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Gifu Group Program Cancelled on Tuesday, March 1414-Mar-2017

The GPI Gifu Japanese group program is cancelled today due to the snow storm. All students shou..

Mito First Program Cancelled on Tuesday13-Mar-2017

The GPI Mito First group program is cancelled for Tuesday, March 14 due to the storm. ..


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International Students LOVE the U.S.!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 23, 2016

      

If you had to guess, how many international students do you think attend higher education facilities in the U.S.? Would you guess 1 million? That number seems high right? Surprisingly enough, if you guessed 1 million you would be right! Well, almost right. There are actually over one million international students in higher education in the USA - for the first time! An interesting article in StudyTravel Magazine reports a 7.1% increase of international students in the U.S. for the 2015 - 2016 year. Data from the Institute of International Education shows 1,043,839 international students in the U.S.(an increase of 69,000 since 2014 /15). International students make up 5.2% of all higher education students in the country- the highest ratio ever.  

Here are where most of the students are from: 

China


China is the largest source of international students in the U.S. 31.5% (or approx. 328,547 students) of all higher education international students in America come from China. This year showed an 8% increase of Chinese students since 2014. 

India

The second largest source is India, which has brought approx. 165,918 students to the U.S. Though a smaller number of students than China, India has the largest growth since last year with the number of Indian international students in the U.S. growing 24.9%. 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the third largest source , taking the spot of South Korea from previous years. Saudi Arabia is the home of about 61,287 international students in the U.S. However, changes to Saudi government's scholarship program have decreased growth to 2.2% compared to the double digit increases in previous years. 

This year there was also a large increase since last year in students from Nepal (up 18.4%), Vietnam (up 14.3%), Nigeria (up 12.4%) and Kuwait and Iran (both up 8.2%). 

Which states draw the most international students?

California is the largest host state with 149,328 students, followed by New York, Texas, Massachusetts (whoohoo!) and Illinois. 

In terms of the students educational levels the report shows that over 420,000 are enrolled in undergraduate courses, over 380,000 are pursuing graduate degrees, 85,000 are pursuing non - degree courses (like language schools, ect.) and 147,000 are registered in Optional Practical Training (OPT).

International students are drawn to U.S. due to the quality, diversity, and prestigious reputations of the country's institutions. As a homestay provider, we enjoy having a part in these students' international experience and the ability to introduce both hosts and students to a new culture!

The Homestay Experience

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, October 24, 2016

Living in a Homestay is a truly unique experience and the only way to really  learn about another culture and develop foreign language skills. Homestay is a full immersion in a new culture and therefore has certain advantages that private accommodations, such as an apartment or home rental, cannot provide. Such benefits include an insight into the daily life of a local family, an opportunity to practice a second language, and a chance to try typical foods of another culture.

A host attending a tailgate at Gillette Stadium with her Danish students

Global Immersions stands out as Boston's leading Homestay specialist, because we pride ourselves on ensuring that our visitors experience all of these opportunities that Homestay has to offer . In comparison to larger Homestay corporations, Global Immersions  is able to deliver a more personal experience, fostering a closer relationship with our hosts and clients. We strive for quality, and take more aspects into account when matching a visitor with a host family.  We want our visitors to have a full cultural immersion, which is why we certify that no other speakers of the visitor's native language live in the Homestay and require our hosts to communicate with their visitors in English. We take into consideration our visitor's preferences regarding conditions such as allergies, dietary restrictions, pets, smoking, heath needs, and location. We aim to make successful visitor placements by pairing visitors with hosts that share similar hobbies, interests, or personality traits. Global Immersions stands out from other Homestay specialists, because we work actively to help our visitors assimilate into a new culture and have a positive Homestay experience. Upon arrival we provide our visitors with the materials they need to be prepared to live in the home of another family. We offer group orientation sessions where we talk about the cultural differences the visitors will face in an American home and discuss what they should and should not expect of their Homestay and host family.

A host playing a game at home with her family and Danish visitors 

Our main focus as a Homestay provider is on our visitors Homestay experience. This means that we want our visitors to feel completely included in their host's daily life and totally integrated into the family as a whole. This fall, we were pleased to welcome over 163 Danish visitors from five different schools. These students from, Handelsgymnasiet Aalborg SaxogadeAalborg Handelsskole Haderslev Hadelsskole Viborg Gymnasium, and Ringkøbing Handelsskole, were in Boston attending classes at Bunker Hill community College and learning about American culture through their time in Homestay. Our hosts involved the Danish students in dozens of different activities, providing them  with countless memorable experiences and learning opportunities.

 

Danish students attending a hot yoga class with their host father


 Here are some fun moments that our hosts and Danish students shared together: 

  • We enjoyed American football games on TV, and listening to music together. We went to my sister's house in Winchester for dinners and had board game nights with everyone.
  • I took them to the Watertown Yankees Candle and I treated them all to frappes at Wild Willies. I also drove them to school three days.

  • We watched The Presidential Debate together

  • We had a great times together easting out at a restaurant and we also went to a children fundraiser at the Masonic Lodge in Melrose. They had a lot of fun with my kids.

  • We have a home in Maine, so we took them for the weekend. We saw the beautiful foliage, and took them to the Fryeburg Fair. We visited my mother's home and went to dinner together when it was my daughter's birthday. We also enjoyed watching TV together and just hanging out.
  • I teach Bikram Hot Yoga and the students came to a couple classes. They mingled with some great people, Doctors, Lawyers, Brain surgeon, cyclists, and the energy level was high. After class, the students and yoga students took a 40 minute long ocean swim. Afterwards, we toured Marblehead and hit Whole Foods for lunch.
  • We had dinner together each night and enjoyed talking about life in the United States and in Denmark. I took them to church with me, and we had brunch at a local restaurant. We went shopping at the South Shore Mall and at the supermarket. They were very helpful in the kitchen and enjoyed my cooking.
  • We attended a soccer game and went grocery shopping together. I also took them to a tailgate at Gillette. We had a blast!
  • We went to Revere beach and North Gate Mall
  • On Sunday, we took the students shopping at Legacy Place in Dedham and the following Saturday, we took them for dinner at Marina Bay in Quincy. They had a good time. Each evening, we shared the day's experience over dinner.
  • I took the girls to my church last Sunday and they were able to enjoy a true Black church experience. It was "Family and Friends Day" at the church and we also honored the women of the church who were 90 years and older. My grandson was also baptized that Sunday. The girls enjoyed my family at the gathering for my grandson at my home. I took the girls to the South Shore Mall and to the supermarket. They were extremely helpful to me in the kitchen. They mingled very well with my family and met three generations of my family members.
  • Went on a walk together to familiarize them with the neighborhood, we also went to the movies with my book club and talked about families, employment & education goals. we enjoyed having discussions about activities during the day, and comparing cultures. We went to grocery store to pick out their favorite foods, and I introduced them to the other foreign student in my home and they  chatted about their school programs.
  • We visited the Museum of Science and saw a film at the Omni 3D Theater.
  • The boys wanted to go to Taco Bell, as they had never been before. We also saw a high school football game at the Everett the football stadium and went to the Assembly Square Mall.
  • I took the girls to an All White Affair Birthday Party
  • We went to Dave and Busters
  • We visited Revere Beach
 
Danish students making sushi with their host family 
                      

It is our goal to create a positive Homestay experience for our hosts as well as our visitors. In order to continuously improve our services, we ask our visitors and hosts to evaluate their experience during the group program.  The feedback we receive shows us where improvements need to be made to enhance our programs and helps us gauge the satisfaction of our visitors. Here is just some of the many positive notes we received from the Danish students of our recent group programs.

"My Homestay helped me understand the culture of the country much better and it created new connections. "

"My overall experience was really fantastic! My family was so nice and helped me with everything. I will be back at [my host] family's house soon! Our friends loved her too! Our friends joined us on trips with the family."

"It was nice to experience new cultures from the inside and my host was the greatest!"

"Homestay is a very good way to learn about another culture. It was an amazing experience and our hosts were so nice."

Danish girls attending a white party with their host mom 

We also received fantastic feedback from the hosts of our Danish groups, who clearly enjoyed the time they spent with the students.

"These kids were great!!!! I loved them!! Great personality, friendly, fun, respectful, well rounded young men. I wish they were here longer!!"

"I really appreciate hosting the Danish students. The experience was a win/win. We both learned and had great continuous conversations about everything. I was very impressed with their interest and knowledge of U.S. Culture, History and politics as well as their concern for the global environment."

"I am thankful to Global Immersions for the great experience of hosting the Danish students. Granted, the Danish students were well mannered, educated, friendly, health conscious and overall positive happy people.   Global Immersions set the tone by competently securing every step of the students stay from arrival to departure. I thank you all at Global Immersions for doing the job correctly."

"Wonderful girls! We thoroughly enjoyed their company! Only complaint is that they couldn't stay longer!"

"We enjoyed the students from Denmark, they were very happy in our home. We all had dinner together and talked and laughed. They were fun."

"We were very, very, happy with the students we had. They were perfect guests, very fun and I miss them already."

"This was my first time have female students, and the experience was quite enjoyable. It was sad to see them go."

 

Danish boys visiting Revere Beach with their host dad     

Global Immersions is the leader in group Homestay programs. If you are interested bringing a group abroad to experience American life through Homestay please contact our coordinator 

                               

Krazy for KitKats

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I'm assuming you're familiar with the KitKat -- the milk chocolate and wafer bar you can find in just about every supermarket, gas station, and convenience store in the country. KitKat is definitely a popular chocolate in the U.S. but did you know that it is HUGE is Japan?? I had no idea until I read this article from CNN. The article is about the KitKat craze and why this chocolate is so popular in the country (it's a really interesting article so you should read it) We were so intrigued that we asked our Japanese culture consultant to give us some insight into this aspect of Japanese life.

To understand the KitKat craze in Japan it is important to understand the involvement of lucky charms in the culture. Belief in good luck charms and trinkets is strong in Japanese society. Japanese often keep a lucky charm, such as a coin, on their person during exams or important events so that they may have good fortune. KitKats became so popular because they are given as good luck charms. Why? Sort of by an unintentional coincidence. The candy's name sounds very similar to the Japanese phrase "kitto katsato", meaning "to surely win". Japanese students will receive KitKats from their parents or friends before exams as a way of saying good luck. Just how popular are KitKats?? In Japan they are sold in over 300 flavors - though not the kinds of flavors you would find in the U.S. Some notable KitKats include pumpkin pudding, green tea, shinshu apple, adzuki bean sandwhich. matcha, wasabi, purple sweet potatoes, cherry blossom, and sake (and to think I thought the white chocolate kind was adventurous). The reason for so many flavors is because of the large amount of competition within the Japanese candy business. Over 2,000 new confectionery products are released in the country each year, so KitKat must create new flavors to keep up. Colors also play a role in the creation of new flavors, as Japanese tend to prefer bright hues to ordinary ones. The different colored KitKats are more attractive to Japanese consumers than standard chocolates. KitKat in Japan goes beyond your standard chocolate bar, with products like KitKat pizza and "baking bars" designed to be cooked before eating. Since 2012m KitKat has begun to overtake major candy companies like Meji. 

KitKats are produced and displayed in Japan the way you might imagine gourmet chocolate is made here. In Japan, KitKats are sold in large stores, the way Lindt or Godiva chocolate is sold in the United States. However, despite their "gourmet" preparation, KitKats are still not viewed to be as fancy or classy like gourmet chocolate brands in America would be. For example, while it may be culturally appropriate in the U.S. to give a box of Godiva chocolates as say a housewarming gift or as an end of the year thank you to a professor, it would not be appropriate in Japan to give a KitKat as a gift in these same situations. So give a KitKat to your Japanese students before their test, but don't expect any from their parents if they come to visit. 


Did this post give you a KitKat craving?? Lucy for you, you don't have to go all the way to Japan for Matcha flavored KitKats. You can find them at most H Marts or Asian grocery stores. 

Autumn Colors Around The World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, September 12, 2016


This month marks the beginning of the Autumn season in Boston. Soon the leaves will change and the air will become colder..even though it was 90 degrees and humid last week (gotta love that New England weather, right?) For me, fall is a season I really enjoy because of things like the excitement of going back to school, upcoming fall festivals, events for Halloween, and of course the beautiful way the trees look when I'm walking around the city.

Thinking about the changing seasons has me wondering what the fall season looks like in other parts of the world ( I've experienced fall abroad before, but I was in Greece and its basically hot there until December) I read an article on Lonley Planet about the world's best places to see Autumn colors and found that many countries also have New England-esque fall foliage.  Here are some highlights. 

Fall in Japan is just as pretty as the spring. Kouyou or Autumn leaves can be seen coloring the whole country, staring in the North and spreading to the South in September. The above photo is from the ancient capital of Nara, where its historical shrines are surrounded by leaves in an array of colors. 

The landscape of Scotland offers some of the finest Autumn scenes in Europe. According to the article, the best place to experience these Autumn hues is Pitlochry, which also hosts an Enchanted Forest each October where the trees are lit up and music is played as residents explore the woods around town.  

Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain, is, according to Lonley Planet, arguably the best place in China for getting the full Autumn effect. The trees covering the mountain turn a bright red throughout October drawing in thousands of tourists from other parts of the country. The foliage is particularly beautiful at sunrise.  

It's no surprise that New England made the list, after all there are so many different destinations (and all equally beautiful in the Fall) to choose from. The New England location that the article decided was the best place in the area (and in the world) to experience Aumtumn was New Hampshire's White Mountains. A hike through the hills in October will surround you with bright red maple leaves and a drive to Silver Casacde Falls in Carroll Country provides a stunning view of the trees next to a gorgeous waterfall. 

If you are looking for ways to experience Fall close to home, we provided a few destinations in last weeks blog post. You can also check out our Facebook page to see what seasonal activities are happening around Boston! 

Little Italy's Big Feast

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

This Friday marks the start of the three day festival, Saint Anthony's Feast, in the North End. As you might know, the North End has feasts and festivals all summer long, but Saint Anthony's is definietly the biggest and also happens to be a personal favorite of mine. Last year I attended the feast with my family and celebrated my (37.5%) Italian-ness by eating a cannoli on Endicott street. Even if you aren't Italian, or a canoli -lover like me you'll definitely still enjoy the festival - but come on, who doesn't love cannolis??

The Feast is a very lively event, drawing huge crowds that cover the historic streets of the North End. Hundreds of food vendors line the sidewalks serving every Italian plate you could think of; from caprese salads, to sausages, to lasagna, to aranchini. Pizza, calzones, calamari, ceci, torrone, cookies, pastries, and more.  National Geographic wasn't kidding when they called it "The Feast of all Feasts". Once you're full of Italian cooking you can stroll the streets listening to live musical performances or watch the giant statue of Saint Anthony be carried through the streets in an even giant-er parade. Experience food and beverage tastings, dancing, games, and crafts for kids. 

The best part about the celebration is that a lot of North end restaurants that are typically crowded (think: Mikes Pasteries, Pizzeria Regina) have stands where you can get their famous food without waiting in an endless line. Did you say Mike's Pastries without a line??? I know right, unheard of. 

I also really like going to The Feast because the atmosphere is so upbeat and the crowd is so fun. Even though I'm only like (almost) half Italian, its nice to be around a group of people who are all part of a similar history and are celebrating a common heritage. Above everything, I enjoy being surrounded by others who share my love of c̶a̶r̶b̶s̶ ̶ Italian food. So, if this post has convinced you to go, then the only remaining tough choice is deciding what to eat. 

For a full schedule of the weekends events and a brief history of Saint Anthony's Feast click here. 

A Little Taste of the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Would you eat a pickle chip? What about an octopus chip? Would you try a whiskey and haggis chip? How about a Marmite chip? Why am I even asking about chips???? Well, National Geographic recently published an article about unusual potato chip flavors around the world which I thought was very interesting. The article is an interview with Ali Payne, the vice president of global snacks innovation at PepsiCo, who explains how cultural cravings affect potato chip flavor trends. She talks about how chip flavors reflect the components of the typical foods in each region and are therefore the best way to eat like a local when traveling. 

 In other words: potato chips make great souvenirs. 

If you're familiar with the Do Us a Flavor competition (aka the thing responsible for Chicken and Waffles Lay's) then you've probably seen some pretty crazy chip flavors on the shelves. According to Ali Payne, preferences for flavors in the program are usually similar to local comfort food - which explains flavors like garlic bread or southern biscuits and gravy in the U.S. and English Breakfast in the U.K.

The part of the article that I found really interesting though was about how globalization is affecting our food - or more specifically our chips. The article explains that since people are becoming more and more exposed to different flavor around the world from travel and social media, ingredients from other countries are gaining popularity.  "A flavor like wasabi and ginger, which may have once been considered exotic in the U.S., is now a hugely popular flavor thanks to the prevalence of Japanese cuisine, and Italian red meat is now one of the most popular flavors in China." 

I also learned from this article that the U.S. has the most flavor diversity of any country (which makes sense considering the whole melting pot thing) so I was inspired to go to a local grocery store and see for myself the range of flavors that the US potato chip market has to offer. What I gathered from looking at the aisles was that the US does in fact have a wide variety of chips...actually compared to the grocery stores that I've visited in Europe, we have a wide variety of everything. So, perhaps it is true that the food in our stores reflects the diversity of our nation. If anything, it definitely reflects our culture of consumerism. 


In looking at a survey done in 2015, it appears that although we have a diverse variety of odd flavors, the most popular flavors among Americans tend to be more conservative, reflecting typical American dishes and usual food flavorings. This is not surprising given the information in the article. People prefer the types of flavors that they have grown up eating, and for Americans this means flavors like plain and (of course) BBQ. 

Greetings From Japan

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our group programs coordinator, Gen, has been away recently, visiting his family and friends back home in Japan. Gen has been writing about his experiences in Japan and providing us with some insight on Japanese culture. Read Gen's post below to learn about one of the traditional holiday seasons occurring in Japan this month! 

Greetings from Japan! I am currently back in my country Japan just temporarily, seeing my family and relatives for the first time after two years and reuniting with my old friends.  These past two weeks have been wonderful and have really been enjoying the authentic Japanese foods here, but also I’m excited to come back to Boston in about a week and be back in the office!

So, in this Blog I’d like to talk about one of the traditional holiday seasons in Japan, called “Obon.” The Obon holiday runs for about a week before and after the 15th of August, and just like the Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays in the U.S., everybody takes some days-off from work to celebrate this yearly tradition. Typically, people travel back to their homes to visit their families, and have family reunions with a lot of foods and drinks to celebrate with. Towns and villages throughout the country organize large festivals at parks and shrines for those who celebrate the holiday. It’s not very common in where I am from, but in some regions people celebrate the holiday with parades and massive bonfires. There are no rules about what foods to serve and it varies a lot from prefecture to prefecture. Here in Ishikawa prefecture, people usually prepare fresh fish and root vegetables like radish because Ishikawa by the ocean and abundant in rich soils.

When did this tradition originate? The exact time is actually not certain as different websites say the different times in history, but the general idea is that it began around 600 A.D. as a Buddhist ritual to welcome ancestral spirits back to the earth for the week to demonstrate respects to them. Haka-Mairi, or grave visits, are one of the most important and widely-practiced family traditions for this holiday. People visit the graveyard of their ancestors, decorate the gravestone with flowers and special ornaments, and pray for the well-being and good health of their family members for another year to come. Again the traditions and ritual customs vary slightly in different areas in Japan, but the picture below is how these gravestones during the Obon time usually look. 

I talked about the religious aspects of what Obon is, but the most important part of this holiday is that this is when Japanese people have reunions with families and friends, and along with New Year’s Day (or Oshogatsu) this holiday brings back all generations in the family. Many families plan their August activities based on their own Obon celebration date in August. With all the Obon themed festivals, fireworks and “bon-odori” Japanese traditional dance events, this holiday is the absolute favorite for many Japanese.



Adjusting to American Culture: Tips from our Japanese Culture Consultant

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, August 08, 2016

Last week, Ayano gave some advice about assimilating to life in the U.S. and shared her own personal story about coming here from Japan. This week, another Global Immersions employee, Gen, recalls his experience as an international Japanese student in the U.S. and shares important tips for potential international students. 


"My first destination when I came to the United States five years ago was Burlington, Vermont and I went to a small liberal arts college for four months to take some summer courses. Since I had a prior experience in participating in a summer English program back in 2007 at the same college, my adjustment to the U.S. culture and a new life went very smooth without any problems. I had some American friends from my first trip who were so generous to help me out with my move-in and getting all the necessities, like my cell phone, laptop and etc. The friendly and peaceful environment of Vermont also gave me a homey feeling, which made my stay so comfortable. After a couple of months passed, I made some close friends who I would always hang out with, I was doing surprisingly well with all the classes, and got completely used to my new surroundings. Everything was going exactly what I expected it to be.

At the end of August 2011, it was time for me to leave Vermont to start my new life in Boston. I was already admitted to Northeastern University before leaving Japan, and going to a full-time university in the United States had always been my dream, so I could not complain how lucky and granted I was. But to be honest, I was considering cancelling my admission to Northeastern, and register for the college in Vermont as a full-time student instead, just so I could continue the fun college life I was having. I had never been determined to move to Boston to start my upcoming five years college life. Rather, expectations from my parents, my classmates from my old high school, and people who supported me back home pushed me towards making that decision. Aside from my actual desire to study international relations and cultures in the U.S., coming to study at a well-known school and to live in a big city was only a "cool thing" for me.

Five years have passed, and now that I graduated from Northeastern and successfully completed my college life in Boston, I even feel it was ridiculous that I had such anxiety and concerns. As a Japanese from a small city which is in nowhere close from any of the metropolises, it was definitely comfortable to live in Vermont. I felt the sense of community within the campus and outside. For most of the international students studying in Boston, the hardest challenge would be how quickly they can adjust to their new lifestyles in Boston, and to the American culture. The longer the adjustment takes, the more stressful a student would feel over time. Everybody needs to undergo the period of adjustment, and we all understand that it takes some time. Living away from the environment you've loved and feel comfortable of can be extremely stressful. So, how can we try to minimize such stress? Here are some tips and advice for you as a Japanese cultural consultant here at Global Immersions.


First, it is very common to feel insecure, anxious and uncomfortable being in a new environment. But remember, everyone else is on the same page. It is even a waste of time to be thinking that you might be the only one who's experiencing such struggle. Adjusting to a new environment does not necessarily mean making lots of new friends, or knowing more places in the city than your friends do. Adjustment is not a competition. If you hurry trying to "fit in" to the new things, you will eventually exhaust yourself. When you are feeling nervous about your new life, so is everybody else you got to know, and take your time to slowly get accustomed to your surroundings.

Secondly, do not forget the most simple elements and the easiest things you can do. Say "hi" and smile. This may sound a bit ridiculous because everyone can do these and is doing so in day-to-day life. Well, the reality is, it is very easy to forget to smile and greet friendly when you are in the middle of the adjustment period of feeling a little discouraged. Don't we all have this kind of experience when feeling so left behind comparing to others who seem to be having the successful start of new college life, and you start to worry about yourself? Again, it is a waste of time tiring yourself with such worries first of all like I mentioned, but more importantly, everyone will be fully accustomed to their new lives in Boston regardless of  how quickly the adjustment takes. We'll all get to the same point eventually, so why hurry? Instead, you should always be a nice "diplomat" to yourself. I can guarantee that new people you meet will remember you after some years, just because you left a nice impression on them.

Lastly, accept the fact that you are living in a completely different environment, and that your comfort zone does not exist around you anymore, unless you try to create one. When I moved to Boston from Vermont, all I could think about was the "losses", like friends I made there, my favorite beautiful view I could see from my dorm room window, campus, stores, Ben & Jerry ice cream (Boston has more store locations than its birthplace Burlington actually)...  But obviously, leaving the beloved town and people behind and moving to a new location does not only cause you those losses. You'll meet so many new people, get to know new great sites you can go, find your own place where you can relax. Discovering all these positive aspects of the new place could only be possible if you stay open-minded and are ready to accept the differences.

If you are considering on studying abroad and have the same worries and anxieties as I did five years ago, I can guarantee you that you all will do just fine, and will have such awesome experiences when you have completed your programs. After all, adjustment is not all about a series of stressful moments you have to go through. And remember, you can get accustomed to the new environment only at your own comfortable pace, always be nice and smile, and get out in the city and find what your new favorites are!" 



Adjusting to American Culture: A Japanese Student's Perspective

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, August 01, 2016

Adjusting to culture in the U.S. can be very difficult, especially if there are a lot of differences between your native culture and the culture here. If you are thinking about coming to the U.S.from abroad or if you are already a visitor here staying in homestay, then it may be helpful for you to read this testimonial from one of our Japanese staff members, Ayano, who experienced many of the same challenges you might also be facing when she came to the U.S. for college after growing up in Japan. Ayano talks about her time spent learning English and provides a few tips for a positive homestay experience!



"Hi everyone, since we have many clients from Japan throughout the year, we would like to talk about some U.S. culture adjustment tips for the future Japanese students who plan to come to the U.S. and Boston. There are two Japanese members in Global Immersions. Inc and our names are Ayano from Tokyo and Gen from Ishikawa. We will share our stories with you through this blog and hope something helps you.


I, Ayano, came to Boston almost 2 years ago and studied leadership in business at Northeastern University. I am doing an internship during my last quarter here at Global Immersions Inc. and I enjoyed my experience here in Boston. I would like to share what I have done for adjusting to life in the U.S.


First and foremost, I thought I should know about some background of the U.S. and especially Boston. I thought it would be important to get knowledge of the culture, geography, and customs. I believed that knowing that information would make it much easier to adjust to a new environment and give me an idea of the culture differences before my arrival.


Second, I studied English as much as I could. Since I was going to the U.S. and had to speak English all the time, it made sense that I should be familiar with English. Knowing English will help you when you arrive. For example, in my case, once I got an acceptance letter from my current college, I tried listening to English songs, radio, and even short news stories such as VOA and CNN Student news. To practice writing, I wrote diary entries in English. Writing often lead me to learn new words, idioms, and phrases. I was not into reading, so I did not try reading books that much, but I wish I could have practiced reading before I got so many reading assignments from the thick textbooks at school. In terms of speaking, I kept taking lessons online. These lessons were very helpful and I was able to adjust my pronunciation and use new words I learned from other resources.


Third, once I arrived in the U.S.  I just started exploring new things. Exploring definitely gave me a broader views of U.S. culture. You may be scared to go out and explore or break out of your shell, however, it is the best way to learn. Coming to the U.S. and doing nothing leads to little discovery during your stay. If you really want to get precious experience here, you need to actively seek out whatever you can!


Next, I want to share how to deal with homesickness and culture shock. What I have done is find ways to experience my own culture when I miss home or people in Japan. Since I have been in the U.S. I try using English to improve my skills, but also sometimes I want to speak my native language and talk with my family and friends. Therefore, what I try to do is to make time for contacting my friends and family and telling them news about my life. I also watch Japanese TV drama or listen to J-pop to feel like I am at home.Doing this makes me very relaxed. You may want to focus on only English, but it can be tiring and stressful. The balance between the two languages is very important. In terms of culture shock, you need to keep in mind that the things you are used to are not the same everywhere in the world, so you need to keep an open-mind. If you watch some American TV shows or movies, you can see the culture differences. Also, you can avoid a large amount of culture shock if you study before your arrival and know what to expect. Having some knowledge of the U.S. shows your respect of the country, as opposed to arriving without any knowledge.



I went to Australia for one month to study English. I was in homestay at that time and had plenty of experiences with my host family. You may feel very anxious, worried, and confused about homestay. Even if this isn’t the first time you have visited a different country, it is common to feel scared. I had exactly same feelings. I could not speak English well and none of my family or friends would help me learn. However, I was excited because I took this as a challenge and hoped it would change me. Although I was shy and introverted during the first few days, I actively communicated with new people at school and talked with my host family even though my English was poor. After the four weeks, my abroad experience completely changed me! I had many friends from many countries, made better conversation with my host family, and even my brain began to work in English. When I thought about something, the words came to me in English before Japanese. Homestay is a very great opportunity to learn culture and English. I would suggest a couple of tips for successful homestay:


  1. If you have any questions, just ask your host and do not hesitate to talk.

  2. Be active during your stay

  3. Set goals for yourself during your stay


When you are not sure about something, just ask your host and solve the problems. They know you are international students and that English is your second language. You do not need to worry about your skills, so just spit the words out!  Also, while you are staying in homestay,  you should not stay in your room and do things by yourself. You can ask your hosts to do something together with you or you can ask your friends to go out. This is how I improved my English skills, so I can tell you that this really works. Furthermore, I would highly recommend setting goals during your stay. When you feel so stressed or lonely, you may avoid speaking English or become shy. However, if you have goals or an ideal image of who you will be after this stay, it will motivate you to study hard and overcome those troubles! Believe in yourself and keep making an effort and in the end you will have a successful stay in the U.S.!"

" 皆さん、こんにちは!現在私達が住んでいるボストンへは、幸運なことに毎年日本からのたくさんの訪問者がいらっしゃいます。そこで今回は、弊社で働く二人の日本人スタッフ、アヤノとゲンがアメリカでの生活にどう適応していったかを、このブログを通して紹介したいと思います。ここに載せた情報が何らかの参考になれば幸いです。

私アヤノは、約二年前にボストンに来てノースイースタン大学でビジネスを勉強していました。学校の最後のタームを利用して、この会社でインターンシップをさせて頂きました。ここでの経験に加え、ボストンでの生活はかけがえのないもので、とても楽しい時間を過ごしました。今回、私がどうやってアメリカ生活に適応していったかをお話したいと思います。

まず始めに、異国の地を訪問するということで、その土地の文化や風習、そして基本的な背景情報を下調べしておくことは必要不可欠であると思います。多少の知識があれば、その地に到着した際にもっと簡単に適応していくことができますし、文化の違いなども見えてくるでしょう。

二点目にあげられるのは英語力強化であると思います。皆さんも海外に行くなら、英語力を身につけるのが高い優先順位であげられることでしょう。英語力を十分につけていくこと以上に楽なことはありませんが、短期間で英語力を伸ばすには限度があります。しかし、何もやらないよりかは多少でも英語に触れておくことは大事なことです。私が大学の合格通知をもらった後に出発までの間に行ったことは、英語のニュース(VOACNN Student News)や洋楽、ラジオを聞いたりしながらネイティブレベルのスピードにならしていく、ということです。ライティングに関しては日記を英語で書き始めるようにし、そこから新たな単語やイディオムなどを習得できた部分もあります。私はあまり読書が好きなタイプではなかったため、あまり洋書を好んで読むことはしませんでした。今思えば、学校でぶ厚い教科書のリーディングの課題が出される前にもっと洋書に読みなれておけばよかったと痛感しています。会話力に関しては、スカイプオンラインの英会話レッスンを毎日25分受けていました。それを使うことで過去に習った単語を使ってみたり、講師の人が発音を直してくれたりするため、インプットとアウトプット両方を鍛えることができました。

三点目はアメリカに到着後のことになりますが、私は何事にも挑戦する精神をもって行動することを心がけていました。それらは私に幅広い視野を与えてくれ、文化の違いなども生活のちょっとしたところで発見できたりします。せっかくアメリカに来て、挑戦することを恐れ自分の殻に引きこもっていたら勿体無いです。何もしないことには何も始まりません。本当に小さなことからでいいので、是非積極的に行動してみてください!

次に、ホームシックやカルチャーショックにどうやって対応していくかについてお話したいと思います。誰しも海外での生活を送る中で、ホームシックやカルチャーショックは感じるものです。私がこれらに打ち勝つために行っていたことは、日本を感じる時間を作る、ということです。もちろんアメリカに居るのだから、英語力をあげるために英語漬けの生活をするのも大切なことです。しかし、たまに日本語で日本に居る友達や家族と連絡をとって近況報告をすることもストレス解消の一つであると思います。それに加え、日本のドラマや音楽を聴いたりしてリラックスする時間を作っています。英語に集中したい気持ちもわかりますが、時に息抜きをしないとストレスになってしまうかもしれません。うまくバランスの取れた生活をすることでストレスを減らし、有意義な生活をすることができることでしょう。カルチャーショックに関しては、全てに対して自分の常識は世界の常識とは異なるということを頭に置き、新たな視点で物事を見ていくことが必要です。そしてアメリカのテレビドラマや映画をみていると、アメリカ独自の文化や風習などを知ることができるので、一番手っ取り早く文化を学ぶことができるのではないでしょうか。何も下調べをしないでいくよりかはカルチャーショックを防ぐことにもつながっていくと思いますし、その国に対する尊敬の意を示すことにもつながっていくことと思います。

私は過去に一ヶ月間オーストラリアで英語を勉強しながらホームステイをしていました。その期間はホストファミリーと多くのことを経験することができました。もしかしたら、あなたもホームステイを選ぶ可能性があり、不安や心配事など様々なことが頭をよぎるかもしれません。もし今回が初めて海外に飛び立つということなら、なおさら皆さんが感じることです。私自身もまったく同じ状況でした。英語は上手に話せないし、誰も助けてくれない環境に身を置くわけであったので不安でいっぱいでした。しかし、私はこれが自分に課せられた大きな挑戦であると考え、この経験が私の中の何かを変えてくれるのではないかと考えるようになりました。初めの数日はとても内気で何をするにも抵抗がありましたが、その後自ら積極的に新しい人と話をしたりホストファミリーとも単語をつなげての乏しい英語で会話をしていきました。しかし、四週間後にはこれらの行動が私をガラッと変えてくれました!日本へ帰国するときには様々な国籍の友達ができ、文単位での会話をホストファミリーともすることができ、さらには私の脳までもが英語脳に変化していきました。何かを考える際に日本語よりも先に英語が頭をよぎるのです。そのとき初めて自分自身でも成長を感じた瞬間でした。ホームステイは英語力やその国の文化を学ぶには最高の場であると思います。ここでいくつか素敵なホームステイ生活を送るためのコツを提案したいと思います。

1.      何かわからないことがあったら遠慮なくホストファミリーに聞くこと

2.      滞在期間は積極的に行動すること

3.      滞在期間中の目標を持って生活をすること

何か疑問に思ったりすることがあれば、ホストに聞いてすぐに解決しましょう。ホストファミリーは我々が海外からの留学生で英語が第二言語であることを理解しているため、自分の英語力を心配する必要はありません。なので、どんどん知っている単語を繋げて会話してみましょう!そして滞在中は家の中に引きこもって自分ひとりで何かするのではなく、ホストを誘ったり、学校の友達を誘ってどこかへ出かけたり何か一緒にするように心がけましょう。それらは英語力を向上させるための一つのコツでもあります。これは実際に私も行った方法なので自信を持って皆さんにお勧めすることができます。最後に、何かしらの目標をもって過ごすことを高く推奨したいと思います。そうでないと、何か大変なことがあったりつらいことが起きた際に、すぐ諦めてしまったり英語を話そうとしなくなる可能性もでてきます。しかし、もし目標や滞在後の自分の理想像などがあれば、難しいことに直面した際にも乗り越えることができるでしょうし、何ごとに対してもモチベーションを保つことができるでしょう。自分を信じてどんなことにも努力をしていくことが、最終的に良い結果をもたらしてくれると私は考えています。"

Gone Beachin'

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

One thing that a lot of people don't know about Boston is that beaches exist in the city. Yes, despite popular belief you don't have to travel all the way to the cape/south shore for a pleasant beach experience. If you're a Boston native then maybe you frequent Carson or Revere beach, but for me, this being my first summer living here in the city, I hadn't visited any of the local beaches until last weekend. Upon spending all of Saturday and Sunday laying on a beach towel I learned something: "that dirty water" is actually kind of nice - freezing, but nice.

The two beaches I visited were Revere Beach in - you guessed it- Revere, and M Street Beach in Southie. Saturday was the International Sand Sculpting Festival at Revere. What's that? It's like a display of those sand castles you always built when you were little, except way way WAY better. Every year artists from around the world come to Revere to create huge sand sculptures from a bunch of sand imported from New Hampshire. I have no idea how they do it but I know it looks amazing. The festival draws over 300,000 spectators - so you can imagine how difficult it was to park.

In addition to the sculptures there was also a live music stage, carnival rides, and just about every type of food truck you could think of. The whole event was super lively and I'm really glad I went. Definitely better than staying home in my AC-less apartment. 


M Street Beach on Sunday was a lot more laid back than Revere.  The beach wasn't nearly as crowded (probably due to the lack of any international festivals taking place) and the ocean was a lot more calm. While it wasn't as big as Revere, I still liked M Street because the atmosphere was relaxing and the beach itself was pretty. From the sand you have a nice view of the JFK Library and neighboring Carson Beach as well as a perfect location to watch the planes landing/ taking off at Logan. This beach was also cool because the majority of beach-goers are typically young, college-aged Bostonians.  My friends and I started a game of spike ball (think volleyball but the net is a trampoline) and tanned until the sun began to set. It all made for a perfect end to a perfect weekend.


Vamos a la playa! Find a list of Boston's best beaches here. 

Locations and Transportation: 
Revere Beach: 
Revere Beach, Revere MA 02151
MBTA: Blue Line to Revere Beach 
Bus 110 to Wonderland or Broadway & Park Ave. 
M Street Beach
William J Day Blvd. (at M St.)
BostonMA 02127
MBTA: 11 Bus E 8th St @ M st. or N st.