential election. For comparison, the national average is about 60% for presidential elections, 40% for off-years. We don’t do voter apathy here. ^^

  • grehan55

    I am from a tiny town in southern New Hampshire called Jaffrey. It is home to Mount Monadnock — the Most Climbed Mountain in the world (something even most locals do not know). The title used to be held by Mount Fuji in Japan, but then they bult an auto road.

    There are trails up the mountain for every fitness level, and you can see 4 states from the summit. Also, if you look up the word “monadnock” in the dictionary, it has become the geological term for any mountain that is not part of a ridge, because it is the Indian word for “mountain that stands alone.” The photo was taken at sunrise from my back porch.

  • TexanbutnotRed

    I’m a little late to this dinner party but I was born in Oklahoma City where I lived for 18 yrs. Two things to know about it: 1. The sky was huge and beautiful. The land is so flat that the sky is forever and all colors. 2. People are nice and probably more anti-authoritarian than you might expect. My friends and I certainly were anti-authoritarian, but maybe just because it was the 60s. 3. It’s very middle America.

  • Dude

    Toronto, Canada over here!

    1) Our previous mayor Rob Ford, did in fact smoke crack among join in other various controversial activities such as drunken stupors, public sexual innuendoes, etc. He headlined our newspaper daily (still does). I found it quite comical.

    2) I think we just may be the most multi-cultured city in the world. I go to a college in the heart of the city where I am the minor (I am caucasian). My closest friends consist of polish, ukrainian, indian, vietnamese, british, german, jamaican, and the list goes on as I start to think of more and more of my friends.

    3) I can’t speak for the rest of Canada, but Toronto has four seasons. We experience -20c and +30c weather conditions. Beach and snow seasons. No I don’t live in an igloo, own a moose, ride polar bears, but I do say “eh”.

    4) MANY movies and tv shows that take place in New York are actually filmed in Toronto, but hardly get the credit.

  • triplestaff

    sweden. well… sex and 6 is spelled and pronounced the same way… also. we have hot chicks. it’s a fact.

  • Jean

    I’m in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The biggest thing you should know is that just because pot is legal here doesn’t mean everyone smokes. Also it’s not available just anywhere, and the amount one can purchase is limited. Two neighbor states are suing us for being legal, I think they’re just jealous over the enormous amount of tax revenue we’re collecting, but the dipshit who got busted with 20 pounds of marijuana at the Kansas border isn’t helping my argument much. I just moved out of my last apartment because my neighbors were totally enjoying their newfound freedom of pot, and i was suffering from a constant barrage of skunk bud aroma. 20 years ago I would be happy, today not so much.
    To make sure we stay balanced in a weird sort of insanity, we are home to NORAD, two air force bases, an army base, the air force academy, and several large evangelical churches… the ones that have their own tv channels. We are home to Pikes Peak, “America’s Mountain”. You can see Kansas from the top, still not impressed with Kansas. Oh! We have the Incline, which is a trail up the side of the mountain. If you’re into hurting yourself in the great outdoors, this is one you don’t wanna miss. DO NOT smoke pot and attempt the Incline. We are really diverse, many residents are transitory because they’re military, and “natives” are pretty dam proud to claim that title. What they don’t think about is that without the rest of us, they would still be smoking pot from mexico.

  • Alberto Progida

    hey! better late than never. i’m from Padova, Italy, though i was born in London and lived there for 4 years. Padova is a medium sized city located 20 miles east of Venice. It’s a veery old city! Legend goes it was founded by Antenore, a prince who fled the city of Troy with Enea, the mythical founder of Rome. Legends aside, Padova is crossed by 2 ancient roman roads, now making up the major shopping streets. We have the world’s oldest botanical garden, the world’s largest square after the Red Square in Moscow.
    In the city center, all the streets are cobbled and we have many fruit and veggie markets all over the place. Restaurants are amazing, old buildings are kinda great and Churches are beautiful (of you’re into that). BTW next to the afore mentioned big square (Prato della Valle) theres the world third hugest religious building, Santa Giustina, just after St. Sophie’s in Istanbul. Tourism is a big thing, though most of the industry is made up of small ventures in the building and design branch.
    Public transport is kinda awful… tube, sluggish tram which stops every 200 mt, and infernal buses…
    The people over here are generally close-minded, and aren’t happy with the recent immigration boom. The new mayor is really strict and will give a fine to anyone sitting n the streets, but won’t provide money to the non profit organizations who aim to help the homeless.
    Padova if full of students because it features the worlds 2nd oldest university. Engineering, Law and Philosophy are big here, but I would really like to got to Milan or abroad of my studies. The most popular street food is Kebab, and the kebab people are extremely good at their work… Damn that kebabs are delicious.
    If you ever plan in visiting Padova, remember… buses are not worth considering here, but kebab, indeed!

  • Intelshwets

    Wait but why

    I’m from India, but since I can’t even begin to generalize factoids for the whole country, I’ll stick to the state of Maharashtra. That’s the state where Mumbai is.

    What you don’t know about the Place?

    1) It is a very multi cultural state. Many people migrate to this state from other states, and for a country like India where each state is like a country in Europe, this means that there’s a very big mix of languages, cultures, dressing, religions and races.

    2) Every person speaks at least two languages, if not more. For example, I speak 4 different languages
    A) Marwadi – my mother tongue, the language of the state that my forefathers come from. Officially it isn’t even recognized as an official Indian language
    B) Marathi – the regional language of Maharashtra, the state that I live in and generations of my family have lived in
    C) Hindi – the more common language that majority of the population speaks nationwide. Bollywood uses Hindi in most of it’s films
    D) English – I’ve been educated in English since kindergarten, and it is the language for most college education and business. Many people can speak extremely fluent English without a heavy accent
    E) Sanskrit – I’ve learned in school as the equivalent of Latin for India, but I barely remember anything and cannot really speak it
    Most of my friends fall into the 3-4 language category.

    3) We love to dance on music. We do that in our films, on our weddings, during our festivals, in schools. It is pretty common to perform a short dance sequence in extended family weddings. Speaking of which –

    4) Weddings are a big deal for the parents. Usually the parents will spend for their kids’ weddings, and often will have saved their entire lives for those weddings. It has been like for so long that it doesn’t even seem weird to us at all. The weddings also last for an average of two whole days, with numerous ceremonies which are geared to bringing the two families closer. And by families I mean really really extended families.

    5) Until say 5 years ago, drinking was considered as a social taboo. Only the homeless, the depressed who have lost all hope and the really filthy rich who you only see in films would drink alcohol. Most of the middle class used to consider drinking as a sinful habit that will lead you to doom. Only very recently has the younger generation warmed up to drinking socially as an acceptable thing to do on weekends.

    6) We love food, and we love it our way. In fact we have Indianized versions of Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Persian cuisines that we love more than the original ones!

    7) The average Indian isn’t very well traveled. I have seen less of India in my 20 years of living there than I have seen the US in 3 years here. Traveling isn’t as popular in India as vacationing is.

    • sanity100

      I’m from South India, and the wedding part is so relatable! About 2000 people to turn up is normal, and often the couple getting married don’t even know the people coming to the wedding because their parents organise everything, even the actual couple. But there’s no dancing though.

    • Essence Grigio

      I love that you mentioned all the different languages and dialects in India. I only passed through Maharashtra, I spent more time in Northern India, but I noticed that people spoke at the very least 3 different languages. It was also so amazing to see how the dialects changed from one city another even though they were not that far apart.

  • consanguinity

    I currently live in Australia but my whole family is from South India. Some interesting things I have noticed:
    All of the people are obsessed with education. I know the whole Indian IT guy thing comes to mind but even the poorest people are educated. But the sad fact is that much of the things they teach at schools are taught in the wrong manner and corporal punishment is used. 5-year-olds can be seen walking to before school tuition at 6 in the morning.
    There are a lot of poor people but the well-off people I have seen are REALLY well off. They often might be just middle-class but they’ll have two Rolls-Royces on the driveway. Social status is extremely important.
    There is little freedom for the youth. There is more freedom now in the more Western-type places but it’s still absurd compared to places like America. There was recently a peaceful march for people to be allowed to kiss in public, but then a lot of political and religious groups turned up and the police had to eventually intervene.
    I apologise if I got anything wrong 🙂

  • Lux

    I’m from Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia (that’s in southern Africa).
    Interesting facts:
    1. People often get surprised at how good my English is – that’s because it’s my first language. Zambia was colonised by the Brits, and English is the official language of the country. We also have about 72 other local languages, and it’s common for people to speak 2-4 languages.
    2. The capital city is really modern. We have malls, wifi, cinemas, nightclubs, fast food chains, luxury hotels and restaurants, etc. You can live the good life here on an average Western income, unfortunately there is also a lot of poverty here.
    3. There’s been a massive influx of Chinese investment in the country lately, so you’ll see quite many Chinese people around. I’ve even seen some billboards with Chinese translation on them, which feels a bit bizarre.
    4. Zambia is home to the world’s biggest waterfall (in terms of the amount of water that flows through it), Victoria Falls – or Mosi-oa-Tunya as it’s locally called. It shares a border with Zimbabwe, and you can bungee jump from the bridge between the countries. A few years ago, a bungee jumper’s rope snapped and she fell into the rapids below, but luckily survived. The video is on Youtube and it freaked me out.
    6. Zambia has a high HIV rate (about 12%), but it is has decreased and is still decreasing due to campaigns that include minimising the rate of infection from mother to child, educating people about HIV, and giving free ARVs to people who test positive.
    5. Zambians are some of the friendliest people in the world, or so I get told by many travellers who come here.

  • Caroline

    Melbourne, Australia here

    Some facts:
    1. Saying ‘G’day’ is actually not that common; you might here the occasional middle-aged man greet his equally-middle-aged friend that way, but all in all its not said that often
    2. Australia is extremely multicultural. Of the 25 kids in one of my classes, only three or four of them are what you’d call ‘white Australians’ who were born here
    3. We like to run our words together. A lot. Sorry.
    4. Do not underestimate how hipster Melbourne is
    5. The reason that we have Canberra as our capital in the poor little state known as the ACT (who barely anyone outside of Australia knows) is basically because both Melbourne and Sydney wanted to be the capital and so the government decided to create an entirely new state, and an entire new city, and plonk it halfway between
    6. The spiders, snakes and so on aren’t really that big of a deal. You use your common sense and you’re fine.
    7. Bushfires are real and scary
    8. If you’re ever in Melbourne, make sure to check out the old arcades in the CBD. They’re lovely.
    9. We like sport. But that pretty much goes without saying.
    10. Vegemite is actually great. Most foreigners (especially Americans unfortunately) have no idea what to do with the stuff. I personally recommend spreading a piece of bread with Vegemite, cutting strips of cheese and running them in tiger ‘stripes’ and then grilling the thing till the cheese is a bit bubbly and golden at the edges
    11. And we have great coffee

  • Essence Grigio

    Salt Lake City, Utah (Previously) Kotzebue, Alaska (Currently)

    Salt Lake City

    1) Not everyone is LDS, in fact Salt Lake is known for being one of the more liberal and non-Mormon cities in the state.

    2) Salt Lake City and Utah in general are EXTREMELY into the arts, it is a huge deal, in particular music, but other art forms as well. Utah Opera has a program to train teachers so that elementary students can write operas and then perform them (public schools). Think about it Sundance Film Festival, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and both major universities have internationally renowned choirs, no joke choir is a huge deal and extremely cutthroat. Imagine Dragons came from Provo, Utah (so did the writers of South Park). Also so many outdoor theaters and performance venues.

    3) Disney films pretty much every single one of their Disney Channel original movies in Utah. My high school years were spent disliking Disney greatly as they disrupted my academics (High School Musical) and I can pinpoint various neighborhoods from my childhood through Disney films.

    4) Salt Lake City has a very large and very open gay and lesbian community (I have heard rumor they have one of the largest gay pride parades in the nation but I don’t know how accurate that is).

    5) It is one of the easiest cities to navigate. I have had friends try to argue with me on this subject, but it is pointless. Salt Lake is on a grid system and if you really are confused just remember the mountains are to the East.

    6) Some people from Salt Lake, Utah like to refer to themselves as SLUTs, it is a thing I promise. There is a SLUT walk where people where buttons, and there are postcards. SaltLakeUT, you get it SLUT. I think that ex SLUTs have the most fun with it, it kind of throws people off when you say you are formally a SLUT. Almost as fun as a Jack Mormon, look it up.

    Kotzebue, Alaska

    1) It is a spit above the arctic circle. It is basically a gravel pit connected to the tundra. We are only accessible by plane, there are two flights in and out of Kotzebue a day, there is no road leading to another major city.

    2) Things do grow in the tundra, a great deal of mosses and lichen as well as willow and vulerian. Also some rather poisonous plants such as monkshood. We also get berries in the summer; blueberries, cloudberries, and cranberries.

    3) We are not like the show Northern Exposure or the movie Into the Wild. We are not Bush People and I really can’t stand that show because it creates a great deal of misconceptions about land rights and other legalities in Alaska. Every region of Alaska is different with a very unique climate and culture. Kotzebue is the hub city for our region, the original people are Inuit and did not live in igloos, but shod houses. There is only one shod house still intact near town and it is pretty cool. I visited an archeological site in one of our villages and it was an old village. It was fascinating, they showed us how you can tell if there used to be a village by the way the ground sinks down and then has bumps. The various dug out houses are the sunken ground and then the tunnel systems are the bumps, so cool!

    4) Yes it is dark in the winter, however it is reverse in the summer endless daylight. And when that happens the sun doesn’t come up and go down, it just goes around, you might honestly think the sun orbits the earth, if it didn’t just kind of disappear in the winter. And in the winter, well you just kind of bunker down or get used to doing things in the dark, it honestly isn’t that bad. Plus our coldest weather months are actually when the sun starts coming back.

    5) There is no such thing as a mail carrier, or addresses, or for that matter UPS or FedEx. Everyone in town has a PO box and we visit the post office to get our things. When Amazon tells me that they don’t ship to PO boxes, I make up an address that contains my PO box. Amazon is only truly difficult when they tell me they can’t ship to Alaska because they don’t do international shipping. Also most of my groceries come through the mail.

    Questions, comments, concerns? Alaskans and Utahans let me know if I messed up any facts.

  • Lena Hansen

    I am from Denmark, and I will tell you a little about the city I have been going to high school in.

    – If you wonder what Denmark is: Denmark is a country in Europe, just above Germany. It is a part of Scandinavia.

    – Ribe, is the oldest city in Denmark (and in Scandinavia as well) and has a population of around 8000. It was established in the first decade of the 8th century. (we have quite a lot of tourists even though Ribe is a small town.

    – The school was first mentioned in 1145, making it one of the oldest schools in the world The oldest building still in use, called ‘Puggård’, is from the fourteenth century. Except for churches, this is the oldest Scandinavian building still used for its original purpose.

    – Ribe is named Europe’s most beautiful village. (and that’s a fact!)

    – When we graduate, we get up in a horse-drawn carriage and drive for one hole weekend to our classmates houses while we get drunk, sing and cheer and try to get people to greet us on our way. In Ribe we also dance around a fountain. For a week or so we just celebrate, and drink.

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