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Basic Characteristics of Americans and American Culture

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 20, 2014

Because of the widespread and profound influence of American politics and media around the globe many of us native to the United States may think our western ideals and basic cultural norms are understood around the world.  And especially for a person who has never been immersed in another culture it can be hard to understand how varied even simple, everyday interactions can differ from region to region whether they be American or any other nationality. The University of Michigan has composed a list of some of the basic characteristics of American culture in hopes to broaden Americans understanding of their own culture as well as give people of other cultures the opportunity to better understand when and how to react when immersed in the United States and its people.  Here are some of the basic characteristics for understanding Americans and American culture the University of Michigan finds the most essential:

  1. Americans come in all colors, have all types of religions, and speak many languages from all over the world
  2. Americans believe in freedom of choice
  3. Americans need a lot of “elbow room”;  they like personal space around them
  4. Americans and their police follow the law
  5. Littering (throwing garbage on the street), graffiti (writing on walls), and loitering (standing around and doing nothing in public spaces) are against the law and punishable by a fine or jail.
  6. Discriminating against or making any insulting statement about someone else’s religion or ethnicity is against the law and could be punishable, known as a hate crime
  7. Americans are extremely informal and call most people by their first name or nickname
  8. Asking “How are you?” is a simple greeting and is not a question about your health
  9. Americans smile a lot and talk easily to strangers, sometimes sharing personal stories
  10. Americans don’t push or stand too close to anyone in line. They always wait their turn.
  11. When the service is good at a restaurant, tipping is expected to be 15-20% of the total bill
  12. It is polite to eat with one hand while the other is under the table in their lap
  13. When you meet Americans, be sure to look them in the eye, smile, and shake hands
  14. Americans make small talk at the beginning of conversations and will probably ask you “what do you do?” which means what is your job?
  15. Americans open presents and cards in front of people
  16. It is considered rude to ask direct questions about a person’s religion, age, money, salary, weight or clothing size
  17. Men should not make “sexist” remarks to or about women- anything that would suggest women are unequal to men
  18. Americans are extremely punctual, always on time and never late
  19. Some Americans hug a lot. It is okay for women and men to hug even if they aren’t close friends
  20. It is normal for American women to have male friends who are just friends (and vice versa)
  21. American men try to share equally with their wives in parenting and housework
  22. Americans love pets and having a dog or cat in the household is common
  23. Many elderly Americans live in retirement homes rather than with their children or family
  24. Domestic violence is against the law and it is illegal to hit anyone: spouse, child, parent or even a pet
  25. Students are expected to ask questions
  26. Do your own work. Copying from a friend, book, or the internet is called plagiarism and can cause expulsion from school
  27. Americans look for bargains and often by used items
  28. Americans are very careful about not bothering anyone else with their body odor or bad breath and typically take a shower once a day

So what do you think? Are there any basic American cultural norms we missed? What surprised you the most on this list? We want to know!

To view the complete list click here!

Spring Holidays and Festivals Across the Globe

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holi: The Indian Spring Festival

Originally an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in India, Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors and is now widely popular with non-Hindus and people all across South Asia. First and foremost this festival celebrates the beginning of a new season, spring, and the victory of good over evil. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. It also marks the beginning of a new year and a time to mend broken relationships and end conflicts to help start the year afresh. Celebrations for this festival begin the night before the actual day of color with the burning of a bonfire to symbolize an ancient myth of burning away evil spirits to make way for good fortune. On Holi day children and youths spray colored powdered solutions and throw colored powder at friends and strangers, men and women, poor and rich. Anyone and everyone is fair game. People move and visit family and friends, share Holi delicacies and chilled drinks, including an adult drink with special intoxicating herbs specific to this holiday. It is celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox, on the full moon. This year March 17th will be the Holi day of colors. For a fun and informative video of the holiday click here!

Semana Santa: Catholic Holy Week in Spain

Celebrated in almost every Spanish city, this holiday takes place during the last week of Lent, the last week immediately before Easter or Pascua, the day on which Jesus was resurrected after crucifixion.  Religious processions of brotherhoods and fraternities march through the Spanish streets throughout the week to commemorate the passion of Jesus Christ. These groups march wearing conical hoods and cloaks and carry candles, enormous wooden crosses, and magnificent floats, known as ‘Pasos’, sculpted with depictions of gospels relating to the Passion of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Religious devotion, art, color, and music combine in acts to commemorate Jesus Christ by the Spaniards as the cities gather to watch the processions through the streets. As an extremely Catholic country this week is an important spring event and draws in huge crowds of locals and tourists alike to take part in this uniquely somber cultural festival. This year the processions start on April 14th. Check out a cool video of the processions here. 

Nowruz: The Persian Spring Festival

Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the first day of the New Year in the Persian calendar. As a secular holiday it is celebrated by a widely diverse group of people from various ethnic communities and religions and has been celebrated for over 3000 years. Originating in the territory formerly known as Persia, it is now celebrated in modern day Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. In most of these locations it is considered the most important holiday of the year and preparation start months before the spring equinox. Traditionally, a major spring-cleaning of the house and buying and dressing in new clothes starts the twelve day long festivities. During these days short house visits to friends, families, and neighbors is expected. Bonfires are common as they symbolize the burning away of the old year. The Haft Sin, or seven s’s are a traditional table setting during this time. A mirror symbolizing the sky, an apple symbolizing earth, candles symbolizing fire, rose water symbolizing water, wheat symbolizing plants, goldfish symbolizing animals, and an egg symbolizing humans and fertility are on each dining table. Traditional Nowruz specific dishes and desserts are eaten during this time. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, this year being on March 22nd.

Passover: The Jewish Holy Festival

Also known as Pesach, Passover is an important, biblically-derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt. This festival usually lasts seven to eight days starting the night of the full moon after the northern vernal equinox. On the first night of Passover Jewish families come together for a special dinner called Seder and the table is set with the finest china and silverware as it is one of the most important Jewish holidays. During this meal the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told. Throughout the week all meals eaten must be Kosher and not use a leavening agent. This is to represent the Jewish flee from Egypt which is believed to have happened too quickly after liberation to allow time for their food to leaven before being lead away by Moses. Special meals specific to the festival are prepared throughout the week to accommodate for this such as matzo, a yeast-less bread product, and families gather together throughout the week to enjoy them together. Many Jews do not work on these days and special prayers are said specific to each night of the Passover festival. This year the festival begins on April 14th. 

Shunbun no Hi: Japanese Vernal Equinox

This Japanese holiday is also a celebration relating to the vernal equinox. This festival is mirrored in the autumn on the only other day of the year that there is exactly the same amount of hours of daylight as night.  Originally as a Shinto religious holiday people would spend this day by visiting loved ones gravesites and paying homage to the ancestors. Today, as a public holiday in Japan, most workers have this day off to return to their homes and celebrate with their families. The day is celebrated to bring in the spring season and appreciate nature blooming after a long winter. People also take time to renew their lives on this day by thoroughly cleaning their homes and making important life changes, such as graduating or starting a new hobby. Some families still visit grave sites to sweep off dust and debris and leave flowers or food offerings. This year the holiday falls on March 20th.

Have you taken part in any of these cultural celebrations? Are there other spring cultural events you've heard about? We want to know!

Important MBTA Changes this Spring

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Government Center Closure
Beginning March 22nd, 2014 the MBTA stop Government Center will be closed for two years while construction crews work to reconstruct the station into a fully accessible, modern, more comfortable, and safer facility. This reconstruction project, titled the Government Center Reconstruction Project, will combine improvements to the Green Line Station, Blue Line Station, and Cambridge Street/ Government Center plaza to allow for better access for persons with disabilities as well as include a new head house structure as the primary entrance, improved interior, mechanical systems, lighting, LED signage, escalators, and elevator access. Addition vendor retail space will be made available and a security protection and monitoring system will also be installed. Plans include the reopening of the station to be scheduled for spring of 2016. During the time of closure both Green and Blue lines will pass through the station but not stop there. If your trip usually included a stop at Government Center the MBTA asks you be prepared for an extra 10-15 minutes of commute time. For more information on the project and how the changes will affect you please go to their website.

Extended MBTA Operating Hours
Starting on March 28th the T will begin to run all Subway trains and the fifteen most popular bus routes until 3am on Saturday and Sunday. College students and young people in the growing economy of innovation have long complained about the 1am closing time of the T during the weekend days. Bars and restaurants do not close until 2am and workers in the technology sector have stated the hours do not align with their late night work ethic. These changes hope to alleviate some of these transportation issues and hope to open Boston up as a late night city. This service will be a one year experiment in efforts to understand the sustainability of the new schedule before permanent installation. But if this pilot goes well and maintains high ridership throughout the year the changes have a high likelihood of becoming permanent. No one is quite certain how many people would ride the T during these extended hours, but the T estimates that on an average Saturday night about 5,200 people enter the Red, Green, Orange, or Blue line turnstile between the hours of 12am and 1am, compared to around 3,000 during a typical week night. This information is very promising for the sustainability of these new hours.  And fortunately, during these extended hours all fares will remain the same for all forms of transportation. The bus lines that will be running until 3am include: 1, 15, 22, 23, 28, 32, 39, 57, 66, 71, 73, 77, 111, 116, and 117. 

Why the Kit Kat is the Most Influential Candy Bar of All Time

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Although a Hershey bar, a Snickers, or even a Twix may be some of the most well-known candy bars of all time, Time Magazine states that hands down the Kit Kat is the first bar to reach a global following causing it to become the most influential candy bar of all time. Although this crunchy, breakable, wafer-filled chocolate is surely a delight, how did this seemingly unassuming candy bar reach such a global market? Turns out quite a few ingenious marketing strategies spanning decades can be directly attributed to the Kit Kat’s international success.

The most successful of all marketing strategies used by Nestle (the owner of the Kit Kat brand, except in the United States) was the concept of the candy being marketed around sharing, turning the candy into a social snack. Typically consisting of fingers of wafer covered milk chocolate, each finger can be snapped from the bar separately, making the bar much easier to break apart and share.  This has been a much more effective strategy than say, Snickers whose marketing campaign is based on the notion that the chocolate can soothe a raging hunger capable of turning people into a flamboyant diva.

Another key marketing strategy utilized by the makers of Kit Kat caused it to become one of the first candy bars to attain a global following.  The early 2000s was a turning point for the entire confectionary industry in general as the popularity of lob card diets and healthy eating increased drastically and demand for candy bars and sugary treats drastically declined. To counter this, dramatically increasing the number of new and unique variations of the Kit Kat and market them as limited edition to not deter from the sales of permanent edition Kit Kats became Nestle’s solution.  These new editions and unique flavors became widely popular in Japan and in a slew of other nations across the globe. Some of the most popular, uniquely Japanese flavors include wasabi, green tea, sweet potato, soy sauce, and banana flavors. The Japanese often give Kit Kats as good luck charms as the name resembles the term "Kitto Katsu" translated to "surely win" and even has an entire store solely dedicated to this influential candy. Search for the term “Kit Kat” and “India” or any other nation and many other unique flavors will show up as well. 

Not only through variations in the chocolate itself has the Kit Kat become such a confectionary success, but through its television ad base as well. The “Gimme a Break” jingle has been in use since 1986 and still is used in Kit Kat TV campaigns today.  And chances are you can hum it by heart. In fact in 1987 it came in 30th for the “100 Greatest Adverts of All Time”. Here’s the video to the first campaign that gave the Kit Kat that title.

Despite these ingenious strategies, the success of the Kit Kat would not have been nearly as effective without its head start years before competitors. Its origins go all the way back to 1911. And, as a British candy, markets were reached in Europe, the U.S., and Australia years before such influence was established by many other confectioners.  And today Kit Kat continues to grow and maintain global influence as last year Google’s Android announced its new operating system would be called “KitKat”.

So what do you think- would you have considered the Kit Kat a globally influential candy? What’s your favorite chocolate bar? What other wacky flavors of Kit Kat have you heard of? We want to know!

Useful Apps for your Smart Phone

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In this age of technology having a smart phone is no longer a luxury for the elite, but a commonality for people of all economic and social backgrounds. With so many smart phones on the market, simple phone functions are only a fraction of the phone’s ability. The functionality of these phones is constantly increasing as more applications are developed for things from finding local restaurants to online books, to translator services and more. With the vast quantities of apps to choose from it can be difficult to find the most useful ones. Because of this we have compiled a list of some of the most useful, free iPhone and Android apps available for use in Boston or wherever in the world you are!

The Transit App:

This app is recommended by the MBTA itself for keeping up to date on public transportation. The Transit App allows you to see the arrival time of the nearest buses and trains, allows you to search how to get from your current location to anywhere you choose through whichever form of public transportation is most convenient, and updates in real time for delayed or changed services! Other features include a station locator that gives you directions to the nearest station or stop, estimated transportation time for arrival at destination, daily schedules, and the ability to add favorite locations and switch directions for the return trip with the tap of a finger. Available for iPhone and Android


Kindle:

For readers the kindle app is essential. With iBooks on the iPhone, you might wonder why you should bother with the Kindle app. After all, the app is not as pretty as iBooks, nor is there an integrated store. However, the Kindle offers a massive selection of books compared to Apple’s app and the reading experience is unmatchable no matter how pretty the app. Available for iPhone and Android.

Around Me:

Around Me figures out where you are through the GPS on your smart phone and gives you a list of local stuff- banks, bars, gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, libraries and more! The reliance on Google maps info means there are some gaps, but it’s nonetheless handy to have installed when in unfamiliar surroundings. The “augmented reality” landscape mode gives you a visual of the locations and although amusing, it is somewhat flaky. Available for iPhone.

Dictionary.com:

This app functions as both a dictionary and thesaurus. Over two million definitions, synonyms, and antonyms are available in the palm of your hand with this offline app. The app is both fast and efficient and includes both phonetic and audio pronunciation of words and its interface is well suited to smart phone usage. There is also a word of the day function that updates with a new vocab word daily. Available for iPhone and Android.

Shazam:

This app is perfect for those constantly in search of new music to add to their playlists. Shazam is an app that feels like magic when your first use it and it’s deceptively simple. Simply hold your smart phone near a music source and wait while the app “listens” and tells you what track is playing. The sheer technology behind this simplicity however is mind-boggling. Although not always entirely accurate this app identifies most tracks with ease and is definitely worth a download. Available for iPhone and Android.

Uber:

Uber is the perfect app for the taxi users. Upon signing up your credit card information is stored and used for payment of the car services, so no in-taxi payment required, not even the tip! The app also texts you the name of the driver and vehicle info, an arrival time, and all the driver information to ensure you travel safely. Options for vehicles also range from taxi to black car to SUV and the app locates the nearest drivers to you. This app is also very simple to use, with only two taps necessary to get a car on the way to you. Available for iPhone and Android.

Google Translate:

This app is perfect for users learning a new language, or for foreigners who don’t speak the local language. It's great for translating text between dozens of different languages. The most popular language options enable you to speak into your device and listen to audio translations. It’s also considerably cheaper and more portable than a translation staff. Although not all translations convey the message the most accurately, this app is extremely handy. Available for iPhone and Android.

GubHub:

This app allows you to find any restaurant nearby. You can search by type of food or by restaurant name and the app will give a list of restaurants and their online menus from which you can place your order directly for pickup or delivery. An estimate of the time before food is prepared or delivered is texted to your phone and the app automatically saves past orders for you to remember what tasty things you've gotten before. This app is simple to use and doesn't even require a phone call to place most orders. Available for iPhone.

All of these apps are useful tools that continue to increase the functionality of the smart phone. Are there any other apps you would recommend? What’s the most useful app you’ve found? We want to know! 

Valentine's Day in the United States

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 13, 2014

Celebrated on February 14th in the United States, Valentine's Day is one of the most iconic holidays celebrated in the American culture. This holiday's roots are a mix of Roman pagan fertility celebrations honoring Juno, the goddess of women and marriage and the Christian martyr Saint Valentine who allegedly performed secret marriages for soldiers banned from marrying under Emperor Claudius II. Although the name is derived from that of the Christian martyr, as well as the date as it is the day in which the saint was beheaded for defying the orders of the emperor, today the holiday is a festival of romantic love. 

The most common way in which people celebrate this holiday in the United States is by giving significant others or loved ones cards usually decorated with heart shapes, red roses or cupid- a tradition that dates back to the early 15th century. The origin of the symbol of the heart is not know, but scholars speculate it is has to do with medieval belief that the heart was the source of all emotions and the shape from early attempts to draw an organ they'd never seen. Red roses are an iconic symbol of this day as they we said to be the favorite flower of the goddess Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Lace is also common in Valentine's Day cards as ladies' handkerchiefs were often made of the material and it was said that if a woman had her eye on a man she would intentionally drop it so he would retrieve it for her and conversation would be initiated. 

The symbol of Cupid is the mascot of this day as he is the cherubic son of Venus and is known to cause people to fall in love by shooting them with his magical arrows.  Gifts are also very common, the most popular being flowers, chocolates, candy, champagne, lingerie, and jewelry. Flowers have a long history of having symbolic nature ever since what is known as the "poetry of flowers" was introduced into European culture from Persia in the early 1700's and eventually making its way into this American holiday. Couples often times go out to a romantic meal in a restaurant as well, causing Valentine's Day night to be one of the busiest in the restaurant industry. And although this holiday is not a public holiday more than 62% of Americans celebrate this day privately making it one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the country. 

Here are some other fun facts about Valentine's Day in the United States:

And estimated 6 million American couples will get engaged on this day of love. 

Today the American company Hallmark, the undisputed leader of the greeting card industry, makes Valentine's Day cards in 30 different languages that are sold in more than 100 different countries.

Approximately 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are sent every year. 

Over $1 billion worth of chocolate is bought for this day in the U.S. 

The top 4 most popular recipients of Valentine's day cards are: Teachers (as American school children traditionally give each student and teacher a card on this day), children, mothers, and wives.

The first mass-produced Valentine's Day cards in the U.S. were made in the 1840's. 

The only holiday on which more cards are sent is Christmas.

More than 220 million roses are cultivated for this day with 73% being purchased by men and only 27% purchased by women.

In the 1800s doctors recommended eating chocolate to heart broken patients, claiming it would soothe their pain and eventually leading to the Valentine's Day chocolate tradition of today.

For a fun and informational video about this American tradition click here! 

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? What's your favorite Valentine's Day tradition? We want to know!

Fun Facts about the Winter Olympics

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 10, 2014

Every four years a different cold-climate city has the honor of hosting the Winter Olympics, a major international, multi-sport competition in which the best athletes in the world compete to become an Olympic medalist and bring pride to their home country. Although significantly smaller than the summer Olympics (due to the fewer number countries with a winter climate) participation and viewership are rising.  The 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia are the largest to date with 88 nations sending more than 2,800 athletes. That's more than ten times as many athletes as the first games which were held, in Chamonix, France in 1924 with only 16 nations participating, sending a total 258 athletes. The first Winter Games only included alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping, and speed skating, but significantly more sports have been added over the years such as luge, freestyle skiing, curling, and various snowboarding events. As the competitions get fiercer as this year’s winter games continue here are few fun facts about the Winter Olympics and the Sochi Olympics to think about:  


  • At around $51 billion, the Sochi games are the most expensive in history, just barely edging out the $43 billion budget for the 2008 Beijing games. It is also the first Winter Games to be hosted by Russia and the most environmentally friendly to date.
  • Norway is one of the biggest competitors in the Winter Olympics and holds the all-time record for winter game medal count (330) and for gold medal count (107). The winter athlete with the most medals is also from Norway, Bjorn Daehlie, with 8 gold medals and 4 silvers.
  • No country in the Southern Hemisphere has ever hosted the Winter Olympics.
  • Both the Summer and Winter Olympic games were held on the same year until 1994. Since then they have alternated every two years. 
 
  • The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions of the world- The Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceana, and every national flag in the world includes one of the five colors (blue, yellow, black, green, and red).

  • The Sochi gold medal contains 516 grams of silver and 6 grams of gold and the Russian gold medalists have been promised $122,000 from their country, while the U.S. gave $25,000 to each of its gold medalists in the 2012 London Olympics

  • Shaun White, and American snowboarder, is the richest Winter Olympian athlete with a net worth of over $20 million due to professional endorsements.
  • The United States is the only country to have won a gold medal at every single Winter Olympics ever held.

  • Sochi is the warmest city to ever hold the Winter Olympics with an average February temperature of 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 degrees Celsius).
  • PyeongChang, South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • The official mascots of the Olympics include a polar bear, an Amur leopard, and a European Hare.

  • In sports; 98 events over 15 disciplines in 7 sports are included in the Sochi Winter Olympics. Those include- Alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, figure-skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short-track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding, and speed skating. Twelve new events debut in Sochi this year; including team ice skating, slope style snowboarding, and women’s ski jump.

Did any of these facts surprise you? What is your favorite event in the Winter Olympics? Are there other important facts about the games that we missed? We want to know! 

Boston Slang

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 03, 2014

Of all the modern languages the English language is most certainly one of the hardest languages to learn and become fluent in. Centuries of influence from other languages, many of them Latin-based, have changed this Germanic language to become a unique one with a mixture of pronunciations and spellings that tend to break the few rules the language does maintain. This is made even harder when thick accents and slang words are used by the people speaking it.  Being such a large country, American English has developed these accents and slang differently from region to region. In the south you will often here the term “y’all” to refer to the plural of “you” while in other parts of the U.S.  the slang term “you guys” is the informal plural of the word. In Boston in particular heavy accents and frequent usage of slang make understanding some people extremely difficult, even for other New Englanders!  A common phrase spoken by Bostonians and people from New England is “park the car in Harvard yard” because it emphasizes the Boston accent in which the r’s are pronounced like h’s, so a Bostonian would pronounce the phrase as “pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd”.  Although not all Bostonians speak with this heavy accent, this remains one of the most prominent features of the region. As a result it is frequently the butt of jokes about Boston, like in Jon Stewart's America where he stated that the Massachusetts legislature ratified everything in John Adam's 1780 Massachusetts Constitution except for the letter "r".  Here are a few other common words and phrases you’ll hear only around Boston:


The B’s: This is in reference to the Boston Bruins hockey team.  True Bostonians are die-hard (unconditionally loyal) fans of the sport and the team. The Garden refers to TD Garden, where games are held.

Beantown: An old term meaning Boston. Bostonians themselves don’t often use this term, but other New Englanders tend to as it refers to the many baked bean manufacturers that used to be abundant in the city.

Bubbler: A water fountain.

The Charles: The Charles River that flows between Boston and Cambridge

Chowdah: Chowder- a cream-based soup native to New England containing potato and usually seafood like clams or fish.

The Common: In reference to the Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States.

Down Cellar: Refers to the basement of the house, typically cellar is pronounced "cellah".

Flurries: Light snow

Frappe: A milkshake

The Hill: Typically in reference to the Mission Hill area- frequented by college students

Massholes: A derogatory term in reference to Massachusetts residents, most often used when speaking of driving and driving ability

Nor’easter:  The strongest of winter storms with winds coming from the Northeast, common during the winter months and often causing large snow accumulation

The Pats: The Patriots- the American Football team representing New England.

The Pike: In reference to the Massachusetts turnpike

The Pru: The Prudential Center

The T: The MBTA, the underground public transportation in Boston

Wicked: Very; or interesting. Almost always used as an adverb and very commonly used in everyday speech. “Wicked pissa” is a common phrase, meaning great or awesome.

Although such accents and slang words can make it difficult to understand what people are trying to say, they are intrinsic to the culture of the region. Similar to the variety of dialects spoken throughout other countries (such as Galician spoken in Spain) it is representative of the people and culture that make up the region. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if an accent or certain words are hard to understand. Although Bostonian’s are often as gruff as their accent, they are often very willing to help so asking someone to speak more clearly or in more general terminology will help you pick up on what’s being said.

For a fun video of a new Celtics basketball member trying to learn the Boston accent click here!

Have you run into Boston slang words you didn't understand? Are there essential words and phrases missing from this list? We want to know! 

Super Bowl Sunday: Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, January 27, 2014


The Super Bowl is American football’s annual championship game and, as the finale of the country’s most popular sport, the most watched annual television program in the United States.  As the last game of the season between the two best teams in the National Football League (NFL), competition is fierce for the famed Vince Lombardi Trophy- given to the victorious team. Each year the championship is held on a Sunday at the beginning of February, this year on the 2nd.


The first game of American football ever played was in 1869 between two college teams that combined the rules of rugby and soccer and was an immediate success. As the popularity of the game increased the rules of the game evolved over time, eventually giving us the football of today and the most popular sport in the United States.  In celebration of the sport Americans across the country come together to watch the Super Bowl on the Sunday it airs, known as Super Bowl Sunday. Although not an official holiday, many Americans refer to it as such due to the way in which it causes family and friends to come together in celebration regardless of whether all involved are fans of the teams playing or even of the sport itself. In preparation for the game spectators prepare various classic American finger foods, usually washed down by beer or soda. In fact, it is the second largest day for food consumption in the U.S., after Thanksgiving. Nachos, various types of wings, chips and dips, barbecue, potato skins, hot dogs, pizza, and other traditional finger-foods are typically eaten whether the game is celebrated in home or at the bar.

Although often times the regions of spectators are not represented in the Super Bowl, as only two teams of the thirty-two in the league play, the half-time show and commercials draw a huge crowd. Because of the high viewership of the broadcast, commercial airtime during the Super Bowl is the most expensive of the year, causing companies to make their most advertisements for specifically this event. As a result, watching and discussing these ads has become a significant aspect of the Super Bowl.  The half-time shows are also directly correlated to the extensive exposure the Super Bowl gives. Because the half-time period is thirty minutes long, singers and entertainers are necessary to maintain the audience’s attention. Notable past performances have been Michael Jackson, U2, and Beyonce. This year Bruno Mars will be playing at the half-time show. To check out Boston.com's list of the top ten Super Bowl commercials of all time, click here!

Many have applauded the idea of making Super Bowl Sunday an official holiday, citing its ability to unite Americans of all races, religions, and economic classes, but for now the Super Bowl remains one of the largest de facto holiday in the country.

Do you watch the Super Bowl? Who do you think will win this year’s Vince Lombardi trophy? Should Super Bowl Sunday be an official American holiday? What do you think? We want to know!  

Chinese New Year: The Year of the Horse

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Chinese New Year is an important traditional holiday in the Chinese culture and is celebrated on the first day of new year according to the lunar-based Chinese calendar. Translated from the modern Chinese name, the new year means Spring Festival, as the celebrations goes from the Chinese New Year's Eve to the 15th day of the next month, also making it the longest Chinese holiday. The tradition is centuries old and was meant to honor ancestors and deities although customs have changed over time. Today the eve of the new year is typically celebrated with an annual family reunion dinner and windows and doors are decorated in red paper-cuts with themes such as longevity and good fortune. Firecrackers and red envelopes containing "lucky money" are given to children in celebration. The color red and firecrackers both symbolize fire which, according to legend, drives away bad luck. Although the new year is traditionally a family holiday, many immigrant families in countries such as the U.S. lack extended family and therefore turn to the community to celebrate which is why it is common to see parades and lion dances in the streets in communities such as Chinatown here in Boston. This year the Chinese New Year begins on Friday, January 31st Want to experience Chinese New Year locally and learn more about one of largest cultural groups in the world? Here are some events that might interest you throughout Boston, whether you traditionally celebrate the Chinese New Year or are just interested in having some culturally enriching fun. Click on the event to be redirected to the official site for more information.

 

Chinese New Year Feast

Organized at the Whole Foods in Dedham Jan. 31st

A demonstration-style class shows you how to make a few classic Chinese dishes that represent prosperity, health, joy, and longevity such as dumplings and beef and broccoli noodles. What could be better than some warm and savory Chinese cuisine to brighten up a cold winter day!


Lunar New Year Festival

Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum on Feb. 1st.

Traditional lion dances, a screening of a film set in Boston's Chinatown, break dancing and swordplay workshops and more! If you don't mind a ride to Salem this event will demonstrate the many sides of the complex traditions involved with the Chinese New Year celebrations for adults and children alike.

Chinese Lion Dance Parade

February 9th from 11am-5pm on Beach St. and other nearby streets in Chinatown

What could be better than watching the annual lion dance parade held in Boston's Chinatown? Totally free, this parade is accessible by the MBTA. Local vendors set out traditional Chinese food along the path of the lion costume as it dances through the streets at the end of the New Years celebrations in mid February. Whether you celebrate the Chinese New Year or are just interested in a lively event and delicious food, this parade is the perfect finale to the vibrant celebration.  To learn more about the Chinese Lion Dance Parade check out images and descriptions of the Boston Discovery Guide from 2013. 

Do you, or have you ever celebrated the Chinese New Year before? How? We want to know


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