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Happy Mother's Day to our Host Mothers!14-May-2017

We would like to wish all of our wonderful host mothers a Happy Mother's Day! We thank you for a..

Intercultural Hosting Workshop - Spring Host Event30-Apr-2017

On Sunday, April 30th our Global Immersions hosts are invited to the Spring Host Event -- Interc..


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Its Finally Summer: How to Get Out and Enjoy Boston

Global Immersions - Saturday, May 20, 2017


Now that the weather in Boston is finally warm, it's time to take advantage of the activities around Boston! Every year as the temperature warms up, people come out and crowd the streets to enjoy the city. Restaurants open up their outdoor seating, farmers markets start up, and events around the city begin to take place. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the city and get out, and while the opportunities may seem overwhelming, here are some ideas of what you can do to enjoy the city throughout the summer!

Bike around Boston with Hubway


There is no better way to see the city than going for a walk, run, or riding a bike. You can ride a bike along the pathways next to the Charles, or anywhere throughout the city! Hubway allows riders to obtain a 24 hour pass for just $8! There are over 180 stations across Boston,  Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. All you have to do is just pick up a bike and return it to any station throughout the city once you are done!

Soak up some sun at Revere Beach


Revere beach is easily accessible on the T by taking the Blue Line out to Wonderland Station. As America's first public beach established in 1896, it is located right outside of Downtown Boston. Throughout the summer, there are several exciting events hosted here such as the Revere Beach Kite Festival and the Sand Sculpting Festival. Apart from the happenings, it is a nice place to enjoy some sun and catch some waves.

Enjoy a Lobster Roll and the Beaches at Castle Island


Castle Island is located in South Boston and can be identified by its beautiful 19th century granite fort located on the premises. Within the Island, one can relax on the green lawns, or enjoy one of the two beaches. The M Street beach and Carson Beach occupy a three miles stretch along the island and overlook Pleasure Bay. While you're there, don't forget to enjoy a lobster roll or burger from Sullivan's! The food is delicious and definitely worth trying.

Go to the Boston Harbor Islands


There are several Boston Harbor Islands that can be accessed through the Boston Harbor Cruises. These islands are a great escape from the city, especially on a beautiful summer day. There are four islands accessible by the ferry; George's Island, Spectacle Island, Peddocks Island, and Lovells Island. For $17 ($10 for children aged 3-11) you can explore these National State Parks which often have events scheduled throughout the summer. Taking the time to explore these islands is definitely worth your while, and will prove to be a pleasant change of scenery!

Go to a Red Sox Game or Tour Fenway Park!


 Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a nice Red Sox game outside! Sit in the bleacher seats (usually around ~$30) and soak up some sun while enjoying the game. If sitting in the sun and watching baseball isn't for you, then take a tour of  Fenway Park instead! The Fenway Park tours are $20 and occur everyday throughout the day beginning at 9am.

Explore the Arnold Arboretum


The Arnold Arboretum, located in Jamaica Plain near Forest Hills, is home to many species of trees and other flora. Spring and summer are the perfect times to visit the Arboretum as plants are in full bloom and it is a great time of the year to sit outside and soak up the nature. The arboretum is also home to several nature-oriented events that are worth checking out!

The Lawn on D


The Lawn on D is an installment on D street in South Boston. The attraction offers food and beverages, as well as various lawn games to its visitors. If you want to sit and hangout, there is also live music at night! Only open during the summer, it is definitely a great way to spend your afternoon or evening as it is open all day every day of the week. Also be sure to check out their special events, which occur fairly regularly throughout the summer.

Go shopping, enjoy a meal, and people watch on Newbury Street


Newbury Street is one of Boston's most scenic streets, filled with shops and many restaurants. If you're not into shopping, in the warmer months many of these restaurants open up their outdoor seating which makes for a great people watching experience.  Although there are countless options to choose from, some great eats with outdoor seating include Cafeteria, Tapeo, Sonsie, Stepahnie's, and Parish Cafe, to name a few.

Free Fun Fridays with the Highland Street Foundation


The Highland Street Foundation sponsors Free Fun Fridays throughout the summer in celebration of its 20th anniversary. This is within the greater Boston area as well as outside the city, and includes a free public attraction each Friday beginning June 23rd through August 25th. Check out the schedule and enjoy free admission to some of your favorite attractions around Boston. 

Enjoy a local farmers market


There are several farmers markets throughout Boston that run through the spring and summer. These are a great way to get some cheap produce as well as to check out some specialty food items from local vendors!

Union Square Farmers Market

Located in Somerville, the Union Square Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 9:00AM – 1:00PM, and runs through November 18, 2017.

Dewey Square Farmers Market

The Boston Public Market runs the Dewey Square Farmers Market, located in the plaza right across from South Station.  It is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30am to 6:30pm, and runs through November 21st.

Haymarket Farmers Market

The Haymarket Farmers is located right off of the Haymarket T stop on the Orange Line, right near Faneuil Hall in Downtown Boston. The market runs from dawn until dusk, with no official hours. Generally vendors are outside all day, weather permitting.  This market is only open on Fridays and Saturdays.

Copley Square Farmers Market

The Copley Square Farmers Market runs from 11am to 6pm on Tuesday and Friday through November 21st. It is located right off of the Green Line at the Copley T stop.

 Kayak in the Charles:


Charles River Kayak has five locations across the city, allowing you to start from wherever is closest to you. These include Allston, Kendall Square, Nahanton Park in Newton, the Moody Street Dam in Waltham, and Somerville. Starting at just $15 per hour, kayaking in the Charles allows you to escape some of the summer heat while enjoying a beautiful view of the city. Paddleboards and canoes are also available for rental.

Next time you need something to do this summer, check out any of the above options! There are also countless other special events occurring throughout the city in the coming months. For more information of special events, feel free to check out our Facebook page for daily updates and the latest happenings!

Riding Around Boston: Local Ride Sharing Services

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ride Sharing apps have become increasingly popular making it easier than ever to get from Point A to point B. Many ride sharing apps operate in the Boston area and are a convenient way for international visitors or anyone new to the city to get around especially if they are unfamiliar with Boston or the public transportation system. These services are extremely convenient, and many different options have emerged allowing visitors to choose from a varying number of apps. Here are some of your ride-sharing options that operate in the greater Boston area:


Uber was the first ride-sharing apps to be created and is probably the most well known and widely used service. Uber is available around the world and riders can expect short wait times and quick pick-ups due to the large number of Uber drivers throughout Boston. Uber prices do fluctuate depending on demand at any given time of the day, therefore it is important to keep in mind rush hour and other times that there is an increased demand. Recently, Uber has also created an "uberPOOL" option, in which riders have the opportunity to take advantage of a cheaper fare in exchange for sharing your ride with other riders. While these rides generally take a longer time, if you are not in a rush to get to your destination the cheaper fares may be worth the wait.

Lyft is the second largest ride-sharing app and Uber's main competitor. Lyft and Uber are rather similar, as Lyft offers a "Lyft Line" option that allows you to get a cheaper fare in exchange for sharing your ride with other passengers. Lyft's prices also fluctuate based on demand and will surge prices in high-demand times. However unlike Uber, Lyft allows riders to tip their drivers. 


Fasten is a small startup operating gaining momentum in Boston. Fasten works in the same fashion as Uber and Lyft however it advertises better prices for both drivers and riders. Instead of the app taking a percentage cut, say 20% to 30%, from each ride, it only takes $1 per ride, so drivers can keep a larger percentage of the profits. For passengers, Fasten can potentially be cheaper because it doesn't use "surge pricing," price hikes that kick in when demand goes up. Instead, Fasten says it lets passengers increase their fare offers if drivers don't accept their ride requests quickly enough.


Safr is a new ride-sharing service focused on the safety and empowerment of women. With unique features designed for and by women, Safr aims to improve the lives of women everywhere through safe transportation, job creation, and financial security. Safr drivers are all female and are thoroughly vetted and undergo comprehensive background checks in criminal and motor vehicle history to ensure maximum safety for riders.


Arro is an application that lets you easily call taxis rather than drivers. You can use the app to call a cab, and you are automatically charged through the app as you would be in an Uber or Lyft. You can even use Arro to pay for a taxi that your'e already in, even if you hailed the cab on your own, without going through the app. This helps to support taxi companies throughout Boston that have seen a decline in business since the emergence of Uber and other ride-sharing apps.


Validated is not really a ride sharing app, though it works alongside one. With Validated, you can earn points toward rides on popular apps like Uber or by shopping at any of the "Validated" businesses. Currently in Boston these include restaurants and retail stores. Hundreds of brands can be used with the app so you can earn free rides purchasing items you typically buy merely by scanning your receipt into the app!


Price Comparison Resources: 


Several applications make is easy to compare prices across ride-sharing apps and taxis to make sure you're getting the cheapest fare. The websites Ride Guru and WhatstheFare show the average prices across multiple apps for your designated trip. In addition to these, the app FairRide compares Lyft and Uber prices next to each other, so you can choose the cheapest option for your ride from the convenience of your phone.  These resources are particularly helpful in ensuring that you get the cheapest fare possible! 

There are endless options for transportation around Boston. Ride-sharing apps have skyrocketed in popularity recently, making more and more options available for your use. Next time you need to go somewhere in a hurry, check out any of the above apps, and be sure to use the price comparison apps as well to get a great deal!


The Best Spots for Spring Flowers

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

With the weather beginning to change and Boston’s flowers starting to bloom, the city is will soon be a beautiful place to spend time outside. Experience springtime in Boston with a self-guided walking tour of the area’s best spots to see amazing spring flowers. Here are some locations where you can see gorgeous flower displays.


Back Bay

The Magnolia trees along Commonwealth Avenue, Magnolia Street, and Beacon Hill are one of the most beautiful sights to see in the Spring. Along these roads, you can see huge saucer magnolias in pinks, reds, and deep purples, mixed in with other types of magnolias as well

The Esplanade

Cherry trees planted along Boston’s Charles River Esplanade bloom in April. Unfortunately, these blossoms do not last long but are usually in full bloom in mid to late April. You'll find the highest concentration of cherry trees in the section of the Esplanade bordering Back Bay, roughly between the Fiedler Footbridge (off Arlington Street) and the Mass Ave access ramp.


Kelleher Rose Garden

The Kelleher Rose Garden is located near the Victory Garden’s in the city’s Fenway neighborhood, a short distance from Fenway Park. The roses are most amazing in June, but you can see flowers begin to bloom starting in may.


Boston Public Garden

Boston's Victorian-era Public Garden, right next to Boston Commons, features winding paths and smaller gardens spread throughout the park.  The flowers on display vary somewhat each year, but always include tulips and annuals such as pansies during April and May.  In addition to flowers, spring foliage in the Public Garden is also spectacular, especially the many weeping willows surrounding the pond.  The best way to enjoy close-up views of the willow foliage is by taking a swan boat ride when the boats return in mid-April.


Rose Kennedy Greenway

 The garden sections  of the Rose Kennedy Greenway are filled with beautiful spring flowers. Across from the North End, you'll find daffodils and lilies and as you walk south you can see tulips. Near South Station and Chinatown are the stunning Chinese Gardens. Starting in about mid-May, peonies and rhododendrons bloom, surrounded by bamboo shoots.The best place to begin your Greenway tour is not on the Greenway itself, but a few steps away at the Rose Kennedy Memorial Garden, located near the southwestern edge of Christopher Columbus Park just north of the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel.  Here, roses bloom from late May through frost, with especially spectacular flowers during June.

Source

Six More Weeks of Winter

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, February 21, 2017


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


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


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


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


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


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

Fall Fun In The City

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

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

Watch a Sporting Event!

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

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

Bake Seasonal Treats!

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

Visit a Farmers Market!

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

Tour Boston's Best Fall Foliage!

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


Krazy for KitKats

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, September 27, 2016


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

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

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


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

Autumn Colors Around The World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, September 12, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Do You Like Them Apples!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 07, 2016

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

Boston Hill Farm, North Andover MA


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

Connors Farm, Danvers MA


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

Russell Orchards, Ipswich MA


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

A Little Taste of the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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

 In other words: potato chips make great souvenirs. 

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

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

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


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

Greetings From Japan

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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