Thinking of Making a Big Move? Your Guide to Life in Other Countries

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a different country? A country across the globe with vastly different cultures, living standards, and social norms?

There can be major differences in how people live within your own country, much less across the world, but this cool new generator from HireAHelper makes imagining what life would be like in another country a little easier.

Pick any two countries and compare statistics like the amount of free time people have on average, median income, and the number of active internet users.

For example, if you compare the United States to Australia you will see that Australians make 16% less on average than Americans, and also have an average of 6% less free time. However, they have 22% more money saved and are 20% less likely to be obese.

Here are some more examples. 


CANADA compared to FRANCE



12 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit The Yonghe Temple (or Lama Temple) In Beijing

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

Located in the middle of Beijing in China, the Yonghe Temple aka Harmony and Peace Palace Lamasery aka Yonghe Lamasery aka Lama Temple is a complex made up of a maze of elaborate arches, stunning tapestries and massive temples, opening to expansive courtyards filled with people praying and fragrant smoke filling the air from burning incense. 

Planning your visit to the Lama Temple

CNY 25 (approx. $4) and free for children no taller than 1.2 meters (3.9 feet).

Opening Hours
April to October from 9 am to 4:30 pm; November to March 9 am to 4 pm.

Getting There By Subway
Take Line 2 or 5 to Yonghegong (Yonghe Temple) Station, get out of the station from Exit C. Walk south about 400 meters. The temple is on the east side of the road.

Getting There By Bus
Take bus 13, 116, 117 or 684 and get off at Yonghegong Station.

The Lama Temple is considered to be the most magnificent Buddhist temple in the city and is the most renowned Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. The complex was converted to a lamasery in 1744 after serving as the former residence of Emperor Yong Zheng

The complex is covered in detailed paintings and elaborate carvings like these doors that are the entrance to one of the main temple buildings where visitors can observe the monks chanting. 

The noise of tourists and traffic is left outside the temple walls, and the air is filled with the hypnotic sounds of chanting and small, colorful prayer flags flapping in the breeze. 

Large drums echo across the complex when played by the monks. 

Covered passageways allow monks to move between the buildings above the crowds of tourists and worshippers. 

A man sits on scaffolding repairing one of the doors of the temple. 

Tibetan monks have darker robes than you see other monks in Asia wearing and wear elaborate headpieces. 

On my visit I was able to move freely through the buildings — being white in Asia, I was often stopped from entering religious complexes — and observe the worshippers performing ritual prayers.

About halfway into the complex, I found myself the sole foreign observer of a large, tapestry filled temple full of monks, sitting in lines and reading from heavy looking prayer books.

The sound of their voices mixed with the heavy scented air was hypnotizing and after taking a few flash-less photos, I pressed my back into the wall, not wanting to disturb them, closed my eyes, and let myself be carried away by the sound of their voices.

The stunning Statue of Tsongkhapa is surrounded by painted pillars and elaborate tapestries that hang from the ceiling of the temple and line the walls. 

Monks in their formal garb chanting — one of the most enchanting sounds I have ever heard. 

Visitors can wander from temple to temple through vast red corridors — from the shadow to the light. 

The Statue of the Maitreya Buddha was entered into the Guinness Book of Records in 1990 for being carved out of a single white sandalwood tree that stands an astonishing 26 metres high! 

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The Yonghe Temple (Lama Temple) in Beijing
The Yonghe Temple (Lama Temple) in Beijing

Traditional Temporary Tattoos: The Art of Henna

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

I have always been intrigued by the art of henna  — I've gotten a flower, a swirl, or a nonsense design put on one of my limbs more times than I can count while wandering a local summer festival, or hanging out at the beach. 

What I didn't know was the history behind the art, which is something that I discovered recently when chatting with a local henna artist (and a bit of research after the fact) while she drew a beautiful design on the back of my hand. 

Henna has been used for more than 5,000 years to dye skin, hair, fingernails, and even fabrics in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East. The act of giving intricate henna tattoos is called Mehndi and is traditionally only done on women — never men.

Why henna is not drawn on men

According to the artist I spoke to, these intricate designs are usually applied the night before (sometimes a few days before) a women's wedding day. The elaborate designs cover her hands and feet (often up to her knees and elbows) and tradition goes that as long as they stay on the skin the women does not have to do any housework.

It isn't until the dye disappears that the new bride steps into her new role as a housewife. 

Don't worry though guys, here in the Western world, the rules are a bit different. It is completely ok for you to give henna a try. The artist I met told me that she often gives men tribal or sun designs on their arms or backs. 

And, in some hot desert cultures, both sexes use henna, not for its beautification factor, but its cooling one. Apparently soaking your hands and feet in a paste of henna helps to cool down your core temperature. 

The henna paste goes on black, but dyes your skin a brownish-orange color if left on for at least 5-7 hours

What is henna?

The leaves of the henna plant are crushed and mixed with different oils in order to make the creamy paste that is applied to the skin. My artist used eucalyptus oil and cloves (which left my hand smelling like a spa for the rest of the day).

When applied the paste looks dark brown or black, and stays on the skin until it flakes off naturally (between 5-7 hours), or — in my case — you have to rub it off before you go to bed so you don't wake up with a henna-tattooed face. 

My henna tattoo once the paste was rubbed off.  

This natural dye is completely harmless, and does not discriminate (it works on all skin types).

It works best on the hands or feet, and lasts anywhere from 1-4 weeks depending on the type of henna used and how you take care of it (for example if you exfoliate the tattoo every day it won't last as long).

Oh, and it will leave tan lines, so if you lay out in the sun with your tattoo exposed, you will extend the design's shelf-life a little longer. 

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The art of henna

10 Fun Facts About The Winter Olympics

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

Curling, Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, Snowboarding, and Ski Jumping — oh my! I don't know about you, but I am an Olymp-addict — and I can never get enough of the Winter Olympic Games! 

Here are some fun, crazy, and intriguing facts about the Winter Olympics.

1. The very first Winter Olympic Games was held in 1924 in Chamonix, France

Officially called the "I Olympic Winter Games", or Les Iers Jeux olympiques d'hiver in French, the competitions were held at the foot of the famous Mont Blanc and Haute-Savoie between January 25 and February 5, 1924. It was held in the same year as the Summer Olympic Games, which continued until 1992. 

2. There are 15 official Winter Olympic sports

There are multiple events within each category, but there are only 15 main events. They are: 

  • Alpine Skiing 
  • Biathlon
  • Bobsleigh
  • Cross Country Skiing 
  • Curling
  • Figure Skating
  • Freestyle Skiing
  • Ice hockey
  • Luge
  • Nordic Combined 
  • Short Track Speed Skating
  • Skeleton
  • Ski Jumping 
  • Snowboard
  • Speed Skating 

3. Norway has won the most medals of ANY other country at the Winter Games

There are 10 countries that rise to the top as having the most medals, they are: 

  • Norway: 329
  • United States: 282
  • Germany: 228
  • Austria: 218
  • Soviet Union: 194
  • Canada: 170
  • Finland: 161
  • Sweden: 144
  • Switzerland: 138
  • Russia: 124

Note: The medal counts are correct as of February 7, 2018. 

4. The Winter Games held in Nagano in 1998 were interrupted because of too much snow! 

5. The Olympic medals are always designed by the host country and represent cultural elements of the country

According to the Olympic website, the medals for the 2018 Winter Olympics "range in weight from 586 grams for the gold medal to 493 grams for the bronze... They are the work of celebrated South Korean designer Lee Suk-woo, who incorporated Hangeul – the Korean alphabet and the foundation of Korean culture – into their design through a series of consonants symbolising the effort of athletes from around the world, who will come together as one to compete at PyeongChang 2018. In total, 259 sets of the medals have been made."

6. Runners do not actually pass the torch

It's true! During the torch relay, runners do not actually pass the torch that they are carrying. Only the flame is passed and each runner is allowed to keep their torch!

7. The wall's of the halfpipe in Halfpipe Snowboarding are 22 feet high! 

8. The most expensive Olympic Games cost $51 billion

At $51 billion, the 2014 Sochi Olympics are the most expensive Olympics (summer or winter) EVER.

9. There is NO talking in the bobsled during a race

For real. 


10. The five rings of the Olympic flag symbolize the five significant continents

The rings are interconnected to symbolize the friendships created during international competition, The colors were chosen because at least one of them appears on the flag of every country in the world! 

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10 Fun Facts About The Winter Olympics
Fun Facts About The Winter Olympics

Reads For The Road: "The Wave" by Susan Casey

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

I will be the first to admit that the science section of any bookstore can be a bit intimidating.

Most of the books there are by someone with "Ph.D." after their name and are written in a language that may as well be Greek to me. 

Luckily, Susan Casey writes in a language that I have no problem understanding. 

Waves are not measured in feet and inches, but in increments of fear
— Buzzy Trent, Surfer

In The Wave, Casey (an author, journalist and former editor-in-chief of O, The Oprah Magazine), takes readers with her as she travels the globe trying to learn the dangerous secrets of the ocean and the elusive ship-swallowing, hundred foot wave.

Her book moves between the unbelievable world of professional surfers — who use experience, instinct, and lessons learned by ancient cultures in order to read the water — and the scientific world, that tries to predict the disturbing wave activity of our ailing planet, using equations and logic. 

Fascinating, terrifying, exciting, enlightening, and unbelievable — this read is a ride into a world that will give you a newfound respect for the people that are a part of it. 

Well worth venturing into the science section!

Quiz: Which Book Should I Read Next?

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,

which book should I read next quiz

Is your New Year's resolution to read more? Are you looking for something interesting to read on your next trip? Or, have you just finished a book and want to try something new? 

Take our quiz below to see which book you should read next! 

Looking for more great ideas?

Check out The Anthrotorian's Book Reviews in 25 words or less! (Tip: If you click the book title, it will take you to the full review.)