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4 Things to Do to Ensure the Safety of Kids While on the Road

Kids in cars. That’s one of the biggest frustrations of parents, especially if the trip is a rather long one. Every day, though, parents and caregivers take children in cars – to and from school, to after-school activities, and so on. Even on the weekend, there are family activities that may require parents to take their children with them.

There is just no avoiding taking children with you in the car, and the most important thing for you to remember is to ensure the safety of kids you take with you. According to the CDC, “motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented.” [Read more…]

Studying Asian Languages: Learning Thai, Mandarin and Nihongo

Learning a foreign language is not the easiest thing to do, especially if you plan on learning one that is linguistically very different from your native tongue. That said, learning a second or foreign language has always been viewed as something desirable. After all, there are many advantages to knowing more than one language including easier integration for those moving to a foreign place, better business relations for those dealing with people with different nationalities, and a deeper sense of self for those with mixed races and second generation immigrants. Of course, there’s also the matter of learning a new language for pleasure since it opens up new worlds to appreciate as you watch movies and read books in the original language.

But why study Asian languages instead of “more popular” languages like French, German, Italian and Spanish? And what Asian languages should you bother learning?

thai letters flower bedPhoto Credit: MandalayBus


Believe it or not, the most common spoken language on Earth is actually an Asian language – Mandarin. With over a billion speakers worldwide, Mandarin speakers actually outnumber English speakers by about 150 million, making it THE Asian language to learn, especially if you are targeting the Chinese market with your business.

Nihongo, which is the language spoken by the Japanese, is not nearly as common as Mandarin or any of the other Western languages mentioned above but is still a pretty useful language to learn if you are serious about tapping the Asian market. You cannot ignore Japan’s economic and technological presence in today’s world market, and since majority of the Japanese are not fluent in English, you need to learn their language to get an advantage over your competitors.


If you want to be fluent in an Asian language for pleasure opting for more exotic, albeit less practical, Asian languages like Korean and Thai is the way to go. Both languages look very distinctive with the “letters” unlike any other. You bet that even if people don’t understand a thing you write in either language, they’ll be quite impressed with the pretty writing.

When it comes to the spoken language though Korean is actually very unique and is unlike any other language, being classified as a language isolate. This means that it was not derived from any other language that existed on Earth! Thai, on the other hand, is a mishmash of Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer, making for a rather really interesting sounding language. Thai is also considered to be an analytic language and is tonal (like Mandarin), which makes it quite different to learn. So if you are planning on learning Thai on your own, you’d better rethink your strategy because it is pretty unlikely that you’ll end up fluent in the language unless you take Thai classes or have a native speaker as a friend/tutor.

Whatever your motivation may be for learning an Asian language though, keep in mind that you’ll always be in the winning end each time you learn something new.

Toilet Training Tips for Toddlers

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Your little baby is no longer the little infant you held in your arms. He’s now a bundle of energy – bouncing around and exploring everything around him. Soon he will outgrow his nappies and will need to learn how to relieve himself in the right places.

So, at what point do you actually know that it’s time to toilet train (or potty train) your child? Some say it’s best to start when the child is between 18 – 24 months old, but you really can’t put a benchmark on it. Experts believe the best time to teach a child is when he is ready.

Image source: Flickr

Image source: Flickr

Once you have established that your child is ready for potty training, here are some tips to make the toilet training sessions fun for you and for your child.

  1. If you have a boy, point them towards a tree or a small plant when they start to do a wee and say that he is watering the plants. Make sure though, that you eventually wean him out of “watering the plants” to wee-ing in the toilet. Watering plants is only acceptable for toddlers, not pre-schoolers.
  2. Since girls are generally supposedly fussy about making a mess, they are often more interested in learning how to use the toilet properly. Try dressing your daughter in a skirt or a pretty frock while she’s learning.
  3. Use proper underpants as early as possible. Kids learn faster when they can distinguish the difference between clean underpants and wet undies. When they know how uncomfortable it is to be walking around in wet undies (or how much time changing nappies takes out of their play time), they will feel motivated to go to the toilet when they have to.
  4. If your child is able to control his bladder, but not his bowels, do not be overly concerned. Most children are unwilling to do a poo in the toilet and would wait until a nappy is on. If you know that your child is ready for a poo, sit him on the toilet for a few minutes and encourage him to move his bowels. If nothing happens, just put a nappy on him. He probably isn’t ready to poo in the toilet yet.
  5. Soon, you will have to leave the house with the child dressed only in his underpants (no nappies!). When this time comes, make sure you have a spare set (or 2) of clothes in the car and don’t go on ambitious outings that will entail traveling for hours on end. Go outdoors - visit a park, or the beach, or just walk around the block. Once your child becomes more in control of his facilities, you can go out for longer trips.

Finally, while you’re training your child to use the toilet, you should take this opportunity to teach your child about proper hygiene as well. Click on this link to view a fun nursery rhyme you can sing to your kids about washing their hands after using the toilet.


Daycare Checklist: Signs of a good daycare center


Image source: Flickr

As a new parent, you probably want to spend as much time with your little one, however, the realities of life will eventually creep in. Yes, some parents are able to stay at home and take care of their children on a full-time basis, but not everyone has that luxury. If you’re a regular parent, you’ll eventually have to go back to work and will need to entrust the care of your precious child to others.

[Read more…]

Study in Europe: How to Get Around the Continent


image credit www.massey.ac.nz

image credit www.massey.ac.nz

If you’re going to study in Europe you may already be planning a list of excursions to some of the continent’s historic and exciting sites. Because your main mission is to study, you might not have time for long vacations and will need to make the most of day and weekend trips. Finding the most efficient ways to travel during both short and long jaunts is essential.

Train Travel

The passenger-train system in Europe will take you almost anywhere on the continent. Whether you want to travel from Paris to Munich or Rome to Venice, a Eurail pass is the most flexible and least costly way to travel on the train. There are several options for purchasing a Eurail pass so it’s best to have a general plan for your excursions to get the best deal. With a Global Pass you can travel through 24 European countries, you can choose a Select Pass if you only plan to cross a few different borders or you can choose a One Country Pass if you’re limiting your excursions to your host country.

Air Travel

Once upon a time only first-class travelers flew point-to-point within Europe but today, a number of basic, no-frills airlines offer affordable flights. Expert traveler Rick Steves suggests finding cheap flights on the Internet at sites like Skyscanner, Dohop and Kayak. The downside of flying cheap is that tickets are usually nontransferable and nonrefundable. If your plans change you’re out the cost of the flight.

Bus Travel

Because Europeans and tourists depend heavily on public transportation of all kinds, the standards for bus travel are typically higher than Americans may expect. Euroline reaches 29 different countries and boasts modern, comfortable coaches. Each country has its own bus line which allows you to reach small towns and locations Euroline may not frequent. Bus travel may not have all the romance of train travel, but you do get to enjoy the countryside at a moderate price. One disadvantages of bus travel is that it can be slow when time is limited.

Local Travel

For those times when your destination is too far to walk but too close to buy a ticket you can do as many Europeans do and ride a bike. Long-and short-term bike rentals are available throughout Europe. Some European cities have bike-rental stations available street side where the method for renting is much like renting a locker at an amusement park.

Taxis are available almost everywhere in Europe, and just like in the U.S. they can be expensive. Agree to a price up front and ask if there are any additional fees before getting in the car. If you don’t feel you know enough about the area’s taxi regulations or money conversion opt for a city bus instead.

Since you don’t plan on spending every moment of your time abroad locked safely in a dorm room slathering yourself with hand sanitizer you’ll want to purchase international student insurance before leaving home. Accidents and illnesses can happen anywhere, but you certainly don’t want to use your extra money to pay for healthcare costs instead of visiting those European sites you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

China: Asia’s Next Higher Education Hub?

China’s elite is known to send their children to prestigious Western universities as part of their preparation to compete in a more global business environment. However, recent reports show that China itself is increasing in stature as a destination for international students.

university of nottingham ningbo china


Campaigning  for More International Students

China is currently ramping up their campaign to increase the number of international students in the country to half a million by 2020. They aim to do this by tapping the students where China traditionally sent their students – the west.

[Read more…]

Must-haves for your First Time Studying Abroad

First-time study abroad students often make the mistake of packing too much or too little. Some students want to bring every comfort of home along and others get caught up by the romantic notion of heading out to explore the world with nothing more than a toothbrush and a passport. Savvy travelers know that the best adventures happen when you travel light and are equipped with some necessities.


Mistakes happen when traveling overseas, but you can reduce the impact of small glitches if you have a few practical items packed on your carry-on. [Read more…]

Key Considerations When Applying for Student Loans

Not every college student is capable of financing his tertiary education. Each year, thousands of parents and college students themselves apply for a student loan. In fact, many complete their college and enter the working force still with remaining loan debt.

student loans

Data from the American Student Assistance (ASA) showed that of the nearly 20 million Americans that attend college every year, 60 percent or almost 12 million borrow annually to help cover the cost of their education. Currently, it is estimated that 37 million student loan borrowers still have outstanding loans.

In the U.S., there are various types of student loans available with each having its own specific rules and features. These include the Stafford, Perkins and PLUS loans. Learning about each of them can help you find the best one that fits your needs.

Knowing your credit score and ensuring that all details are accurate is another vital step before the application process. The credit score is an important determining factor in the type and amount of loan a student can avail of although there are certain loans that do not require this. [Read more…]

Hairstyles Even Dad Can Do

If you’re like many dads, your morning hair routine includes a shower and maybe a bit of hair gel. So when it comes to dressing your daughter’s hair, you may be at a loss as to what to do. There’s no need to worry. With just a few basic techniques and some hair styling tools in your arsenal, you’ll create cute hairstyles that your daughter will love. [Read more…]