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

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

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

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


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The Year of the Rooster

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Xinnian Kuaile (sshin-nyen why-luh) ! Happy New Year! This year, Chinese New Year falls on January 28th and will last until February 2nd. Unlike other country's new year celebrations, which coincide with the last day of the Gregorian calendar year, Chinese New Year is based upon the Lunar Calendar and therefore falls on a different date each year (typically between the end of January and mid February). Although Chinese New Year falls in the middle of winter, the celebration is known as "Spring Festival" in China, as the ancient solar calendar classifies the start of Spring as the period from February 4th to 18th.


 Each year is assigned one of 12 zodiac signs with an associated animal. The Chinese believe that each sign has certain characteristics, which describe people born during the sign's corresponding years. 2017 is the year of the rooster - the corresponding sign of those born in 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, and 2005. Those born under the rooster are thought to be hardworking, resourceful, courageous, talented and very confident in themselves.

Roosters are always active, amusing, and popular within a crowd. They are talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest, and loyal individuals. They like to be the center of attention and always appear attractive and beautiful. People born under the sign of the Rooster are happiest when they are surrounded by others, whether at a party or just a social gathering. They enjoy the spotlight and will exhibit their charm on any occasion.

Roosters expect others to listen to them while they speak, and can become agitated if they don’t. Vain and boastful, Roosters like to brag about themselves and their accomplishments.

Their behavior of continually seeking the unwavering attention of others annoys people around them at times.”


Much preparation is done before Chinese New Year even begins. Homes are decorated with red decorations along with streets and public places, as red is considered a very lucky color. Most homes will also include strips of paper known as "Chunlian". These papers contain messages known as "Spring Couplets" or messages of good health and fortune. A typical decoration contains four Chinese characters in gold writing, which are known as "Hui Chun". Families will thoroughly clean their homes for the festival to rid the home of any bad feelings for the new year. It is considered bad luck to not clean one's home before the new year. The Chinese clean beforehand to avoid cleaning for at least the first three days of the new year, as they believe doing so will sweep away any good luck they have acquired. In addition to cleaning their homes, Chinese also take care to clean themselves. They do so by getting a haircut prior to the new year. It is considered unlucky to get a haircut during the new year, so some Chinese people will avoid cutting their hair for at least a month. In Chinese culture, new clothing and shoes symbolize a new beginning, and many Chinese will purchase new items for the new year. It is also common for people to purchase flowers, as flower blossoms symbolize good fortune.

(Migration of Chinese during Chinese New Year) 


The New Year celebration is extremely family oriented. It is estimated that more than 200 million Chinese take long journey's to return home for the holiday celebrations. The main celebration usually begins with a family gathering and meal on New Year's Eve. Families will enjoy special treats along with typical dishes of fish or chicken. Both dishes are served whole, however the fish should not be completely eaten, as leftover fish represents a surplus at the end of the new year. It is also common for the family to exchange gifts in the form of money inside of a red envelope. Families will practice Shou Sui, or staying up until midnight together to greet the new year. 

New Year's celebrations include parades with traditional Lion dances, drums, and large fireworks displays. During the Spring festival, there are hundreds of thousands of fireworks displays and millions of fireworks set off at home. The tradition is that fireworks scare away evil spirits and demons. The largest displays are lit at midnight, similar to the January 1st celebrations of other cultures. The two weeks of celebration usually end with a Lantern Festival. Families and friends come together again to eat and release lanterns into the sky. Children do not attend school throughout the holiday period, and can even go a whole month before returning to class!

(Spring Festival in Malaysia)

You may be surprised to learn that China is not the only country that celebrates Chinese New Year. Spring Festival celebrations occur in dozens of countries across the globe, with more than 2 billion people participating. Countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have huge celebrations, and smaller communities in Chinatowns around the world gather to hold events, parades, and firework shows. Public holidays lasting from one to four days are common throughout Asia, with celebrations extending  for a week in Vietnam. Hong Kong is well known for its Spring Festival celebrations, as the area hosts a major horse racing festival at this time. Events also include fireworks, theatrical shows, as large displays of flowers. Western cities also hold their own Chinese New Year festivals. Most notably is the celebration in London, which sees more than half a million people taking part in organized events. 

Interested in participating in Chinese New Year Events in Boston?? From now until January 27th, The China Trade Building in Boston's Chinatown is hosting a Chinese New Year Pop-Up Flower Marketselling flowers from local businesses in celebration of the New Year. On February 12th, Chinatown will host the Chinese New Year Parade and China Cultural Village, featuring classic elements of Chinese New Year celebrations, such as music, lion dancers, fireworks, and of course delicious food! 

Check out our Facebook Page for more info about Lunar New Year Events and other exciting things happening in Boston! 


Sources: The Mirror, Quartz, KInternational, CNN

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. 

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!" 



Independence Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Hopefully your independence day this year was filled with fireworks, American flag T-shirts, barbecues, and plenty of potato salad.  As I was impatiently awaiting the start of the Boston fireworks this year, from the comfort  of a roof top in Mission Hill (see above - pretty scenic right??), I wondered if our celebration, fireworks and all, is really as uniquely American as we perceive it to be. So, I decided to do a little research about the Independence Day celebrations of other cultures and I discovered that firework shows, eating contests, BBQs,  parties, and parades are actually a pretty universal thing and seem to be the standard way to celebrate freedom. 


Australia: January 26

OK so Australia Day isn't exactly the Australian equivalent of Independence Day but it's pretty close. On this day the Australians celebrate the first arrival of the British (I know total opposite from the 4th in America) and the first unfurling of the British flag at Sydney Cove. Australia and America have different reasons for celebrating, but the way they celebrate is similar. Just like Americans, Australians celebrate this day with family gatherings, festivals, fireworks, and (of course) BBQs. Each city has its own Australia Day traditions, for example Sydney holds its famous boat races, while Melbourne has a People's March to celebrate the diversity of the nation. Overall it seems like a pretty good time.

Ghana: March 6

Ghana was the first African colony to celebrate its independence from Britain in 1957. Every year on this day the people of Ghana celebrate with fireworks parades and traditional street parties. And if you think street parties sound fun, on the coast people have beach parties and celebrate with dance moves that combine traditional elements with hip hop.


France: July 14

France's independence day commemorates the day of the storming of the Bastille prison during the French revolution.The day begins with a military parade on the famous Champs-Élysées. The French also attend Firemen’s galas, where fire stations across France are open to the public for dancing, drinking, and partying and even some live demonstrations. A party with French firemen?? Oui s'il vous plaît. 


Peru : July 28 -29

The way Peru celebrates their independence day is actually brilliant. Why? because they take two days to do it instead of one. As someone who thinks July 4th is the greatest American holiday, I am really into the idea of dedicating two days to celebrate. In Peru, they celebrate their independence on July 28, the date when José de San Martine proclaimed Peru’s independence; AND July 29, on which they celebrate the Armed Forces and National Police. The festivities kick off with a cannon salute in Lima, followed by Te Deum mass, led by the Archbishop of the capital city and attended by the President of the Republic. The Gran Corso, (aka a giant parade) also takes place in downtown Lima.


India: August 15

August 15th marks the day the British brexit-ed India ending the three century long period of British rule. Billions of Indians every year commemorate the historic day by decorating their houses, offices, and schools with the deep saffron, white and green of the Indian flag. Families gather to watch the annual flag hoisting ceremony, broadcasted live from the Red Fort in New Delhi. Independence day in India is a beautiful celebration because all over the country the sky is full of colorful kites, which to Indians symbolize freedom. Definitely the perfect day for a picnic outside in my opinion. 


Indonesia: August 17

Celebrations on August 17th begin with the flag ceremony at the National Palace. The flag is hoisted by carefully selected high school students from across the country. It is immediately after the ceremony that the real party starts as neighborhoods ready themselves for street fests with games and music concerts. On this day in Indonesia, the traditional game is "panjat pinang", which is a typical non competitive sport where people try to scale palm trees that are covered in oil (because climbing a non -slippery tree isn't hard enough?) in hopes of grabbing the prizes that have been placed at the top. This challenge is important because it symbolizes the struggle of Indonesians to achieve their independence from the Dutch. If you aren't down to get super greasy climbing trees, then you can try your luck at the hotdog shrimp chip eating contest. Yum.


Mexico:  September 16

The Mexican independence day (no - it's not Cinco De Mayo) memorializes the Grito de Delores, or the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest from Dolores. Mexico city is the hot spot for all the festivities as more than half a million people gather there each year. It is a tradition for the president to repeat the cry of patriotism and then there is a firework show. ¡Viva!

 


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)

Cinco de Mayo!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, May 05, 2016

It's Cinco de Mayo today!  A lot of people think that it's the independence day of Mexico, like the Fourth of July in the United States. It is indeed one of the biggest celebrations in Mexico, but it's different from their Independence Day, or Grito de Dolores, which is on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo (literally means the fifth of May) is the festivity to commemorate Mexico's unexpected victory at the Battle of Puebla against French aggression on May 5th, 1862. The United States version of celebrating Cinco de Mayo is said to begin around the same time, in the 1860s, when Mexican miners in California overjoyed with the news of their country's surprising victory, and celebrated with fireworks, drinks and traditional dances. The tradition began to quickly spread throughout the country in the late 1860s and early 1900s, and cities with large Mexican population, like Chicago and Houston, followed the celebration tradition which initiated in California. By this time, the celebration included traditional foods and it grew to the community-wide festivity in the entire United States.

After 1950s, Cinco de Mayo gained further recognition as a Mexican tradition, partly because of commercialization of the holiday, and a series of social movements calling for the equal rights for all ethnicities and communities of color in the 70s and 80s. Nowadays Cinco de Mayo is one of the most well-known Mexican holiday celebrated in the United States by many different cultures. In the recent years, the holiday tradition is celebrated in many different countries, especially in English-speaking countries with large number of Mexican immigrants like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Cinco de Mayo celebration can be seen even in Tokyo, Japan, to recognize the increasing number of immigrants and exchange students from Mexico.

So, how can you celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Boston? Perhaps you can go to a Mexican restaurant today or this weekend to get a taste of the Mexican culture! Here are the 5 highly-recommended Mexican restaurants in the Boston area you can eat at and enjoy the tasty traditional Mexican cuisine! (suggested by Phantom Gourmet) If you are not familiar with the Mexican cuisine and some Spanish words associated with Cinco de Mayo, click this link here for this useful website!

Painted Burro: 219 Elm St., Somerville

El Centro:  472 Shawmut Ave., Boston (also in Brookline and Belmont)

Papagayo:  15 West St., Boston (also in Somerville and Saugus)

La Siesta: 70 Woodside Ave., Winthrop

Rosa Mexicano: 155 Seaport Blvd., Boston




Run, Boston, Run!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, April 14, 2016

Marathon Monday is quite possibly known as Boston's second Christmas. And I'm not even exaggerating here. I was actually speaking to one of my neighbors on Monday, and she told me how she marks off the whole weekend and week before Marathon Monday, just to prep herself (and she's not even running the marathon).

(just in case you didn't catch my title reference)

Before 2013, the Marathon was a day to go out, have a couple (or several) drinks, and cheer on friends, family, or random runners at the finish line. That all changed on April 15th, 2013. I don't want to go into the specifics, because quite frankly, we all know what happened at the Boston bombing. I was sitting on my friend's couch, enjoying her birthday festivities and my Georgetown cupcake, when all of a sudden, everything changed. I scrambled to find my phone, just to tell my parents and sister that I was okay, and that I'd try to keep them as informed as possible. Soon after, all cell services were blocked and I felt like I was in a some sort of trance. I was a freshman in college! I had never experienced anything like it, and needless to say, that was one of the worst weeks of my life.

I am beyond lucky to say that I wasn't on the finish line that day, and that my best friend had decided to leave Boylston about 15 minutes before the bombs went off.

Almost three years after that horrific day, Boston has gotten back on track. What happened during the marathon was one of the worst things Boston has ever seen, but what happened after, truly showed how one city can really come together in a time of remorse. There was a massive amount of support given to everyone and anyone who was in some way affected by the marathon bombing, and Boston didn't let anyone take their strength and resilience away. The city was the true embodiment of Boston Strong.

Though I do think we should take Monday to love our families and friends a little more, to thank whatever force you believe in that we're still around and we're still alive, I also believe there are many places around Boston to do so.

Boston Marathon Pre-Race Dinner

Whether you're running the marathon, or just watching it, there's always an excuse to carbo-load. At City Hall, starting at 4pm the night before, there will be an abundance of trays to any and all food and marathon lovers. If you're a superhuman running the Boston Marathon, you can eat for free! If you're lazy like me, and the thought of running more than 5 minutes absolutely horrifies you, you'll just have to pay $20 for all you can eat. On the menu are FOUR different pasta dishes, and a salad if you're feeling like pasta isn't enough for you.

Midnight Marathon Bike Ride

Now, I'm not much (or at all) of a runner. In fact, I actually hate running. I get bored, and I just don't have the will-power to force myself to do it. However, I do love biking. I am an avid spinner, and will literally bike anywhere because (thankfully) I've built up a resistance to do so. This event is basically perfect for me, but I will most likely find some excuse to stuff my face instead of attending. But don't be like me, and bike away! Every year, thousands of people gather and bike across the city, only to be greeted by a pancake breakfast right after. Yes, it's basically like pulling an all nighter for pancakes, but you deserve them after pedaling so much.

(pedal away pedal gods)

T.J. Spirits

This isn't so much an event, more like a restaurant that I highly recommend. Even though it's not located anywhere near the finish line, this place has some true marathon celebrations. You'll see your typical finger-lickin' wings, and make-your-own burgers, but what's most important is their marathon inspired beer. They serve Sam Adams' signature 26.2 marathon brew. It has a lower alcohol content, so if you're a runner looking for a post race drink, this may be the perfect solution for you - because if I were to have a regular beer on a post-workout empty stomach, I'd probably faint.

Cityside

If you're looking for a more up close and personal view of the marathon, Cityside has panoramic views that are just for you. On Marathon Monday, they open at 9am (say it with me: rise, and shine, and wine), so arrive there early for the best views on their rooftop patio or by the windows! Between the drafts, fishbowls, and greasy eats, you'll be glad you're watching the marathon, and not running it.

I rounded out what I think are some of the best to-dos on Patriot's Day. There are obviously hundreds of other places you can go, and if you didn't particularly like any of my suggestions (rude),  you can look on the BAA website and find some other places (mine are the best, just sayin').

Before I sign off, I'd also like to remind everyone of the holiday on Sunday, April 17th. If you happen to not know (shame on you), it's INTERNATIONAL (yeah she's internationally known) IT'S MY SISTER'S BDAY, DAY. You might be busy prepping for the race, or carbo loading, but whatever you're doing, send some positive vibes out and have a drink for her. She likes champagne (Moet and Veuve only, duh) and chocolate lava cakes, so order those.

Happy birthday my munchkin. Even though no one likes you when you're 23, everyone loves you when you're 24. 

(even leo)

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.

Leap Year: It's Not Just a Movie

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 29, 2016

I've seen the movie Leap Year, so in my eyes, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the once-every-four-years leap year. But in the spirit of February 29th, I went ahead and researched it. Turns out, I know nothing about leap year.

(Here's a pic from the movie - such a guilty pleasure)

The truth is, I never really knew why we had leap years - and it's actually pretty simple (well, not really but I'll summarize it). Apparently, a complete orbit of the earth takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete - not 365 days as the Gregorian calendar states. Because of this pretty precise anomaly, leap years are added to the calendars to keep our seasons, and the earth, in sync.

That's the most basic explanation of leap years, but who really wants to talk about orbits of the earth? Let's talk about something a little more interesting - the tradition of women proposing on leap year. We all know that men usually struggle with taking a hint, but apparently this notion dates all the way back to the 5th century. Thanks to an Irish nun named St. Bridget (maybe the OG Bridget Jones?), we have the chance to pop the question every four years. Legend has it, she approached St. Patrick, telling him she simply couldn't keep waiting for her suitors to propose - you go girl.

St. Bridget wasn't the only one fed up with men, Queen Margaret of Scotland also wasn't having it. In 1288, she drafted a law that allowed unmarried women to propose during leap year, and get this: any man who refused, was handed a fine. I guess she was taking Queen Bey's "if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it" pretty seriously. I know this seems a little crazy, because our assumption is that as soon as we get down on one knee, our man will flee (I'm a poet and I don't even know it?), but it's not all that true. According to the UK's The Telegraph, more than half of men, would not only be pleasantly surprised, but would accept the proposal (I always knew the Brits were great). There's some bogus research out there that says Leap Year proposals are more likely to end in failed marriages, because women proposing is "against human nature" (scoff) - but I'd like to beg to differ. If you have the confidence to propose to your man, all the power to you (YAAS QUEEN YAAS).

Proposals aren't the only things to celebrate on Leap Year, but birthdays are pretty important too. Yes, everyday marks somebody's birthday somewhere, but Leap Year birthdays are particularly special. September 29th (my birthday) is obviously the most important birthday day of the year, but February 29th is kind of cool too.

If you're a leap year baby, according to the internet, you should be in Anthony, a small town that borders Texas and New Mexico. What a bore, you may think. Well, you're wrong. Anthony is the leap year capital of the world. Every four years, on February 29th, people from all over the world (I'm not kidding, people come from like Australia, India, even England), meet up. This year, leap babies will be indulging in wine tastings, cowboy reenactments, and a leap-tastic parade.

Taking a trip to the Texas/New Mexico border today may be a little last minute, so if you're reading this and you're a leap baby, there are some real deals you can take advantage of wherever you are.

Caribou Coffee (who knew they sold more than just k-cups?) does it right. It doesn't matter whether you're a leap baby or not, today you can go in and buy one beverage at normal price, and get another for 29 cents. Bear with me, I couldn't figure out why they were charging 29 cents for a coffee - I got it about 15 seconds later.

A large portion of my family is Italian, so saying that I absolutely love Olive Garden is probably sacrilegious. But really, who can resist unlimited salad and breadsticks? I'll tell you who, nemmeno gli italiani (not even the Italians). If you're a leap baby, you can get not only one, but FOUR free desserts on your birthday. Andiamo leap babies!

I'm a dunkin girl. As you know, I love my strawberry frosted donut and caramel-coconut iced coffee (medium with almond milk please!), but I'd switch to Krispy Kreme any day for a box of donuts at $2.29. The only catch is you'll have to first buy a box of donuts at regular price. But come on, 24 donuts for $10.29? Worth it.

Hard Rock Cafe's nachos are my jam (I'm punny aren't I?). Out of pure interest, and definitely stupidity, I decided to look up its nutrition facts. You can indulge in a plate of nachos for a minuscule 1,886 calories, 45 grams of fat, and 65 grams of total carbs. My mouth is watering, so I'll just go ahead and tell you why I'm bringing up their nachos in the first place. If you're a leap baby, you can go into any Hard Rock and devour a free meal. Do yourself a favor: order the nachos and ignore the post-binge stomach pains and regret.

(Had to show you how amazing these are)

The Leap Year deals are pretty never ending, so if you want to drool through them, find them here.

Between some deliciously fattening deals, and the ability to propose, I petition to make February 29th a national holiday.

Gotta go pick up my donuts and find someone with a February 29th birthday now. 


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!