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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..


Best in Hospitality

Employee Spotlight: Nicole Trecartin

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, June 15, 2017



As my time here at Global Immersions comes to an end and I move towards my next adventure in Indonesia, I was given the opportunity to tell you a little bit about my experience as our Homestay Coordinator. With a background in travel and a clear interest in learning and understanding new cultures it was no surprise I ended up here. For most of my life travel has been a vital part. I believe the very act of traveling and entering yourself into a new culture opens your mind to new experiences and perspectives which you may otherwise have been unable to see.  About a year and a half ago, as I entered into my second semester of my Master's Degree, the position of Homestay Coordinator here at Global Immersions seemed like the perfect next step after all of my travel experience. It is here I was able to gain new daily insights into the dynamics of hosting international students. My role as Homestay Coordinator really let me switch between two perspectives of host and visitor.  I constantly was brought back and forth between what I remembered as a traveler, where everything was a new experience, to my old Bostonian ways and understanding a host’s perspective when having a visitor in their home.


                                                          


Working with international students is a constant eye opening experience. What I and the office consider to be the "norm" is constantly challenged from day to day. This allows for an open mind and continued learning opportunities. This continued ability to learn and understand is what makes the whole team here at Global Immersions continually improve.  I imagine some larger companies with their algorisms and long listed numbered surveys, where they allow a computer to match a student with a homestay. At Global Immersions we take the time to analyze each visitor application personally and match the students with the homestay they would best fit in. Working in this role you continually learn that it is the experiences and scenarios which come up day to day that provide us with the knowledge necessary to make the best placements.


                                                                


The matching portion of Homestay coordinator, although an important part, is only a small piece of the pie.  In addition to the time I take to match students into homestays I also act as a cultural liaison between host and visitor. During our busy season as well as throughout the entire year, I act as the front line contact person for host and visitor needs. I am able to fine-tune the skills I was taught in University to help our host network navigate through and problem solve any cultural issues which arise in the home. Personally this is my favorite part of this position. Being a natural people person I enjoy the conversations I am able to have with our hosts and helping them to make life in their homestay as comfortable as possible. I love the unpredictability of the scenarios our office comes across and the collaborative approach we take to solving them. The continuing variety that I was able to experience in this role kept things fresh and new with each new day!


As my time comes to an end here, I will bring these skills and experiences into my next adventure overseas. It has been a pleasure being a part of the Global Immersions team and I hope that this blog has shed a little light on what goes on here in the Homestay Coordinator role.

Until we meet again or as they say in Bahasa Indonesia Sumpai jumpa lagi!

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! 

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!

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。"

Spellabrate: A Guide to Correct Spelling

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Spelling mistakes are easily one of my biggest pet peeves, ever. When people confuse you’re with your, or its with it’s, it drives me completely insane. In my head IT’S common sense – isn’t it?

Okay, I’ll stop with my little rant, and get down to the root of my issues. Woah, okay, not all my issues. The more I think about it, I’m interested as to why spelling mistakes bother me so much. If anything, I’d be more lenient to spelling mistakes because, well, English wasn’t my first language. But I think that’s precisely why it infuriates me as much as it does.

When I came into the US, I literally spoke about three words of the English language: book, bear, and house (you know, the essentials for everyday life, which at age six, was Bear in the Big Blue House). So my poor second grade teacher, pretty much got the worst-case scenario when I was placed into his class. Poor guy couldn’t get three words out (that weren’t book, bear, and house), without seeing my hand being raised at the corner of his eye. As much as I was a definite hassle for my poor teacher, he definitely engrained true Americana English in my head. He constantly corrected my spelling mistakes, in the nicest way possible. And every time I listened to his corrections, I would get a gold star, and sometimes a cookie. With positive reinforcements like that, correct spelling kind of became an obsession for me – but in my mind, I think that’s the case for a lot of students who come from across the pond. We become so adamant about learning our second language to the best possible ability we can, spelling mistakes just simply don’t happen anymore.

(definitely not what my teacher was like - but what a great movie)

I’ve never been in an ESL class, so I can’t pull from those experiences at all. But to my understanding, ESL is even more one on one. The simplest mistakes are made noticeable, not to spite ESL students, but to have them be the best they can.

I have to say though, there are many words in the English language that phonetically make sense, and then as soon as you try to spell them, you’re at a standstill. Let’s look at pneumonia. You don’t hear anyone say, Pneumonia, it’s just pneumonia with a silent p. What in the world is a silent p? Why would it make any sense to include a letter, that isn’t even pronounced? Apparently the residents of Washington, Missouri, and North Carolina, agree with me. It’s the most commonly misspelled word in those three states! I have one word for you guys: autocorrect.

(get on your spelling game America)

Not that I ever need it (haha, lies), but autocorrect is both a blessing and a demon. It makes you look incredibly smart in the texting world, but when it comes to writing a note by hand, you can’t call on siri to fix your “namonia” for pneumonia (I’m okay with that though, because how many times will you actually write down a note by hand with that word?)

My recommendation for you readers that are struggling with your spelling bee skills, and have to constantly google whether you’re spelling something correctly – is to turn off your autocorrect. I’ve done it before, and besides the annoyance of having to go back and correct your texts when you only have one hand to text with him, while you hold a chai latte in the other, it actually taught me a lot. I wasn’t so lazy anymore, and it forced me to keep up with the spelling skills that I gained in second grade. So put that chai latte down (I know, this won’t be easy), turn off your autocorrect, and take a stand against spelling laziness. Who knows? You might become so great you’ll sign up for an adult spelling bee, win, and buy yourself a drink with your earnings. It’s a win-win.

(this could be you)

Get Lost in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 31, 2016

I'm inching closer and closer to graduation every single day. And yeah, it's absolutely terrifying. So as my college years come to a close, I've become extremely nostalgic. I mean, for goodness sakes, I moved to Boston four years ago. Four years ago, my mom and I drove up to the front steps of my freshmen year dorm. Four years ago, I walked into my room and yelped: "Mom, what is this? A prison?"

Well, the good thing is it wasn't truly a prison. Yes, my single-turned-double was extremely tight, and my roommate and I had to find some creative ways to coexist - but I wouldn't change my experience for anything.  For the first years of college I remember being sure that once college was done, I'd be fleeing Boston. Well, that's definitely not true anymore. My plans are to stay here, and live blissfully with my lobster rolls and green beer.

Although I'm staying here, and I guess not much will change, I thought I'd compile a list of must-dos in Boston. I didn't do much exploring my first few years of college, but more and more I realized how much this city has to offer. You guys should be aware of that too.

(even amy poehler agrees with me)

 Explore the North End, and not just for the Mike's Pastry

I'm a sucker for lobster tails. They're puffy and creamy, and I could easily chow down on like 15 of them. Mike's Pastry, besides its cannolis, is pretty well known for its lobster tails. Even though every time I go to the North End, I run straight to Mike's - I'm telling you to do the exact opposite of that. There is SO much to do in the North End, and Mike's should still be part of it - but not the only part.

Some of you may be a little far to do this, but if your walk is an hour or less, take that chance and walk all the way to the North End. You'll find all these little nook and crannies, and you might just stumble into a restaurant that you wouldn't have otherwise. That's what happened to me when I walked into Trattoria Il Panino. Okay, before you start telling me that this place is well known and that I'm ridiculous for even bringing it up, let me explain myself first. When I walked to the North End over the summer, I went around and through. The back of the trattoria was hidden in this small street, and it looked great, so I walked in. Most trattorias around Boston aren't true Italian. This place isn't like that at all - this is the true Italian. The minute I told them my family was from Italy, they immediately started speaking to me in Italian. Thankfully, I understand some of it (thanks daddy). I got some of the best service I've ever gotten, and I left with a full and happy belly.

(I ate that entire thing)

Because I'm always hungry and apparently an entire skillet of pasta couldn't fill me up, I went looking for dessert. Gigi's was the only gelato place that I could see from a short distance - but don't be lazy like me. Go on a hunt! Gigi's was good, but nothing compared to the true goodness that I found inside of Bova's Bakery. Bova's is a lot like Mike's: you know, the old school traditional bakeries that look straight out of Don Vito's neighborhood. Who knows? You might even bump into a Corleone. But back to the point - Bova's is delicious. You might feel a little lost, because they sell both baked goods and calzones - so do what I did, take the calzone to go, and eat a cannoli (or five).

Non c'è niente come il cibo italiano.

Since you're in the North End, go to the Boston Public Market

I've talked extensively about the Boston Public Market, so I won't go on for long. Moving from the Italian streets of the North End to the market might seem a little weird at first - one is very old school, and the other is a brand new, state of the art indoor market. But you just can't miss this market. You'll most likely be filled to the rim from your five cannolis, but just take a stroll.  You can pick up some flowers, and have a sip of Hopsters Alley's IPA.

Sit and chill by the Charles River

There are many times during my day where (my boyfriend and) I  repeat the line "can you just sit and chill?" And though I hear it repeatedly and attempt to make it my mantra, I don't do it very often (sorry Santi). If you're a coffee chugging, hyperactive nut like me, please follow my next recommendation. Go to the Charles River, and just sit. That's right. Just sit. Okay, don't sit inside the river because that's probably not so safe. There's a walkway around the river that's easily one of the most beautiful sights in Boston. You'll see people running, babies laughing, and couples strolling - seriously, you can't ask for a happier place. There's a dock right around the Hatch Shell. Tie your hair back (because Boston winds are no joke), take out your bag of baby carrots, and post up. You'll clear your head, and leave with some serious peace of mind.

Okay enough of this calm, here comes the storm

Well, it's not really a storm, but I thought that was a nice segway. While you sit on the Charles River dock, you'll probably see a couple kayaks roaming past you. You're not crazy, they're actually there, and they're coming straight from the Charles River Canoe & Kayak. Once Boston decides to stop changing up its weather every other day, you should take a trip down there. I went last summer with one of my best friends, and did absolutely none of the paddling, but it was still a total blast. While he paddled about 300 pounds across the river, I just sat back and tanned. Pretty lovely.

(what a view amirite?)

If you go around 11 or so, my recommendation is to (obviously) pack some snacks. I got real hungry (obviously) and had to cut my tanning escapade short. So if you're trying to just enjoy your day, and have your kayak take you wherever it may, pack a granola bar or a full thanksgiving meal - whatever floats your boat (see what I did there?).

Harvard Square isn't just for Harvard students

That's right. Even though both the T stop and the general area are named after the Ivy League school, you don't have to be a student to go there. I admittedly didn't really know much about HS before I started commuting to work. There is SO much to see there. But I'm going to start with my favorites: Felipe's, Liquiteria, and BerryLine.

Felipe's Taqueria

Almost all yelp reviews say this is the greatest Mexican food in Boston. I'll clarify that right now: it's actually the greatest Mexican food ever. Yes, it's better than Chipotle, it's even better than my hometown honey Lime Mexican Grill (that's a bold statement right there). I don't know what they do in that kitchen, or how the burrito maker goes as fast as he does - but I'm grateful regardless of what their secrets may be. Felipe's made me want to create a time machine, just so that I could keep eating and re-eating my rice-less chicken burrito. It'll get messy because the pico will spill out of the burrito, and through your fingers. But don't you dare waste that - do as your cheeto-finger-licking self would do, and lick away.

Liquiteria

This next one just shows how basic I truly am - this place is a smoothie making, juice pressing joint. There is one almost on every corner in Manhattan, but for some godforsaken reason there is only one here. And just my luck, it's not in my neighborhood (sigh). If you love kale juice and chia pudding, go here and pay $10 for your smoothie. Haha, I know. It's $10 for literally a cup of pressed vegetables, but it'll be the best (and the healthiest) $10 you'll ever spend.

BerryLine

This is my spot in Harvard Square. I shouldn't even be talking about it, because now everyone will flock there. But since I'm a good person and I want BerryLine's sales to boom so they eventually open up in Fenway, I'll tell you how wonderful of a frozen yogurt shop this is. Hands down, this is the best frozen yogurt I've ever had. It's just as smooth, with a hint of creamy as any other froyo joint, but their flavors are so insanely unique. They range from raspberry fudge to lavender honey to caramel toffee to oreo, and almost all of their toppings are homemade. I don't even know what goes into making mochi, and they make it. I'd say don't eat before this so you can try all their baked goods, but I go there straight from Felipe's...(my summer body plan is going well).

(this is the lavender honey topped with coconut, mochi, and strawberries - aka best toppings ever)

I've given you five recommendations for now, and I really do think you should take all of them. I've gone to all of these places personally, and I wouldn't be placing them at the top of my Boston tips list if I didn't love them and appreciate them as much as I do. There are more tips to come, but go on an adventure and try these out for size. 

Bahston's wicked beddah than yah think.

boston strong.

Japanese Culture Tips from our Japanese Homestay Coordinator

Global Immersions - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

           

Is it considered as a good thing to stand out?

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

         

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

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

What is “wabi-sabi”? :

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


Tradition of giving gifts and “returns”:

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


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

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

 

It's Pumpkin Time!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall has just begun in Boston, and it is once again the time to go crazy on consuming pumpkin-inspired products and foods. Recently, Americans have seen the resurgence of pumpkins, and the products range  from pumpkin beers, cookies, donuts, teas, and even Pringles! Furthermore, in the Massachusetts area there are always awesome activities and places to go if you ever want pumpkins or pumpkin inspired foods, so below are a ton of suggestions on how to get your pumpkin fix this fall!

Anyone who loves pumpkins will surely enjoy this first event! The Beacon Hill Neighborhood is celebrating their 10th annual Pumpkin Fest, and from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm you will be able to carve, decorate, and paint pumpkins whilst also enjoying a great meal! Located at 75 Chestnut Street in Boston, the restaurant will have special pumpkin inspired items on their menu such as Harvest Pumpkin Bisque and more! Sounds delicious and this is a great event to take your family, friends and visitors. Find out more here

What better activity is there than going on pumpkin picking adventures just as fall has started? All over Massachusetts, there are tons of family farms where you can go out on to their fields and pick your own pumpkins at your own leisure! Once again, this is a great activity to spend the whole day with your visitors and family members, as not only are you guaranteed to be picking the freshest pumpkins but also at the same time you can soak in the beautiful atmosphere of the different farms. To find a farm near you, click this link for an interactive map 

Another community organized event, bring your entire family to the Mayor's Fall Pumpkin Fest located at the Frog Pond on October 17th, 2015. You can bring your own carved and decorated pumpkin, and they will illuminate and float it on the pond for you to create what will surely be an amazing spectacle at night with all the different pumpkins floating around. Furthermore, there will be refreshments, music, and family orientated activities throughout the day, and best of all it is FREE! 

This blog would not be complete without a list of places where you can satisfy your pumpkin cravings in the greater Boston area! Firstly, there is of course the iconic pumpkin spice latte at participating Starbucks, and also Dunkin Donuts has just introduced the new Pumpkin Macchiato on to their menu, so make sure you check either out when you need some coffee! However, if you are in the mood to support some local brews, make sure you taste the Pumpkin Spice Flavored Coffee at Polcari's Coffee Shop, located at 105 Salem Street, Boston, MA in the North End!

As the cold weather officially kicks in, people will be swarming for the ultimate comfort foods, which is usually anything with pumpkin flavor in it. Here are some dishes you have to try in the next few months! First off, make sure you head to Juniper if you are in the mood for some dessert. Located on 13 Central Street, Wellesley, MA, their pumpkin cheesecake will surely have you craving more! It is infused with spicy whipped cream, caramel apples, and candied walnuts, which is everything you would want in the fall!

Another pumpkin dish that will serve us well this fall can be found at Prezza, located in the North End at 24 Fleet Street, Boston, MA. Although the Italian food has always been top notch, the thing that sets it apart from other restaurants is the fact that the chef is always prepared for the changing seasons, and hence you must try the pumpkin ravioli, which is served with lobster and mascarpone, brown butter and sage!

Furthermore, when the cold weather starts to hit and all you crave is some nice, warm, soup, head over to Bistro du Midi, located on 272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA. A beautiful French restaurant, make sure to try the mushroom consomme which features pureed pumpkin and ricotta cheese, and even more pumpkin that is roasted and used as a garnish in this savory soup!

If you are in the mood to try and cook your own pumpkin inspired dishes, make sure you check out the many farmers markets available to get your hands on the best pumpkins you can find! One market that we recommend is the Boston Public Market, located on 100 Hanover Street. This year long market is guaranteed to have the freshest produce available, and you will be supporting the local farmers by purchasing your produce here! Another farmers market that will offer you some of the best deals on fresh produce is the Haymarket, located on the iconic 96 Blackstone Street. 


Hope everyone has a great fall, and let us know what your favorite pumpkin dishes are!

Danish Groups: Short-Term Programs

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, October 31, 2014

Global Immersions Homestay specializes in customized group homestay programs.  We spend time discussing and determining exactly what each client wants their visitors to experience during their time in Boston.  Hosts and visitors are matched by our coordinators based on their compatibility. This compatibility is determined by the shared hobbies of hosts and visitors, preferences on pets, gender, and various other aspects of the household to ensure all involved have the most enjoyable experience possible.  There is a minimum of four nights on the length of stay but not for the number of visitors in the group. Each homestay program is specifically designed for the each group! 

This fall Global Immersions had the pleasure to accommodate homestays for number of high school groups from Denmark. During their programs these students took part in business seminars at Bunker Hill Community College, visited iconic site in Boston such as Faneuil Hall and the Boston Science Museum, attended a Celtics game, visited Salem, took part in Halloween celebrations and activites, and toured local schools. The goal of the homestay program was to live with Americans in order to truly experience and learn about U.S. culture and traditions and enhance the overall program.  Our hosts exposed the visitors to a variety of activities and events and foods that allowed them to have a taste of American life with locals to entirely culturally immerse them. 

Here are a few of the experiences the Danish visitors enjoyed with their hosts!

  • Going to church
  • Shopping at the Prudential Center, malls, and Newbury Street
  • Sightseeing in Boston
  • Dinner enjoyed together
  • Visited the Patriots Stadium in Foxborough
  • Watched football games
  • Cultural conversations
  • Birthday parties
  • Playing billiards
  • Cooking meals together
  • Playing ping pong
  • Carving pumpkins
  • Watching Bruins ice hockey games
  • Apple picking on a local farm
  • Watching Halloween movies
  • Halloween parties and trick-or-treating
  • Attending corn mazes and haunted houses
  • Eating out at restaurants
  • Playing with host children
  • Manicure and pedicures
  • Bowling
  • Making ice cream sundaes
  • Touring neighborhoods looking at decorations

Boston is a city filled with all types of activities and happenings for any interest. The highlight is not only the diversity of our great city's offerings but the fact that many events are FREE! We post many fun, interesting and upcoming activities on our facebook page daily.

One of these Danish students wrote, "My host family always cared about us. They talked to us many times and when we didn't know what to say or do, they helped us. They let us meet 17 people and we got to go to many places so our schedule was busy and full of fun!!" And another student said, "I was worried about homestay at first, but I really enjoyed this homestay. I can't thank my host family enough. I want to put this experience to good use in the future!"


The hosts sincerely enjoyed this group program as well. One host wrote, "I wish they could've stayed longer everything went so fast but they were very very polite.  We thoroughly enjoyed the visit"
 Another host commented, "I found this group to be excellent! It's like heaven sprung a leak in the hosting student department and the Danish girls fell out! I told them they came as students and left as family."

In regards you our group programs, one host wrote "I enjoy hosting with Global Immersions because I think it is great that 2 students are required in each home. I also think it gives the student a sense of security and also someone to have quiet time with when the day is over and everyone goes to bed, it gives them the opportunity to talk about what they think and feel without any interruptions."

Do you have a group that you would like to bring to Boston?  Contact us today to learn more about our group homestay programs.  

Would you like to host for our international visitors and get involved with these group programs? Check out the Global Immersions short-term programs page for upcoming groups.   Contact us for details on hosting and an application.

Thank you to all the hosts and students who participated in these homestay programs!

Tips for Success as a Homestay Visitor

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Global Immersions welcomes visitors from all over the world into their Homestay program consistently throughout the year. Many come to homestay as part of a group for a short-term cultural immersion experience. Others stay in homestay while studying at private high schools or colleges in the Boston area. Young professionals learning English, students touring the U.S., and researchers from all over the world decide to become a part of our homestay experience. While ultimately all our visitors do well and achieve the experience of American culture first hand while living with our host families, some visitors adapt to this huge transition from their home country to the United States more easily than others. Here are some tips many of our most successfully adaptable visitors have used during their time in Boston to gain the most positive homestay experience possible. 

1. Take charge of your experience and pay attention to the details. Some successful visitors have brought a notebook with a pen attached. In this, writing important contacts before leaving your home country is extremely helpful, such as:

  • The name and address of the language school or your daily destination 
  •  Phone number and email of the host family
  •  Name and address of the homestay and host family  
  •  Your home contact information written in English 
  •  Your passport number (in case you lose it)


2. Contact and establish a connection with your host family before arrival. This allows you to be better acquainted with the family in which you will be living before you actually live there making the adaptation to a new home and family easier. Sending a quick email introducing yourself (in English of course) is a great way to break the ice before you even arrive to Boston.

3. Know why you are staying in homestay and coming to Boston. In your notebook, make a note of the top three reasons you are leaving your home, and all that is familiar, to travel far away and stay with an American family. When you are feeling unsure of yourself after arriving, you can remind yourself what you had hoped to gain by going on this adventure!



4. Research Boston and where you will be studying/attending on the web. If you know a bit about the school, city and state are moving to, you will begin to feel at home when you recognize things upon arrival. Did you know for example, Boston has the country's oldest public park (the Boston Common), first ever public beach (Revere Beach), the oldest baseball stadium (Fenway Park in the photo above) and first subway system? Here are some more Boston fun facts



5. When you first arrive- recognize and accept that Americans are very open, friendly and curious people. They appreciate and enjoy outgoing people who smile and ask questions. You may not be naturally open and talkative – but to be successful, give it a try! Practice with your host family. Ask them how long they have lived in Boston; have they visited your country or any other countries outside of the USA; ask them about their animals; ask them about things to do in Boston. Asking questions is a big key to success!



6. Practice saying yes to (almost) everything. Start as you wish to continue – by allowing new experiences in. Try the food (such as lobster in the photo above), drink the water, accept offers of help.



7. And get involved! Engage your host family and ask them about things to do in the city. Make dinner with your host family and attend family events, church, check out an American grocery store, or see a local sports team. Explore the many exciting and beautiful aspects of Boston, from Newbury St. to Chinatown to the Boston Public Garden (in the photo above) and the neighborhood where your homestay is located and share those experiences with others!



8. Be grateful! Even when times are tough, this will be an astonishing opportunity and time in your life. Thank your family for supporting your journey here, your teachers, coworkers, friends and especially thank your host family. Know that you have taken a great opportunity and have been helped by many! A group of Japanese visitors even made this creative 'thank u!' photo for us at Global Immersions, featured in the photo above.  

 So look over these tips before you come to Boston- or if you're already here see what else you can do to even further improve your homestay experience based on these tips!  

What do you think? Are these helpful for you as a visitor? As a host, what else would you consider helpful for visitors to do to ensure a positive homestay? Do you have any input? 
We want to know!