Why Danes are The Happiest People on Earth

Louise Mohr, Denmark

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Again this year the Danish people are dominating the World’s Happiness Report and ranks among the top three happiest of 155 countries surveyed. On the other hand, the U.S. is with a four-spot drop, ranked 18th this year.

So why is it that these pastry-loving, LEGO building people are winning the happiness race? And how do they compare to the States?

The Danish welfare state works.

Danes pay some of the highest income tax rates in the world (45% on average), but, in exchange, every Dane gets free health care, free K-college education (the students are paid approx. $900 a month by the government to go to school), highly subsidized child care and generous unemployment benefits.

Some might lift an eyebrow over the high tax-rate, but the Danes don’t look at the tax rate as a burden, but as an investment in our society and quality of life.

If you lose a job in Denmark, it’s not a big deal. Unemployment is built into the system. This is in connection to the “flexibility model”, which, quickly explained, is a system built on freedom for employees. The government programs retrain workers and position them better for the job market. By doing this, we create strong connections and also provide a guaranteed safety net, giving unemployment benefits for up to two years.

The government also has a great retirement system, providing for the elders over 65+ population through a combination of state-founded pension and private employer-funded pension programs. This not only relieves the stress for the elderly, but makes them feel secure about their retirement.

Here’s a video that explains further: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=095ULhvaH5E

The perhaps most important aspect of the Danish culture is “hygge”, which they value as a cultural construct. It refers to high-quality social interactions. It’s used as as a noun, adjective or verb, and events and places can also be “hyggelige” (hygge-like). “Hygge” is most commonly translated as “cozy”, but is more an intentional intimacy, which can happen when you have safe, balanced and harmonious shared experiences.

“Hygge” is the Danish sense of well-being. Although Denmark is a highly individualized country, “hygge” promotes egalitarianism and strengthens the trust between people. It’s fair to say that “hygge” is fully integrated into the Danish culture psyche and culture.

But Denmark is not the only  country that has a concept similar to hygge – the Norwegains have “koselig”, the Swedes “mysig”, the Dutch “gezenlligheid” and the Germans “gemütlichkeit”.

The U.S. also places a high value on individualism, but there’s no real cultural equivalent of “hygge”. Income is generally associated with happiness. Even though the GDP is on the rise and the unemployment has been declining, levels of happiness in the U.S. have been steadily decreasing.

The U.S. income also continues to be an issue. There’s been a marked decrease in interpersonal trust toward institutions like the government as well as the media.

At it’s core, “hygge” is about building trust and intimacy with others. Americans could probably use a little more of that in their lives.

As a Dane in America, i find the the lack of free healthcare the most problematic. The United States reminds to be the only industrialized country in the world that fails to provide universal healthcare for all citizens. The concerns regarding this are significant and continues. Most people here are scared to get sick, and because of the high cost they avoid the doctors. American healthcare is the source of innumerable issues for many, both those withe and without coverage. These issues are not limited to the financial prospect, but has a far-reaching influence on their quality of life, psychological stability, and fundamental happiness for society at large.

After spending 3 months here, i can vouch for the rudimentary differences between America and Denmark. The divergences extend beyond policy, logistics or political agendas. There is a complete different feel to the place, a different tone to the culture on a fundamental level. I truly believe that America could learn something extremely vulnerable form the danish culture, if they had the trust to do so.

How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Luna, Belgium

Having a healthy lifestyle starts with a healthy mindset. You need to be in peace with yourself to be able to have access to that stable lifestyle you want. It’s all about finding that balance between self-care and allowing yourself to have a treat. It is important to know how your body works and how to improve your way of living.

The motivation and will to become healthy comes from within and you are the only person controlling your body. If you really want it, go and get it. It is as simple as that. You have to find certain sources of motivation to keep track of that lifestyle you want to achieve. As long as your mindset is in a good place, you will be, too !

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One of the first things that is crucial to know and that you’ve probably heard a billion of times is drinking water. It makes you feel cleansed 24/7 and it is recommended to drink 180 ml per day. It will keep your system going and your skin clear!

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Eating healthy always sounds so boring and like it’s something you have to endure, but it is way more easy and delicious than it sounds. You can find tons of easy recipes online that are so healthy and really tasty. Another way to achieve health in general is finding healthier options for things like butter, sugar and other harmfull products we might use a little too much. Coconut oil, Agave syrup are way better options for those two examples. Try to include plant-based products as much as you can in your diet because those are the most beneficial food sources you can eat. Vegetables and fruits are really important but, they’re not the only ones out there ; quinoa, all kinds of rice, grains, beans, lentils … are  fibers and protein sources that are so easy to make, way healthier and better for the environment than meat or fish.

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After you get your diet down and decide which kinds of food are working for you and your inner body, you need to focus on your body image. That is where exercise will become part of your routine. Try to find ways you like to exercise because going to the gym is not always a pleasure for everyone. Dancing, hiking, yoga, swimming sounds like fun to me and are really nice activities you can do with other people.

Finally, you need to see this as a better way of living and not a restrictive way of living. You need to enjoy it in order to maintain it. That’s why balance is the most important thing. You should be able to treat yourself, but have a healthy lifestyle in general.

https://www.pickuplimes.com/

 

Halloween in Santa Barbara

Mohammed Alnasser, Saudi Arabia

First of all, this is the first time I have visited the U.S.A. and of course it is a nice fun and good experience at the same time. During my stay there were beautiful events and festivals including Halloween.

This was an interesting event for me because it was the first time I have been involved in this event and it was a beautiful experience in my life.

I participated in this celebration with the wonderful EF Institutes and it was a wonderful celebration. My costume was about a character in the circus. We were in competition with most of the students at the institute for the best costume and for the first time I won and I took fifth place.

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Looking for Our Identity

Sayen Antil, Chile

What makes me be me? Do I have an answer for that?

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Identity is by definition the distinguishing character or personality of an individual, so I’ve been thinking which things about myself make me who I am. For me, it’s a struggle, but why? Why is it so hard to think of all those things? I think its mostly because when we are trying, aspects of us that we have denied arise. But what we should do about it? Just stop trying and continue living like we have been?

I started reading many different quotes of different philosophers  or even current writers. The psychologist, Camen Duran, said that changing our being is changing our lives,  but changing our lives is not changing our being. At first I didn’t get it, but when I did, I thought about changing  the way we live for changing ourselves is just a transitory change, mostly because our inner struggles will keep coming back to our lives.

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So where am I heading to with all of these? I want to know myself, and I am going to do it through these steps. First of all, I’ll stop comparing myself with others. Everyone does this to try to know themselves, but this is actually the worst thing to do, because we get so distracted in trying to be someone else. Maybe it’s good to look up to someone, but we’ll do this without losing our true identity,  trying to be the best version of ourselves.  I’ll be objective, if I refuse to accept some of the things I don’t like about myself, I won’t know what kind of person I truly am. I’ll try my best to identify my emotions and act according to them, that way I’ll know what  my character is like.

Once you identify how are you, you’ll be able to identify others. It will help you to improve your relationship with yourself and therefore, improve it with everyone around you. And let’s keep it honest, when you are happy with the environment of your interpersonal relationships, your entire life feels so much better because good relationships are the basis of a good, happy life. So knowing yourself, in other words, can lead you to live a fulfilling life.

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Self Driving Cars, Are They the Future?

Leonard Storch, Germany

Think of the self-driving car, an idea that seemed impossible 10 years ago and yet it’s already a reality on some highways.  It is not like they are regulary on the streets, but although some of them are being used by companies like Tesla or Uber. These companies are seeing like many others the future of traffic and cars in these autonomous vehicles. So, in case you are asking yourself why these cars aren’t used much more on a daily basis, it is because with every new invention comes also a new danger. Even though  the vehicles have an impressive safety record compared to the carnage wrought by human-driven vehicles, their excellent performance is largely enabled by machine-learning algorithms that have been trained on torrents of data about roads, intersections, street furniture, etc. But sometimes there have been fatalities. In 2016, for example, a  self-driving Tesla  drove into the back of a white tractor-trailer; in March this year, a self-driving Uber car killed a woman pushing a bicycle and so on.  These accidents are called “edge cases” because the cars’ software encountered scenes or objects that it didn’t recognize for the simple reason that they had never appeared in the software’s training datasets. Given that the real world is full of things that cars’ sensors and software have never seen before, these edge cases will continue.

So in the end I would say that there is certainly a need, and many benefits, for autonomous cars, but on the other hand, the current technology doesn’t quite seem ready for full autonomy all the time.

 

Living in a Host family

by Sophia Zimmermann, Germany

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In a few days, I will be back in Germany and will talk about the amazing experience I had with my host family here in Santa Barbara.

It is my first time in the US, so I was really afraid what it would be like living in a new family. You don’t know the people that you are going to live with, but you have to live with them. It’s a whole new culture, especially when you’re from Germany living with a Mexican family in the US.

All my fear was taken away when I saw my new family for the first time. When I got out of the car they were waiting for me at the door. They hugged me, brought my suitcases upstairs and showed me the whole house. Since the first moment I was a part of their family.

They took me to family parties, they went shopping with me, they cooked the meals I like, they made me feel so welcome in this family. I couldn’t be more grateful to call this people MY American family.

My American family is like my German one. Three children, a son and two daughters, mother, father and a pet. All family members didn’t treat me like someone they barely knew, they treated me like one of them. It was so nice to see that they cared for me and that they did everything for me so I felt good. And I did, it felt like home there and I think that is the most important thing.

But I also heard a lot of other students say that they don’t like their host families because the parents didn’t care much about the students. I feel so sad for them. You are miles away from your home and when you don’t feel comfortable or welcome your whole experience won’t be as you would like it to be. When I hear about their experiences, I feel even more grateful to have such an amazing family.

After one month in California, I will go back home with a lot of memories and new experiences. On the one side I don’t want to leave Santa Barbara, but on the other side I am really excited to go home and see my family and friends again. It will my host sister’s quinceanera in four years and I definitely will be here and celebrate this big party with her.

Santa Barbara stole my heart and I will never forget the wonderful time I had here!

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Soccer Culture

By Simon Kjellgren, Sweden

For Americans, soccer is just something you drive your daughter to. A world cup they always think they’ll win despite just being no.28 on the FIFA world ranking. For the rest of the world, it’s more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle. We live and breath soccer, some fans even kill and die for their club. The club is our god, the fans of that club is our family and the stadium is our home, our church. Soccer is a religion, a religion with thousands of gods. The leader of all those gods? Sadly FIFA. I’ll explain later.

tifo2Borussia Dortmund TIFO

The fans are the most important thing a club can have. It sounds cheesy I know, but there’s a reason fans are called “the 12th player”. They provide atmosphere around the stadium; they provide electric chants that energize the players. Most importantly, they provide TIFOs. A TIFO is a synchronized display before the game starts, with banners, flags and songs that the team march in to.

It’s Fiesta Time

Patrycja Iwaniuk, The Netherlands

The Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara is a week of celebrating the traditions, history, heritage, and culture that has been in Santa Barbara for hundreds of years. Since the beginning of the week, the first preparations can be seen. Music can be heard on every corner of the street. The first Fiesta eggs can be bought and smashed to color the streets with colorful confetti and even the people dress up in beautiful and traditional costumes. They proudly walk through State Street giving it wonderful ambiance.

Also, here at the EF school and in the Santa Catalina residence the feeling of Fiesta is in the air. More and more decorations are being hung up in the school and even some teachers can be seen wearing some great colorful outfits. Wednesday was Tamale Day and some students had the opportunity to make some beautiful Fiesta eggs, which are by the way strictly forbidden to use in the residence. Luckily for us, there is enough space outside to break these eggs and throw some confetti on our friends. As Wednesday night was the grand opening at the Mission, Thursday morning the decorations were even greater. In the afternoon students were welcome to enjoy some chips with salsa and delicious churros. To add to that, in what way can you end the day better than having people break a piñata in the middle of the schoolyard?

The big days, however, were without hesitation Friday and Saturday. Before the big parade, everyone started to get out their chairs and blankets to save the best spot for the whole family. After a very long wait in the sun, the parade had begun. Dozens of beautiful horses gaited through State Street and the music played by the musicians completed the picture. It was really a new experience for me as a foreigner, since I have never seen or been to this kind of a parade. Over the past couple of days, I have really seen that the people of Santa Barbara cherish this week of joy and a lot of tourists who walk down the streets with the biggest smile when someone throws confetti to them. We can still savor the moment for a few weeks until the confetti disappears and then the first eggs can be eaten as a preparation for next year. As for me, this was my first time and hopefully not the last… VIVA LA FIESTA!

STREET ART: VANDALISM OR ART?

Ilaria Tedeschi, Italy

Post graffiti, murals, frescoes or Urban Art, the Universe of the Street Art is known under many appellations. But where does it come from ? What were the changes ?

“Is it art?”

A question sometimes said and heard in museums, galleries, movie theaters, concert arenas, any place of creation. One such place is also the street, where the spectators often seem to wonder: “Is graffiti art or vandalism ?”
As a response to modernism and social segregation, graffiti became the means of communication and identity for young people in New York City in the 1970s.
Street art is visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues.
Some of the earliest expressions of street art were certainly the graffiti which started showing up on the sides of train cars and walls. This was the work of gangs in the 1920s and 1930s New York.
The impact of this subversive culture was extraordinarily felt in the 1970s and 1980s.
These decades were a significant turning point in the history of street art – it was a time when young people, by responding to their socio-political environment, started creating a movement, taking the ‘battle for meaning’ into their own hands.
Soon, this subcultural phenomenon gained the attention and respect in the ‘grown-up’ world. It had taken a form of true artistic expression.
One of the most important name of the street art is Martha Cooper.

Martha-Cooper-Untitled-Ghetto-4-LifeOne of the most important photo of Martha Cooper.

Although still subversive, and in its large part an illegal movement, through art enthusiasts and professionals, street art earned its place in the contemporary art world.
It is a marvelous art form in its own right and it is amazing to follow the evolution and diversity of street art in the 21st century.
Street art gave birth to artists who create breathtaking murals, and those who have incorporated video art and other performative aspects to creative work ‘on the streets’.
Omnipresent globally, it has evolved into a complex art form encompassing various practices. The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti is a survey of international art scene and brings together the world’s most influential urban artists and their work.

Street art is a way to communicate with other people, to share your creativity, your ideas, your thoughts and a way express yourself, how you really are.

Some of the most important street artists are:

BANSKY

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KEITH HARING

Keith-Haring-Crack-is-Wack-Mural-Restored.-Photo-Jim-Kieman-via-animal-new-york-Haring’s bold cartoon figures are a visual staple of the 1980s New York art scene and have come to appear on everything from T-shirts to skateboards.

 

Jean-Michel Basquiat

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Before Basquiat was one of the most popular artists in New York City, hanging out with the likes of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, he was a young, homeless runaway who took up graffiti under the name “SAMO.” In his short life, Basquiat worked his way up the rungs of the art world, landing himself in top galleries yet continuing to put work on the street.

Street art is a way to communicate with other people, to share your creativity, your ideas, your thoughts and a way express yourself, how you really are.16426886448_003b55ce09_b

 

Losing Weight Without Exercise?

The success of ‘Brown adipose tissue’ transplantation of fat

Bijin Park, South Korea

  To lose weight, we have to decrease the amount of food eaten or use more calories than before. Doing a restricted diet and exercise at the same time is the most ideal way, but also the most difficult way. So some people try to lessen food consumption too much or stop eating, but these approaches cause side-effects, such as yo-yo weight loss. In many markets, there are thousands of products that say “I can make you slim,” but there is no scientifically supporting evidence ,or the products have a little effect.

So scientists are studying new ideas to develop more effective and convenient ways to lose weight. Kevin Tharp and his colleagues at California University insisted ‘Brown fat tissue’ can be the way in a thesis about diabetes. This can sound weird, but it is fully supported. In animal fat tissue, there is ‘brown adipose tissue’ that can be changed into heat when consumed and normal ‘white adipose tissue’ that preserves energy in a form of fat that we commonly know.

‘Brown adipose tissue’ is usually abundant shortly after new-born animals because it has to maintain the body temperature of the young animals. The animals that hibernate during winter also hold a large amount of brown adipose tissue in their bodies to protect themselves against freezing to death. It is adipose tissue, but it makes your body consume energy so it brings out weight loss after all.

The researchers made stem cells of experimental rats into cells similar to brown adipose tissue and injected them to the other rats. These cells multiplied and made a lot of brown adipose tissue. The part of the body that has a lot of brown adipose tissue was 0.5C higher in temperature than other parts of the body. As a result, rats in the scientific control group (have more brown adipose tissue) consumed more calories than normal rats.

 

A is the part injected, B is normal part

(Thermal camera photo by Kevin Tharp and Andreas Stahl)

 

So, the researchers are expecting that this new study will allow people with diabetes or obesity to control their blood sugar and weight, but it is still a long way off to realize because there can be side effects in inserting stem cells or increasing body temperature over time.

 

sourse : http://nownews.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20150822601009