Last week, Ayano gave some advice about assimilating to life in the U.S. and shared her own personal story about coming here from Japan. This week, another Global Immersions employee, Gen, recalls his experience as an international Japanese student in the U.S. and shares important tips for potential international students.
"My first destination when I came to the United States five years ago was Burlington, Vermont and I went to a small liberal arts college for four months to take some summer courses. Since I had a prior experience in participating in a summer English program back in 2007 at the same college, my adjustment to the U.S. culture and a new life went very smooth without any problems. I had some American friends from my first trip who were so generous to help me out with my move-in and getting all the necessities, like my cell phone, laptop and etc. The friendly and peaceful environment of Vermont also gave me a homey feeling, which made my stay so comfortable. After a couple of months passed, I made some close friends who I would always hang out with, I was doing surprisingly well with all the classes, and got completely used to my new surroundings. Everything was going exactly what I expected it to be.
At the end of August 2011, it was time for me to leave Vermont to start my new life in Boston. I was already admitted to Northeastern University before leaving Japan, and going to a full-time university in the United States had always been my dream, so I could not complain how lucky and granted I was. But to be honest, I was considering cancelling my admission to Northeastern, and register for the college in Vermont as a full-time student instead, just so I could continue the fun college life I was having. I had never been determined to move to Boston to start my upcoming five years college life. Rather, expectations from my parents, my classmates from my old high school, and people who supported me back home pushed me towards making that decision. Aside from my actual desire to study international relations and cultures in the U.S., coming to study at a well-known school and to live in a big city was only a "cool thing" for me.
Five years have passed, and now that I graduated from Northeastern and successfully completed my college life in Boston, I even feel it was ridiculous that I had such anxiety and concerns. As a Japanese from a small city which is in nowhere close from any of the metropolises, it was definitely comfortable to live in Vermont. I felt the sense of community within the campus and outside. For most of the international students studying in Boston, the hardest challenge would be how quickly they can adjust to their new lifestyles in Boston, and to the American culture. The longer the adjustment takes, the more stressful a student would feel over time. Everybody needs to undergo the period of adjustment, and we all understand that it takes some time. Living away from the environment you've loved and feel comfortable of can be extremely stressful. So, how can we try to minimize such stress? Here are some tips and advice for you as a Japanese cultural consultant here at Global Immersions.
First, it is very common to feel insecure, anxious and uncomfortable being in a new environment. But remember, everyone else is on the same page. It is even a waste of time to be thinking that you might be the only one who's experiencing such struggle. Adjusting to a new environment does not necessarily mean making lots of new friends, or knowing more places in the city than your friends do. Adjustment is not a competition. If you hurry trying to "fit in" to the new things, you will eventually exhaust yourself. When you are feeling nervous about your new life, so is everybody else you got to know, and take your time to slowly get accustomed to your surroundings.
Secondly, do not forget the most simple elements and the easiest things you can do. Say "hi" and smile. This may sound a bit ridiculous because everyone can do these and is doing so in day-to-day life. Well, the reality is, it is very easy to forget to smile and greet friendly when you are in the middle of the adjustment period of feeling a little discouraged. Don't we all have this kind of experience when feeling so left behind comparing to others who seem to be having the successful start of new college life, and you start to worry about yourself? Again, it is a waste of time tiring yourself with such worries first of all like I mentioned, but more importantly, everyone will be fully accustomed to their new lives in Boston regardless of how quickly the adjustment takes. We'll all get to the same point eventually, so why hurry? Instead, you should always be a nice "diplomat" to yourself. I can guarantee that new people you meet will remember you after some years, just because you left a nice impression on them.
Lastly, accept the fact that you are living in a completely different environment, and that your comfort zone does not exist around you anymore, unless you try to create one. When I moved to Boston from Vermont, all I could think about was the "losses", like friends I made there, my favorite beautiful view I could see from my dorm room window, campus, stores, Ben & Jerry ice cream (Boston has more store locations than its birthplace Burlington actually)... But obviously, leaving the beloved town and people behind and moving to a new location does not only cause you those losses. You'll meet so many new people, get to know new great sites you can go, find your own place where you can relax. Discovering all these positive aspects of the new place could only be possible if you stay open-minded and are ready to accept the differences.
If you are considering on studying abroad and have the same worries and anxieties as I did five years ago, I can guarantee you that you all will do just fine, and will have such awesome experiences when you have completed your programs. After all, adjustment is not all about a series of stressful moments you have to go through. And remember, you can get accustomed to the new environment only at your own comfortable pace, always be nice and smile, and get out in the city and find what your new favorites are!"
Adjusting to 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:
If you have any questions, just ask your host and do not hesitate to talk.
Be active during your stay
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.!"
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（VOAやCNN 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。
Father’s Day is this Sunday. Yes, red alert, Father’s Day is THIS Sunday. I’m sure between summer expeditions and the (occasional) work that must be done, you’ve probably forgotten to plan something for dad’s day. Well, don’t fret. I’ve got you covered.
(you too mom)
Father’s Day, in my eyes, is basically the same as Mother’s Day. It’s about honoring the people that raised you, and engrained in you the most precious values you have. I mean, this Mother’s Day was the first Mother’s Day I’ve spent with my entire family in 6 years. Yes! 6 long years. Even though I didn’t give you guys plans for Mother’s Day, (which shame on me, I know), I’ve decided that this blog is not only about honoring your dad, but also honoring your mom (for God’s sake, she pushed you out of her womb). You know, there are many types of families out there, with two moms, a single mom, a single dad - so no matter if your dad is present (I’m lucky and blessed that mine is), you’ll have something to do this Sunday!
Father’s Day for Dad:
For the Brew Junkie:
Brew is an in beer, just to put that out there. If your dad loves beers, and you’re in Boston (which you should be, Boston is amazing), they’ve you’re pretty lucky. Boston has some of the best local brews in the country. Because “local” in Boston means anything from New Hampshire to Maine, that leaves us with a huge variety. If you’re looking for some place to get your beer one, check out: The Publick House, Sunset Grill, Boston Beer Works, and Cambridge Brewing Company.
For the Breakfast Junkie:
My dad isn’t much of a drinker, but he is a lover of breakfast food – and by breakfast food I mean a Swiss cheese omelet with a side of extra crispy bacon. Oh, and the coffee that he always forgets to order. If your dad is anything like mine, brunch is most certainly a necessity on Sunday morning.
Museum of Science:
I know what you must be thinking, brunch at the museum? Yes! Brunch at the SCIENCE museum, seriously could not get any cooler. Though I’m not a fan of buffets, not because I don’t love all the food I can gobble down, but because I tend to over eat, cry, and then continue eating, I would sign up for a Wolfgang Puck brunch any day. Not only will you be chowing down on some seriously delicious eats, but you’ll be seated in the Skyline Room overlooking the Charles River.
(i don't know these people but how cute are they)
Barbecue is a summer staple, but sometimes, it’s also a dad staple. So because it’s both summer and Father’s Day, The Langham Hotel is pretty ideal. All their brunch items are BBQ inspired. Oink Oink!
For the Animal Lover:
The Franklin Park Zoo offers free admission to all dads. Yes, free admission. Do you think if I wore a mustache and a cap I could pass for a (young and handsome) dad?
Father’s Day for the other dad, Mom:
Yes, Father’s Day for moms is a thing. We’re very used to having a mental image of what a typical family is, but it’s 2016, there is no such thing as a typical family. Like I’ve mentioned, there are families with two moms, two dads, a single mom, a mom and a dad (and maybe you just want to thank your mom again); there’s seriously every kind of family out there. So why not take this day to celebrate the mom in your life too?
For the Spa Lover:
The Emerge Spa has a Father’s Day treatment deal, but it’s also valid for moms. Between getting a relaxing pedicure, a cucumber facial, and the (not so relaxing, but sometimes needed) wax, you’ll make mama very very happy.
For the Vino Lover:
Did you know there’s a Boston Wine School? Yes, you can register for classes, have some tastings, and learn about different kinds of grapes all in the same place. So for the vino loving mama in your life, you can either take it back to your college days and sign up for a class, or you can take her of a City Wine Tour. Mamma Mia!
(sorry I'm wine-y)
For the Instagram Lover (just so she can post super cool boat pics):
Take her on either the lunch or sunset cruise with Spirit Cruises. There’s an open bar, a DJ, and panoramic views of the gorgeous Boston skyline. If your mom’s a photographer (very much like mine), the cruise back drop is perfect for a new insta post.
This coming Sunday is about loving the ones you’re with, and the ones in your life. There’s obviously a special shout out there to the people that raised you, so raise your glasses (beer, wine, or iced coffee), and thank them. They deserve it.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have my moments with hot sauce. There will be months where I'll just completely hate it, and months where I'll put it in everything, even my cereal (I'm kidding, but I hear hot sauce and corn flakes is quite the delicacy). No matter how much I hate it, or love it occasionally, hot sauce is everywhere. At my favorite Mexican place in Miami, there is literally an entire rack of hot sauce. Who knew there was more than just Tabasco and Sriracha? Apparently not me. Hot sauce is such a thing right now, you'll hear about it in Beyonce's latest song: I got hot sauce in my bag, swag. Beyonce isn't even making that up, you can actually have hot sauce in your bag, with sriracha's new portable bottle. Find it here. You're welcome.
In spirit of the fiery condiment, and my on and off relationship with it, I decided to find some of the best ones for you. I'm going to relay them to you in order of spice level. If you're a wimp like me, and the simple thought of a jalapeno seed makes you want to cry, you should stop reading after the second or third brand.
Bear with me, I can't really pronounce this so let me spell it out phonetically: Goh - choo - jong. Okay, there we go. This hot sauce is essentially the Korean version of Sriracha. Made from dried red chiles, rice powder, and soybean paste, it's definitely the mildest out of the group - kind of like a chile based ketchup. Wimp away my fellow wimps, this one is for you.
This one is like the frat star of hot sauces. It's extremely American and it's proud of it. Started in North Carolina, legend has it the prideful hot sauce was set to be named "Mexican Pete." Coming from North Carolina, the dad of the hot sauce's creator just wouldn't have it. So I guess after a few U-S-A's and beers, Texas Pete was born. I'm including it here because it's kind of like a watered down Louisiana hot sauce, so I highly recommend putting it in your buffalo dip.
I'd call this the older brother of the frat star above. They're both fantastic, but this one just has a little bit more experience in the hot sauce department. This is the tried and true Louisiana hot sauce you've been looking for. Fun fact, this was the hot sauce that was originally used in the first ever buffalo wing sauce. If you're a lover of spicier buffalo style hot sauce, I'd go with this one over his younger brother Pete.
Huy Fond Foods Sriracha
This hot sauce is seriously legendary. The recipe came all the way from a small town named Si Racha, in Thailand, and most recently, it's made quite the impression in the US. The rooster branded LA based company makes its sauce with a blend of red jalapenos, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. It's far superior to the classic red hot sauce, it has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavor. This and tabasco are the two hot sauces I never grow sick of.
This is my absolute favorite hot sauce ever. I know, it's like the most basic of all hot sauces, but it's also the most delicious. Being the hot sauce wimp that I am, I love the green Tabasco more than anything, but the red one if just as fantastic. Every time I order a bloody mary, you'll see me kissing my green bottle, and immediately filling my drink with it. Don't just take my love and word for it, it also just happens to be America's numero uno hot sauce. Good job USA.
Okay, I'm only including this one for you guys because I can't actually have it ever. The only time I've ever tried it, slowly turned into one of the most horrifying experiences I've ever had. Relay for Life, circa 2013, I decided to grab some Qdoba for dinner (what was I thinking?). I couldn't find my friend Tabasco, so I went for the Cholula. Everyone always told me it was WAY better than Tabasco - I stupidly believed them. I doused my chix burrito with the stuff, and about an hour later once I was back at Relay, I had an allergic reaction. I turned into Angelina Jolie's ugly younger sister. My lips were the size of Texas (sorry, Pete), and I could feel my face puffing up. I don't know what it is, but I just can't have Cholula. You, my dear reader, most likely won't have the same reaction I did because I have some weird food aversions (i.e. Cholula and bananas), so take the leap and try it for yourself. It's a little bit spicier than Sriracha, since its base pepper is 7 times hotter than a jalapeno, and it tastes like what a true Mexican hot sauce should. Who knows? You may end up looking like Angelina Jolie's hotter younger sister.
Nando's Hot Peri-Peri Sauce
This hot sauce is so real, it doesn't even have any food coloring in it. I'm letting you know now, it's brown. So no, it's not expired. Piri piri, in Swahili, translates directly to pepper pepper, and refers to the tradition of scorching the African bird's eye chile. Hot enough for ya? Everything from the seeds to the stem are in this sauce, so it's ridiculously hot. But if you're looking for a hot sauce that leaves you with a citrusy aftertaste, post scorch, this is the one for you.
Huy Fong Chili Garlic
Similarly to my run-in with Cholula, I went into my short lived escapade with Chili Garlic with inaccurate expectations. I assumed that this paste would be similar to its sister sauce, Sriracha. Well, as you may have guessed, I was wrong. If you're trying to give yourself a heart attack, or entering a largest ulcer competition, I'd go ahead and try Chili Garlic. It's so hot, I actually started crying as I attempted to swallow it down. However, I will say that it cleared my sinuses quite beautifully. So there you have it, only try this hot sauce if you have a sinus infection and/or are seriously crazy.
Even though hot sauce eating competitions make me want to barf, and I won't commit to anything with an above mild label, hot sauce has become a regular at everyone's table. I'd say try these all on for size, but best believe I'll keep going through Tabasco bottles like it's no one's business. What can I say? I got tabasco in my bag.
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.
At Global Immersions, we are proud to say that we serve almost 1,000 individuals annually from more than 50 countries. Furthermore, we have an incredible amount of diversity within our hosts as well, and we are always excited to learn about new cultures whilst helping clients immerse themselves into the US culture. It always fascinates us how our visitors and hosts are able to speak multiple languages, and this is why in this blog, we are going to list some of our favorite idioms we have heard from other countries!
Every language has its own anthology of sayings, whether it is offering advice on how to live or emphasizing values and beliefs. Idioms highlight the manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language, and there are thousands that exist in every language. However, sometimes there are idioms that cannot be translated literally, and the ones below truly gives an interesting insight into the languages of some of our visitors!
Since we get a lot of Chinese visitors coming to Boston throughout the year, here are some of our favorite Chinese idioms we have heard:
- Idiom: 杯弓蛇影 (bēi gōng shé yǐng / būi gōng sèh yíng)
- Literal Translation: Seeing the reflection of a bow in a cup and thinking it's a snake
- What It Means: Worrying about things that aren't actually there
- Idiom: 脱颖而出 (tuōyǐng’érchū)
- Literal Translation: A sharp stick points out
- What It Means: To Fully Expose One's Talent
- Idiom: 单丝不成线，独木不成林 (dān sī bù chéng xiàn, dú mù bù chéng lín)
- Literal Translation: A single thread cannot become a cord, and a single tree does not make a forest.
- What It Means: Co-operation is a necessity
Next up are some of the most creative yet funny idioms we have heard from Japan! It is interesting to note that the Japanese language has a significant amount of expressions involving cats!
- Idiom: どんぐりの背比べ (donguri no seikurabe)
- Literal Translation: It's acorns comparing heights
- What It Means: The group is roughly the same in ability or quality
- Idiom: 猫の手も借りたい (neko no te mo karitai)
- Literal Translation: Borrow even cat's paws
- What It Means: So busy you don't have time for anything
- Idiom: 猫舌 (nekojita)
- Literal Translation: Cat's tongue
- What It Means: Needing to wait until hot food cools to eat it
- Idiom: 猫の額 (neko no hitai)
- Literal Translation: Cat's forehead
- What It Means: Something that is very small
- Idiom: Avaler des couleuvres
- Literal Translation: To swallow grass snakes
- What It Means: Being so offended you cannot reply
- Idiom: Sauter du coq à l’âne.
- Literal Translation: To jump from the rooster to the donkey
- What It Means: Changing topics without logic in a conversation
- Idiom: Se regarder en chiens de faïence.
- Literal Translation: To look at each other like earthenware dogs
- What It Means: To look at one another coldly, with distrust.
- Idiom: Det är ingen ko på isen
- Literal Translation: There's no cow on the ice
- What It Means: There is no need to worry
- Idiom: Att glida in på en räkmacka
- Literal Translation: To slide in on a shrimp sandwich
- What It Means: Referring to somebody who didn't have to work to get where they are
- Idiom: Se regarder en chiens de faïence.
- Literal Translation: To look at each other like earthenware dogs
- What It Means: To look at one another coldly, with distrust.
We hope the next time you have a visitor from one of the countries above, you test out these idioms with them! What are some of your favorite idioms you have heard? Let us know!
Here at Global Immersions, we frequently discuss with incoming students what it means to stay with an American Homestay family in Boston. What a lot of people might not realize is that over 46 million people who live in the United States were actually born in other countries! In large cities like Boston, the population tends to be even more diverse, therefore Global Immersions hosts are made up of a wide variety of nationalities. We feel that visitors who participate in our programs are fortunate to have hosts that not only allow them to experience US culture, but the culture of their home countries as well! It truly is an experience that allows you to travel the world without ever leaving home. Below, you can find suggestion on how to incorporate your visitor in your daily life, ensuring that both the host and visitor can have an unforgettable learning experience!
Something we like to reiterate to our hosts is that involving your students doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming! Inviting them to a family barbecue, a local pool, or even the grocery store is a great way to introduce your visitors to US culture. Holidays, birthdays, and other family gatherings are also wonderful cultural experiences. Always keep in mind that while something may seem uninteresting and normal for you could be completely different for them!
Since so many of our hosts are from a wide variety of different countries, they speak many different languages! As you may know, Global Immersions has a strict policy when it comes to placing students in a home where their native language is spoken. At the same time, it is important to remember not to speak your native language with your family and friends around your visitor, as this can make them extremely uncomfortable. You could instead teach them a few words of your native language as a way to introduce them to another culture. Also, don't forget to help them with their English, the main reason for their stay in Boston!
At the end of the day, being a good host has nothing to do with where you're from or the money you spend, it's all about the experience you provide and the connections you make. We certainly appreciate all of the hard work our hosts put in to making the home stay experience meaningful and comfortable for all of our visitors. What is the most valuable thing you have learned from hosting an international visitor? Let us know!
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