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Six More Weeks of Winter

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, February 21, 2017


On February 2nd, once again, groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow which means another six weeks of winter. If you and your visitor(s) are not sure what to do during these six weeks before the weather warms and flowers bloom, we have some suggestions for fun outdoor activities to take advantage of all this snow! 


Sledding or Tubing
There is a hill to go sledding in virtually every Boston neighborhood. Sledding locations in the city include places like Flagstaff Hill in Boston Common or Marine Park in Southie.
 This article lists great sledding hills all around the greater Boston area, and if you are looking to go tubing, this article provides tubing locations just a short drive from Boston. 


Skiing
You do not have to travel out of state to enjoy a ski trip with your family. Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton has 12 trails and over 60 acres of terrain for both beginnings and advanced skiers.
 This guide can help you can find other nearby mountains open for skiing this winter. Do you prefer cross country over downhill skiing? Check out The Middlesex Fells Reservation. This park has cross country trails and is located a short five miles north of Boston. 


Skating:
Boston has many opportunities for public skating. Visit
 Boston Common's Frog Pond Which hosts weekly "College Nights" featuring discounted tickets for University students. You can also take the opportunity to visit  The Boston Winter skating path at Government Center before it closes for the season on February 26th. 


Snow Shoeing
If you want an outdoor activity that requires minimal skills, you should try snow shoeing! There are many places a short distance from the greater Boston area that are great for exploring on foot.
 Gore Place in Waltham offers snow shoe rentals and features 50 acres of explore-able estate. This article has information about the top five places near Boston to take a show shoeing day trip.


After spending time in the great outdoors warm up with a cup of hot chocolate from one of these Boston Cafe's. what goes best with host chocolate? Warm cookies :) This list will show you the best best spots to get delicious homemade cookies in the city. Use this snowy weather as an excuse to treat your student (and yourself!) to some of the best desserts the area has to offer!

Valentine's Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, February 07, 2017

February 14th is Valentine's Day! Did you know other cultures celebrate this holiday too?? Check out some countries that have their own unique Valentine's Day celebrations and traditions.....



Australia

Australian's have a long history of gifting extravagant presents to their loved ones on Valentine's Day. This tradition began during the country's gold rush in the 1850's, when newly wealthy miners would buy elaborate valentines for their wives or girlfriends. These gifts included items such as, satin pillows, colored shells, decorated boxes, and even taxidermy hummingbirds. These gifts came to represent high society and style. Today, couple's still exchange large gifts, though with a more modern spin. A typical Australian Valentine's Day now involves less dead birds and more dinner cruises, waterfront picnics, or proclamations of love on the radio. 

 

South Africa

South Africans couples celebrate Valentine's Day similarly to couples in the U.S - they exchange small presents, such as flowers, chocolates or gifts Single South African women have a rather unique tradition where they pin the name of their love interest on their sleeve and reveal their crushes to others. 



Taiwan

Valentine’s Day in Taiwan is celebrated on February 14th, and at the Qixi festival on July 7th. On both days men purchase special bouquets for their sweethearts. One red rose symbolizes an "only love", eleven roses symbolizes a "special someone", ninety-nine roses symbolizes "forever", and one hundred and eight roses is a marriage proposal! 


Wales

Wales' equivalent to Valentine's Day is Saint Dwynwen Day on January 25th. The tradition of celebrating Saint Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers, began in the 17th century, when Welsh men gave "love spoons" to women that they loved. These wooden spoons were intricately decorated with designs of various meaning. Wheels signify support, horseshoes symbolize luck, and keys represent the key to a man’s heart.

South Korea

Celebrations of Valentine's Day in South Korea can occur from February to April. On February 14th, women will gift candy, flowers, or small gifts to men. Then on March 14th, or White Day, men will return the action by offering chocolate, flowers, and a gift to the women. On April 14th, singles may celebrate Black Day, during which they eat black bean paste noodles called jajangmyeon and mourn their single status.

How will you celebrate your Valentine's Day? You can find a few suggestions here.  Enjoy the day with family and friends! 

Source: Huffington Post 

The Coolest Hot Chocolate In The City

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It might not (technically) be winter, but I think you'll agree that it sure does feel like it. It hasn't snowed (yet), but I've already started bundling up on my way to work. One good thing about cold weather is that its a great time to drink hot chocolate! Here are some of the best places around Boston where you can find a gourmet cup of hot cocoa...because sometimes Swiss Miss just isn't enough. 

L.A. Burdick

The "drinking chocolate" at L.A. Burdick takes hot chocolate to a whole new level. This beverage - or should I say dessert- is as thick and creamy as its name suggests. While it does come in small servings, it is definitely not lacking in flavor. The drinking chocolate is made with a high-quality chocolate with an even higher percentage of cocoa butter. If you fall in love with this cup of melted chocolate-y goodness you can buy your own bag of the mixture to prepare at home - and therefore avoid making the trek to Clarendon or Brattle Streets in the freezing Boston winter. 

Flour Bakery 

Flour Bakery's Fiery Hot Chocolate gives a new meaning to the "hot" in "hot chocolate".  This spicy twist on classic hot cocoa, made with chocolate ganache, steamed milk, chili powder and cayenne pepper, is guarantee to warm your whole body up. 

Paris Creperie 


There's no such thing a too much Nutella, right?! If you're a fan of this hazelnut spread then the Nutella Hot Chocolate at Paris Creperie should be at the top of your must drink list. This drink is a mixture of warm milk and hot melted Nutella, instead of chocolate. I could put Nutella on everything so you can bet that I'm really excited about this. Bon Appetit! 

Cafe Vittoria 


If you would prefer Italian over French, the North End's Cafe Vittoria has a delicious mug of hot cocoa for you. The cafe's "Cioccolatto Caldois" is so rich you might have to eat it with a spoon. What makes this mixture so thick? The secret ingredient is corn starch. 

Sofra Bakery and Cafe 


Maybe Middle Eastern food is more your taste? Sofra Cafe and Bakery serves a Turkish -inspired cocoa, quite unlike your typical hot chocolate. This chocolate mix is combined with sesame caramel to give the whole thing a Middle Eastern vibe.

Happy Boston Cream Pie Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This Sunday (October 23rd) is National Boston Cream Pie Day, and what better way to celebrate than by enjoying this tasty dessert in the city where it was created. Fun fact: Boston cream pie has been distinguished as the official dessert of Massachusetts over Toll House Cookies and Fig Newton.  The first Boston Cream Pie originated at the Omni Parker House in downtown. The first Boston Cream Pie was originally called the Parker house "Chocolate Cream Pie" and was created and served at Parker's Restaurant from the opening of the hotel in October 1856. One of the reasons the dessert became so popular (so popular that it was turned into a Betty Crocker Boxed Mix in the 1990s) was the unique use of chocolate icing. When the restaurant opened chocolate was mainly consumed at home as a beverage or in puddings, so the use of chocolate on the cream pie was a big deal. The original Boston Cream Pie recipe is still served at Omni Parker House today, and you can even try your luck at recreating at home, by following the recipe here

 

Another fun fact: Boston Cream Pie isn't actually even a pie, but a two layer golden cake filled with pastry cream. For the best slice in Boston (in a way more casual setting than Parker's) you can try Mike's Pastry or Flour Bakery . Mike's serves their popular Boston Cream Pie whole or by the slice (it's also homemade - see picture above). Flour's well known take on the classic is made with coffee-soaked sponge cake instead of the traditional vanilla. There are many other ways to get your Boston Cream Pie fix this weekend..perhaps in cupcake or donut form? Here are some places you can get not-so-traditional versions of this traditional Boston treat. 

Boston Cream Pie Donut:  

Union Square Donuts has  a popular Boston Cream Pie Donut on the menu, made fresh daily in Somerville.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcake:

Try a Boston Cream Pie in cupcake form from Sweet Bakery in Back Bay. They are as delicious as they are adorable. 

Vegan Boston Cream Pie: 

If you're a vegan, don't worry there's pie for you too! Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge has a dairy-free versions of this famous dessert on their menu. You can't even taste the difference. 

Boston Cream Pie in a Jar?

The Tap Trail House on Union Street has this hipster version of  Boston Cream Pie on their dessert menu. Same flavors just way way cuter.

Boston Cream Pie a la cart (literally from a cart)


Want your Boston Cream Pie on the go? The Boston Cream Pie Company sells their dessert from a tricycle in the Seaport District. 

Enjoy:)

Fall Fun In The City

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fall is here! There are so many different festive fall activities that you can enjoy with your visitor. From pumpkin picking to hay rides to apple cider donuts and more! Fall is a really fun season and it is easy to find low cost activities that will allow you to spend time with your visitor while immersing them in American culture. Nothing comes to mind?? We got you covered. Here is a bunch of fun things to do this fall season. Happy Autumn :)

Watch a Sporting Event!

Cheer on a Boston area team at a college or university football game! Many international students come from countries where football is either unpopular or nonexistent (or  its soccer) so taking your student to a game is great way to introduce them to an important aspect of American and Bostonian culture. College football games, such as games at Harvard or Boston College are also generally inexpensive to attend. This month, many schools have their homecoming weeks, which is a uniquely American tradition and it can be very interesting for international visitors to see the large cheering crowds of students in the stands. Don't like football? It's also Hockey and Soccer season! After all, not all schools have football teams (think: Northeastern, BU). You can buy tickets to university sporting events on each school's website! Go Crimson/ Eagles/ Huskies / Terriers!

Tickets to professional sporting events tend to be more pricey, but a fun way to get the experience of a football game without the high cost is by going to a tailgate! Tailgating before a football game is another American tradition and a really fun seasonal activity. Park at Gillette Stadium before a Pats game for the tailgate  and don't forget to bring food and drink from home (or a portable grill and cooler if you have one) ! Tailgating usually starts early so you'll be able to make it home in time to catch the start of the game on TV. For a schedule of home games click here.

Bake Seasonal Treats!

Another fun (also really low cost and easy) fall activity is baking! The whole Autumn season is basically a big excuse to eat everything pumpkin flavored (if you've been to Trader Joe's recently you'll know what I mean - pumpkin everything) and baking fall desserts is a is good (and also delicious) way to bond with your visitor and get in Autumn spirit. This article has recipes of some fall treats, but other easy items include cider donuts, caramel apples, and  pumpkin spice bread or cupcakes.

Visit a Farmers Market!

Browsing Boston farmer's markets is an enjoyable outdoor activity (that is also free). Farmer's markets can be fun for international visitors because it gives them a little insight into American culture (they see we eat things other than fast food!) as well as the local culture of Boston. Many vendors at the markets will also offer tastes of their products  - and who doesn't like to try free samples?? Union Square in Somerville, Harvard Square in Cambridge, Brookline and Haymarket in Downtown have popular farmers markets that are open through the end of October. You can see a map of farmers market sin the Boston area here. 

Tour Boston's Best Fall Foliage!

New England and the Boston area has some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the United States. You don't have to drive all the way to New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine to see impressive fall foliage. In fact, you don't even need to leave the city. A relaxing fall activity is to take your visitors on a walking tour of Boston's foliage. Visit local parks, such as Boston Commons, The Public Gardens, The Esplanade, or various Boston neighborhoods. Outside of downtown the Arnold Arboretum near Forrest Hills station is a beautiful place to go walking. Exploring these areas with your visitor lets them admire the Autumn scenery while also sightseeing in and around Boston and having conversations with you! Take a look at some of the best locations to see colorful leaves around Boston here. View a live fall foliage map of the US here.


A Fluff Piece On Fluff

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Last Saturday was the annual "What the Fluff?" festival in Somerville. If you're a New Englander than you probably know what fluff is (think: that marshmallowy sticky spread you can only get in this part of the country) and if you're an international visitor you're probably thinking what the fluff is fluff?!? I always found it amusing to ask non-U.S residents if they know what fluff is and then have them look back at me with a blank stare. If you've never eaten fluff before do yourself a favor : go out, buy some, and eat it on bread with peanut butter (aka a fluffernutter sandwich). You can thank me later.

So why does Somerville even have a festival to celebrate a marshmallow spread? Good question. It's because in 1917 a guy named Archibald Query invented fluff right there in Union Square. Every year the city hosts a festival, complete with musical performances, games, and street vendors, to celebrate this creation.

The festival this year, themed "Fluff U: A Sweet Education" included events like fluff covered musical chairs, fluff jousting, a fluff inspired cooking competition (during which winners were given honorary degrees from the Somerville Mayor, Joe Curtatone) and more. The festival was even MCed by an Archibald Query impersonator. Basically, the whole thing is an big excuse to have fun, be weird, and eat a lot of fluff (what more could you want in an event??)

If you couldn't make the festival this year, MC (fake) Archibald Query made it known that next year is the 100th anniversary of the creation of fluff and therefore the festival will be an even bigger celebration. So big that planning for the festival will begin as early as next month. So save the date! And maybe think up some creative fluff baking ideas...

For other quirky state food fairs check out this article from National Geographic travel!

How Do You Like Them Apples!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Autumn season is a great time in Boston to be out doors and admire one of the most beautiful seasons in Massachusetts. A fun activity this time of year is visiting farms around Boston for apple picking, pumpkin picking, hay rides, corn mazes and more...because (although it is delicious) pumpkin spice iced coffee isn't the only way to experience Fall. So put on your best flannel and enjoy the finest foliage (and cider donuts)  that New England has to offer. 

Boston Hill Farm, North Andover MA


Boston Hill Farm is a PYO orchard and farm stand located thirty minutes from the city in the quaint suburb of North Andover. The farm is open for berry picking in the summer and pumpkin and apple picking in the fall. Beginning in mid September through October the Farm hosts Apple Festivals every Saturday and Sunday and offers pumpkin picking until Halloween.  After you've decided on the perfect future Jack o' Lantern you can visit the farm stand for homemade treats like honey, jelly, fudge, and ice cream. 

Connors Farm, Danvers MA


When I looked at the map of Connors Farm is reminded me of an amusement park. There aren't roller coasters or anything like that but it definitely has more entertainment attractions that your average little red barn. In addition to apple picking and a fresh farm stand, Connors Farm is famous for their Giant Corn Maze which opens this year on September 10th - and this year its Charlie Brown themed. During October they open the Hysteria Scream Park (think: Giant Corn Maze but scary) in celebration of Halloween. Like I said before, there's no roller coasters, but there is rides! Hay rides that is....you can take one around the whole farm!

Russell Orchards, Ipswich MA


Russell Orchards might be well known for their apple picking, but the best part about the farm (in my opinion) is definitely their cider donuts. They are well worth the drive from Boston and are freshly made at the store everyday. Actually, one of the things that makes the Orchard's store so special is that everything is made fresh and all of the produce they see is grown right there on the farm. Right now, the store also features produce, honey, and eggs. My other favorite part about Russell Orchards is the animals :) You can visit all of the barnyard animals and even feed them too. If you don't visit for the cider donuts at least come for the bunnies. 

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. 

Red, White, and Burger

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In my travel experience, I have found that one of the best ways to learn about and experience a new culture is by trying the typical cuisine of that region or country. When traveling to the US, sampling the local food should definitely be on your "to do "list. If you're just visiting the United States you might be thinking : America has its own cuisine?? Yes, as much as we do love the food of other cultures ( ex: Mexican, Italian, Chinese) America has a few dishes that are classically American. To get you started, here is a list of a few USA favorites for Americans and tourists alike. 

What's the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about American food? The burger. A classic meal that originated in the 1800s right here in the good ol' U S of A. There is some debate as to who actually created the first hamburger but virtually no debate as to whether or not they're delicious. The popularity of the hamburger (no, not only in the US but all over the world) since its creation speaks for itself. My pick for a must try burger in Boston is Boston Burger Company on Boylston Street.When I went recently there was SO MANY different burgers on the menu it was difficult to decide on just one...but in the end I think I made the right choice (see picture above). They even have a burger topped with mozzarella sticks, fried mac and cheese, onion rings, bacon, and BBQ sauce. If that doesn't scream America then I don't know what does. 

 

The hot dog - commonly coupled with the burger- was created in the US thanks to German immigrants. While Coney Island is the original home of the hot dogs that we know and love today, Boston offers many worthwhile renditions of this American classic - and no I'm not referring to the $20 Franks at Fenway Park. Instead, I would opt for a real outdoor BBQ at Formaggio's Kitchen. Every Saturday from 11 am the restaurant hosts a BBQ outside of their Cambridge location with not only hot dogs but also smoked meat sandwiches, ribs and corn bread. The best part is Formaggio's hot dogs are all beef, not that mystery concoction of meats you sometimes find in grocery stores, so you don't have to feel bad post devouring one Saturday afternoon. Speaking of eating hot dogs on Saturdays...THIS Saturday (July 23rd) is National Hot Dog Day so go out and celebrate America's favorite cooked sausage.

A true meal is not complete without dessert, so in keeping with the spirit of all things American I urge you to try a slice of apple pie from Petsi Pies on Beacon Street in Somerville. All of the pies here are baked fresh daily with real ingredients, so you know they're good. The perfect addition to an American BBQ. I like to top mine off with Vanilla ice cream, but you can do what you want. 

Clam chowder may not be a typical dish of America in general, but it is definitely a typical dish of the New England region. There are A LOT of places in New England to get chowder, but my recommendation in the Boston area has to be the Barking Crab in Seaport. Here, the food is good and the atmosphere is even better. From the outdoor terrace you have a great view of the harbor making for an authentic New England experience.

Pair your meals with other uniquely American things, maybe? A NASCAR race? A football game? You don't even have to feel bad about eating all this food - consider it a learning experience.