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Preparations for Chinese New Year!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

新年快乐! 恭喜发财!

Chinese New Year is on February 19 and we are all excited to celebrate! At our host event in January, Nick, our Asian Cultural Consultant, discussed with us some facts about this unique holiday and taught the hosts how to even write Happy New Year in Chinese! 

Before the big celebration, you need to prepare! Traditional preparations for the holiday include cleaning the house from top to bottom to get rid of all the bad luck that has gathered in your home during the previous year. However, after the New Year comes, you cannot sweep for the first few days or else you will sweep the new luck away!

After you have cleaned your house, it is time to decorate! If you walk into Chinatown during the week of Chinese New Year, you will see hundreds of red banners hanging around the buildings. These banners symbolize good luck and fortune in the New Year. These banners are red and gold, which are lucky colors for the Chinese. Red symbolizes vitality of life and happiness, and gold symbolizes wealth and prosperity.



You can not have a proper celebration without food. On New Year’s Day, the families come together to celebrate and everything must be ready for this important feast! Food must be prepared ahead of time, as one of the popular Chinese superstition dictates that all knives must be put away. Using a knife during the first days of the New Year “cuts off” all of the good luck for the coming year. The New Year’s feast takes many days to prepare, and food for the next couple of weeks has to be plentiful as there will be hoards of visiting relatives and friends.



The last preparation you need to make before the celebration is paying respects to ancestors. The Chinese people bring offerings of food and incense to please the spirits of the deceased so that they might bring good luck.


Now that the preparations are done, the New Year’s festivities can begin! Talk to your visitor about how they celebrate their new year and what traditions they uphold. We’re sure they could teach you a thing or two! Check out Boston’s Chinatown to join in on all of the festivities that will be taking place here in Boston.

 

                                        大吉大利! 喜气洋洋!

Global Immersions has host events quarterly so they can learn about new cultures and traditions to better understand their visitors. Want more information about our programs, or have any cultural traditions you want to learn about? Contact us to share your ideas! 

Boston Sports

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 12, 2015

If you love sports, then Boston is the city to be in. With professional teams in Hockey, Basketball, Baseball and Football, there's something for everyone to enjoy. And don't forget about the universities in the area, all with their own sports teams! You don't even have to go to the games to enjoy all of the sporting events Boston has to offer, just step outside and you could run into a champion parade or a sports museum

One of the most exciting things to happen to Boston recently is winning the Superbowl against the Seattle Seahawks 28-24! One of the best parts of having a winning sports team is the parade that follows. On February 5, people gathered around the streets of Boston to celebrate the victory and watch the Patriots players travel by duck boat around the town. We certainly hope you and your visitor enjoyed all of the Superbowl festivities. 


It's not too late to enjoy the Boston Beanpot coming up on February 23 at the TD Garden! Boston University and Northeastern will be playing each other in the final that Friday night. Hockey is a popular sport here in the northeast and the upcoming Beanpot is a great opportunity to teach your visitor about a sport they might no know much about! Who will you be rooting for? 


Most Boston sports are played in the TD Garden, but not only sports are played at this great arena. You can go to concerts, ice skating performances, and of course hockey and basketball games. Check out the TD Garden for events next time you're in the area.

Fenway Park is one of the most iconic destinations in Boston. The home of the Red Sox and the Green Giant, it's a great place to go for a baseball game in the spring and summer, or tour year-round! 

Boston has so much to offer to any sports fan. Be sure to check out some of these fun places and games with your visitor!

Valentines Day Fun!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentines Day is a holiday that truly allows you to express your appreciation for another person, how sweet! One of the most popular holidays in the United States, over 141 million valentines cards and candy are exchanged on the 14th of February. That's a lot of conversation hearts (8 billion, to be exact). But why do we celebrate this romantic holiday? 


Well, Valentines Day originates during the Roman Empire during a time when the Emperor, Claudius, did not allow men to marry because he believed it made them weak. Because of this, Saint Valentine performed secret wedding ceremonies so men could marry their sweethearts. He got in a lot of trouble for this, and was put to death on February 14th. Before he died, he wrote a letter to his sweetheart and signed it "your Valentine."

While Valentine's Day is originally associated with romantic couples, it has grown so that people now express appreciation for anyone that is special to them. One of the most commonly observed customs is exchanging "Valentines." Initially, people exchanged hand-written notes, however in the 19th century, mass produced greeting cards became readily available, just like the one's students hand out in classrooms.

It's fun and easy to make Valentines on your own, and a great way to teach your visitor about one of the traditions this unique holiday has! Here you can find a list of homemade valentines that don't involve any candy, and are super fun to make at home. It's a great way to show your visitor how much you appreciate them!  

If can't bear the thought of foregoing your Valentines chocolate, then try out this delicious homemade truffle, and teach your visitor a thing or two in the kitchen. With only three ingredients, you really can't go wrong. They're fun to make and yummy, too! It's fun and easy to involve your visitor during the holiday, and they'll be interested to know all about it.

Here at Global Immersions, we're excited to celebrate Valentines Day with family, friends, and loads of chocolate. How do you like to celebrate this special holiday? 

 

Food Delivery Service Apps

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, January 29, 2015


Being in a city has many perks; sights to see, many restaurants, and public transportation to get you almost anywhere you need to go. But when that big snowstorm hits or temperatures drop below freezing, going outside becomes increasingly unappealing.  That’s why new food delivery services are becoming increasingly popular; whether used as an application on your phone or online, food delivered to your doorstep is just a click away.


If you've been on the T recently, you've probably seen ads for one of these services called “Foodler”. Foodler and its competitors such as GrubHub and Seamless provide a database of restaurants based on your location and include information such as the distance from your home, delivery fees and minimums, as well as a full menu for you to order from. Each app offers different options, some with more than others. Once the food is selected, users have the option of paying with cash or card and choosing delivery or pickup. 

This is extremely convenient for our visitors since lunch is their responsibility. On these cold winter days, it's hard to go outside in the snow to get your food, so these apps are a perfect alternative. Be sure to let them know about the conveniences of this app, they'll be sure to find something they enjoy. 


For Chinese visitors, there is an app called "FoodEasyGo" that provides a variety of authentic Asian food and snacks. From Korean spicy tofu soup to Taiwanese bubble tea, you can find all kinds of delicious dishes with this website: http://www.foodeasygo.com/. These services take convenience to a new level, and when you don’t feel like cooking or are stuck at home on a cold winter’s day they are the perfect solution to your hunger pangs. The best part is that it is in Chinese and English, so language barriers are never an issue. 

Do you know of any other cool food apps? Share them with your student and let us know!

Comfort Food Ideas for Hosts!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, January 28, 2015


With all of the bad weather we've been experiencing, and more to come in the next month, it's a good time for us to consider some great American comfort foods we can enjoy while we're snowed in. Food is something everyone enjoys, and is actually a great tool for bonding as well. So sit down around the table with your homestay student and enjoy one of these classic winter comfort foods!

Cooking is a universal activity, that anyone can enjoy. Having your student join you in the kitchen is an excellent way to get to know each other, and they can learn a new cooking skill. It's also a great idea to let your student take the reins every once in a while; maybe they can teach you a thing or two, and you can enjoy a dish you've never tried before!

As for American dishes that are fun to make, and delicious to eat, Chicken Parmesan is at the top of the list. It is one of the classics that you can find in any Italian restaurant. Here in Boston's North End, you can find a wide variation of this dish. However, you can also make it at home with this simple recipe. Chicken Parmesan sure sounds Italian thanks to its traditionally Italian ingredients, but would you believe its true origin is of chefs and home cooks from the United States? It really is the perfect dish to serve and share on a cold winter's night.

 

Next on our list is a dish that is sure to warm you up on those long snow days: Chicken Noodle Soup. There's really nothing more delicious than a warm bowl of soup on a cold day. This recipe is a classic, full of vegetables, chicken, and a homemade broth that is sure to please anyone. Chicken noodle soup has long been considered to have medicinal properties, and it is true that it may have anti-inflammatory effect on the body, making it the perfect dish for when you get that inevitable winter cold. 

Lastly, we need to have dessert! And I have a special treat for all of you. My favorite comfort food is my mother's famous (among friends and family) bread and butter pudding. Made with old bread and served with a healthy portion of cream, it is extremely simple, but incredibly rich and delicious! 

Bread and Butter Pudding by Patricia Drake

Ingredients

  • soft butter
  • bread of any kind
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • heavy cream for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit 
  2. Butter a 2 quart baking dish
  3. Spread generous amount of butter on one side of the bread and begin to layer, butter side down. Between layers, place raisins
  4. Once the layers have been placed, mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the bread. Press down on the bread so it is all submerged. Let stand 10 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to bake, up to 24 hours.
  5. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 30 minutes more
  6. Serve warm with heavy cream poured on top.
No matter what meal you chose to enjoy this winter, we hope you enjoy it with family, friends, and your visitors! 

Do you have a favorite dish you share with your visitors? Let us know!

Shopping in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Boston has a lot to offer in terms of shopping. From the Prudential Center and Cambridge Side Galleria, to the new complex at Assembly Square, you can get to any of these malls easily via public transportation. Malls are a great place to take your students too, because it allows them to experience a unique American cultural experience, and buy a souvenir from their travels!

The Prudential is a great place to start, located in the center of the city. You can get anything from clothes, accessories, beauty products, and more! And once you’re all shopped out, there are tons of places to refuel and get a tasty snack or meal. For more inexpensive options, check out Boston Chowda, or Regina Pizzeria. For a more special, authentic Boston experience, Top of the Hub is an excellent option. With delicious food and a spectacular view, this experience just can’t be beat.

Cambridge Side Galleria also has a lot to offer to students who want an American shopping experience. With over 120 stores and restaurants, you can find something for everyone. The great thing about this particular mall, is that unlike the shops at the Prudential, they have a more affordable price point.

The newest mall that has been introduced to Boston is the Assembly Row mall, located on the new stop on the orange line of the MBTA train. The great thing about this mall is that it is full of outlet shops, so you can get your favorite brands with a deep discount! They also have an excellent selection of food, which is sure to please everyone. Be sure to try out JP Licks for some of the best ice cream around, or Legal Seafood for authentic Boston cuisine.  

Where's your favorite place to shop? Your student is sure to love everything Boston shopping has to offer! 

Super Bowl

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Now that the holidays are over and we're all back to work, there's one celebration we're all looking forward to: the Super Bowl. This year, it's even more exciting because the New England Patriots will be playing in the big game! For some of us, the Super Bowl is all about friendly competition and team rivalries, but for many of us, it's all about the commercials, the half-time show, and most importantly the food. Although the Super Bowl is only 49 years old, it is an important tradition to many Americans. Because of this, it's important that you share with your students some of the festivities that may be happening during this exciting time. 

It all began on January 15, 1967 in Los Angeles, California, where the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs. Little did we know, that the day on which the Super Bowl is now played is considered by some to be an unofficial American Holiday. Interestingly enough, after Thanksgiving, it is the largest day for food consumption in the United States. It is also the most watched television program in America. 



The Super Bowl is much more than a football game, though. It's entertainment for people of all ages and with a variety of interests. For instance, the hilarious and witty commercials that play for one night only. The tradition began in the 1970s, but has really grown in popularity in more recent years. Doritos, Budweiser, and Coca Cola have some of the more iconic advertisements the Super Bowl has seen. 

Another part of the Super Bowl that has everyone excited is the infamous half-time show. This is a time when the most popular, up-and-coming musicians have a chance to perform in front of the entire United States. Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, U2, and many more have graced the stage to perform in one of the most exciting events of the year. In 2015, we will see Katy Perry perform. 



Aside from all the theatrics, the best part of the Super Bowl is gathering around with your family and friends to enjoy a platter of finger-food. You can never go wrong with a plate of hot wings like these. More recently, people have been more adventurous with their snack platters, making entire stadiums out of snacks! Check this out if you feel like being daring!

 

No matter what you end up doing during the big game, we hope you enjoy it with your friends, family and your visitor. It is an entirely unique American tradition that may seem bizarre at first, but is a lot of fun when you join in on the festivities!

Holiday Cookies

Global Immersions - Friday, December 05, 2014

For most of us, this holiday season will bring decorating, shopping and most importantly cookie baking. If you are looking for a way to get your visitor involved this holiday season, try including them in some good old fashioned cookie baking! It is common tradition in the US to bake special cookies for the holidays, such as little Gingerbread Men or Holiday themed sugar cookies. These cookies could be made for a cheerful holiday cookie exchange party or saved for Santa on Christmas Eve.

What many Americans don’t know is that holiday cookie traditions are common all over the world. Many countries have their own recipes and ingredients to make a special cookie of their own to enjoy during the cold winter months. Let’s take a look at how different cultures make their cookies unique and maybe you and your visitor can tackle one of these recipes for your own holiday festivities!

Long ago, before sugar, monks who worked in the monastery kitchens in Nurnberg Germany would bake cookies with real honey that was given to them from bee keepers in a nearby forest.  These cookies were given the name Nürnberger Lebkuchen, or for short ‘honey cookies’, and they are still made to this day to celebrate the holiday season. Click here for the recipe

Now let’s take a look at cookies that are served to celebrate Hanukah. Commonly known as Hanukkah cookies,  there are two types of cookies made for the holiday.  Rugalach cookies are filled with many different sweets such as white chocolate, apricots, walnuts and brown sugar. The other type are sugar cookies cut in the shape of dreidels or of the Star of David. 

Click here for Hanukah cookie recipes.

This last cookie is very common in Africa where Kwanzaa is celebrated to begin the New Year. Kwanzaa cookies, commonly known as Benne Cakes, originated in Africa where the Benne Seed comes from. In America, Benne Seeds are known as Sesame Seeds. These cakes are eaten across Africa for good luck for the start of the New Year. 

Click here if you want to make your own Benne Cakes.


If you’re feeling adventurous this holiday season, try one of these new cookie recipes with your visitor. Maybe they will have a holiday cookie of their own to bake for you and to share their tradition!


Sources:

http://germanfood.about.com/od/adventandchristmas/ss/nuernberger_lebkuchen.htm

http://homecooking.about.com/od/cookierecipes/r/blcookie35.htm

http://allrecipes.com/recipes/holidays-and-events/hanukkah/cookies/

The Iconic Thanksgiving

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, November 24, 2014

Whether you're from the U.S. or abroad, the imagery that comes to mind of Thanksgiving is that of a perfectly browned roast turkey surrounded by heaping mounds of various dishes and the entire family, eagerly awaiting a slice of the juicy poultry. But why is the turkey the most intrinsic part of the Thanksgiving meal? And where do some of the other most enjoyable, but uniquely Thanksgiving dishes (marshmallow topped roasted squash, bread stuffing, and mashed potatoes to name a few) come from? 

Many people believe that the classic Thanksgiving dishes get their origins from the first Thanksgiving held in 1621 when the English Pilgrims put aside their differences with the Native Americans and shared a fall harvest meal together. However, Thanksgiving didn't actually become a widely celebrated annual holiday until about 200 years later. The first celebrated Thanksgiving was in fact in celebration of the pilgrim's first successful harvest in the new world. The main dishes of this first Thanksgiving in the 1800's would probably have included venison, corn, fowl (often turkey) and barley - no potatoes, pumpkin, or even stuffing were yet commonly eaten in New England. Although turkey, cranberries, and sweetened pumpkin rinds were most likely eaten in this celebration, none of the recipes quite resembled those of today.

So how did the holiday evolve if it wasn't from the classically cited harvest meal of the pilgrims and Native Americans? It turns out that the writer of the classic children's tale "Mary had a Little Lamb" petitioned for the holiday to become nationalized after reading about the pilgrim's first fall harvest event. To gain a following in her campaign she published a number of recipes as suggestions to be used for the holiday celebration including the classic roast turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie recipes still used today. During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln (one of the most famous U.S. presidents) made the holiday a national annual event on the last Thursday of each year. 

With the history in mind and for preparation for the holiday here are a few of the most common Thanksgiving dishes and their most classic recipes.

The Roast Turkey and Stuffing 

A whole raw turkey is typically simply seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper and filled with aromatic vegetables and fruit such as apples, celery, carrot, onion and bread (this is where the stuffing comes from) and roasted in the oven for around three hours. 

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are boiled until soft and then smashed into a smooth and chunky mash. Butter, salt, pepper, and sour cream are typically added making a creamy addition to the Thanksgiving meal.

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean casserole is a one-dish plate using green beans as the main ingredient. Adding creamy soup or cheese and sour dream, caramelized onions, and fried onions on tops and then baking the dish adds a unique spin on this vegetable.

Pumpkin Pie

A flaky crust that lines the sides and bottoms of a pie pan provides the base for this decadent dessert. Pumpkin puree from a roasted pumpkin with added sugar, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, molasses, egg, and heavy cream make the custardy filling. Once baked the golden orange pie becomes one of the most iconic Thanksgiving images. 

So is your mouth watering yet? Or did we miss any classic Thanksgiving dishes? How will you be celebrating the holiday? We want to know! 

Sources: http://www.foodnetwork.com/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-menus/classic-thanksgiving-menu.htmlhttp://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/first-thanksgiving-meal

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, November 14, 2014

Cheese is one of the world's favorite foods. From Europe to the U.S. to the Mid-East and Latin America, countries around the world have their own take on this salty, creamy delicacy. In fact, Americans alone eat 32.6 pounds of cheese per year. However, its the Greeks and French who take the cake for the most cheese consumption- the Greeks eating 68.5 pounds per year and the French with 57.5. This consumption may be in part due to the huge variety of types of cheese. Of all the 2,000 varieties most come from cow, sheep, goat, or buffalo milk although cheese made from camel and donkey milk is becoming more popular. Cheese made from moose milk is even considered a delicacy in Sweden. And these cheeses are produced in various countries around the world. Their styles, textures and flavors depend on the origin of the milk (including the animal's diet), whether they have been pasteurized, the butterfat content, the bacteria and mold, the processing, and aging. Herbs, spices, or wood smoke may be used as flavoring agents. The yellow to red color of many cheeses, such as Red Leicester, is produced by adding annatto. Other ingredients may be added to some cheeses, such as black peppers, garlic, chives or cranberries. So what are some of the best cheeses from countries around the world? 

Italy: Pecorino Romano, Parmesan 

Italy is famous for its cheeses, from soft mozzarella to hard Parmesan many Italian cheeses are globally popular. However, the less well known Pecorino Romano is considered the pinnacle of Italian cheeses. The make process is one of the most sophisticated in the world.  It shows in the flavor, alternately buttery, nutty, and fruity. 

England: Farmhouse Cheddar

Cheddar cheese is another widely popular type of cheese, especially in the United States and England. It originates in farmhouses in England and is a hard cheese, yet easily meltable and perfect for grilled sandwiches.

Netherlands: Gouda


No doubt the most famous Dutch cheese, gouda is a yellow cows milk cheese. Known worldwide it is iconic in its packaging in larger, red waxed wheels. It is a semi-hard or hard cheese and is often used in sandwiches and various dishes/ 

Nepal: Chhurpi

Chhurpi is a Nepalese cheese made using yak or cow's milk. In eastern Asian countries cheese is not widely eaten, however this soft cheese has become extremely popular and can be found throughout the country and in neighboring Bhutan.

Spain: Manchego

Manchego is an aged sheep's milk cheese and one of the most well known Spanish cheeses. It has a firm and compact consistency and a buttery texture, and often contains small, unevenly-distributed air pockets. Known as a delicacy, it is eaten in extremely thin slices. 

France: Bleu Cheese, Brie, Boursin, and more


France has more varieties of cheese than any country in the world. Many of the most famous cheeses in the world originated in France and have contributed to the association of elegance with cheese. Brie is the classic creamy cow's milk cheese often baked in a buttery crust. Controlled mold makes bleu cheese gleu and gives it a distinct sharp flavor. Cows milk boursin cheese is creamy and smooth and infused with herbs and spices and often spread on crackers and bread. 

Central America: Queso Blanco

This cheese is the most common cheese in Central and South America. Is it a creamy, soft, mild, unaged white cheese. It is one of the simplest cheeses to make and is very similar to Indian Paneer. 

India: Paneer

A fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. In eastern parts of Indian Subcontinent, it is generally called Chhena. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheesemade by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids.

Greece: Feta


Feta is a brined sheep's milk cheese. It is aged and crumbly. It is the most commonly used cheese in Greece and is used in salads, used as table cheese, baked in pastries, grilled, or in sandwiches. Its versatility has led to its widespread use and popularity. 

Interested in even more cheese? Click on this infographic to enlarge and read the following article to become a cheese connoisseur!  

So what's your favorite cheese? What cheese is most common in your country? Did we leave anything out? We want to know!

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cheeses