Travelling is usually synonymous with vacation, holiday, relaxation, and good times. We encourage travelling to relieve stress, boost mental health, broaden the mind, give you new experiences to remember for a lifetime, and learn about other cultures and improve your understanding of the world.
On the other hand, travelling can also expose you to some of the negative parts of the world we live in, like human trafficking. Human trafficking is the act of holding another person hostage and controlling them through threats or coercion to exploit them for forced labor and/or sex– and it is more common than you think.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business and one of the fastest-growing illegal industries in the world. It operates within countries and across international borders. And it relies on the travel industry to operate.
We believe it is vitally important for travellers to be aware that human trafficking can happen anywhere– and also that something can be done about this violation of others’ human rights and dignity.
WHAT MSH INTERNATIONAL IS DOING
At the WTTC 2019 Global Summit in April of this year, MSH International joined the Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force uses our position in the travel industry to educate partners and clients on how we can all make a difference, including calling on governments across th world to adopt more stringent measures in the fight against human trafficking.
THE TASK FORCE FOCUS
PREVENTION – to increase industry and consumer awareness of human traffickingPROTECTION – to train employees and travellers on how to identify and report suspected cases of human traffickingACTION – to encourage governments to create and enforce legislation on recognizing human trafficking as a crimeSUPPORT – to provide assistance, training, and employment opportunities to survivors of human trafficking
HOW YOU CAN HELP
BE AWARE: Human trafficking occurs around international travel hubs with large immigration populations, like large airports.Victims of human trafficking include those who are more vulnerable, such as runaways, homeless youth, and those in foster care.The largest number of trafficked people come from Russia and Ukraine.The largest number of people trafficked outside of Europe come from the Middle East, Japan, Thailand, and North America.Young children begging for money tug at our heartstrings– but these children are often being trafficked. Giving directly to them encourages the cycle of poverty, gives children an incentive to stay out of school, and continues to support the harmful and illegal industry putting them in this terrible state.
LOOK OUT FOR PEOPLE WHO: Appear malnourished and have signs of physical injuries and abuseAvoid eye contact, social interaction, and authority figuresSeem to have a rehearsed or scripted response when interactingAppear destitute or lack personal possessions
TAKE ACTION: In Canada, call the police at 911 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477Call immigration and customs enforcementCall the National Human Trafficking Resource Centre hotline: USA – 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733 Canada – 1-833-900-1010 Spread awareness and let people know about the widespread issue of human trafficking.
Share this post so we can join together in raising awareness and in preventing, stopping, and bringing justice to those involved in human trafficking!
best reasons to travel is indulging in all sorts of traditional, cultural and
exotic foods available around the world.
Let us take
you on this food journey—we guarantee you’ll want to book your next flight!
many Michelin starred restaurants and “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, you will find
that food in Japan is an art form. Authentic handmade udon and ramen will
change your perspective on noodle soup forever, and carefully crafted Japanese
sushi is an experience unto itself. Even shopping at the grocery store is fun
in Japan, with unique packaging and creatively designed food making each trip a
novelty. Tokyo is the eating capital of Japan, with over 160,000 restaurants to
choose from—but since restaurants don’t open until 11am, it’s better to space
your meals out during the day. Don’t forget to check out the fish markets early
in the morning for a new food experience.
and quick meals, Thailand is a backpacker’s heaven. Everywhere you go, you can
find delicious street food to awaken your taste buds. You must visit the
floating markets, where entire rivers are packed with vendors selling from
boats stacked high with fresh foods. Your food adventure in Thailand won’t be complete
without their famous Pad Thai: A large dish of these savory spiced noodles with
chicken or shrimp, bean sprouts and egg will cost you under $5. Thailand’s
iconic Tom Yum soup is a must-have as well, with bold aromatic flavors of
lemongrass and lime, a spicy chilli kick, and delicious fresh prawns and
mushrooms. The most popular dessert here is mango and sticky rice with sweet
coconut cream, which also makes a great sweet snack. For the brave and those
into special delicacies, you can sample roasted scorpions, centipedes and more!
herbs and spices forming the base of Indonesian food pack this cuisine with
intense flavor! Nothing compares to Indonesian satay: marinated skewers of goat
or chicken meat cooked over a charcoal fire for a juicy, smoky treat. Grilled
chicken in Indonesia is flavorful and spicy—and the chickens here are small,
which means you can eat more of them. Pro tip: When buying Nasi Padang (rice
served with various side dishes), ask for the takeaway option to double your
rice portion. To find cheap food, go to the basement food court in malls, where
restaurants frequented by mall employees are very affordable. If you’re eating
at a Padang restaurant, order the local tea (Teh Hanget)—it’s almost always
food may not be presented as artistically as Japanese or Korean cuisine, but
the flavor in this food more than makes up for any aesthetic shortcoming.
Chicken adobo, from the Spanish word for “marinade”, is the most famous food in
the Philippines, so definitely try it out. For a different kind of street food,
try balut: a developing duck embryo boiled and eaten in the shell with a splash
of vinegar. If you like sweets, halo halo (meaning “mixed together”) is made of
ice shavings, evaporated milk and various sweet foods like fruits, sweet
potato, tapioca, coconut gel, and guava paste. The Philippines are second only
to Indonesia in the world for coconut production, so experience drinking
straight from a fresh coconut. Or try the local rum, available for cheaper than
bottled water! And with their vast amount of mango farms, the Philippines is
also famous for their dried mangoes. You’ll definitely want to buy a bag—or
is famous for dim sum, which includes small dishes of meat, seafood,
vegetables, and desserts, eaten at social gatherings called “yum cha”
(literally “drink tea”) where the Chinese share food and converse for hours.
Hong Kong is also known for a must-eat roast goose, marinated in secret spices
and cooked over charcoal until golden and crispy. Count how many different
kinds of BBQ pork, roast pork, duck, and sausages you can find hanging in
restaurant windows! They’re all marinated and cooked to perfection, paired with
rice or noodle soup and veggies with a delicious marinade sauce. Don’t forget
the night markets at Temple Street, an unforgettable street food experience—and
a disappearing one. The government is no longer renewing these vendors’
licenses, so be sure to try these rare eateries before they’re gone!
There is a
huge assortment of food in India, but don’t hang your hopes on eating beef, as
the cow is considered sacred in the Hindu religion. Instead, sample the
dizzying array of vegetarian cuisine on offer, including curried vegetables,
flat breads, rice, lentils, cheese, fruits, and a wide variety of sweets. Food
varies widely across this large country, influenced heavily by regional
geography, climate, and culture. Bread is an Indian staple and there are
several types to choose from, including naan, bhatura, kulcha, roti, chapatti
and many more. From simple dishes like keema (minced meat cooked with
vegetables and ginger), to kebabs served hot off the grill, to paneer
(delicious fresh cheese cooked in various ways) and curries, India’s tasty cuisine
will not disappoint. Note! Be careful buying food in India: you don’t want to
get sick, so avoid street vendors, only eat cooked foods, and only visit
restaurants that look busy and clean.
From regional specialties to seasonal delicacies,
there are too many dishes to try in Italy even if you were to spend a lifetime
doing so! You can’t visit Italy without trying their pizza, so choose between
Roman-style (paper-thin, crunchy crust) or Neapolitan-style pizza (thick and
fluffy crust) and chow down on this global favorite. Truffle, one of the most
expensive foods of the world, can be found in abundance in Italy with its
aromatic flavor added to pasta, pizza, risotto, and sauces. The world famous
ossobucco alla Milanese is a bone-in-veal shank cooked low and slow until the
meat melts off the bone in its own special broth. Try a refreshing and
delicious dessert of gelato made on-site the old-fashioned way. Take a
wine-and-cheese or food tour in the countryside to get the full experience of
fine Italian foods. Stick with the primo (first course) if you’re a vegetarian,
as the secondo (second course) is usually meat—both are very filling. To
experience the best foods in Italy, visit Rome, Sicily, and Bologna.
Fine dining, smaller
portions, and a high appreciation of fine food may be the secret to what keeps
the French fitting in to their high fashion clothes. Fresh fruits, vegetables
and fish are healthy options, and of course try the wine—some of the best in
the world. Take a food tour or a cooking class to learn the ins and outs of the
best cheeses, breads, chocolates, pastries, and other local foods available to
you. Try as much cheese as possible, as it is half the price of what you can get
in North America. Fresh bread straight out of the boulangerie oven is
irresistible so make sure you’re prepared to take some home! Cloud-like,
melt-in-your-mouth macarons are a French specialty, available in every flavor
imaginable. Check out Laduree and Peter Herme for some of the best macarons in
Paris. If you like street food, crepes are delicious and portable, and you can
choose between sweet or savory options. To warm up, try real French onion soup
and say bonjour to a world of flavor.
in fresh fruits and seafood while you bask on the beach—what more can you ask
for? Here, do what the locals do at restaurants, lunch wagons, and at home, and
get a plate of Hawaiian food: Rice with kalua pig, pork or chicken laulau
(wrapped in leaves), dried beef or salmon on the side with taro and coconut
pudding for dessert. Hawaii’s iconic shaved ice with fresh, locally-sourced
fruit will help you cool down in the heat. One of Hawaii’s most traditional
local foods is saimin, a cultural dish with history: First influenced by egg
noodle soup brought over by the Chinese in the plantation era, this dish has as
many variations as there are immigrant groups who have come to the islands.
Hawaii’s famous poke has made its way all over North America: chunky raw fish
mixed with rice and various veggie toppings, poke is similar to ceviche without
the acidity, savory, and very filling. Poi mochi is influenced by the Japanese
rice dessert, but in Hawaii it comes fried with a crispy outside and a soft,
sticky fruit-filled inside. Enjoy food with cultural roots across the globe and
see how the locals have evolved it into something truly and uniquely Hawaiian.
Or in Hong Kong and other Cantonese regions, 恭喜發財 – it means congratulations on the fortune.
A Little History
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, has taken prominence and is celebrated all over the world. This New Year celebration is actually the longest Chinese holiday of the year (lasting 15-16 days) and is celebrated on a different day every year. Why? Because it follows the lunar calendar – the movement of the moon. This tradition has been around for almost 4000 years since the Han Dynasty in 202 BC-220 AD. The Emperor commanded the use of the lunar calendar and it has been put into practice ever since.
2019, Year of the Pig
Every year is represented by a different Chinese zodiac sign. 2019 is the year of the pig – a year of fortune and luck! A pig represents wealth, honesty, prosperity, generosity, and patience to name a few. And depending on your birth year, a different zodiac animal can represent you or your personality type and determine your career, health and relationship success – just like the western zodiac with the 12 different astrological signs of the year. In China, you have your real age (the day you were actually born), and a “fake” nominal age where you grow an extra year older on top of your real age because of the Spring Festival and the lunar calendar. So if you’re 35 in your real age, with the lunar calendar you are actually 36! In 2019, Chinese New Year or Spring Festival lands on February 5th – where everyonegrows a year older.
Chinese New Year is the most important holiday celebrated in China and it causes the largest human migration in the world. Everyone comes back home to celebrate and it is such a big event that it’s now known as the Spring Migration. As 1 out of every 5 people in the world is Chinese, not even including overseas Chinese and people of Chinese descent, it is a very busy and hectic time of the year, especially at airports – so it is good to be prepared and have everything in order before this big travel date. This time of year brings the anticipation of spending time with family and loved ones and enjoying one another’s company with amazing food, decorations, and traditions.
Specialty Food Dishes To Celebrate
There are many popular Chinese traditional food dishes with specific meanings that are used to celebrate the Spring Festival:
1 – Laba porridge 腊八粥. This porridge includes eight types of grains and is eaten on the 8th day of the 12th month in the Chinese calendar and is the subject of many different myths, but all teach the lesson of being grateful and not taking what you have for granted.
2 – Baked bread 馍饼. When you eat this bread, it’s believed that the road to wealth will be open and smooth for that year.
3 – Kumquats and sugarcanes means a sweet life and successful road ahead.
4 – Soup balls or sweet dumplings 湯圓. These soup balls have different filling inside, whether it be savoury or sweet, and are a popular dish as their name also sounds like the Chinese word for “reunion”. They are also shaped like the full moon.
5 – Fa Gao 發粿. It is a hybrid of muffins and a sponge cake. The word “fa” is the same as the word that means “get rich” in Chinese. People also dye these cakes in festive colours.
6 – Rice cake 年糕. When translated to English, it literally means “year cake” and it symbolizes success.
7 – Dumplings are to be eaten every meal for 5 days. With so many dishes to choose from, this tradition has been relaxed, but is still very much enjoyed.
8 – Tu Su Wine 屠蘇酒. Well you definitely can’t celebrate a new year without some wine! Chinese New Year calls for a specialty wine that was the Emperor’s first drink of the New Year. It is made with medicinal herbs and yellow rice wine and has many health benefits including disease prevention.
Celebrate Wherever You Are
If you’re a Chinese international student or an expatriate living or working away from home, we understand that if you can’t make it back for the New Year, this tradition will be sorely missed. But not to worry, you can bring these traditions to wherever you may be. You can also share these traditions with friends and show how proud you are of being an international student or expat. Creating a festive atmosphere where you are can really help you feel closer to where you came from. There are also many places you can go where you can join in on the celebrations of Spring Festival!
1 – Take a walk through China Town! Most cities in different countries have a China Town, full of traditional restaurants, little shops like the ones back home, architecture that mimic Chinese designs, and people who speak the language all over the streets.
2 – Even malls in different countries around the world celebrate Chinese New Year by hosting dragon dances, Chinese dances, and giving away red pockets with candies in them! How’s that for a little taste of back home?
3 – Don’t forget to call or video chat with your family! It’s always great to see familiar faces and how they are celebrating and wish a prosperous new year to the entire family all at once!
4 – Bring your traditions to where you are. Celebrate with friends and maybe teach them something new and what this festival means to you. You can have fun making dumplings and traditional Chinese dessert. Also, who wouldn’t love a red pocket if you’re feeling generous!
5 – Decorate your home in red to symbolize prosperity and happiness, like you do back home. It can be a reminder of this important tradition and bring happiness through familiarity.
6 – Have a night out at your favourite Chinese restaurant! They will sure know how to celebrate and you’ll be able to have a taste of home on that special day with everyone else around who is the doing the same thing.
7 – Buy your own fireworks! It may not be as grand as professional fireworks, but at least you and your friends can have fun lighting them up and seeing the beautiful colours in the sky.
8 – Why not host a hot pot dinner at your house? It may be cold, especially during this time of the year, and what better way to celebrate than to have a boiling hot buffet meal with your favourite meats, seafoods, and veggies and the ability to make your own special sauce to dip your food in.
9 – End this almost 23-day festival with your own lantern festival under the first full moon of the year! You can have fun making your own lanterns or buy them in Chinese stores. The Lantern Festival is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. In ancient times, the Chinese women who had to stay indoors most of their lives, were permitted to celebrate the lantern festival on the full moon of the month. Therefore, it was also the only time young men and women could meet with each other and fall in love. The Lantern Festival also symbolizes freedom, and it is a great reminder that you are free to travel to study or work where you please. Family will always be there and you will have your festive reunions again!
Comment below to let us know how you’re celebrating Chinese New Year!
Looking for better opportunities? Want to make a big life change? Finally found the dream destination you want to move to?
Our Relocation Series consists of the most popular destination choices for expatriates to relocate to. We will include all the details on what you need to know on each country and factors to determine if it would be the perfect fit for you!
Let us make your life easier for this next big step you are taking.
A comprehensive guide for moving to and living in New York City
The main languages spoken are English and Spanish. There are as many as 800 languages spoken in NYC, and nowhere in the world has more languages than Queens, New York—so there should be little to no language barrier problems!
The American Dollar (USD) is used and credit and debit cards are accepted countrywide. ATMs are found in every American city.
It is overall pretty safe, with minimal mugging, pickpocketing and scams. Just always stay alert and be cautious, as you would anywhere you go.
Call 911 for emergencies. For health-related emergencies, walk-in clinics and urgent care clinics are slightly cheaper than hospitals and also provide emergency services with shorter wait times.
In the United States, health care is offered in a public system with two different programs: 1) Medicaid—for low-income people; 2) Medicare—for people over 65 and the disabled. The rest of the population has to buy private health insurance (mandatory since January 2014) through their employer or on an individual basis. Doctor visits are available Monday to Saturday and some are open on Sunday. If you have private insurance, see a doctor who belongs to the medical network of your private insurance as the consultation cost will be reimbursed at a better rate. If you need a specialist, get the doctor to refer you as you will receive more reimbursement this way; specialist fees are higher and range from $150–$300.
There are four seasons in New York City with cold winters and hot, moist summers. The average daily temperature can reach up to 38°C in July–August and drops to as low as -18°C in January–February. Snow can reach up to two feet in just 24–48 hours. The city is also prone to storms called nor’easters as well as tropical storms in summer and early fall.
There are various visas available for travel in the US, but they all fall under two categories: 1) Immigrant visa (permanent resident); 2) Non-immigrant visa (non-permanent resident), which lasts anywhere from 6 months to 5 years and can be used for tourism, business, medical treatment, studies, or temporary work.
New York City is full of opportunities and it is considered the doorway to the “American Dream.” However, it is very competitive and you need to have a job offer before moving to the US as you need to be sponsored for a work permit by an employer. The income tax rate in NYC is among the highest in the country, ranging from 2.9%–3.88% depending on your income level.
If you have children, there are many public and private schools to choose from. New York City has one of the largest public school systems in the country, including globally renowned research centres, universities and libraries. NYC has 110 universities/colleges, over 1,700 public schools, and around 70 private schools.
Cost of living and housing
The cost of living in New York City is the highest in the US. Rent takes about 47.5% of an individual’s total income, and the price of everyday products is above average. NYC’s cost of living is 68.8% higher than the national average. There are five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island), so researching where you want to stay before you go will be useful. If you want to purchase a house, it starts at $400,000 USD with a 20% down payment. Renting costs about $2,900 USD per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre and $1,800 USD per month outside the city centre, with two months’ advance rent and a security deposit generally required. Utilities cost about $120–$130 USD per month for water, heating, and gas.
New York’s airports are very well connected to almost every country in the world so it is a convenient base for travelling. Taxis are the most convenient transportation but public transit is also very efficient as it is reliable and available 24/7. There are subways, buses, and commuter trains available for public transportation. Due to heavy traffic, driving may not be the best option; parking is also scarce and the cost of parking spaces is very expensive. Expats should get an American driver’s license since their international driving license will only be valid for their first six months in the country.
Wi-Fi can easily be found almost anywhere and is easily accessible in shopping malls, restaurants, bars, and most public places. There are a number of telecommunication carriers with great prices for cellphone plans, Internet and TV services.
There is so much diversity in New York City that you can find almost any kind of food! Anything from American to Canadian, Asian, Latin, Italian, Indian, and more—there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone. The city has so many restaurants that you can eat out for the next 54 years and not have to eat in the same place twice.
Things to do
It is a fast-paced lifestyle living in New York City. There are a lot of things to do, from visiting iconic sites like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park to enjoying the nightlife and concerts available. One of the must-sees is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, aka “The Met.”
In business settings, shake hands when being introduced to someone for the first time and dress to impress—men wear a collared shirt or long sleeves and a tie while women should avoid clothes that show too much skin. Don’t assume you can smoke anywhere as they have new laws that prohibit smoking in certain areas. Do tip for good service and do obey traffic signs and laws. Being on time is also very important.
To discover our international health insurance solutions for you and your family as an expatriate, CLICK HERE! If you’d like to speak to a member of our sales team, give us a call at 1-800-749-0917 or email us at email@example.com at your convenience.
As the global village becomes more and more tight-knit, students are eager to study abroad for opportunities at foreign institutions and programs of study that are renowned for academic excellence. We found that a very large amount of Chinese students, from primary to post secondary, are choosing to enter the western educational system for better opportunities.
In the past few years, there have been over 350,000 Chinese students studying annually in North America. Chinese students are the single largest international student population on most American campuses. But have we ever wondered why the population of Chinese students studying abroad is growing larger every year and if this transition is difficult for them? Or what it’s like for these students to leave their home country and immerse themselves into a new culture, language, and environment—alone?
We have found that Chinese parents choose to send their children abroad for better and broader learning opportunities where they can pick up another language and adapt to a different culture, which will give them an upper hand when they join the workforce in the global economy. Studying abroad also has a certain appeal to the students themselves as it gives them a chance to escape the Chinese education system—where there is an enormous amount of pressure for them to pass China’s college entrance exam, which they spend two years studying for—and cultural norms, where their value is based on how well they do academically.
The Difficulties Being Faced
Being brought up in a high-achieving society and with a cultural background like this already puts an inordinate amount of pressure, stress, and anxiety on these students while they are young, at a time when they really should embrace being a kid, get to know their interests and hobbies, and work on their social development. Not only are there cultural pressures for the students, but there are family pressures and high expectations on top of that as most Chinese students are their family’s only child (due to the country’s one-child policy), so even more weight is placed on them to succeed. The Chinese have a collective culture where how well you do or don’t do brings pleasure or shame to your family, so Chinese students have an even bigger burden to accomplish more. Once these students go overseas to study in a new country, where the language and culture is foreign to them, it adds to the anxiety and stress of performing well and meeting the expectations already set out for them.
When arriving in a new country, many of these Chinese students already come with higher stress levels and anxiety than local students because of how they were brought up. Some of them arrive with mental health problems from their childhood and adolescence and don’t even realize it. Alongside the fact that they have language barriers, they are experiencing the frustrations of culture shock and being out of their comfort zone, and they are far from their support system, these students are being introduced to a completely different education system where teaching methods are the opposite of what they are used to in China. Where the Chinese education system places emphasis on rote learning—memorization and repetition—and working individually, the Western education system focuses on critical thinking, open-ended questions, and group work, which leaves these students frustrated and confused. Before they know it, many realize the glamour of leaving behind the pressures of being educated in China isn’t what they thought.
Because of these difficulties and predetermined pressures to succeed, many of these students feel the weight of stress and anxiety and oftentimes insomnia and depression start to creep up on them. In North America, 13 per cent of the general population in university experiences depression and anxiety, whereas a survey done by Yale University in 2013 found that 45 per cent of Chinese international students on campus reported symptoms of depression and 29 per cent had symptoms of anxiety. As they feel the hardships of studying abroad and not wanting to feel the shame of failing their family, Chinese students are at an increased risk of contemplating and eventually committing suicide. In the US, suicide is the leading cause of death for college students, regardless of their origin. These alarming statistics show that attention and care must be brought to this group of students.
Ways To Help
A lot of the Chinese students in North America feel that there is nowhere they can go for help, or otherwise are unaware that there are resources available. There is also a cultural stigma attached to admitting that they are struggling with their mental health. It is hard to fix this problem among the Chinese student population as the root causes come from their home country and the cultural expectations they were brought up with. The only thing that can be done once they arrive is for educational institutions to be aware of these cultural differences, to address these problems in a way that these students can understand, and to provide resources that are easily accessible to them.
Some suggestions would be to hire Chinese-speaking mental health counsellors on campus who can then break the language barrier and provide more efficient communication and help these students adapt to their new country. Encouraging students to join cultural campus groups may also help them integrate more easily into the new environment and connect with other students with similar situations as them. Promoting stress-relieving activities in school such as meditation, yoga, or other fitness activities may also bring to the students’ attention that the institution understands how difficult it is being a student and that there are outlets to help cope with it.
Ultimately, the difficulties that international students face, and particularly those faced by the Chinese student population, need more attention. Realizing the cultural differences and challenges they may face, and responding by providing resources that can help them complete their education abroad in a physically and mentally healthy environment, can be considered early intervention—a strategy that can cut suicide rates in half (as stated by the Journal of the American Medical Association).
We realize that anxiety, depression, and culture shock are problems that many international students may face and we want to help these students as well as their school administrations to address these challenges and better provide a healthy learning environment.
We have created the Stay Healthy at School program as an initiative to help with the hardships international students face while learning and living in a foreign country. This program offers immediate and confidential 24/7 counselling in over 180 languages through phone, text or online help, an easy-to-use mobile application, and tools and resources to help students with their physical and mental wellbeing. Our program helps with cultural integration, homesickness, academic stress, depression and anxiety, and addiction and substance abuse.
For more information on our programs and solutions to help face these issues, email our Student Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 1-855-649-4182.