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Are you interested in spending a year or two in the United Kingdom, but you worry that you won’t be able to afford such an adventure? Well, worry no more! Beginning this year, young Taiwanese people are eligible for a working holiday visa to the UK. This visa can give you the chance to earn money for your vacation as you take it.

Working holidays are a great way to get the most from your vacation. The visa allows you to work in the country legally, which helps you become part of a community and get an insider’s knowledge of the culture. The money you earn from the job will usually cover living expenses and possibly further travels within the country. While you may not end up rich, you’ll gain a wealth of experiences that can last a lifetime.

In addition to the UK, Taiwan currently has working holiday visa agreements with six other countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. Most of these visas last for one year, and the jobs travelers can get range from picking fruit or working in a hotel to volunteering with animals or participating in an internship at a museum. With so many opportunities, finding the right fit should be easy.






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Imagine an open field just before sunrise. It’s covered with hot-air balloons that grow as they fill with warm air. You hear the hum of fans and see the fire of gas burners. Some of the balloons are almost thirty meters tall! As the morning sun lights the field, hundreds of colorful balloons rise into the sky.

The best place to see a sight like the one that is described above is at a hot-air balloon festival. These happen all over the world, from the United States and Canada to Europe and Asia, and many of them take place in August. At these festivals, balloon pilots test their skills in races or by dropping markers onto targets while visitors cheer them on.

After the games are over and the sun has set, visitors can enjoy the balloon glows. For these, pilots fire their burners at the same time on the ground and light the field with glowing balloons. The most impressive moment is when all the balloons go up together. They fill the sky with floating globes of color.





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Protecting your skin from the sun is important, but putting on sunscreen can be a bother. Your hands get sticky, and you might miss a spot. In a few years, though, this may not be a problem. Scientists at King’s College London are working on a pill that will protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

The secret to this new form of sunscreen comes from coral. Some kinds of coral make their own sunscreen to protect themselves from UV rays. This protection is passed on to the fish that eat the algae on the coral. Scientists visited Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to collect coral samples. They hope to copy the coral’s sun-blocking compounds.

There is an even bigger long-term goal for the copied compound. Scientists want to use it to help plants stand strong sun and allow more crops4 to grow in a wider variety of environments. This could be an important step in solving the world’s food supply problems in the future.





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What does love mean to you? Is it the soaring feeling in your heart when you see your special someone? Is it the warm glow you get when you hold hands? Love seems to be everywhere on Chinese Valentine’s Day, but at some museums around the world, love is in the air all year round.

The Palazzo Filomela in Venice is better known as the Museum of Love. This museum was once the private home of a famous sixteenth-century singer. On the walls, you can see paintings of lovers from legends and myths, like the god Cupid and his lover, Psyche.

For many, love and chocolate go hand in hand, so a visit to the chocolate museum in Cologne, Germany, makes sense. There, visitors can learn about the history of chocolate and watch chocolate bars being made. Of course, it would be mean not to let you and your loved one try some chocolate after all this. That’s why the museum gives out wafers that were dipped in chocolate from a three-meter-high chocolate fountain.





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When all the pieces lay before you on a table, you might think that you will never be able to finish a jigsaw puzzle. Don’t quit! It will only take a few minutes to figure out that the fun grows with every piece you connect.

The happy feeling that you get from watching a picture appear in the puzzle pieces is not the only benefit that jigsaws offer. These fun puzzles help your brain, too. They make the brain practice keeping information about piece shapes and colors. You also have to use both sides of the brain to complete4 a puzzle. The logical left side uses problem solving, while the creative right side looks at the big picture and makes intuitive leaps. It’s exercise for your whole brain!

All this activity benefits the brain in many ways. First, it can reduce your chances of memory loss as you get older. In addition, having the two sides of your brain work together will make it easier for you to learn other things. Who knew fun could be so good for you?





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On a lonely island in the Pacific Ocean, a line of giant statues has stood for around 500 years. The backs of the statues are to the ocean, and their huge stone heads look toward the island’s center, but the people who made them are gone. The mysteries of Easter Island draw visitors and scientists, and they are still learning new things about the statues and the people who made them.

The 887 statues are called “moai,” meaning “face of ancestors.” They have rectangular heads, big noses, wide chins, and deep eyes. On average, they’re about four meters tall and weigh 12.7 tonnes, but the biggest is nearly 22 meters tall. Some have red stone eyes, and others wear hats. 

Most people only notice the large heads of these statues, but there are bodies below the heads. Many of the bodies are covered by earth, so scientists had to do some digging. Now they know that the bodies have interesting symbols4 on them. These symbols may have been put there to say which family the statue belonged to.





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The sky is blue and cloudless, but strange shapes float across it. A purple dragon flies by and almost runs into a whale. People on the ground crane their necks to watch green aliens rise up. There’s no need to call the men in black. These colorful fliers are all part of a kite festival.

As fall brings cool winds, kite festivals take off around the world. Taiwan’s Shihmen Kite Festival invites local and foreign kite fliers, and you can see examples of Taiwan’s traditional humming kites and stunt kite performances. The Cape Town International Kite Festival attracts over 20,000 visitors. It’s packed with kite classes, markets, and performances. There, you can try your hand at making a South African swallow kite and then test it in the air.

Running of the Bols is an exciting game at the Fall Kite Festival in Oregon. Bols are parachute-like kites. To race them, people hold the kite’s rope while running into the wind. Because the bols are so big, trying to pull them forward is like having a tug-of-war with the wind!






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Where can you find antique vases sitting next to a box of dirty shoes? Try a flea market! These places have treasures as well as junk, so every trip to a flea market is filled with surprises.

The origin of flea markets is almost as mysterious as some of the items you can find there. Some say that the first one was a market in Paris that was known for the number of fleas in the items sold there. At modern flea markets, vendors rent spaces for the day and display their hopefully flea-free goods. These items can range from used toys and handmade soap to beautiful antiques and clothing.

People usually come to flea markets to buy unusual items they can’t find anywhere else, and sometimes they get even more than they bargained for. One American bought a painting for $4 at a flea market. When he got it home, he found an original copy of the Declaration of Independence behind the painting. He sold it for $2.42 million. That’s not bad for a $4 investment! 






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In the animal kingdom, different kinds of animals have evolved ways to avoid predators. Gazelles can run fast, and skunks spray predators with something that smells bad. Then there are chameleons that change color to look like part of the background. However, scientists say that the need to hide is not the biggest reason that chameleons developed the ability to change colors.

University of Melbourne’s Dr. Devi Stuart-Fox says that “chameleons evolved color change for signaling.” For example, a male chameleon will put on his brightest colors to show a female that he is ready for love. To tell another male to back off, a chameleon will turn bright red. Aside from changing colors to communicate, a chameleon might also change to help keep its body temperature comfortable. When the test chameleons were shown predators, though, their color changes were not as big.

It seems that chameleons usually use color not to hide but to communicate with other chameleons. Now that we realize this, we may soon be able to start eavesdropping on these messages!





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Every October, in windows of homes across North America, glowing faces appear. Some have scary grins, and others just look funny, but all of them are carved from pumpkins and are called jack-o’-lanterns.

Jack-o’-lanterns didn’t start out being carved from pumpkins. They were first made in Great Britain and Ireland long before people brought back pumpkins from the Americas. Back then, people carved scary faces onto turnips and put them outside their homes to keep spirits away. When these people moved to the Americas, they started using pumpkins for the jack-o’-lanterns because they were larger and easier to carve.

Pumpkins are used for a lot more than just Halloween decorations. They are good for your health, too! The chemical that makes pumpkins orange helps fight against cancer and is useful for keeping your eyes healthy. The meat of the pumpkin is also low in fat, making it great for people who are worried about their weight. Pumpkin seeds are high in vitamins and can protect your bones. It looks like pumpkins pack a health punch for your whole body!





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Before a trip, it’s always a good idea to research the place you are visiting to find out about the local money and social customs. If you really want to make your travels easier, though, don’t forget one important question: Should you tip?

In the United States, most people leave a small amount of money for the waiter at the end of a restaurant meal. This isn’t the custom in all countries, though. In France and Italy, a service charge is usually already included on your bill, so tipping is not necessary. In other countries where you don’t see a service charge, it’s thoughtful to leave at least 10 percent extra for a job well done. In Japan and New Zealand, tips are rarely expected and sometimes not appreciated. If you offer one and it is refused, take the waiter at his word and put your money away.

The question of whether to tip at restaurants can be a tourist’s nightmare. It can help to look around at the other tables. If you see cash lying on a table after customers leave, that means that others are tipping, and you should, too. 





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In the movie 2012, life on Earth gets destroyed right before our eyes. Earthquakes bring down buildings, volcanoes erupt, and tsunamis swallow major cities. During these events, the main character, Jackson, realizes something: the Maya were right. The world ends on December 21, 2012, just as they had predicted with their calendar centuries ago.

Although some people believe in this doomsday idea, researchers say that it is false. NASA scientist Don Yeomans points out that this date marks only the end of a cycle of the Maya calendar. In fact, wall writings discovered recently in Xultun, Guatemala, show that the Maya calendar goes beyond the year AD 3500. 

The Maya were experts at making calendars, but they also had other advanced skills. Their civilization, centered in modern-day Central America, lasted for more than 2,000 years. At their cultural height, around AD 600, they were tracking planets across the sky. They had their own writing system and used the juice of plants to make rubber balls for sports games. They were also able to build huge stone temples and palaces without the help of wheels or metal tools.






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Have you ever wondered why poinsettias are a part of the Christmas celebration? Stories say that this custom started long ago in Mexico. It was a tradition for all the people in one village, including the children, to give gifts to decorate their church on Christmas Eve.

One year, a girl named Maria felt heartbroken because she was too poor to buy a gift for the church, but then she heard the voice of an angel telling her not to be sad. The angel had seen the love in Maria's heart and told her to pick some weeds by the side of the road to give as a gift. Obeying the voice, Maria gathered the weeds and rushed to the church.

Maria placed her humble gift next to the more expensive ones and bowed her head. When she heard sounds of surprise from the other villagers, Maria looked up and saw that the top leaves of her weeds had turned bright red. They looked like beautiful red flowers that outshone the other gifts. Now, poinsettias are a Christmas reminder that a gift given in love is the most valuable gift of all.





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“Wish you were here.” This is a phrase that vacationers often write on postcards to friends and family. When people are enjoying themselves on holiday, they want to share their experiences with others. Now, a new postcard design may make sharing scents as well as sights a possibility.

Li Jingxuan, a student from Donghua University and a food lover, has designed a food printer. This device can capture not only a photo of food but also its aroma. The food printer uses a smell extractor to collect the smell of a meal. Once the device copies the smell by mixing fragrant inks, it prints the smell on a postcard. That's good news for people who want to share their restaurant experiences abroad with people back home. Imagine reading a postcard and having the smell of a delicious meal from Italy rise to your nose. The fun doesn't have to stop there, though. People could send other scents, such as perfume or flowers. Just watch out for joking friends who send you a picture with the smell of their dirty socks!




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During the weeks leading up to Lunar New Year's Eve, there is no better place in Taipei to soak up the holiday atmosphere than Dihua Street. A usually calm street, it comes to life as shoppers flock here to stock up on foods used to celebrate the holiday.

Besides being a holiday shopping spot, Dihua Street is also significant for historical reasons. We discovered this during a stroll around the neighborhood with our guide, Mr. Chiu, who told us about the street's long history.

Located in an area known as Dadaocheng, Dihua Street became part of an early commercial center in the 1850s. Goods from China were shipped to the nearby port and traded for tea, sugar, and other local items. Since Dihua Street was close to the port, it became a major point for selling imported goods.

As Mr. Chiu led us through the northern part of Dihua Street, we felt like we were taking a trip back in time. Century-old shops selling household items lined the sidewalks. The southern Fujian–style brick buildings that housed these shops, built during the second half of the nineteenth century, reminded us of the daily lives of the first Chinese settlers here.



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The rose is one of the most popular symbols of love today. It's no wonder, then, that roses are often given to that special someone on Valentine's Day. What might be surprising, though, is that this beautiful flower also has a long and intriguing history.

Roses have existed for 35 million years. However, they only began to be cultivated around 5,000 years ago. First grown in Asia, they eventually spread to the rest of the world. Roses were valued not only for their beauty, but also for the medical properties they were believed to have. The ancient Romans, for example, believed that these flowers could be used as a cure for wrinkles and even to prevent drunkenness. In the seventeenth century, rose water became so popular that it took the place of money in some parts of Europe!

Mass cultivation of roses began in the late eighteenth century in Europe. Through crossbreeding, new colors, such as yellow, orange, green, and red, were soon introduced to join the traditional roses. Rose colors took on different meanings as well, with red representing love, yellow friendship, and white innocence.





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New Zealand has two main islands with sights of natural beauty. Now, the newly opened Te Araroa trail links many of those sites and offers a variety of sceneries to tourists.

Starting in Bluff, at the southernmost part of the trail on the South Island, visitors head north and enter the Otago region, which has grand mountains and river valleys. Queenstown sits along a beautiful lake and offers the chance to get a taste of adventure. White-water rafting, waterskiing, and jet boating are popular summer activities, while bungee jumping, skydiving, and horse riding are available all year.

Many tourists also go to this region to see sites made famous by the Lord of the Rings films. The location of Glenorchy, around 45 kilometers from Queenstown, provides the scenery for the fortress of Isengard. At nearby Paradise, you can see the setting of Lothlorien, the forest of the Elves. 

Further north is Mount Cook National Park, which has the tallest mountains and the largest glacier in New Zealand. Walking along one of the Park's ten trails, you may even be lucky enough to spot a kea, the world’s only alpine parrot.



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Moving objects with the mind may seem unbelievable, but it's actually what happens every time we move our body. The brain sends electrical signals to the muscles, which in turn produce movement such as walking or breathing.

This process has led scientists to think that tracking and interpreting the electrical signals can allow the thinker to control things beyond the body. Indeed, a recent technology using electrodes linked to the scalp is enabling people to move objects with their thoughts.

Elderly and disabled people have been the first to benefit from this technology. One system, developed in Japan, lets brain signals move a wheelchair. In the United States, scientists are testing brain-wave devices to help paralyzed patients. One device allows patients to control a robotic arm that can grab objects the user wants. Another, connected to a cast wrapped around the user's arm, produces repeated motions through the user's thoughts to retrain the damaged brain. Even more amazing is the thought-controlled robot created by Swiss scientists. Through a head cap and computers, paralyzed users can command their robot with their mind from one hundred miles away—similar to something that would happen in the film Avatar!





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It's a tradition in Taiwan to clean your home from top to bottom before Chinese New Year. While making your home tidy, it's important to make the air cleaner, too. According to a recent study, indoor air pollution can be just as harmful as outdoor air pollution. To improve the air in your home, first you need to know what may be causing this pollution.

Some of the most common indoor air pollutants may surprise you. Air fresheners cover bad smells, but some can also harm your health. Many artificial air fresheners contain a chemical that can cause birth defects. Scented candles made from paraffin wax aren't much better, as they can release as many toxins as cigarettes do. To remove odors more safely, put baking soda near garbage cans or place some cotton balls dipped in essential oils around the room to create a pleasant scent. 

Another source of indoor air pollution is the printer. Every time you print something, your printer releases ink into the air, which can hurt the lungs. Be sure to stand at least ten feet back while printing, and avoid using color ink since it is more harmful to your health than black ink.




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We often hear stories about kind people saving the lives of animals. Perhaps they pulled a cat from a burning building or adopted a dog from a shelter where the animal might otherwise have died. Well, more and more stories about animals rescuing people are emerging, too.

Take Pudding, a 9.5-kilogram cat, for example. After being adopted from a shelter by a woman and her son, he was able to return the kindness almost immediately. During the night, he sensed that the woman, who was having a diabetic seizure, was sick. He jumped on her chest and nipped her face to wake her up. Then, he went to wake her son so he could call for help. Pudding's quick actions saved the woman's life.

Jake, a Rottweiler from England, is also a hero. While walking in a park with his owner, the dog heard some screaming. He ran to the rescue and chased away a man who was attacking a woman. Even pet birds have been known to save the day. When Willie the parrot saw two-year-old Hannah choking, he kept shouting “Mama, baby!” This strange behavior caught the babysitter's attention and drew her into the room, where she saw Hannah needed help.




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