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Happy Lunar New Year! 恭喜发财08-Feb-2016

Happy Year of the Monkey! Global Immersions wishes all our friends around the globe a Happy Lun..

Welcome to Boston Homestay - Navitas at U/Mass Boston18-Jan-2016

A group of visitors from around the globe arrived to homestay this weekend. The visitors will a..


Best in Hospitality

Donut Worry, Boston's Got You Covered

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 11, 2016

For the longest time, all everybody could talk about were cupcakes. "They're like little portable cakes,"  is all I heard. Now, don't get me wrong. I love cupcakes. Every time my mom comes to visit me, we go out for cupcakes. She looks forward to it, I look forward to it. They're delicious, they're buttery, and they give me a sugar high. You can have red velvet (my favorite), vanilla (my mom's favorite), carrot cake (the hummingbird's favorite?), anything! And that cream cheese frosting? I could eat a whole bucket. But it's been years of cupcakes now, and I'm ready for a new fad.

Well, hello there donuts (doughnuts?)!

Besides their absolutely ridiculous calorie count (I'm starting to see a trend in all my favorite snack foods) , donuts are all around fantastic. You're starting to feel a craving aren't you? Well don't mind me while I scarf down my donut, and compile a list of the best donuts in Boston. Before I ramble on about these addicting pastries, let's remember that there's nothing wrong with the Dunkin' donut, or the Krispy Kreme. I could personally eat a strawberry frosted Dunkin' donut every day for the rest of my life. But since this is a somewhat new fad, and I'm feeling a little daredevil-ish, I'm looking beyond the regular donuts, into the spontaneous, out-of-this-world donuts.

Blackbird Donuts

I've walked past its sister restaurant The Gallows since freshmen year of college. Always packed, it was something I could only appreciate from a distance - I wasn't 21, and besides their donut-filled brunch menu, they're mostly known for their drinks. Last year, about 8 months shy of my birthday, I heard the infamous restaurant had just recently opened up their very own donut shop. I'm not exaggerating when I say I immediately got into an uber (because really, who walks the streets of Boston in February?), and rushed to Blackbird.  The actual space itself is seriously tiny. You're not supposed to hang around and chat - it's a get in and out mission. But trust me, you'll be doing this anyways. During their peak week and weekend hours, you can barely fit a fly in there. Though this may seem exasperating, it's well worth it. Their apple bismark is like a classier version of the childhood memory inducing McDonald's apple pie, and their pineapple habanero donut gives you a little kick that you'll actually appreciate. Brace and embrace the line, and be sure to order a dozen when you get to the register.

Union Square Donuts

Don't be fooled by its several locations, this place isn't a sell-out. They're so fantastic I'd be willing to eat their VEGAN donut any day. Yes, even their vegan donut is tasty. From their traditional Boston cream and vanilla bean to their not-so-traditional sea salted bourbon caramel and maple bacon, Union Square prides themselves on their " for the love of donuts" motto. Because really, for the love of donuts, these donuts are insanely good. If you're too lazy to head to their locations, they also deliver. Totally worth the minimum order of a dozen and their $20 delivery cost.

Kane's Handcrafted

Okay, this place also sells cupcakes , but please don't be tempted by them (or do, and treat yourself to a cupcake and a donut). You can really go over the top here, and order 24+ donuts, because all their products are made with local and organic ingredients - you're basically eating a salad. Kane's has been in Saugus since 1955, but it's recently opened up a second location in the financial district, so you really have no reason not to go.  And why wouldn't you go if they offer a cake-sized birthday donut, and a red velvet donut. Be right back, I need to feed my red velvet addiction real quick.

Clear Flour Bread

I actually want to kick myself right now because this bakery is so extremely close to my house. I should probably stop typing and head on over - but for the sake of donuts and my (hopeful) readers, I'll tell you a little bit more. This bakery is European inspired, so in truth, I can probably smell the bread baking from my apartment. Yes, it's mostly known for its tarts and French bread, but you should really go in for the donuts. These donuts aren't the (usually) greasy, and overly sugary concoctions we see, these are currant donuts. They're seriously soft, just a little sweet, and not oily in the slightest. It's like a donut on a diet!

Flour Bakery

I've actually met the head chef and owner Joanne Chang, and she's just as lovely as her pastries. Flour is usually known for their sticky, gooey pecan buns, but I'm here to shed some light on their little known donuts. But just because they're little known, doesn't mean they don't sell out fast. The few people that do know about them, buy them in bulk. Unlike many donuts, these are brioche based. So yes, they're not only jelly-filled and sugar-dusted, they're also even more buttery than the regular donut. I'd recommend eating these in leggings or sweat pants, or you'll be walking around with your pants unbuttoned for the rest of the day.

Thanks to these, you'll probably see me around town not only with my Dunkin iced coffee and strawberry frosted donut, but with an additional 5 boxes of donuts. At least I've kept to my workout resolution, even though I'll probably need 100 spinning classes to work these all off. Like I said, it's well worth it. 

A Whole Lotta Love for Everyone

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 04, 2016

Chocolate, champagne, and PDA all around! Valentine's day is here!

Whether you take this day to be with your significant other, or your friends and family, it's one of the greatest days of the year.
Also known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, February 14th has been a special day for many years. Way back when in the 18th Century, the day was first associated with love, through the new-found tradition of courtly love. Courtly love, for those of us that may not know, is the practice of showing your love for someone, by presenting flowers, greeting cards, and confectionery (sound familiar?).


But let's move past the boring history of what we now know as the overly hallmark-esque holiday that Valentine's Day is. The toughest thing to look for on the days leading up to V Day (besides a boyfriend or a girlfriend), is what to do. Yes, there's always the traditional dinner and a movie. But would you peg me as a traditional kind of girl? Yeah, didn't think so. Luckily for you (probably not so luckily for my boyfriend), I've found some cool things to do in Boston, not only on the 14th, but the days leading up to it as well. If this gets your significant other to buy some extra gifts for you, then you're welcome.

Cooking Demo at Pantry: Valentine's Day Survival: February 6th, 2:30-3:30pm. Free.

Are you one of those people that steps into the kitchen, and your partner suddenly shudders? Do you burn corn flakes? I've found the event for you. Surprise your fearful partner by taking cooking classes this upcoming weekend! It's free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose. Between tasting some passion fruit & mascarpone mousse, while sipping on some rightfully paired wines, you'll be learning to make Glazed Hanger Steak with melted leeks and harissa-carrot salad. Even vegetarians and vegans will be running to take this class. Register now!

Elusive Cupid Valentine's Day Run: February 14th, 9-10am. Free.

For those of us that can't get enough work outs in, and won't even take Valentine's Day off, here's an activity for you. Starting at 9am, you'll join Mizuno's rep Katie on a 3 mile run through Chestnut Hill. I know on Valentine's Day you should be allowed to eat all the chocolate you want, so don't worry. True Runner, the athletics store located on Boylston on Chestnut Hill, will be serving breakfast and refreshments once you're back. 3 miles couldn't end soon enough, am I right? Get your blood pumping here.

Valentine's Day Makeup Class: February 11th, 6pm. $35.

Shout out to all my makeup fanatics! The class is Valentine's Day themed, but honestly why not just take it for fun? The owner of the M.A.W. Beauty Hair & Makeup Studio will be demonstrating two Valentine's Day inspired looks: one, a bright, clean eye with a bold lip, and the second a smoky eye. If you ask me, you won't just be using these on V Day, so go for it. Test out your contouring skills here.

Gluten-Free Valentine's Day Desserts: February 5th, 6-7pm. $15.

Unless you have Celiac Disease, you really shouldn't be eating anything that's gluten-free; but there's one exception. When Whole Foods is putting on a class, with poached pears, chocolate soufflés, and madeleines on the menu, go all sorts of gluten-free. With wine samples included during the one hour class, you'll be sure to expand your gluten-free recipe box from flourless chocolate cake, to so much else. Don't be afraid, test your inner Julia Child.

You may refer to February 14th as Valentine's Day, or as Single Awareness Day - whatever you call it, there are so many things to keep you busy. Break out of the boring old dinner and a movie, and whip out your makeup brushes and whisks. You know what they say: YOLO.

Taste the Touchdown: Super Bowl Worthy Snacks

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 01, 2016

It's the week of Super Bowl 50, and I already know what you're thinking. If the Pats aren't playing, what's the point of watching it anyways? Well, I couldn't agree with you more. But take this opportunity to cheer for the Panthers, hate on the Broncos, and chow down on some seriously comforting grub.

The Super Bowl is one of the most sinfully delicious days of the year, where the average viewer consumes 2,400 calories during the game. Folks, that's second only to Thanksgiving. Not even Christmas can beat our obsession for nachos and touchdowns. If you're not rolling over in pain by the end of the game, running to the pantry for some TUMS or Gas-X, you're clearly doing something wrong. Take all those new year's resolutions, and put them right where they belong - smothered in wing sauce and beer. The Super Bowl is America's cheat day, so use it and abuse it for all its greasy goodness. If you're planning a Super Bowl party, listen up. I've lined up some snacks for you; everything from the traditional guacamole, to New England style mac and cheese (because if New England doesn't get to play, it lives on in the form of carbs and cholesterol).

Let's start with my personal favorite: guacamole. I'll admit it, I had never been a fan of avocado. But around three years ago, one of my best friends force fed me guacamole at Rosa Mexicano in New York. Well, the rest is history and now my body is entirely made up of onions, tomatoes, and the oh-so-wonderful avo. On the day of the big game, make sure to chop up some tomatoes and onions (and garlic if you're in the mood for pungent breath), cut open some avocados, juice a couple limes, and pinch salt and pepper to taste. Now, guacamole isn't something you can make in advance - I'd suggest making it around an hour before everyone shows up. If you're feeling adventurous, and you've managed to find some minions to help you in the kitchen, here are some crazy good adaptations to the dip that fills up around 41million bowls on game day.

               Cut Some Calories Guac: Add some frozen peas and pickled jalapeno if you have some guests that are attempting to watch their figure. I recommend using this recipe with caution, I wouldn't want your guests protesting against your lack of fat and oil.

               Spice Things Up Guac: Add some extra red onion and Serrano chiles. You'll have your guests wondering why their mouth is on fire, as they feel themselves unable to stop dipping their Tostitos scoops in this addicting concoction.

               Don't Mess Around Guac: For all of you readers that take this food binge day as seriously as I do, make sure to include this recipe in your lineup. Add some minced jalapeno, blue cheese and bacon to your guacamole, and you'll wonder why you've never had this recipe before. Take this as a warning - once you try this recipe, you'll be throwing the cut some calories guacamole out the window.

I did say that if New England doesn't get to play the game, it'll be the star of my party. Apparently, one of the most delectably comforting mac and cheeses is served at Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. Well, move over Wisconsin cheese, lobster and oyster crackers are the new players in town. There is nothing more New England than the beautifully red crustacean, and never-ending bags of salty, crunchy soup crackers, so make sure to spruce up your mac with them. Just chop up some cooked lobster (yes, you'll have to ever so gently place those pesky little things, clawing away at you, in boiling hot water  for 12-15 minutes), crush up some oyster crackers, and boom. You just made the best mac and cheese ever.

Let's move on to the sloppiest part of your day: wings. Ah! Wings! Across the country, more than 1.25 billion wings will be devoured on Sunday. The number one ingredient you'll need at home before you start prepping away, is store-bought wing sauce. Red-Hot, Star Market Brand, Trader Joes Jalapeno Pepper Sauce - it's all good, it's all sticky and messy. There are literally thousands of recipes out there for wings, but I've found some truly fantastic ones. The recipes below are made for 3 pounds of chicken wings, so yes, double/triple/quadruple them.

               Beer-Battered: Yes, you read me right - Beer. Battered. Wings. Let's be honest, it's not like you won't be gulping gallons of beer on Sunday, so you might as well put it in your food. This recipe is so easy, you'll be able to continue sipping away as you prep. All you need is: 1.5 cups of flour, 1.5 cups of lager beer, and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and salt. If you're looking for some extra crunch, dredge the wings and deep fry for 10 minutes. Crunch away!

               Honey-Mustard Pretzel: Not that I condone roasting/baking wings on a day where it's okay to eat all the fried food you can, but this recipe is worth it. I know it doesn't have any beer in it, but honey mustard might as well be as addicting and delicious. You'll need to toss the wings in .5 cup of honey mustard and .5 teaspoon of salt. Crush up 4 cups of pretzels, toss the wings in, and coat until you can't coat anymore. Roast them for 40 minutes, and voila! You just became the queen of wings among your friends.

               Tequila-Lime: For those of you who are hardcore grillers, with a love for margaritas - these are the wings for you. These need a little more prep, so make sure to use the tequila only on the chicken, and not for yourself. The great thing about these is their marinating time - you can make them way in advance. Add .25 cup each of tequila and lime juice and 2 tablespoons each of honey (or agave nectar if you're particularly fancy) and olive oil. Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours. Once the wings have soaked up all the tequila-y goodness, grill for 15-20 minutes. Seems like a lot of work huh? Totally worth it.

Of course there are plenty more appetizers you could make, but if I were at your party, I'd love to have to these. Happy Super Bowl Week guys, stay hungry.

go panthers.

Lunar New Year: Another Reason to Keep Celebrating 2016

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, January 28, 2016

Happy New Year (again)! Wait, no, not January 1st New Year! Happy Lunar New Year!

On February 8th, countries around the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year. In this New Year, months are accounted for by the cycles of the moon, occurring either in the last days of January, or the beginning of February. All around East and Central Asia, the Lunar New Year is followed. China, Korea, and Vietnam are some of the countries that celebrate this new year most commonly.

In Korea, New Year is a seriously familial affair. Many people take this three-day holiday to return home to their parents and extended family. In very traditional families, you'll likely see them dressed in customary (and extremely colorful, yay!) hanbok, the word for Korean clothing.

Tet Nguyen Dan, the Vietnamese New Year, is single-handedly the most important celebration of the year. Similarly to the Korean New Year, this is a three day event to be spent surrounded by family and friends. Many visit temples to wish away their troubles of the last year, praying for a year of prosperity. If you ever have the chance to visit Vietnam during their new year, you'll witness some pretty incredible decorations. Take a peek!

For the Chinese, 2016 is the year of the monkey. I have to say, they  have quite the celebration lined up. The festivities usually start the day before the New Year, and continue until 15 days after. Two weeks of new year's celebration? Sign me up! Every year is different, and characterized by one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. The monkey is the ninth animal in the zodiac cycle. Make sure to celebrate the monkey while he's here though - the next time he'll be honored will be in 2028.

If for some reason you don't happen to be far east during the week of February 8th, make sure to stop by the MFA on February 6th. Every year the Museum of Fine Arts hosts a free event, exploring the traditions of the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese new years. You'll be surrounded by beautiful floral arrangements and the aroma of the Asian-inspired lunch at the museum's Garden Cafeteria. If you have little ones coming with you, they'll have activities to keep them busy. Everything from monkey puppets, to Chinese hand drums, to family art carts will be waiting to be made.

If museums aren't your thing and you'd like to embrace the cold, Chinatown will be hosting their annual parade. Hosted on valentine's day, the parade will start around 11am on Beach Street. Don't worry if you don't snag a spot on Beach Street, there isn't any " best" place to watch the parade. You could essentially stand anywhere in Chinatown and be part of the action. Also make sure to wear something red - in Chinese culture it represents good luck in the new year (and hey you might as well wear the color of love, on the day of love).  I know what you're thinking though. February 14th is not only valentine's day, but it's also a Sunday. What about brunch?! Well, hello my fellow brunchies! You're in Chinatown! Grab some dim sum while you're there. If your usual brunch meal consists of mimosas and eggs benny, you're probably thinking I'm crazy. Dim sum happens to be a pretty common brunch meal, and why  not try something new? According to the Boston Discovery Guide, there are four dim sum cafes you must try.

  1. China Pearl: You're going to walk up to 9 Tyler Street, and contemplate whether or not you can fit through the door. Trust me, you can. It looks absolutely teeny from the outside, but once you're inside you'll feel like you're in a crowded stadium. Between the carts of dim sum zooming past you, and the possible line, you might feel tempted to leave and find another quick fix for your Chinese food needs. But trust me, it's well worth the wait.
  2. Chau Chow City: Located on 83 Essex Street, here's another restaurant where you could possibly be run over by a dim sum steam cart. I have to say though, it makes stuffing your face a lot easier and quicker. When you arrive, walk up to the 2nd floor -  some seriously good grub awaits. If you're in a group of friends, this place is pretty perfect for you: all the tables are communal.
  3. Great Taste Bakery and Restaurant: Don't expect the hustle and bustle of the other restaurants, but come in hungry. On 61 Beach Street, Great Taste will seem a little smaller than the other two, and that's because it is. Once you're sat, you'll be given a piece of paper. That's your menu. Check off the things that look good (remember, we're trying something new here), and just wait. Even though I seriously support trying something that sounds extremely foreign and indistinguishable, check off the shrimp dumplings box. You'll be glad you did.
  4. Winsor Dim Sum Cafe:  You might be thinking, this one could be the fancy one of the list! Sorry, but definitely not. Just like Great Taste, you'll be ordering off a paper menu, with a pen or pencil in hand. It's on 10 Tyler Street, and you'll definitely walk right past it if you're not paying attention. So keep your eyes open, you really don't want to miss this place.

These four are just a quick review of some of the restaurants in Chinatown, but really, don't feel limited by these! The great thing about having dim sum for brunch, wherever you end up, is it won't cost you more than $10 per person. As you sit down, you'll be handed hot tea, at no cost, (much needed because it'll likely be cold outside), and most places open as early as 8 am straight through the mid afternoon. So really, trust me when I say this will likely become your new way of brunching.

Whether you're originally from the Eastern Hemisphere, or simply celebrating with your valentine at the Boston Parade, the Lunar New Year will put anyone in a good mood. Don't miss out!

 새해 많이 받으세

chúc mừng năm mới

新年快

Happy New Year!

P.S. If you want some more information on Lunar New Year in Boston, click here!


Staying Fit in Boston without Breaking the Bank

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Happy New Year!

Resolutions are a big part of celebrating the New Year around the world, but especially in the US. This year, I have decided to be healthier. A lot of people take on this resolution, but find it hard to continue it. For one, we are all very busy. It's hard to find time to exercise and eat healthy, if we're constantly busy with work or school. Beyond our jam-packed schedules, fitness classes and organic food tend to be extremely expensive. So how can you manage to stick with your resolution, but not break the bank? Well, look no further! I've found some great options for the upcoming year, and I can't wait to get started!

Small is Strong: Building a Local Fitness Studio & Brand with The Training Room Founders

To get into the fit mindset, make sure to attend this free " fireside chat" with Heidi Shalek and Maren Kravitz, founders of the The Training Room. An independent fitness studio, with two locations in Somerville, The Training Room was founded in 2009, designed to revamp the membership-based gym model. Not only has The Training Room received the Best of Boston award in 2012, but it continues to succeed in providing a tight-knit environment, and a simple and fresh personal accountability program.

At the panel, the founders will be discussing their ever-growing fitness philosophy, and how to move from the short-term "getting in shape" mindset, to a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.

Make sure to register for the event here. The event will be held on January 27th, at the Aeronaut Brewing Company in Somerville.

BollyX Classes

What a great way to exercise -  it doesn't even feel like you're working out! BollyX Classes are very similar to Zumba classes, but these are Bollywood inspired. Just like Zumba, these classes are designed to really get you moving, sweating, and jamming out to the best music of India. Don't worry though, these classes are open to all fitness levels! All you need to bring is water, sneakers, and your willingness to move! Feel free to show up with friends or family, just make sure to register!

Here you will find a list of the upcoming free BollyX classes. The locations switch daily, so make sure to keep an eye out for that!

Gallery Meditation

Tired from those BollyX classes? Me too. I've found the best way to calm down and center myself, is to meditate! In Lincoln, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum will be hosting free (for members, $15 for not-yet members) meditation sessions. Led by an instructor from Stil Studio, the session is meant to help any and all relax and recharge. Bring your yoga mat, pillow, and blanket, and get ready to be surrounded by art, inspiration, and positive energy.

There's no need to register for these, but the upcoming dates are:

Thursday, January 14, 6pm-7pm (snow date January 28)

Thursday, February 18, 6pm-7pm (snow date February 25)

If you need any further information, just take a look at their website!

Flywheel Sports - Boston

As an avid spinner myself, I highly recommend Flywheel Sports, located inside the Prudential Center. Known as one of the top stadium cycling/spinning studios in Boston, this is the fitness studio that truly gets you in shape. The staff is extremely welcoming, and your first spinning class is always free! Though spinning is not for the faint of heart, it's truly fun. Ranging from 45 minutes to 1 hour, this workout is a non-stop, sweat inducing, gut buster - but, it really flies! One minute you're starting your warm up, and then the next you're completing your cool down.

Make sure to check out their website!


Japanese Culture Tips from our Japanese Homestay Coordinator

Global Immersions - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Since I started working here at Global Immersions, Inc., I have encountered several cases when our host families told us their experiences hosting Japanese visitors and shared comments with us like “they were nice, but very quiet” or “they seemed shy, so I’m not sure if they wanted to be engaged.” As a Homestay Coordinator who was born and raised in Japan, and has lived in two other countries, New Zealand and the U.S., here are some insights you should know to understand the Japanese visitors better.

Those who have hosted Japanese visitors before might have wondered at least once: why they seem to be so quiet, shy, and even look like they are uncomfortable having conversation with you? It can be commonly said that Japanese students tend to be a little more reserved than students from other parts of the world. This partially depends on the English language skills of each individual student, and also on their personalities. However, for Japanese students, there are several important cultural factors that make them seem reserved. In my own experiences, when I stayed at the Homestay for a year in New Zealand, I have been asked for countless times why I was being so shy, even though I would not describe myself as a shy or quiet person. On behalf of all Japanese students in Boston who have experienced the same situation, here is some explanations why.

They do not like questions like “why are you so shy?”

            First of all, being modest is one of the most respected virtues for Japanese people. Having a modest and humble personality, or even showing yourself as a humble person, is broadly considered as a positive behavior. This culture is believed to have been deep-rooted among people during the Japan’s Shogunate Era (1192 - 1867) due to the reinforced hierarchical society. Absolutely nobody could be seen as more important than the Shogun and everybody always showed him respect, and civilians and farmers were nothing more than the samurais. This social hierarchy, however, did not have a direct relationship with political or social oppressions, but what was prioritized in the society was the exchange of goods between peasants and the local lords, and the local lords and the Shogun. In this give-and-take system, impudent and arrogant peasants were considered to be the ones not appreciating what they get and not showing enough respects to the Shogun. Being called an arrogant person is such a disgrace and shame for Japanese people back then and still now. So, showing modesty and not speaking too much about matters is just their way of respecting you by listening to what you have to say, and avoiding any misunderstandings with you by misleadingly speak of something. To conclude, the reason why being modest is considered as a virtue in Japan is simply because having an arrogance is not socially acceptable for anyone.

           

Is it considered as a good thing to stand out?

            Another important virtue for Japanese people to have, which may contribute to look themselves reserved, is the ability to coordinate with others, and maintaining the harmony in a group. This sounds like a pretty positive virtue to have; however, many of the western societies where individualism and competitiveness are the keys to success question this Japanese social ethic. If someone says to you “you are outstanding” it always means a positive way in the U.S. for example; however, in Japan “standing out” from everyone else is usually considered as unacceptable behavior. There is a common saying in Japan that reads “Deru kui wa utareru” meaning that “the stake that sticks out gets hammered down”. This literally shows how the society does not accept anybody who tries to be better than anyone else. Although this culture has slowly been drifting away, I still see the tendency that those who value the social harmony would be more successful than those who value in the individual skills. Also there is a similar phrase “Kuki wo yomu (to read the air)” which is commonly used in Japan. They use this phrase in occasions when there is one who is doing something different from others in a group or is thinking about a matter in a wrong direction. Feeling content for doing the same thing as others and trying to be at the same level with others might not be considered as a positive moral in the U.S. society. But in Japan, by doing those people maintain the harmony with others at schools, at companies, at any parts of the society.

         

I am not saying that Japanese people should not be called quiet, shy or reserved, because I do agree that a lot more people have those personalities in Japan compared to other societies in the world. But I believe understanding the background of why they tend to have such characteristics will make your hosting experiences much better.

Here are a couple of extra insights about Japanese culture that are important when hosting.

What is “wabi-sabi”? :

            Wabi-sabi is a key concept in the Japanese tradition and culture that means the spirit of finding happiness and feeling content for the minimal amount of things you possess (wabi) and seeing the beauty in the simplicity of objects or of the universe, and staying away from extravagance (sabi). The traditional rooms for “Tea Ceremony” or Cha-shitsu are always kept without any luxurious decorations and silent except the sound of nature, and this stems from the culture of wabi-sabi.


Tradition of giving gifts and “returns”:

            In many cultures sending gifts and presents is very common among families, relatives and friends. This culture is also typical in Japan and there are two seasons where we send gifts to those whom we have a close relationship.  Ochugen and Oseibo are celebrated in mid-August and in December respectively. Once you have received a gift from someone it is considered polite and morally right to send something back in return. This is called Okaeshi, and this word literally means returns, but implies the return of appreciation. It is common to keep the wrapping paper from a gift received, not to use it again, but because the wrapping paper is considered part of the gift. This explains why Japanese visitors open gifts so carefully and try not to tear them.


            In conclusion, Japanese culture and traditions are built after hundreds of years upon the concept of respecting others by demonstrating their humbleness. They try not to stand out in the crowd of people to maintain the harmony with others. Keeping silent when you are having conversations with them is their way to respect you by listening carefully to what you are talking about, and being shy when they are asked or offered to do something ultimately stems from the culture of respect and humbleness.

            Obviously there are more characteristics to what makes Japanese culture so unique, so if you are curious, you can click here to learn more: . Also, if you are curious about Japanese modern pop culture (anime, manga, J-pop etc.), click here to the “Cool Japan” program, which is the culture promotion initiative sponsored by The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry:. Also the link to the government website.

 

Winter Wonderland in Boston!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 10, 2015

Although the month of December should be festive and joyful, Boston's unpredictable weather might pose a threat in ruining some of the fun. The days can seem short and overwhelmingly cold, but don't let this dampen your holiday spirit! All over Boston, bright and festive lights will sparkle, the shops and streets will be crowded with eager shoppers, and winter activities will be in full swing. The holiday season is a very exciting time to be in Boston as the city prepares for the upcoming winter. A lot of events and concerts are dominated by Christmas and Hanukkah themes, but Boston also goes all out to celebrate the upcoming New Year. In this blog, we will give some suggestions on the activities you and your family can enjoy over the month of December!

One of the top things to do in Boston during December is to go shopping! Not only are other shoppers and shop owners  in a festive spirit, but the stores themselves are decorated lavishly with holiday lights and colorful decorations, making the whole shopping experience even more worthwhile. Some of the top recommendations for shopping in Boston are Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (especially with the Christmas tree lit up), Newbury Street, and the Prudential as they have shops to appeal to everyone's tastes. However, some of the more historic areas such as the North End, the South End, Beacon Hill, and Harvard Square have beautiful little boutiques, and other unique stores that you are not likely to find anywhere else so it is definitely worth the time to explore and shop in these areas. Although shopping is extremely fun it can also be exhausting throughout the day, so check out this guide for holiday shopping in Boston!

On the other hand, the December weather of Boston can sometimes be unpredictable, with strong winds and snow piling on the streets all of a sudden. We understand that this might put off some people from being out in the cold and seeking comfort in a warm place, but this can also be the perfect time to venture out and watch a play, a concert, or even go to a museum! It should come as no surprise that winter time coincides with the highest demand for theater in Boston, as going to a show is a favorite among the Boston winter activities. Whether you want to go to the Opera House, the Charles Playhouse, or the Paramount Theatre, there are bound to be many special offers and discounts, and you can check those deals out by clicking the link here. Don't miss out on the classics such as the Boston POPs or the Nutcracker!

If the idea of watching a show does not appeal to you, then we suggest you have a family day at one of the many museums around Boston! When the weather is particularly nasty outside, Boston has over 30+ museums with exhibits sure to satisfy whatever your interests are. Some examples of museums are the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium. Check out this guide on Boston Museums to help make up your mind about which one to visit!

For the more adventurous folks, an activity that can be a lot of fun for the whole family is to simply frolic in the snow! When the snow starts to fall throughout December, we recommend that you go outside to spend some time enjoying the glittery reflection of sunlight on the snow during the day, or the wonderful illumination of holiday lights on the snow at night. Moreover, one of the most popular activities for both kids and adults is to make a snowman! There will definitely not be a shortage of snow, and two popular spots for building a snowman is the Boston Common or the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Don't forget to use your wildest imagination as there will be plenty of time to enjoy the creation before it melts away! Apart from building a snowman, a lot of people love to simply take photos and capture the idyllic parts of Boston covered in snow. Some of the best places for photos are along the Charles River, the Boston Esplanade, the Bay Village, and the North End.

If you are looking for something more physical yet not too rigorous, why not go ice skating at the Frog Pond? Whether you go in the afternoon or at night, you can rent ice skates and spend time twirling and spinning around the rink. Not only are there holiday lights surrounding the rink from the trees above, but wherever you look there are bound to be more decorations and lights for you to enjoy. Kids can enjoy ice skating too under parental supervision, and there is no better activity to instill the festive spirit! For the more experienced and advanced, there are several ski slopes and cross country trails in Massachusetts that you can enjoy. Check this guide out for the ski areas near Boston.

Although all of the tree lightings around Boston have occurred, we would just like to remind you that there are some light events that will be happening all month until the New Year. Firstly, there is the Annual Lighting of the Trellis. Located at Boston's waterfront, Christopher Columbus Park has been transformed into a beautiful wonderland with over 50,000 blue lights, a true sight to behold. Moreover, there is the 31 Nights of Lights at the Prudential Center. For each night of December, the Prudential Tower will have different sets and colors of light illuminating the tower, with each one representing a different non-profit organization. This is an excellent way of raising awareness, and the holiday season is also the prime time to give back to the community! Next up, there is of course the Blink! at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, an extravagant light show that happens daily from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

If you are planning to stay in Boston for New Years, you cannot miss out on First Night, the most anticipated tradition in Boston! There will be a plethora of festivities and activities starting from 1 pm on New Year's Eve until midnight. You can watch fireworks, gather around and celebrate the countdown to the New Year, watch the parade down Boylston Street, listen to live music around the main streets, and much more! Learn about what is going on and plan accordingly by clicking the link here!

We hope you all enjoy your winter holiday! Be safe and be merry, and let us know what you get up to this winter!  

Hanukkah in Boston!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, December 04, 2015

Happy Hanukkah to all of our Global Immersions hosts! If you're searching for something fun to do with your visitor to celebrate the holiday, then look no further! Boston is a great place to celebrate the holiday and teach your visitor a little more about your own culture! 

First on the list is, of course, food. If you're not interested in cooking this holiday season, try one of the many restaurants in Boston serving delicious latkes, blintzes, challah, and more! Click here to find an extensive list of delicious restaurants celebrating Hanukkah.

There are also a variety of celebrations to enjoy during the season. On December 9, the Museum of Fine Arts will be celebrating The Festival of Lights. There will be a candle lighting, music, arts and crafts, and the opportunity to tour the museum - Free. 

Also be sure to explore Boston's art installation "8 Nights 8 Windows" which will be gracing Boston storefronts during the 8 days of Hanukkah. You can learn more about the project here, as well as explore each window where the installations will be placed. You can also click here to see the best route for a tour of all 8 windows! 

It you're looking for more traditional ways to celebrate the holiday, head over to the Central Reform Temple to enjoy "A Light Through the Ages," a musical performance which honors the holiday through story and song. 

Whatever you do this holiday season, we hope you have a happy and safe celebration! Don't forget to send photos of you and your visitor, and let us know how you like to celebrate the holiday!

Traditions and Culture!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 18, 2015

At Global Immersions, we are privileged to have a diverse host network. Some of the countries that our hosts represent are Jamaica, Brazil, Great Britain, United States of America and many more! In addition to our host network, every year we work with visitors coming from different countries such as Japan, China, Italy, Denmark, and Spain. It was a pleasure to meet some of our visitors and hosts at our recent host event, and it was enlightening to interact and learn more about their culture and also the assimilation to the U.S. culture. To celebrate the diversity of our network, this blog will focus on the different holiday traditions in different countries! First of all, a tradition is a specific practice in which unwritten customs and practices are passed from one generation to the next. They help to form a country's heritage and culture.


The first country on our list is Jamaica! Jamaica is a country located in the Caribbean Sea, and they have many different traditions for each major holiday. For example, Christmas in Jamaica includes the standard traditions such as Christmas trees, Santa Claus, decorations, and gifts. However, a major part of holidays in Jamaica is the delicious food! One example of a Christmas tradition in Jamaica is the sorrel drink, a refreshing drink made from dried sorrel, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, orange peels, and rum. The sorrel drink is very famous in most parts of the Caribbean, and it is a longstanding tradition during Christmas. The classic dishes associated with Christmas in Jamaica are curried goat, pork, chicken, and oxtail all served with rice and gungo peas. However, no Christmas in Jamaica would be complete without the special Christmas cake. This cake is special because it consists of raisins, cherries, papaya, dates, prunes, and any other dried fruits which has been either boiling or soaking in wine for at least a month before Christmas. To add extra flavor and keep the moisture, you can always add some rum to the cake! For Easter, the traditional dishes in Jamaica are bun and cheese with eskovitch fish.


Another country where there are a lot of traditions is Spain. Christmas in Spain is a major holiday, and the majority of Spanish people go to Midnight Mass or  'La Misa Del Gallo' (The Mass of the Rooster). It is named after a rooster because it is believed that a rooster crowed the night that Jesus was born. For dinner, the traditional dinner is usually 'Pavo Trufado de Navidad' which is turkey stuffed with truffles, and in other areas the dinner consists of all types of seafood such as shellfish, mollusks, lobster, and crabs. Apart from the Christmas traditions, another special tradition celebrated on New Year's Eve is when you eat 12 grapes with the 12 strokes of the clock at Midnight! Each grape represents one month of the upcoming year, and it is said that if you finish the 12 grapes you will be lucky in the New Year.


Next country on our list is Brazil! In Brazil, New Years is considered to be one of the most widely celebrated holidays, and there are strict customs and traditions that are adhered to. During the New Years time, major parties are organized all over Brazil, and the night is started with a half hour fireworks show where people are celebrating and wishing for everyone's good luck. This is followed by a dinner with traditional dishes such as rice, chicken, farofa, salads, and maracuja mousse which is a passion fruit dessert dish. Lentils and rice are consumed during New Years because it is considered to bring good luck, fortune, and prosperity into one's life. Also, another tradition during New Years is to wear white on the day, as doing so is traditionally believed to bring good luck for the upcoming year. Furthermore, on the midnight of the New Year, Brazilians will all gather at the beach and jump seven times in to the beach and throw flowers while wishing for a prosperous and happy year ahead.


One country that is also dominated by traditions and customs is China. China celebrates a wide array of holidays, and although different parts of China have different traditions, there are some common ones between the whole country. During New Year's Eve, the dinner is the most important dinner for the Chinese all year. This is an opportunity for the whole family to be reunited again, and normally fish and dumplings will be served. In Northern China, dumplings are considered to be the most important dish and it is because they signify prosperity. Other than that, the rest of the dishes are down to personal preference. Furthermore, right after 12:00 pm on New Year's Eve, fireworks will be launched to not only celebrate the coming of the New Year, but to also drive away the evil spirits and bad luck. Another important Chinese tradition during New Years is to hand out little red packets with money in it. The red packets are usually given by adults to little children, as it is believed that the money in the red packet will suppress evil spirits from the children and keep them a long and healthy life. In addition, Chinese people are very superstitious during major holidays. For example, a few days before the Chinese New Year, people will do a complete cleaning of the house which is symbolic of removing the old and welcoming the new. Also, another tradition during Chinese New Year is to keep all your windows open as this is said to let in good luck and get rid of bad luck.


Do you know of any other traditions? Let us know! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thanksgiving is a national holiday and a major time for celebration in the United States. Although there has been debate about the origins of Thanksgiving, it is without a doubt a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, have a day of feasting, and to get excited for the upcoming holiday season. However, the historic American tradition can be traced back to the year of 1623, when after the harvest crops were gathered by the Pilgrims, they declared a three day feast to thank God and his blessings. Furthermore, New England is the birthplace of this American holiday so where better to celebrate Thanksgiving?  In this blog, we will highlight Thanksgiving events around New England that you and your family and friends can enjoy to keep the holiday spirit and mood in full flow!

Firstly, one major way to celebrate Thanksgiving that will surely be delicious is to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at one of Boston's many top restaurants! Turkey will obviously be the highlight of their menu's, but there are plenty of traditional and vegetarian options. Some of the restaurants in Boston that will have special menus for Thanksgiving are:

  • Taj Boston, where their lavish buffet ranges from marinated mussels, crab claws, organic turkey breast or leg, slow-cooked salmon, and more! Located at 15 Arlington Street, Boston, it is the prime place to kick-start your holiday shopping on Newbury Street and enjoy a relaxing dinner.
  • Precinct Kitchen + Bar, where they will serve a special Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 8 pm. Located inside the Loews Boston Hotel, their main specialties will include sage-crusted roast turkey, pineapple-glazed ham, peppercorn-crusted prime rib, all accompanied by traditional side dishes.
  • Parker House, another famous restaurant in Boston, will be having a Thanksgiving buffet with creative dishes such as slow roasted turkey with herb stuffing, pumpkin ravioli with sage-brown butter sauce, pan-seared salmons and a lot of other traditional side dishes. It is located on 60 School Street in Historic Downtown Boston.

These restaurants are just a little snippet of the type of dishes you can expect during Thanksgiving, and if you want to check out a more elaborate list or to help make reservations click here.

Next up, another way to get pumped up for the holiday season is to visit the Boston Opera House and watch a performance of Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker. This performance is one of the most highly rated shows in Boston, and it is no surprise as there are enchanting dancers, haunting music by Tchaikovsky, and the magic of the Boston Opera House in general will surely make it a performance you don't forget. The opening night is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and shows run all the way through December. Definitely a dazzling Thanksgiving tradition for families and friends, click here to search for available tickets!

If you're in the mood for an adventure during Thanksgiving, why not make a trip to the Plimoth Plantation on Thanksgiving Day. This is the site of the first Thanksgiving where the Pilgrims settled back in 1620. Plymouth is located South of Boston, and you can make a day trip to see the famous Pilgrim Monument or go on aboard a reproduction of the Mayflower, the ship that brought the Pilgrims to New England. Furthermore, the Plimoth Plantation is a very impressive re-creation of the original Pilgrim settlement, and there will be actors playing the roles of each of the 17th century settlers to show what life was like back then. Click this link to book a special Plimoth Plantation tour!

Furthermore, another reason to make the trip to Plymouth is the Thanksgiving parade and celebration. Plymouth will be hosting a massive 3-day Thanksgiving celebration along the harbor and waterfront, and the parade, which kicks off at 11 am on Saturday, November 22nd is ranked 1 in the nation! The parade is especially special as actors will be reenacting all periods of American history, beginning with the Pilgrims straight to the 21st century with historical accuracy. 

What are your thankful for and what are your plans for Thanksgiving? Let us know! We hope everyone is excited about the holidays!