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Welcome to Boston Homestay - Wuhan University Chinese Group!15-Jul-2017

Welcome Wuhan University students from China! They will be touring around Boston for two weeks w..

Welcome to Boston Homestay - Academy at Harvard Square Chinese University Group!11-Jul-2017

Welcome Academy at Harvard Square university students from China! They will be attending a custo..


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Riding Around Boston: Local Ride Sharing Services

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ride Sharing apps have become increasingly popular making it easier than ever to get from Point A to point B. Many ride sharing apps operate in the Boston area and are a convenient way for international visitors or anyone new to the city to get around especially if they are unfamiliar with Boston or the public transportation system. These services are extremely convenient, and many different options have emerged allowing visitors to choose from a varying number of apps. Here are some of your ride-sharing options that operate in the greater Boston area:


Uber was the first ride-sharing apps to be created and is probably the most well known and widely used service. Uber is available around the world and riders can expect short wait times and quick pick-ups due to the large number of Uber drivers throughout Boston. Uber prices do fluctuate depending on demand at any given time of the day, therefore it is important to keep in mind rush hour and other times that there is an increased demand. Recently, Uber has also created an "uberPOOL" option, in which riders have the opportunity to take advantage of a cheaper fare in exchange for sharing your ride with other riders. While these rides generally take a longer time, if you are not in a rush to get to your destination the cheaper fares may be worth the wait.

Lyft is the second largest ride-sharing app and Uber's main competitor. Lyft and Uber are rather similar, as Lyft offers a "Lyft Line" option that allows you to get a cheaper fare in exchange for sharing your ride with other passengers. Lyft's prices also fluctuate based on demand and will surge prices in high-demand times. However unlike Uber, Lyft allows riders to tip their drivers. 


Fasten is a small startup operating gaining momentum in Boston. Fasten works in the same fashion as Uber and Lyft however it advertises better prices for both drivers and riders. Instead of the app taking a percentage cut, say 20% to 30%, from each ride, it only takes $1 per ride, so drivers can keep a larger percentage of the profits. For passengers, Fasten can potentially be cheaper because it doesn't use "surge pricing," price hikes that kick in when demand goes up. Instead, Fasten says it lets passengers increase their fare offers if drivers don't accept their ride requests quickly enough.


Safr is a new ride-sharing service focused on the safety and empowerment of women. With unique features designed for and by women, Safr aims to improve the lives of women everywhere through safe transportation, job creation, and financial security. Safr drivers are all female and are thoroughly vetted and undergo comprehensive background checks in criminal and motor vehicle history to ensure maximum safety for riders.


Arro is an application that lets you easily call taxis rather than drivers. You can use the app to call a cab, and you are automatically charged through the app as you would be in an Uber or Lyft. You can even use Arro to pay for a taxi that your'e already in, even if you hailed the cab on your own, without going through the app. This helps to support taxi companies throughout Boston that have seen a decline in business since the emergence of Uber and other ride-sharing apps.


Validated is not really a ride sharing app, though it works alongside one. With Validated, you can earn points toward rides on popular apps like Uber or by shopping at any of the "Validated" businesses. Currently in Boston these include restaurants and retail stores. Hundreds of brands can be used with the app so you can earn free rides purchasing items you typically buy merely by scanning your receipt into the app!


Price Comparison Resources: 


Several applications make is easy to compare prices across ride-sharing apps and taxis to make sure you're getting the cheapest fare. The websites Ride Guru and WhatstheFare show the average prices across multiple apps for your designated trip. In addition to these, the app FairRide compares Lyft and Uber prices next to each other, so you can choose the cheapest option for your ride from the convenience of your phone.  These resources are particularly helpful in ensuring that you get the cheapest fare possible! 

There are endless options for transportation around Boston. Ride-sharing apps have skyrocketed in popularity recently, making more and more options available for your use. Next time you need to go somewhere in a hurry, check out any of the above apps, and be sure to use the price comparison apps as well to get a great deal!


Dining Etiquette Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Many of us likely feel as though we have a strong command on dining etiquette in our respective countries. However, some people may not know that these table manners vary across the world from region to region, and sometimes even within those regions. Some things that we may not even think twice about doing may be considered extremely rude or taboo in other countries. If you are hosting an international visitor or traveling abroad, it is important to keep these in mind!

Asia:

Do not use your chopsticks as a spear: Throughout Asia, it is consistently considered rude to spear your food with chopsticks instead of using them properly to pick up the food. This has to do with superstitious beliefs as usually when on pierces their food with chopsticks you are offering this food to the dead.


Other chopstick rules: There are actually many rules surrounding the use of chopsticks. For example, pointing a chopstick at someone is just as rude if not more disrespectful than pointing a finger. In addition to this, passing food directly from your chopsticks to another's is actually part of a funeral ritual in which the deceased's bones are passed between chopsticks. Also in many parts of Asia placing your chopsticks sticking straight up in your food is a gesture meant for the deceased. It is best to avoid these practices as many Asian cultures as superstitious and doing these is considered very taboo and disrespectful.

Eat the food served to you: Particularly in China and Korea, it is an honor to be served food especially what are perceived as the "best" parts of something. Even if you do not like the food, it is respectful to finish the food served to you.

Paying the bill: In China and other areas influenced by Chinese customs such as Malaysia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, bills are not typically split among diners. Instead, one person picks up the entire check. Usually a several people will put up a fight to cover the expenses, and doing so shows a sign of appreciation for relationships and is seen as polite.

Europe:

Bread: In France, bread is placed directly on the table as opposed to being placed on a bread plate. Bread is not served as an appetizer and should be consumed along with your meal. When consuming the bread, it is important to break it into pieces as opposed to biting them off.

Also, in Russia it is considered bad form to waste bread, as it is believed that when one dies all of the bread they've wasted over the years will be weighed and added to the balance that determines whether or not one is accepted into heaven.

Eating your food as it is prepared: In Portugal and Spain, it is considered an insult to the cook to alter your food by adding salt and pepper to the prepared dish.

Use your silverware: Often times in European countries, it is considered polite and normal use your utensils with what some may consider finger foods, such as pizza.

Middle East:

Don't eat with your left hand: Because the left hand is associated with using the restroom and associated bodily functions, it is considered unsanitary and rude to use your left hand to eat. Instead, eat strictly with your right hand.

Drinking coffee: In Bedouin culture, they will continue to pour you coffee once you have finished it. That is, until you shake the cup by tilting it two to three times when you hand it back. By doing this, you are signifying that you are finished.

Etiquette for eating with your hands: While it differs from country to country, generally when eating with your hands you should use your fingertips to ensure the food does not touch your palms. If you are sharing a large dish, which is common, only eat from your side of the plate. Often times diners will use bread to scoop the food, which the house owner breaks and distributes to guests.

It is important to remember that every country is different and these rules of etiquette may vary! To be safe, look up specific customs for a specific country if you are curious, however these are some general rules to follow for each region.

Experiencing US Culture With Our Japanese Students

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, May 02, 2017

This Spring we had several different groups of Japanese students visit Boston and experience American culture through homestay. As part of their homestay experience, our hosts engaged in activities with the students to introduce them to life in New England. Many hosts went above and beyond, taking their students on trips to exciting places like Maine, New Hampshire, Martha's Vineyard or Cape Cod! Others bonded with their students during fun visits to various locations in the greater Boston area.  From our host feedback surveys we were able to read all about the great things our hosts and students did together. If you're wondering what you should do with your students, here are some highlights from the hosts of our Japanese groups - as you'll notice many of these activities are free!



  • Visited Rockport; explored an art gallery and tried clam chowder
  • Visited a local high school and football stadium
  • Went on a driving tour of Boston
  • Went salsa dancing
  • Went to a rock climbing place
  • Created oragami together
  • Attended a dance class
  • Hiked the cliffs at East Point in Nahant
  • Visited Salem and Gloucester
  • Celebrated Valentine's Day with a special meal and flowers for the students
  • Enjoyed cannolis at Eataly  
  • Visited Long Sand Beach in Maine
  • Played games at our local Church
  • Visited a farm in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
  • Toured Fenway Park



  • Visited the Mapparium at the Christian Science Monitor Building
  • Saw the Cy Young statue at the Northeastern University campus
  • Went to the Skyzone
  • Visited Martha's Vineyard
  • Visited Cape Cod
  • Went to a Celtic's game
  • Attended Winchester High Schools performance of Shrek the Musical
  • Visited a local beach
  • Saw the seals outside the Aquarium
  • Went to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston
  • Visited City Hall and the State House



  • Went to the Hyde Park firehouse
  • Explored Woonsocket Rhode Island; went to the train depot to see the statue of Hachiko (dog) and the plaque given by the people of Japan
  • Went to the movies together 
  • Visited Granite Links golf course to see the city
  • Toured Tufts University, Northeastern University, and Berklee College of Music
These are just some of the memorable moments our hosts and students shared together. Overall, the feedback we received from both the hosts and students of our Japanese programs was extremely positive! The students enjoyed spending time with their host families and our host parents liked getting to know their students! 

Labor Day and May Day

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Celebrations on May 1 have long had two, seemingly contradictory meanings. When you think of May Day, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is spring, flowers, maypoles, and dancing. However, this date is also associated with worker solidarity and protests on Labor Day. It seems strange that May Day and Labor Day occur at the same time, but are so different in their traditions. How did these two holidays come to share a date? It happened pretty much by accident. The origins of Labor Day date back to May Day 1886, when over 200,000 U.S. workers engineered a nationwide strike for an eight-hour work day. This strike was part of what became known as the Haymarket Affair – a strike at the McCormick Reaper plant in Chicago that turned violent, followed by an even more violent meeting at Haymarket Square the next day. In 1889 the International Socialist Conference declared that in commemoration of the Haymarket affair, May 1 would be an international holiday of Labor, now known in many places as International Workers Day. The U.S. observes its official Labor Day in September, but many countries hold Labor Day celebrations in the beginning of May. Here are snapshots of some Labor Day and May Day  activities around the world:

 


Havana, Cuba

Public Health workers march through Havana’s Revolution Square during the May Day Parade, May 1, 2014.


Malaga, Spain

Workers and union members hold banners and flags of the General Workers Union and Comisiones Obreras at Marques de Larios street during a May Day demonstration on Labor Day. The banner reads, "Without quality employment, there is no recovery. More social cohesion for more democracy".


Harz, Germany

A man wearing devil make – up looks of an HSB light railway carriage as he travels through the Harz Mountains to celebrate the Walpurgisnacht pagan festival, April 30th, 2014. Legend has it that on Walpurgisnacht or May Eve, witches fly their broomsticks to meet the devil at the summit of the Brocken Mountain in Harz. In towns and villages scattered throughout the mountain region, locals make bonfires, dress in devil or witches costumes and dance into the new month of May.


Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesian workers face a line of police during a rally outside the presidential palace in Jakarta to mark May Day, also known as Labor Day, May 1, 2014. Unions said up to two million workers would be out in force to demand better working conditions in Southeast Asia's most populous nation, although in previous years the numbers have come in much lower than such forecasts.


Paris, France

Hundreds of supporters of France's far-right National Front political party attend the party's annual May Day rally in front of the Opera in Paris, May 1, 2014

Source: CBS

Happy Earth Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, April 21, 2017


Earth Day this year is April 22nd (this Saturday!)

Earth Day is an annual event created to celebrate the planet's environment and raise public awareness about pollution. The day is observed worldwide with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities and service projects.

History:

The first Earth Day was in 1970 , when U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson organized a national "teach-in" to educate the population about the environment after the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1968.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom for being the founder of Earth Day. This is the highest honor given to civilians in the United States.

Earth Day Today:

Today, more than 1 billion people across the globe participate in Earth Day activities. 

In 1990, 200 million people in 141 countries participated Earth Day, giving the event international recognition. For the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, 225,000 people participated in a climate rally at the national Mall in Washington, D.C. The Earth Day network launched a campaign to plant 1 billion trees, which they then achieved in 2012.


Last year on Earth Day, the Secretary General of the United Nations urged world leaders to sign the Paris Climate Agreement - a treaty aimed at keeping planet warming below 2 degrees Celcius (or 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit). U.S. President Barack Obama signed the treaty that day.

The Impact of Earth Day:

Though Earth Day is widely observed, the environment is still suffering. A recent Gallup Poll shows that 42% of Americans believe that the dangers of climate change are exaggerated, and only less than 50% agree that protection of the environment should be given priority over energy production.


However, Earth Day is still significant because it reminds people to think about the importance of the environment, the threats the planet faces and ways to help combat these threats. Every year on Earth day individuals and corporations alike take proactive measures to reduce their carbon foot print- by planting trees, reaching a recycling goal, reducing their energy output,  switching to renewable products, and participating in other "green" activities! 

Source: LiveScience

The Japanese Vending Machine Experience

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Japan's vending machines are a unique aspect of Japanese culture. Japanese vending machines are unlike the vending machines that you see in schools and offices in the United States. Japanese vending machines go beyond selling your average snacks and sodas. In Japan you can find items such as hot coffee, noodle stew, or even beer and Buddhist charms. 

Vending machines inside a subway station

There is one vending machine for every 25 people in Japan. In 2015, Japanese vending machines generate more than $42 billion dollars in sales. The challenge for Japanese drinks company, Dydo Drinco, (who rivals brands like Coca Cola and generates more than 80% of its revenue from vending machine sales) is trying to stay popular in a market saturated with 24 hour convenience stores and other competition.


Vending machine selling hot meals 

In order to attract new customers Dydo Drinco has been developing ways to make vending machines "more fun". The company has previously introduced machines that can talk to customers and also offer the chance to win a bonus drink through a "roulette" game. Dydo also invented app through which users can collect points that count toward prizes. The app is linked to Line (the country's most popular messaging app) and features games like "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon's Quest". However, these apps won't help to attract foreign visitors, as Dryco was initially hoping, as they are only available in Japanese. 


A Dydo Drinco vending machine app 

Another idea of the company was to allow customers to pre-order from the machines during their morning commute or lunch rush via Smart phone. This idea is still in the works but Japan can expect to see more ideas being developed by Dydo in the future, many of them linking vending machines to smart phones to create a distinct interactive experience.  

Vending machines lining the streets of Japan

Source

The 2017 Boston Marathon

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 04, 2017



What: 121st Boston Marathon

When: Monday, April 17th

Where: Hopkinton – Boston, MA. (The finish line is at 665 Boylston Street)

Time: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm (The winners usually finish within two hours)

Schedule:

DIVISION START TIME
Mobility Impaired 8:50 a.m.
Men's Push-Rim Wheelchair 9:17 a.m.
Women's Push-Rim Wheelchair 9:19 a.m.
Handcycles & Duos 9:22 a.m.
Elite Women 9:32 a.m.
Elite Men & Wave One 10:00 a.m.
Wave Two 10:25 a.m.
Wave Three 10:50 a.m.
Wave Four 11:15 a.m.

History: 

After experiencing the spirit and majesty of the Olympic Marathon, B.A.A. member and inaugural US Olympic Team Manager John Graham was inspired to organize and conduct a marathon in the Boston area. With the assistance of Boston businessman Herbert H. Holton, various routes were considered, before a measured distance of 24.5 miles from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to the Irvington Oval in Boston was eventually selected. On April 19, 1897, John J. McDermott of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field and captured the first B.A.A. Marathon in 2:55:10, and, in the process, forever secured his name in sports history.

In 1924, the course was lengthened to 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to the Olympic standard, and the starting line was moved west from Ashland to Hopkinton.


Why patriots Day? From 1897-1968, the Boston Marathon was held on Patriots’ Day, April 19, a holiday commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War and recognized only in Massachusetts and Maine. The lone exception was when the 19th fell on Sunday. In those years, the race was held the following day (Monday the 20th). However, in 1969, the holiday was officially moved to the third Monday in April. Since 1969 the race has been held on a Monday. The last non-Monday champion was current Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot, who posted a time of 2:22:17 on Friday, April 19, 1968.



Important Spectator Information:

Where are the best places to watch? There is ample space every mile from Hopkinton to Boston for fans to gather and cheer on your journey to Boylston Street. Some of the most famous spots are the Wellesley Scream Tunnel just before halfway; Heartbreak Hill in Newton around Boston College; and the final stretch on Boylston Street before the finish.

Be aware that if you are watching the Boston Marathon anywhere along the 26.2-mile course you should expect a significant presence of uniformed and plain clothed police officers. In some areas, you may be asked to pass through security checkpoints. The marathon website has a full list of items that are not allowed in the race are. 

Spring Festivals Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don’t let the cold weather and remaining piles of snow on the ground fool you, today is the first day of Spring! Spring is welcomed in different ways across the globe. For many in the United States, the Spring season is marked by St. Patty’s celebrations in late March and Easter festivities in April. Other cultures have their own unique ways of celebrating Springtime, here are a few festivals that occur around the world this season!

Thailand

Beginning in mid-April, Thailand’s three-day Songkran Festival is one of the most popular celebrations in the country. The Songkran Festival corresponds with the Tai New Year, so Thai’s use this time to clean, reflect, pay respects to neighbors…and engage in a full on, intense, water war with each other in the streets. During the festival, children, as well as adults, ride around on the backs of trucks and motorcycles targeting passersby with water balloons and squirt guns. Songkran occurs during the hot season in Thailand so the festival is a great way to cool off.

Japan

Cherry Blossoms are a symbol of Spring in Japan. Every spring Japanese gather for picnics under the cherry blossom trees as one of the country’s oldest traditions. The cherry blossoms arrive suddenly and only for a limited amount of time. Cherry blossom season reaches different parts of the country at different times so predicting their arrival has become part of Japanese pop culture (there is even an app to help) When the trees are fully in bloom with little cherry blossoms the Japanese head outside for picnics and parties. These gatherings are full of Japanese food, drink, and mingling with other picnickers under the trees.

India

The Hindu festival of Holi celebrates the end of Winter and the start of Spring. You may recognize Holi from photos of participants covered in chalk surrounded by clouds of colors. The night before the festival, people light bonfires to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Ash from these bonfires is considered sacred and many people will wipe some on their forehead for extra protection against evil spirits. On the day of Holi, businesses shut down and everyone is gathered in the streets. Indians throw colored water and powder on each other until they are covered head to toe in color. After there are feasts of Indian foods and desserts.

Bulgaria

On March 1st, the Baba Marta festival in Bulgaria commemorates the arrival of Spring. On this day, people give each other woven red and white figures which they are to wear until they see the first bus or birds of spring. After, participants tie their figures to trees in recognition of the new spring season. The holiday celebrates “Baba Marta” (Granny March) a character in Bulgarian folk tales whose arrival brings about the end of winter. Legends say that the final snow of the season is Baba Marta shaking out her feather bed during Spring cleaning. 

Source

The Best Spots for Spring Flowers

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

With the weather beginning to change and Boston’s flowers starting to bloom, the city is will soon be a beautiful place to spend time outside. Experience springtime in Boston with a self-guided walking tour of the area’s best spots to see amazing spring flowers. Here are some locations where you can see gorgeous flower displays.


Back Bay

The Magnolia trees along Commonwealth Avenue, Magnolia Street, and Beacon Hill are one of the most beautiful sights to see in the Spring. Along these roads, you can see huge saucer magnolias in pinks, reds, and deep purples, mixed in with other types of magnolias as well

The Esplanade

Cherry trees planted along Boston’s Charles River Esplanade bloom in April. Unfortunately, these blossoms do not last long but are usually in full bloom in mid to late April. You'll find the highest concentration of cherry trees in the section of the Esplanade bordering Back Bay, roughly between the Fiedler Footbridge (off Arlington Street) and the Mass Ave access ramp.


Kelleher Rose Garden

The Kelleher Rose Garden is located near the Victory Garden’s in the city’s Fenway neighborhood, a short distance from Fenway Park. The roses are most amazing in June, but you can see flowers begin to bloom starting in may.


Boston Public Garden

Boston's Victorian-era Public Garden, right next to Boston Commons, features winding paths and smaller gardens spread throughout the park.  The flowers on display vary somewhat each year, but always include tulips and annuals such as pansies during April and May.  In addition to flowers, spring foliage in the Public Garden is also spectacular, especially the many weeping willows surrounding the pond.  The best way to enjoy close-up views of the willow foliage is by taking a swan boat ride when the boats return in mid-April.


Rose Kennedy Greenway

 The garden sections  of the Rose Kennedy Greenway are filled with beautiful spring flowers. Across from the North End, you'll find daffodils and lilies and as you walk south you can see tulips. Near South Station and Chinatown are the stunning Chinese Gardens. Starting in about mid-May, peonies and rhododendrons bloom, surrounded by bamboo shoots.The best place to begin your Greenway tour is not on the Greenway itself, but a few steps away at the Rose Kennedy Memorial Garden, located near the southwestern edge of Christopher Columbus Park just north of the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel.  Here, roses bloom from late May through frost, with especially spectacular flowers during June.

Source

The Real History of St. Patrick's Day

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This Saint Patrick’s Day will be marked with green clothes, shamrocks, lucky charms, and gold coins. Surprisingly, these classic icons were not always symbols of the holiday.

 St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17th to commemorate the death of St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland. The holiday, which began as a religious feast in the 17th century, has since evolved into an array of festivals across the globe, featuring music, dancing, and (of course) a whole lot of green!

As it turns out, St. Patrick wasn’t actually even Irish. He was born in Roman Britain and at the age of 16, was kidnapped by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland as a slave.  He later escaped, but then returned to Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to its people. After his death, St. Patrick was pretty much forgotten until various myths surrounding his life were brought to the surface and became ingrained in Irish culture. It was only centuries after his death that he was honored as the country’s patron Saint.

What are some myths regarding St. Patrick? First, he never drove the snakes out of Ireland. Ireland never had any snakes and this myth is just a metaphor for how St. Patrick cleansed Ireland of Pagans. It is said that St. Patrick used a clover to explain the holy trinity to the Irish people, which is why many Irish started to wear shamrocks on their clothing to signify Irish Christian Pride. This tradition later evolved into wearing green on St. Patty’s Day.

You may also be surprised to learn that the tradition of having parades on St. Patrick’s Day originated in the U.S. and not in Ireland. Parades began in the U.S. after many Irish immigrated there during the time of the Irish potato famine. Boston is home to the nation’s longest-running St. Patrick’s Day Parade, beginning in 1737. The second oldest, and currently the largest, parade takes place in New York City, which held its first parade in 1762. It is estimated over 2 million spectators attend the NYC parade each year.

How will you spend your St. Patrick’s Day? Don’t miss the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade this Sunday, March 19th! The parade begins at 1:00 pm at the Broadway MBTA stop and continues for over 3 miles to Andrew Square. You can find various events happening this St. Patrick’s Day weekend here


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Erin Go Bragh!