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Welcome to Boston Homestay - Japanese High School Visitors!16-Oct-2014

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Halloween History and Traditions

Global Immersions Recruiting - Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween is one of the most iconic and evolved of American holidays. On Halloween (the 31st of October) in current times the most common traditions include dressing up in costume as frightening beings, famous characters, ironic jokes, symbolic professions- basically any sort of costume that transforms from the everyday person. Themes of darkness, death, and legendary creatures of the night are symbolic to this holiday. Houses are often decorated with spider webs, bats, grave stones, and other terrifying themes. Jack-O-Laterns (pumpkins carved with faces or scenes illuminated from the inside by candles) can be seen on doorsteps of most houses. Candies and treats are eaten more than any other American holiday of the year on this day. 

This is mostly because children traditionally go door to door of the houses in their neighborhoods in such costumes on this night. The classic greeting when the door is opened is for the children to say "trick or treat?" and the response to give children candy- a "treat". Parties are often held on this night as well by children and adults alike. Similar dark-themed decorations are seen at these parties with the colors of black and orange most common with most attendees expected to be in costume. Games are often played at these parties such as "bobbing for apples" where apples are placed into a large pail of water and contestants must catch hold of an apple using only their mouth. To someone who has never celebrated such a holiday this may seem like a menagerie of some of the oddest traditions. What is the meaning of Halloween and where did these seemingly strange traditions come from? Let's find out!

Halloween actually has its origins in Irish tradition. Evolving from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, modern Halloween has become less about literal ghosts and ghouls and more about costumes and candy. Starting around 2,000 years ago, the Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, and also believed that this transition between the seasons was a bridge to the world of the dead. The night before the holiday of Samhain (October 31st) the Celts believed the dead came back to the world of the living. They would leave food and wine out on the doorstep in offering to the dead to keep the spirits at bay and wear masks when leaving the house in order to be mistaken as other ghosts or spirits. In the 8th century the Catholic church converted the name of the holiday into "All Saints Day" or "All Hallows Day" therefore, the night before became "All Hallow's Eve" and later was shortened to Halloween. During this time is was common for the destitute youth of Britain to go door to door in their costumes asking for donations of food, money, or drink in exchange for prayers for the dead or jokes and entertainment. The Irish and Scottish immigrant to the United States brought this tradition over in a revised form. If the home-owners did not give these costumed youths a "treat" or donation, they often played pranks such as throwing eggs at the home or playing jokes as a "trick" and thus began "trick-or-treating". 

 In the 1950's with the huge surge in youth population in the United States the holiday became a much more friendly youth-oriented holiday much more similar to the Halloween today. Over the millennia the holiday has transitioned from a somber pagan ritual to a day of merriment, costumes, parades and sweet treats for children and adults.  Want more information the evolution of Halloween? Check out this neat History.com video about the holiday!

Do you celebrate Halloween? If so, how? Does your home country have a similar seasonal holiday? What's your favorite part about Halloween? We want to know!

Fall Treats and Candies Around the World!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Treats

With Halloween around the corner candies and treats are filling up American stores and being enjoyed more than any other time of year. For Halloween and the fall season a variety of seasonal treats start appearing again. Check out some of our American fall favorites!

Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are created by dipping or rolling apples-on-a-stick in hot caramel, sometimes then rolling them in nuts or other small savories or confections, and allowing them to cool. These are common in fall because it's the apple harvest season. During Halloween these are most commonly enjoyed. 

Pumpkin Pie

The pumpkin is a symbol of harvest time and featured also at Halloween.The pie consists of a pumpkin-based custard, ranging in color from orange to brown, baked in a single pie shell, rarely with a top crust. The pie is generally flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Thanksgiving is the most common time to find this dessert.

Maple Candies and Desserts

Maple syrup is used to make many desserts in the fall time. It comes from the sap of maple trees and is boiled down into a syrup consistency with a unique sweet flavor. Candies made from the hardened maple syrup or added to cakes, cookies, and other treats is a seasonal favorite.

Apple Cider

Because of the huge amounts of apples available in the fall (apple harvest season) a number of drinks and desserts are made with them. Apple cider is made by pressing the juice out of these fresh apples and adding spices such as cinnamon and clove to add flavor. On cold evenings it is common to heat this cider and drink it hot out of the mug with added spices. 

Candies Around the World

The U.S. isn't the only country with a sweet tooth though. With Halloween around the corner and candies in higher demand than ever, check out some of the favorite candies and treats from around the world!


Kookaburra Licorice: soft chew licorice available in a variety of flavors.


Mozartkugel or "Mozart Ball": a ball of green pistachio marzipan covered in a layer of nougat is with a dark chocolate coating. Named after and wrapped in the image of the famous composer Mozart.


Brigadeiro: A simple chocolate bonbon that's the national truffle of the country.


Both Haribo Gummi Bears: the original gummy bear and the Kinder Surprise: egg-shaped chocolate shell that has a toy inside are favorites


Chimes Mango Ginger Chews: real ginger and pureed mango juice make this chewy candy.


Botan Rice Candy: jelly candy with an edible rice wrapper and Pocky: cookie sticks dipped in chocolate, strawberry, and flavored toppings. 


Cheong Woo: pumpkin flavored chewy candy.


Tejas: dulce de leche with dried fruit and nuts covered in a white chocolate coating.


Daim Bar: crunchy butter almond bar covered in milk chocolate.


Toblerone: Swiss chocolate in unique triangular shape with nougat, almonds and honey. 


Turkish Delight: small cubes of gel made of mostly starch and sugar. It can be filled with various nuts or dried fruits and is usually dusted with icing sugar.


Licorice Allsorts:  an assortment of licorice in many colors, shapes and flavors, Bassett’s Wine Gums: Chewy candies that come in a mixture of 5 shapes, each named after a different type of wine, and Cadbury Chocolate bars in a wide variety.


Reese's: A peanut butter filled milk chocolate cup 

If you didn't already have a sweet-tooth, you certainly do now! What's your favorite candy or fall treat? Did we miss any essential fall treats? We want to know!

Sources: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/27/most-popular-halloween-candy-in-usa/3274967/  

Boston Bruins and the New England Patriots

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, October 03, 2014

This fall marks the beginning of two of the best seasons of the year, the American football and ice hockey seasons of course! The two teams representing Boston and the Boston area in these sports are the New England Patriots (American football) and the Boston Bruins (ice hockey). The Patriots season has already begun (although none too well) while the Bruins will be holding their season opener on October 8th at the TD Garden rink here in Boston. The fan base for both these teams is a strong part of Boston culture. Seeing fans with sporting Patriots and Bruins shirts is unavoidable while walking through Boston. Sunday football games and evening hockey matches are spent in front of the television with classic game-day snacks like nachos, chicken wings, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, salads, and pizza for many American families. Gathering friends and family together for these games is especially common here in Boston because both of these teams are widely respected and have strong histories in championship winning. To get you in to the fall and winter sport spirit, check out these fun facts about both these teams! 

The New England Patriots

  • The name "Patriots" was selected by a panel of sportswriters in 1959, the year the team was established, but the name was originally the "Boston Patriots" until the team moved the stadium outside of Boston  in 1971 and was renamed the "New England Patriots"
  • The Patriots have appeared in the Superbowl (the American football world championship) seven times, which is the third most in the nation 
  • The Patriots have a record of the most Superbowl wins in one decade, and are one of only two teams to have won 3 Superbowl titles in 4 years
  • But all of their victories have only be won by 3 points
  • The image above is what the original Patriots logo (on the left) used to look like, until it was streamlined in 1993 to the logo of today (on the right) 
  • Similar to the Boston/ New York rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, the Patriots rivalry is with a New York team- the New York Jets
  • The Patriots are the sixth most valuable sports franchise in the world

The Boston Bruins

  • The Boston Bruins are the oldest American ice hockey team in existence, first established in 1924
  • They are a member of the Original Six franchise: They are one of the six teams that first established the National Hockey League
  • The above photo shows the evolution of the Bruins jersey from their first establishment through to the present 
  • They have won six Stanley Cup titles (the ice hockey championships) and have won the most titles of any American hockey league
  • Arguably the most famous hockey player of all time, Bobby Orr played for the Bruins during the 1970's assisting them in winning two Stanley Cups in three years and breaking multiple player records leading to the Bruins of the time to be dubbed "The Big Bad Bruins"
  • The Bruins main rivalry is with the Montreal Canadiens, the winningest team in all of NHL history and another member of the Original Six

So with those facts in mind, are you ready to watch the seasons of these historical sports teams unfold? Watching games is a fun and simple way to engage your student and to learn about American and Boston culture. Most games are aired at restaurants and areas with public televisions, so don't miss out! Check out the Patriots season schedule here and the Bruins season schedule here

Do you think we left out any important facts? Who's your favorite fall/ winter sport team? What sports do you watch in your home country? We want to know! 

Explore Boston: The South End!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, September 26, 2014

The South End of Boston is one of the most historical neighborhoods in the city. Located south of Back Bay, northwest of South Boston, northeast of Roxbury, and north of Dorchester. One of the most famous parts of this neighborhood is the uniform mid-nineteenth century architecture of its buildings.  A common palette of red brick, slate, limestone or granite trim, and cast iron railings provide great visual unity to these unique bowfront buildings. Today, the South End is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Boston Landmark District. It is North America's largest extant Victorian residential district. But not only does Boston have some of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in the city, but many other highly acclaimed restaurants, events, attractions, and areas for shopping. In this Explore Boston we will explore the South End! 


Near the heart of the city, the South End always has events and festivals ongoing. Although well-known for its upscale restaurants and retails, you won't be hard-pressed to find events in this Boston neighborhood. 

  • The SoWa Open Market- Every Sunday this market is open starting in May and going through the end of October. Food trucks, farmer's markets, local artists and foods, and much more are available for enjoying in New England's largest open market. 
  • South End House tours- At various times throughout the year homeowners of the iconic Victorian brownstone homes open them up for the general public to enjoy and admire. 
  • NeckTies- A celebration of the unique South End community and the businesses that make it up. All proceeds go to a local non-profit.


Aside from the beautiful architecture of this neighborhood, there are a number of other must-see attractions while exploring the South End.

  • The Institute of Contemporary Art- A feat of art itself, the architecture of this building will awe you as a stark contrast to the uniformity of the Victorian brownstones. Its art isn't something to be missed either.
  • Southwest Corridor Park- A stroll along the section between the Mass Ave and Back Bay subway stops is a great way to start a visit to the South End.
  • Cathedral of the Holy Cross- As the largest Catholic church in New England and has played a critical role in the life of Boston’s evolving immigrant communities


Arguably the highlight of the neighborhood, the restaurants in the South End are renowned for their quality and diversity. From cafe's to upscale restaurants you won't be hard-pressed to find something delicious in this neighborhood. 

  • Wally's Cafe- A former jazz locale, this restaurant still entertains with live music 365 days a year. 
  • Toro- One of the best Spanish restaurants in the city, this is the perfect place to taste some tapas. 
  • Flour Bakery & Cafe- One of the most famous bakeries in the city they also serve one of the most delicious and decadent brunches in Boston. 
  • B & G Oysters- If you're looking for authentic seafood and a more upscale dining experience B & G can't be missed. 
  • Stella- For authentic Italian in the South End, Stella can't be beat.


Shopping is another huge draw to the South End neighborhood. With both high-end boutiques and small local businesses you can find anything you need or want in the South End.

  • Gifted- A neat little store with gifts and nick-nacks both local and global. 
  • Boomerang's Special Edition- A cool consignment shop for the thrifty buyer. Hats to clothes and more. The men's department is especially eclectic. 
  • Follain- For the ladies, cosmetics and skin care, and homemade products. Friendly staff are always available to give suggestions. 
  • Table & Tulip- Beautiful flowers and floral arrangements that can't be found anywhere else are here with knowledgeable staff to help the floundering boyfriend. 
  • Bazaar Bizarre- Over 85 local vendors selling their crafts. Perfect for gifting. 

So, with this guide in hand, get ready to go explore one of Boston's historic neighborhoods! What is your favorite place in the South End? Did we leave anything out? We want to know! 

Fall Activities in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, September 19, 2014

As summer draws to an end and the crisp evenings of fall (also known as autumn) set in activities to do in and around the city change as well. From apple picking, to pumpkin carving, to simply enjoying the fall foliage, the changing American seasons also bring new and exciting culture events. And even simple everyday activities you enjoy in your home can be exciting cultural events. American football is a sport almost solely followed in the United States. Watching a Thursday or Sunday evening football game is an American past-time enjoyed by many Americans, and very easy to access in most restaurants and public locales around the city if you don't have access to a television. Check out the New England Patriot's (the official Boston football team) fall schedule here 

Once the leaves start to change (a phenomenon not common in many other regions of the world) simply going for a neighborhood walk to admire the colors of the leaves can be a beautiful and relaxing fall event. The Boston Public Garden's and Boston Common have some of the best fall foliage in the city. Harvard's University's Arnold Arboretum is one of the most spectacular places to see diverse plant life and the beautiful warm hues of fall leaves. Check out this list of the Seven Best Places to see Autumn Color in BostonFor the more adventurous willing to head outside Boston there are many ways to enjoy the last few weeks of mild weather. From easy walks through Jamaica Plain to the MBTA accessible Blue Hills trails there are many nearby locales for hiking and exploring the foliage as well. Check out these 6 hiking routes accessible by MBTA

Apple picking is another great American fall tradition. Going to local apple orchards and farms that grow their own produce including squash and pumpkins and often make their own homemade apple cider is a classic fall tradition, especially in New England. Sometimes they even have corn mazes you can play and get lost in (but don't worry, there's always a way out!) Here's a map of the best apple picking areas around Boston. 

Open markets aren't over yet in the city either! As fall produce comes to harvest the market season remains in full swing. Pumpkins and squash, apples, cider, pies, corn, potatoes, and turkey are all traditionally American foods that can be found at these farmer's markets. Check out some of the best markets ongoing in the city too! 

So what's your favorite fall pastime? Have you ever tried apple cider before? Did we miss any important fall events? We want to know! 

School Lunches around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, September 12, 2014

As summertime draws to a close and classes start anew so the days of the iconic school lunch. Whether you grew up bringing a brown paper bag filled with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple, potato chips, and milk or were forced to stand in line for a reheated meal to be slopped on your tray by the school lunch lady, the traditional American school lunch is anything but gourmet. But what about in schools in the rest of the world? It turns out school meals vary drastically from country to country. From the gourmet salmon and guinea fowl, roasted potato, and steamed vegetables served to school children in France to the tribal bean and corn recipe "Githeri" served daily to students in Kenya school lunches are anything but basic. Check out some of the typical school lunches you can find around the world:


Salmon, rice, ratatouille, a slice of bread, a celery and carrot salad, slice of bread, and a doughnut is a common school lunch in France. These school lunches are provided by the school and cooked by real chefs in efforts to promote healthy eating and to French cuisine. Students are even served their meals on heated plates with real utensils!


In Italy school lunches provided by schools are also meant to teach students about local traditions and sustainable farming. And pasta isn't the only thing these students are served. Zucchini risotto with a mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad is a typical meal in Italy.


Rice, fish, seaweed vegetable soup, pickled cucumbers, and soy milk make up a traditional Japanese school meal. Meals are served with the teacher who eats the same food as the children and discourages wastefulness and picky eating during the meal. 


In Kenya school meals need to be cheap, nourishing, and filling. The traditional fare for student lunches is Githeri, a tribal recipe using stewed beans and corn and sometimes supplemented with meat or vegetables. As a nation with few resources to use on education these meals are simple while still being nourishing and filling.


Here students get a multiple course meal. They typically start with soup such as borsch- a beet soup with vegetables and meat followed by more meat in either a sausage or cutlet and mashed potatoes. Dessert usually consists of a pancake. 


Argentinian meals are also very meat-oriented. Much simpler than Ukrainian meals, Argentinian students typically get a meat filled empanada if they choose to eat at the school. For a more well-rounded meal students bring food and snacks from home.


Indian parents most often pack their children meals to take to school as school lunch is not typically provided. Roti, a leafy vegetable, curried lentils and rice is the typical Indian school meal. Indian schools do however provide snacks throughout the day, such as batatavada- a fried potato crumb round, very popular with the students. 


School children in Cuba are provided traditional fare that appeals to the young students. Rice, a chicken croquette, a piece of taro root, and yellow pea soup make up the meal for these students. Drinks however are not provided by the school and children must bring them from home. 

So how does your experience with school lunch compare? Have you ever heard of such gourmet school meals before? What was your school meal like growing up? Which of these school lunches surprised you the most? We want to know!

Sources: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-photos-taste-school-lunches-around-world-0http://www.thedailymeal.com/school-lunches-around-world-slideshow?slide=2

Labor Day in the USA

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, August 28, 2014

Labor Day is an important historical federal holiday celebrated on the first Monday of September in the United States. As such, all schools, government offices, organizations, and many businesses are closed on this day. Its origins are as a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country. In the early 1880's labor unions in New York City first organized parades in celebration of the labor force after seeing the success of a similar holiday held in Canada. In 1887 the holiday became official in the U.S. Now more than 80 other countries celebrate a similar annual holiday, called International Workers Day, on May 1st. Click for a fun and informational History Channel Video of this American tradition. Not only does Labor Day serve as a celebration of the labor force in the U.S. today, but also as a marker for the end of summer, beginning of school, and start of the fall sports season. 

Labor Day has come to be celebrated by most Americans as a symbolic end of summer. In the U.S. many school classes end their summer break and begin the school year after the Labor Day holiday, allowing families one last three-day weekend before the school year begins. The start of fall sports in the U.S. is also marked by this holiday. The National (American) Football League (or NFL) and National College Athletic Association (NCAA) starting their seasons and playing their first games the week of Labor Day. 

Traditionally people did not wear white clothes, particularly shoes, (especially those of high society) after this date as it marked the close of summer and summer wardrobes. Nowadays this trend is slowly dying out as fashion trends now tend to include white clothing in styles for all seasons.

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations", followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the civil significance of the holiday. 

Privately, in many neighborhoods people take the opportunity to celebrate the last chance for summer outdoor parties such as BBQs, cookouts, and general festivities (to read more about these American summer outdoor traditions check out our blog!). Going to the beach, having picnics, watching parades and going to fairs or watching fireworks is also very common on this day and preceding weekend. 

In Boston especially there are a number of public events ongoing in celebration of this holiday and the end of summer. The Boston Arts Festival takes place the weekend before Labor Day bringing visual and live entertainment together for an end-of-summer party that shows off Boston’s diverse and creative arts scene. The annual Labor Day weekend fireworks at the Boston Harbor take off the Saturday before Labor Day. In the North End a number of other feasts and festivals also take place on this weekend. Check out more celebratory events going on this year in Boston here!

So do you celebrate Labor Day? What is your favorite end of summer event? Do you know of any Boston events we missed? We want to know! 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day

Pets and Pet Culture

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, August 04, 2014

In the United States having an animal companion that shares a home, food, and sometimes even the bed with its owner while serving no utilitarian use (such as to catch mice or hunt) other than to serve as a companion is not only the not only the norm, but actually more common than not. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association, a trade group, 62% of American households own a pet. In the 1800's cats and dogs were kept on a properties of American and European bourgeois to serve as resources by killing mice or assisting with the hunt and were considered symbols of status. As the necessity for such services provided by these animals waned the numbers of these animals did not. And as technology and human communicational abilities continue to improve there is no reason to think they will be necessary in the future. So why do so many American households still have pets and why does the trend towards pet ownership continue to rise in the United States and internationally? NYU’s Colin Jerolmack speculates that it may be due to people’s decreasing connection to each other. In an era of online social networks, long work hours and distances between families, we have far fewer strong social ties and many more weak ties, he says. “We’re spending a lot more time alone or with our immediate family. The companionship of pets has become much more valuable today.” Pets have also become an easy to care for and unconditionally loving replacement for children. Many single people and couples without children replace this need for nurturing by owning a pet. In popular culture pets are idolized by figures such as Paris Hilton are photographed carrying satchels full of miniature dogs people begin to see the benefits of owning a pet as both a companion and status symbol which is then picked up on by the media and pet culture is yet exacerbated. In the United States there are now a huge number of products available to pets an pet owners from pet braces to car seats to jewelry and leather jackets. And with growing awareness about adoption and the positive health benefits of owning pets–including reducing stress and depression– there is a good chance more people will continue to treat them like extensions of their human selves. This trend is not only visible in the U.S., but is gaining popularity throughout the world. Japan has seen marked increases in pet ownership in recent years. France has almost as high of a percentage of pet households as those without pets. China has seen a huge boom in its pet trade show force in the past 3 years alone. 

Despite this, the propensity for pet ownership still remains a largely American and Western cultural phenomenon. In many countries it would be uncommon and unwelcome to see a large dog on a walk with its owner. In areas where pets and dogs especially are uncommon such a large carnivorous animal sharing a house, much less a bed with a person is unheard of. This aversion to domesticated animal companions is largely religious and historical. The President of South Africa is quoted saying that ownership of dogs is "white culture" and that the South African people should not emulate this western cultural norm but rather uphold South Africa traditional culture. Although this may seem like a political statement, it emulates the feelings of many non-westernized culture based on the sentiment that pet ownership is s wasteful and needless use of resources. In many Muslim countries dog ownership in particular is taboo. There are various explanations for the reasons behind this depending on the various forms of Islam, but in general the ownership of a dog is considered against the religion and "unclean." For this reason people from Muslim countries have a tendency to avoid and sometimes even fear dogs. In these regions this pet culture will be very unlikely to gain popularity. 

Here in Massachusetts, pet trends are also on the steady increase. Though unlike as seen in popular culture and the media, dogs are not the chosen pet of most of the New England states. Other common household pets in America include cats, rabbits, and various rodents and reptiles. In Massachusetts especially, cats are the most common type of animal companion to be found in a home. This may be due to their small size and ease of care it takes to own a cat compared to dogs. Despite this, the state maintains the national trend of the majority of households taking ownership of some form of pet, just don't be surprised to find a feline rather than a canine if you are interested in a pet-friendly homestay.

Because of the number of cultures and religions from which students participating in homestay come the question of pets in the household is a very important one. Students participating in Global Immersions Homestays not only must mark any allergies to animals, but also the desire for a home with pets or the need for one without pets. Conversely host families are required to mark on their application the variety and number of pets in their household and are required to update their application if changes regarding pets in the household are made to help ensure the comfort and compatibility of the student to their homestay. If you have any questions regarding pets in homestay please email us!

Sources: http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/15/pets-dogs-cats-forbes-woman-time-children.htmlhttp://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/07/28/mass-the-crazy-cat-lady-est-state-the-union/p2CEoZ52oIhXMH3lLNHPfJ/story.html

American Summer Traditions

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, July 18, 2014

The United States is an extremely expansive country with vast regional variations in climate and geography, culture, ways of speaking, and traditions. From rocky coastlines to arid deserts, deep wooded forests to gentle rolling plains, tropical beaches to the highest peaks summer means something different in each region of the country. But amazingly, despite this broad spectrum of differences, many traditions remain intact throughout the country. Summer barbecues and cook-outs are some of these American cultural constants. With the Fourth of July a recent memory, barbecues, parties, bonfires, and cookouts have been popular ways for Americans to relax and enjoy the charms of summer as they have traditionally been doing for generations. For those of you new to these quintessential American summer past times, here's a brief guide:

BBQ's (or Barbecues)

The word barbecue has multiple meanings. First and foremost "barbecuing" using the verb is to slowly cook meat, especially pork, (sometimes vegetables too) over indirect heat from high-smoke fumes that don't contact the food directly. The component of barbecuing that causes it to differ from basic grilling of meat is the sauce. Barbecue sauces vary region to region, but most commonly are tomato and vinegar based with a variety of spices and rubbed onto the meat to soak up the flavor while cooking. Because of the length of cooking process and its messy tendencies due to the saturation of sauce, barbecuing is almost always done outdoors on a special type of grill that allows for this form of cooking. And from this style of cooking has arise "the barbecue". A barbecue (as a noun) is a social gathering in which family members and friends gather to mingle and eat various dishes outdoors while the weather is nice and someone (or multiple people) cook the barbecued food. Other common food items seen at barbecues include various forms of salads, such as a green salad, potato salad, pasta salad, corn on the cob, fruit salad, pies, and various other desserts. Because of the change of seasons common in most parts of the United States, taking advantage of the summer weather and therefore the ability to cook one of America's favorite dishes through barbecuing has become an event intrinsic to a classic American summer. 


Cookout are a very similar American pastime during the summer. Cooking on a grill is also the deciding factor in the ability to denominate a gathering as a cookout since the food is grilled and thus cooked outside. Although this sounds very similar to a barbecue (and is considering that the type of gathering and side dishes tend to be very similar) the lack of specific barbecue sauce and special importance placed on the meat as the main part of the meal causes cookouts to tend to be much more casual. Many cookouts are small and impromptu and can happen on beaches, during camping trips, or in a back yard on any given day. Because of their ease of coordination cookouts are commonplace while American's are taking advantage of being able to spend considerable time outdoors due to the weather. 


A bake is a New England and coastal version of a barbecue or cookout. A bake usually has the main type of protein being cooking preceding the word bake. For example, a lobster bake, a clam bake, etc.  Bakes tend to only be considered a bake rather than a cookout because of the use of seafood. When a seafood is the main dish of the gathering it is usually boiled or baked on an outdoor fire or special cooking unit, like as is done at a lobster bake. A lobster bake would involve outdoor cooking in a large vat of boiling water over a fire or other heating surface. Because of the proximity to the coast and larger of abundance of seafood in comparison to domestic land animals, such as the pork used in barbecuing, bakes tend to be common in New England and other coastal areas. 


Bonfires are another classic American summer event. Because of the amount of rural area in the United States with forested land, often times in these rural and wooded areas trees, branches, and other material needs to be cut or falls down and needs to be disposed of. Typically this material is burned. If it is on a person's private property it is common to pile all this material into a pile and burn it all at once. Often times this becomes a gather as other people add their own natural waste or simply to get together near a warm fire on a summer evening. Although bonfires have old age pagan connotations, today they are simply a way for people to get outdoors during the summer evenings and spend time together. Although food is not necessary for a bonfire, it is very common to see s'mores eaten at bonfires. S'mores are another American classic. The three components of a s'more is a marshmallow roasted over the open fire sandwiched between two graham crackers and chocolate. No summer in the United States is truly American without this delicious treat. 

So have you attended one of these events? What is your favorite thing to eat at a barbecue, cookout, or bake? Have you ever heard of s'mores before? We want to know! 

Explore Jamaica Plain

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, July 07, 2014

Jamaica Plain is one of the most diverse and dynamic historic neighborhoods in Boston. The oldest community theatre in the US, Footlight Club is located in this neighborhood. In the 19th century, Jamaica Plain became one of the first streetcar suburbs in America and home to a significant portion of Boston's Emerald Necklace of parks, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The commercial district, along Centre and South streets, reflects Jamaica Plain’s eclectic community of artists, writers, musicians, activists, young families, and indie-business owners. Fine dining and casual restaurants serve foods of Cuba, Scotland, India, Lebanon, Cambodia, Japan, and other international fare. Boutiques sell everything from kitchen gadgets to funky vintage attire to one-of-a-kind artisan crafts. This neighborhood's dynamic diversity has caused us to choose Jamaica Plain as our next Explore Boston location!


Jamaica Plain is just 3 miles or so from downtown, yet it has the most green space of anyplace in the city. The "Emerald Necklace" of the city was designed byFrederick Law Olmsted (also Central Park, NYC) and encompasses Franklin Park and surrounds, Forest Hills Cemetary, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Pond and all that attaches them together. In general, JP, as the locals call it, has tons of trees. Long ago, affluent Bostonians used JP as a summer vacation spot and many had second homes in the area. A number of historic sites also dot JP. Check them out!

  1. Jamaica Pond- A top location to go for a run or just enjoy the green space, oh and sailing too!
  2. Forest Hills Cemetary- An open-air museum with Victorian architecture
  3. The Arnold Arboretum- 281 acres of forest, meadows, and ponds
  4. Loring-Greenough House- For a sense of JP colonial history 


Both fine and casual dining experiences are available throughout Jamaica Plain. From the famous J.P. Licks ice cream shop to fare from across the globe, you'll be sure to find anything and everything that suits your taste!

  1. J.P. Licks- Located in a former Victorian fire house, and enjoy homemade ice cream, fair trade house-roasted coffee, hot chocolate, and baked goods
  2. The Haven- Scottish fare with a New England twist
  3. Tres Gatos- Tapas style food with a new American flare
  4. El Oriental de Cuba- The best Cuban food around 
  5. Blue Nile Restaurant- Delicious Ethiopian Cuisine


The shopping in JP reflects the artsy and eclectic community that makes up this neighborhood. Boutiques sell everything from the funky to the functional to the fun. Check out some of our top picks!

  1. Lucy Parsons Center- A local bookstore sure to have any book not found in the library
  2. 40 South Street- For all your all-vintage clothing needs
  3. Salmagundia full-service shop offering a selection of about 9,000 hats handpicked by the owners as well as a selection of accessories, including jewelry, handbags, dresses, ties, and gloves.
  4. Boomerangs- A thrift shop benefiting the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts

So hop on the Orange line and head to Jackson Square to check out these fun, delicious, historical, and beautiful locales and events while the weather is warm!

Have you been to Jamaica Plain before? Did we miss something? What is your favorite thing to do in Jamaica Plain? We want to know!