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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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Happy Independence Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, June 29, 2017


Also known as Independence Day, the Fourth of July is a widely celebrated holiday in the United States.  The holiday began on July 4th 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, thus making the American colonies the United States of America. The federal holiday has been observed since.

Not only does this patriotic holiday mark America's independence from Great Britain, the
Fourth of July serves as a summer-time holiday where families come together and celebrate. Families have cookouts, partake in outdoor activities, and enjoy fireworks together around the city. This holiday is the perfect time to expose your visitor to American culture, and participate in fun activities throughout Boston! Below are some local happenings around the city that you and your visitors can take part in to celebrate the day.


This year, celebrations begin June 30th with the Annual Boston Harborfest Celebration. The festival will start off at the West End of Faneuil Hall with Mayor Marty Walsh and music performed by the 215th Army Band. From Friday June 30th through July 4th, countless outdoor family-friendly activities will be taking place as part of this festival. Check out the schedule for details on these activities, which include a scavenger hunt, a showing of the movie "Yankee Doodle Dandy", and a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Old North Church.   Another highlight of the festival includes a Boston POPS Orchestra Concert at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade, taking place on July 3rd. On July 4th, the same concert will take place with fireworks at the end. Here are some other activities you can take part in:


Visit the Boston Harbor Islands

Enjoy a nice picnic and a scenic view of Boston from any of the Boston Harbor Islands! The islands can be accessed through the Boston Harbor Cruises. and are great for relaxing or spending an active day walking around!


Go Kayaking, Paddleboarding or Canoeing (and get a prime view of the fireworks!)

Paddle Boston offers kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing starting at just $15 an hour. This is a great way to cool off and get a scenic view of the city in the summer! In addition to this, they are offering rentals the night of July 4th, allowing kayakers to catch a beautiful view of the fireworks and the city right from the Charles River! 


Host a family barbecue!

It's always nice to spend some time with family and friends and enjoy some hot dogs and hamburgers. (On that note, check out our crazy burgers around Boston blog). Visitors visiting the U.S. may not have had the experience of a barbecue before, and the Fourth of July is the perfect time to host such an event! So kick back, relax, and grill some food to enjoy quality time with family and friends from the comfort of your own backyard.


Visit a Beach 

Although Boston is on the cooler side this year, typically temperatures are pretty high in July. Whether its on the cooler side or sweltering, hit up a local beach to relax and catch some sun. Revere Beach  is T-accessible and is a great spot just outside of Boston to relax. If you're feeling adventurous, there are plenty of beaches outside of Boston such as Plum Island Beach in Newburyport, Singing Beach  in Manchester By The Sea, or various beaches throughout Gloucester. However, these are only suggestions as there are countless beaches just outside of Boston and in the Cape Cod area! (Check out our blog on beaches here!)

Check out other ongoing activities and fireworks viewing spots around Boston hereFor more viewing spots for fireworks around Massachusetts, check out this list of viewing spots around the state! Hopefully these activities will keep you busy, have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

European Gestures

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, June 08, 2017


They say actions speak louder than words, and often times our gestures and body language can say a lot about a message we are trying to convey as opposed to merely words themselves. In some areas of the world such as Europe, gestures hold more weight in communication styles. To an outsider, many of these gestures may go unnoticed or misunderstood., however they play a large part in communication in this part of the world.

Fingertip Kisses

While most commonly attributed to Italy, this gesture is also used in Germany, Spain, and France as well. This gesture consists of kissing the tips of ones fingers then flinging the hand out in front of them. This is most commonly used to compliment something, most frequently food.


Eyelid Pull

Also common is the eyelid pull, which is less friendly and more assertive. This gesture consists of taking a finger and pulling down one's bottom eyelid. Seen as a warning, this gesture sends the message that one is watching you and is onto your clever ways.


Chin Flick

The meaning of the chin flick in Europe vaires by location, however in Italy and France it signifies that one is uninterested or bored. It is considered to be fairly rude, however in Portugal the gesture just means "I don't know."


The Upwards Cupped Hand (Hand Purse)

This gesture is most frequently used in Italy, however is also used in other places in Europe. This gesture indicates a question, however it can also be used to signify annoyance with someone and to call them a fool. In France, this gesture can also mean fear, or good in Greece and Turkey.

The Nose Tap

Tapping your nose signifies secrecy and that something should not be spoken about. In Italy, it can mean "watch out!" and in France and Belgium it can signify a shared secret that no one else knows.

Personal Space

In the United States, people are very conscious of personal space and generally like to have distance between each other when conversing or interacting. However in Europe, people are very affectionate, even with people they do not know. People greet each other with kisses and hugs, and conversations happen at a close distance. In Spain, if you step back, it is considered rude.

Body language and gestures can vary from country to country, so next time you travel or host an international visitor be sure to do some research to know what message you are communicating!



In Honor of National Donut Day: Sweet Treats around Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, June 01, 2017

Tomorrow, June 2nd is National Donut Day! Believe it or not, this sweet holiday has some history behind it. Taking place on the first Friday of June annually, it was started by the Salvation Army in Chicago back in 1938. It began as a fundraiser for the organization, and to honor those who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.  Even today, it is still a fundraiser for the Salvation Army across the United States. These tasty treats are still served widely years later, and many stores feature specials on honor of the holiday. Here are some of the places in Boston you can grab a donut or two!



Widely known throughout Boston, this specialty donut shop is offering two unique donut flavors in honor of the holiday: Dark chocolate covered banana, and a German chocolate cake donut with black cocoa, caramel glaze, toasted coconut, and mini chips. They will also be offering their usual spring flavors. (If you ever need a cake, check out their donut cakes!)



Another specialty donut shop, Union Square Donuts is located in Somerville. Creating a special twist on chicken and waffles, the store will be offering a special donut featuring fresh brioche dough, topped with maple glaze and fried chicken skin. This will only be available on June 2nd so be sure to arrive early to try this unique treat!



Next up, Kane's Donuts! Located in the Financial District, this donut shop features monthly specialty flavors. For the month of June, look out for their  Salted Caramel, Butter Pecan, and Battle Cry Whiskey varieties! In honor of the holiday they will be offering a "Super Dozen" of donuts, which includes a dozen donuts with an additional three complimentary treats!



Finally, a national favorite, Dunkin Donuts. While specialty shops have been popping up around the city, Dunkin is still going strong with their seasonal donut and iced coffee flavors. (If you like sweet coffee, try their S'more swirl, its delicious.) On June 2nd they will be offering a free donut alongside any beverage purchase, so grab your coffee and you'll get a donut to go with it!

Enjoy the holiday and a sweet treat!

Memorial Day Weekend in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memorial Day is an annual holiday celebrated throughout the United States in remembrance of those who have died in service in the United States military. The holiday originated from honoring the dead from the Civil War, however later on was expanded to encompass all fallen soldiers. It was first recognized by New York in 1873, and eventually spread throughout the country. Now it is a federal holiday observed on the last Monday each May, allowing for an annual three day weekend that everyone looks forward to.

This Monday, May 26th, many Americans will visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in the American Armed Forces. Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is also a day when families and individuals decorate graves and cemeteries with American flags.

For many Americans, Memorial Day also marks the beginning of the summer season. Many celebrate the holiday by taking short vacations, having barbeques, picnics, and family gatherings. Also, many pools and other outdoor spaces will open up this weekend.

Some activities occurring around Boston this Memorial Day weekend include:

View the Military Heroes Garden of Flags at the Boston Common

Every year flags are planted in front of the Soldiers and Sailors monument located at the Boston Common to commemorate those who gave their lives serving our country. For more information visit: http://www.massmilitaryheroes.org/our-work/community-building-events/public-program-events/memorial-day-flag-garden-planting/

Free Museum Admission

Museum of Fine Arts: The MFA is offering free admission to all visitors on Monday, May 29th from 10am to 4:45pm!

Institute of Contemporary Art: The ICA is also offering free admission from 10am to 5pm on Memorial Day, Monday May 29th.

Shop Memorial Day Sales


Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to go shopping, as many places put on special sales or promotions in honor of the weekend. Check out the Prudential Center and Copley Square for upscale stores and boutiques, or the Wretham Outlets and Assembly Row for even bigger savings!

In addition to these, you can always go sightseeing around Boston or go on a walking tour to enjoy the first unofficial weekend of summer.

Dining Etiquette Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Many of us likely feel as though we have a strong command on dining etiquette in our respective countries. However, some people may not know that these table manners vary across the world from region to region, and sometimes even within those regions. Some things that we may not even think twice about doing may be considered extremely rude or taboo in other countries. If you are hosting an international visitor or traveling abroad, it is important to keep these in mind!

Asia:

Do not use your chopsticks as a spear: Throughout Asia, it is consistently considered rude to spear your food with chopsticks instead of using them properly to pick up the food. This has to do with superstitious beliefs as usually when on pierces their food with chopsticks you are offering this food to the dead.


Other chopstick rules: There are actually many rules surrounding the use of chopsticks. For example, pointing a chopstick at someone is just as rude if not more disrespectful than pointing a finger. In addition to this, passing food directly from your chopsticks to another's is actually part of a funeral ritual in which the deceased's bones are passed between chopsticks. Also in many parts of Asia placing your chopsticks sticking straight up in your food is a gesture meant for the deceased. It is best to avoid these practices as many Asian cultures as superstitious and doing these is considered very taboo and disrespectful.

Eat the food served to you: Particularly in China and Korea, it is an honor to be served food especially what are perceived as the "best" parts of something. Even if you do not like the food, it is respectful to finish the food served to you.

Paying the bill: In China and other areas influenced by Chinese customs such as Malaysia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, bills are not typically split among diners. Instead, one person picks up the entire check. Usually a several people will put up a fight to cover the expenses, and doing so shows a sign of appreciation for relationships and is seen as polite.

Europe:

Bread: In France, bread is placed directly on the table as opposed to being placed on a bread plate. Bread is not served as an appetizer and should be consumed along with your meal. When consuming the bread, it is important to break it into pieces as opposed to biting them off.

Also, in Russia it is considered bad form to waste bread, as it is believed that when one dies all of the bread they've wasted over the years will be weighed and added to the balance that determines whether or not one is accepted into heaven.

Eating your food as it is prepared: In Portugal and Spain, it is considered an insult to the cook to alter your food by adding salt and pepper to the prepared dish.

Use your silverware: Often times in European countries, it is considered polite and normal use your utensils with what some may consider finger foods, such as pizza.

Middle East:

Don't eat with your left hand: Because the left hand is associated with using the restroom and associated bodily functions, it is considered unsanitary and rude to use your left hand to eat. Instead, eat strictly with your right hand.

Drinking coffee: In Bedouin culture, they will continue to pour you coffee once you have finished it. That is, until you shake the cup by tilting it two to three times when you hand it back. By doing this, you are signifying that you are finished.

Etiquette for eating with your hands: While it differs from country to country, generally when eating with your hands you should use your fingertips to ensure the food does not touch your palms. If you are sharing a large dish, which is common, only eat from your side of the plate. Often times diners will use bread to scoop the food, which the house owner breaks and distributes to guests.

It is important to remember that every country is different and these rules of etiquette may vary! To be safe, look up specific customs for a specific country if you are curious, however these are some general rules to follow for each region.

Labor Day and May Day

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Celebrations on May 1 have long had two, seemingly contradictory meanings. When you think of May Day, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is spring, flowers, maypoles, and dancing. However, this date is also associated with worker solidarity and protests on Labor Day. It seems strange that May Day and Labor Day occur at the same time, but are so different in their traditions. How did these two holidays come to share a date? It happened pretty much by accident. The origins of Labor Day date back to May Day 1886, when over 200,000 U.S. workers engineered a nationwide strike for an eight-hour work day. This strike was part of what became known as the Haymarket Affair – a strike at the McCormick Reaper plant in Chicago that turned violent, followed by an even more violent meeting at Haymarket Square the next day. In 1889 the International Socialist Conference declared that in commemoration of the Haymarket affair, May 1 would be an international holiday of Labor, now known in many places as International Workers Day. The U.S. observes its official Labor Day in September, but many countries hold Labor Day celebrations in the beginning of May. Here are snapshots of some Labor Day and May Day  activities around the world:

 


Havana, Cuba

Public Health workers march through Havana’s Revolution Square during the May Day Parade, May 1, 2014.


Malaga, Spain

Workers and union members hold banners and flags of the General Workers Union and Comisiones Obreras at Marques de Larios street during a May Day demonstration on Labor Day. The banner reads, "Without quality employment, there is no recovery. More social cohesion for more democracy".


Harz, Germany

A man wearing devil make – up looks of an HSB light railway carriage as he travels through the Harz Mountains to celebrate the Walpurgisnacht pagan festival, April 30th, 2014. Legend has it that on Walpurgisnacht or May Eve, witches fly their broomsticks to meet the devil at the summit of the Brocken Mountain in Harz. In towns and villages scattered throughout the mountain region, locals make bonfires, dress in devil or witches costumes and dance into the new month of May.


Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesian workers face a line of police during a rally outside the presidential palace in Jakarta to mark May Day, also known as Labor Day, May 1, 2014. Unions said up to two million workers would be out in force to demand better working conditions in Southeast Asia's most populous nation, although in previous years the numbers have come in much lower than such forecasts.


Paris, France

Hundreds of supporters of France's far-right National Front political party attend the party's annual May Day rally in front of the Opera in Paris, May 1, 2014

Source: CBS

Happy Earth Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, April 21, 2017


Earth Day this year is April 22nd (this Saturday!)

Earth Day is an annual event created to celebrate the planet's environment and raise public awareness about pollution. The day is observed worldwide with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities and service projects.

History:

The first Earth Day was in 1970 , when U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson organized a national "teach-in" to educate the population about the environment after the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1968.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom for being the founder of Earth Day. This is the highest honor given to civilians in the United States.

Earth Day Today:

Today, more than 1 billion people across the globe participate in Earth Day activities. 

In 1990, 200 million people in 141 countries participated Earth Day, giving the event international recognition. For the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, 225,000 people participated in a climate rally at the national Mall in Washington, D.C. The Earth Day network launched a campaign to plant 1 billion trees, which they then achieved in 2012.


Last year on Earth Day, the Secretary General of the United Nations urged world leaders to sign the Paris Climate Agreement - a treaty aimed at keeping planet warming below 2 degrees Celcius (or 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit). U.S. President Barack Obama signed the treaty that day.

The Impact of Earth Day:

Though Earth Day is widely observed, the environment is still suffering. A recent Gallup Poll shows that 42% of Americans believe that the dangers of climate change are exaggerated, and only less than 50% agree that protection of the environment should be given priority over energy production.


However, Earth Day is still significant because it reminds people to think about the importance of the environment, the threats the planet faces and ways to help combat these threats. Every year on Earth day individuals and corporations alike take proactive measures to reduce their carbon foot print- by planting trees, reaching a recycling goal, reducing their energy output,  switching to renewable products, and participating in other "green" activities! 

Source: LiveScience

The Japanese Vending Machine Experience

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Japan's vending machines are a unique aspect of Japanese culture. Japanese vending machines are unlike the vending machines that you see in schools and offices in the United States. Japanese vending machines go beyond selling your average snacks and sodas. In Japan you can find items such as hot coffee, noodle stew, or even beer and Buddhist charms. 

Vending machines inside a subway station

There is one vending machine for every 25 people in Japan. In 2015, Japanese vending machines generate more than $42 billion dollars in sales. The challenge for Japanese drinks company, Dydo Drinco, (who rivals brands like Coca Cola and generates more than 80% of its revenue from vending machine sales) is trying to stay popular in a market saturated with 24 hour convenience stores and other competition.


Vending machine selling hot meals 

In order to attract new customers Dydo Drinco has been developing ways to make vending machines "more fun". The company has previously introduced machines that can talk to customers and also offer the chance to win a bonus drink through a "roulette" game. Dydo also invented app through which users can collect points that count toward prizes. The app is linked to Line (the country's most popular messaging app) and features games like "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon's Quest". However, these apps won't help to attract foreign visitors, as Dryco was initially hoping, as they are only available in Japanese. 


A Dydo Drinco vending machine app 

Another idea of the company was to allow customers to pre-order from the machines during their morning commute or lunch rush via Smart phone. This idea is still in the works but Japan can expect to see more ideas being developed by Dydo in the future, many of them linking vending machines to smart phones to create a distinct interactive experience.  

Vending machines lining the streets of Japan

Source

The 2017 Boston Marathon

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 04, 2017



What: 121st Boston Marathon

When: Monday, April 17th

Where: Hopkinton – Boston, MA. (The finish line is at 665 Boylston Street)

Time: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm (The winners usually finish within two hours)

Schedule:

DIVISION START TIME
Mobility Impaired 8:50 a.m.
Men's Push-Rim Wheelchair 9:17 a.m.
Women's Push-Rim Wheelchair 9:19 a.m.
Handcycles & Duos 9:22 a.m.
Elite Women 9:32 a.m.
Elite Men & Wave One 10:00 a.m.
Wave Two 10:25 a.m.
Wave Three 10:50 a.m.
Wave Four 11:15 a.m.

History: 

After experiencing the spirit and majesty of the Olympic Marathon, B.A.A. member and inaugural US Olympic Team Manager John Graham was inspired to organize and conduct a marathon in the Boston area. With the assistance of Boston businessman Herbert H. Holton, various routes were considered, before a measured distance of 24.5 miles from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to the Irvington Oval in Boston was eventually selected. On April 19, 1897, John J. McDermott of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field and captured the first B.A.A. Marathon in 2:55:10, and, in the process, forever secured his name in sports history.

In 1924, the course was lengthened to 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to the Olympic standard, and the starting line was moved west from Ashland to Hopkinton.


Why patriots Day? From 1897-1968, the Boston Marathon was held on Patriots’ Day, April 19, a holiday commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War and recognized only in Massachusetts and Maine. The lone exception was when the 19th fell on Sunday. In those years, the race was held the following day (Monday the 20th). However, in 1969, the holiday was officially moved to the third Monday in April. Since 1969 the race has been held on a Monday. The last non-Monday champion was current Runner’s World editor Amby Burfoot, who posted a time of 2:22:17 on Friday, April 19, 1968.



Important Spectator Information:

Where are the best places to watch? There is ample space every mile from Hopkinton to Boston for fans to gather and cheer on your journey to Boylston Street. Some of the most famous spots are the Wellesley Scream Tunnel just before halfway; Heartbreak Hill in Newton around Boston College; and the final stretch on Boylston Street before the finish.

Be aware that if you are watching the Boston Marathon anywhere along the 26.2-mile course you should expect a significant presence of uniformed and plain clothed police officers. In some areas, you may be asked to pass through security checkpoints. The marathon website has a full list of items that are not allowed in the race are. 

Spring Festivals Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don’t let the cold weather and remaining piles of snow on the ground fool you, today is the first day of Spring! Spring is welcomed in different ways across the globe. For many in the United States, the Spring season is marked by St. Patty’s celebrations in late March and Easter festivities in April. Other cultures have their own unique ways of celebrating Springtime, here are a few festivals that occur around the world this season!

Thailand

Beginning in mid-April, Thailand’s three-day Songkran Festival is one of the most popular celebrations in the country. The Songkran Festival corresponds with the Tai New Year, so Thai’s use this time to clean, reflect, pay respects to neighbors…and engage in a full on, intense, water war with each other in the streets. During the festival, children, as well as adults, ride around on the backs of trucks and motorcycles targeting passersby with water balloons and squirt guns. Songkran occurs during the hot season in Thailand so the festival is a great way to cool off.

Japan

Cherry Blossoms are a symbol of Spring in Japan. Every spring Japanese gather for picnics under the cherry blossom trees as one of the country’s oldest traditions. The cherry blossoms arrive suddenly and only for a limited amount of time. Cherry blossom season reaches different parts of the country at different times so predicting their arrival has become part of Japanese pop culture (there is even an app to help) When the trees are fully in bloom with little cherry blossoms the Japanese head outside for picnics and parties. These gatherings are full of Japanese food, drink, and mingling with other picnickers under the trees.

India

The Hindu festival of Holi celebrates the end of Winter and the start of Spring. You may recognize Holi from photos of participants covered in chalk surrounded by clouds of colors. The night before the festival, people light bonfires to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Ash from these bonfires is considered sacred and many people will wipe some on their forehead for extra protection against evil spirits. On the day of Holi, businesses shut down and everyone is gathered in the streets. Indians throw colored water and powder on each other until they are covered head to toe in color. After there are feasts of Indian foods and desserts.

Bulgaria

On March 1st, the Baba Marta festival in Bulgaria commemorates the arrival of Spring. On this day, people give each other woven red and white figures which they are to wear until they see the first bus or birds of spring. After, participants tie their figures to trees in recognition of the new spring season. The holiday celebrates “Baba Marta” (Granny March) a character in Bulgarian folk tales whose arrival brings about the end of winter. Legends say that the final snow of the season is Baba Marta shaking out her feather bed during Spring cleaning. 

Source