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Mother's Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, April 30, 2018


In the United States Mother's Day is traditionally celebrated on the second Sunday in May, so this year that means May 13th. Mother's Day was founded by a woman named Anna Jarvis, who held a memorial for her deceased Mother at a church in West Virginia in 1905. Anna's Mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War.  Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother and all mothers in America and so she began to advocate for Mother's Day as a recognized holiday. At first, Congress rejected the proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday, but then several states, beginning with Jarvis' home state of West Virginia, began to adopt Mother's Day as a holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day as a national holiday to honor America's mothers. Mother's Day is also celebrated elsewhere in the world. Here are how some countries observe Mother's Day.


Thailand

Mother's Day in Thailand is celebrated on August 12th, on the day of  Queen Sirkit's birthday, a former queen of Thailand who is considered the "mother of the country".  In the days before the holiday, Thai people celebrate by displaying portraits and shrines of Queen Sirkit, as well as putting on fireworks shows and candle lighting ceremonies. In addition to comemorating the birthday of the Queen, Thai mother's are celebrated on this day as well. Children often give their mother's gifts such as white jasmine flowers, which represent maternal love. Children may also give alms to monks in honor of their mothers.


Australia

In Australia, Mother's Day is celebrated on the same day as in the U.S. The traditional flower of the Australian Mother's Day is the Chrysanthemum, which is in full bloom during the season of Autumn when Australian Mother's Day occurs. On this day, Chrysanthemums, as well as carnations, are given to mothers. Many Australians wear colored carnations if their mothers are still living and white carnations if they are deceased.


Poland

Polish Mother's Day, also known as "Dzień Matki", is celebrated on May 26th. The holiday gained popularity after WWII, and is now an official holiday of Poland. Because it is an official holiday, many businesses are closed and families have celebrations at home. On Mother's Day, schools often host special events where children give their mothers gifts such as "laurki", or papers decorated with flowers and written messages. At home, family members may gather and have a party, complete with more gift giving and cake.


India

India's Mother's Day is celebrated on the same day as in the U.S. On Mother's Day , Indian children give their Mother's cards and often cook a meal for them. A similar holiday is celebrated by followers of the Hindu religion in October. This festival, called "Durga Puja", honors the goddess Durga, or the "Divine Mother" of India. Durga Purja lasts 10 days, during which people fast, then feast, pray, sing, dance, and perform cultural dramas.

Source: Thebump.com

A Boston Holiday Season

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, December 06, 2017

As many of you know, the start of December is the official kick off for the Winter holiday season, and Boston is as charming a city as they come this time of year. If you're looking for fun things to do this month, then look no further because we've compiled a list of the best activities this season.

Light shows:

Greenway Carousel: From December 1, 2017 through January 1, 2018, head over to the Greenway Carousel to take a spin against the backdrop of bright, festive light shows and favorite holiday tunes. Beginning at 4:45pm and running until close, these light shows are sure to brighten up a cold winter's evening.

Somerville Illumination Trolley Tours: Several homes in Somerville go all out with their holiday decorations, and the Somerville Arts Council created a trolley tour to shuttle interested parties from house to house to check them out. Tour is Saturday, December 16, from 4:30pm to 10:00pm. 

ZooLights, Stoneham: Every year, the Stoneham Stone Zoo puts on a dazzling holiday light show from 5:00pm to 9:00pm each evening through December 31. This spectacular display is in addition to wonderful holiday-themed decorations added to many animal enclosures.

The Lynn Fells Parkway, Saugus: For over 60 years, families pile into their cars for a slow drive down the Lynn Fells Parkway on the North Shore. Most residents on this mile-long stretch of road gave up counting the number of bulbs on their property, though their estimates are in the thousands.

Blink! Faneuil Hall: Holiday shoppers around the Faneuil Hall area have been able to enjoy an audiovisual show called Blink!, where 350,000 LED lights dance to the music of the Holiday Pops. The spectacle lasts about 7 minutes, but plays throughout the night from 4:30pm to 9:30pm until January 1.

La Salette Shrine: For over 60 years, La Salette Shrine in Attleboro has amazed visitors with displays of over 300,000 lights spread across 10 acres. There is also an international crèche museum with more than 1,000 crèches. Open daily from 5:00pm to 9:00pm though January 1.

Your OWN! If you can, take your visitor along for a drive around the neighborhood to see all of the holiday decorations near your home! And for a more comprehensive list of the best light shows around Boston, follow this link!

More holiday activities:


December can be a brutally cold month, and you won't always want to enjoy the holiday cheer outdoors. Instead, perhaps purchasing tickets to Boston Ballet: The Nutcracker, or the Holiday Pops show, or to Black Nativity, or to the Disney on Ice: Dream Big tour will fill you with the holiday spirit while keeping your hands and toes warm. Either way, any of these shows will prove to be quite fun. The Nutcracker and the Holiday Pops show run through December 31, Black Nativity will run through December 17, and the Disney on Ice tour will be here until January 1!

Another fun way to get into the holiday spirit is on the Northern Lights Boston Harbor cruise. There are three different holiday cruises this year: the Irish Christmas Carols Cruise, the Holiday Jazz Cruise, and the Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise, all featuring live music, holiday decor, and delicious beverages. Take your pick of these cheerful holiday cruises!


If you're downtown completing your holiday shopping, you should also check out the different ice skating opportunities! Frog Pond is an age-old favorite for many Bostonians. Bring your own or rent some skates and twirl on the rink surrounded by holiday lights covering Boston Common's trees. The city's newest skating venue is right in City Hall Plaza for Boston's Winter Wonderland. Open 7 days a week, Boston Winter offers a skating opportunity as well as an outdoor holiday shopping market!

Love to ski or snowboard? Nashoba Valley Ski Area is only 45 minutes away from Boston and has a lovely relaxed environment. The Blue Hills in Canton, MA is a family-oriented, good-for-learners mountain, and Pats Peak is another mountain in Southern New Hampshire that has lots of ski/snowboard instructors on site and homemade food in the cafeteria. If you'd like a longer list of nearby skiing and snowboarding opportunities, follow this link!

If you're interested in Boston's history, then come out to the 244th Boston Tea Party Reenactment. On December 16, 6:30pm, meet at the Old South Meeting House near State Street to join more than 100 volunteer reenactors, including Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock. The procession will gather at the Old South Meeting House for a debate and proceed with fifes and drums in tow to Griffin's Wharf to dump a load of tea in the Boston Harbor. Rain or shine, it should be a sight to see!


Last and certainly not least, welcome in the New Year at First Night 2018! Join the million or so people who come to celebrate the New Year in Boston at this huge city-wide event. There will be entertainers, food, performances, a parade, fireworks, and ice sculptures. Be sure to bundle up and head into the city on December 31 for some great eats and even better experiences!

Common Misspellings in the English Language

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 29, 2017

For those who are learning English as a second language, I'm sure you know that English is one difficult language to master. We understand that. In all honesty, English can be tricky even for native speakers. Just take, for example, the most misspelled words by each state in America. Strangely (or not-so-strangely), Wisconsinites tend to have an issue spelling Wisconsin. Go figure.

If you're from Massachusetts, apparently you might have had some trouble spelling "license" - does the 's' come before the 'c', is there even a 'c' to begin with? Hard to know sometimes. Google compiled a list of the most misspelled words by each state, and the results are very interesting! Here are a few of our favorites:

State

Misspelled Word

Alaska

Schedule

Florida

Receipt

Illinois

Appreciate

Mississippi

Nanny

Tennessee

Chaos

Wisconsin

Wisconsin

To check out the results for the rest of the states, follow this link.

According to Oxford English Corpus, an electronic compilation of over 2 billion English words, the list of the most misspelled English words is far greater and more complex than "schedule" and "chaos". Words like "gist" make the list because, yes, it is spelled with a 'g', and not with a 'j' - even though it's pronounced [jist]. *Palms face*. English can be quite the confounding language. Based on the Oxford list of most misspelled words, we chose a few to share with you:

Correct Spelling

Common Misspelling

Achieve

Acheive

Bizarre

Bizzare

Calendar

Calender

Definitely

Definately

Foreign

Foriegn

Forward

Foward

Happened

Happend

Independent

Independant

Knowledge

Knowlege

Publicly

Publically

Tongue

Tounge

To check out the full list, follow this link!

Learning a new language, especially one as complex and confusing as English, is tough work, and we applaud all of you that are attempting to master it!

Halloween Happenings!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Halloween is one of the best celebrated holidays in the Boston area due, naturally, to the amount of ghosts that roam our streets. From witch trials, to hangings, to some of the oldest graveyards in the country, Boston's history ensures that old lonely spirits are due to walk the streets on October 31st.

Just kidding. Maybe.

If you're a lover of all things spooky, get ready for some good Halloween fun in and around the Boston area!

Hop on the Boston Ghosts and Gravestones Tour for a jaunt around town in an old trolley with a host that looks remarkably like a 17th century gravedigger... This tour takes you through the most historic parts of Boston, where you will make stops at two of the oldest graveyards in the country, and learn about some of the most gruesome murders in Boston's history.

Remember that the tour is half walking, so grab some comfortable shoes!

Price: $39.00

If you really want a fright, check out the Factory of Terror in Fall River, MA. With three locations - Bloodworth Dungeon, 4-D Blackout, and Phobia Mayhem - this will sure be one horrifying night. You'll come face to face with moaning spirits, tormented corpses, and gothic nightmares in this haunted Factory.

Price: $15

Want to learn more about Boston's spooky history? Take a walking tour with Boston By Foot for their Beacon Hill with a BOO! event. On October 31 at 6pm, the tour will set out to walk amongst the dark alleys of Beacon Hill, where you will learn of the Hill's dark and murderous legacy.

Price: $20

Lastly, and certainly not least, take a day trip out to Salem, MA - better known as the "Witch City" -  to check out all of the Halloween happenings! You can take a scheduled 7 hour tour from Boston via the Salem Witch City Day Trip, which will take you up to Marblehead, then to the House of the Seven Gables, and then into downtown Salem for a bus and walking tour of the historic city. The Salem Witch Museum ramp up their decorations and activities this month as well, so be sure to take a visit to the country's oldest witch museum! The Haunted Witch Village and the Salem Wax Museum put on a great display over the weekends gearing up to Halloween. A trip to the Wax Museum might also lead you to Frankenstein's Laboratory!

If you're looking for all things Halloween in Salem, follow this link to check out the extensive list of events, tours, and activities in the Witch City all month long!

Here is a list of Halloween happenings in the Boston area too!

Día de los Muertos

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an ancient Mexican holiday whose celebration has now spread across Latin America and to parts of the United States. It is also one of the most misunderstood holidays to date. Since it takes place near Halloween, many people assume that Day of the Dead is a Mexican/Latin version of Halloween.


Dia de los Muertos was originally celebrated by the Aztecs at the end of August to signify the end of their harvest season. When the Spanish conquistadors brought Catholicism to Latin America, una mezcla (a combination) happened. With the Catholic tradition, came All Saints' and All Souls' Day in early November. Over time, Dia de los Muertos coincided with these Catholic holidays and is now celebrated on a similar two-day structure on November 1 and 2.

It is thought that at midnight on October 31, the gates to heaven open to allow the spirits of the dead to reunite with their loved ones for 24 hours. On the first day of Dia de los Muertos, November 1, families remember children who have passed away. On the second day, November 2, loved ones remember adults who have died. The central belief on Day of the Dead is not to mourn those who have passed, but to celebrate their lives. Families leave little toys and candy shaped as skulls for the children, and food, favorite possessions, and alcohol for the adults. Celebrations usually include live music and dancing from homes to graveyards, where families will gather around the graves of those who have passed.

Day of the Dead is an incredibly important holiday for Mexican and Latin people, as many believe that happy spirits will provide protection and good luck to their families. Sometimes people spend up to two months building ofrendas (homemade altars to leave offerings on) for their loved ones. This tradition keeps families and villages close - both with each other and with their deceased relatives.

The Science of Hygge

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Imagine a cold winter's night and you're curled up on the couch under a mound of blankets watching your favorite show or reading a thrilling book with a cup of tea steaming next to you. If you have children, they are finally asleep -  and you have this particular moment all to yourself. It's nice, is it not? In the U.S., we might call the fuzzy, warm feeling created in that moment a sense of "coziness". In the Danish culture, however, there is a specific word to describe that feeling: hygge.

Pronounced "hoo-guh", hygge is defined by Oxford Dictionary as "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being". Some refer to it as an "art of creating intimacy" - either with yourself, with others, or with your home. Hygge generally requires a person to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere that can be shared with friends, family, and even strangers.

Hygge has become one of the defining aspects of Danish culture. In the last few years, the philosophy has gained an international audience; at least six books on hygge were published in the U.S. in 2016 alone. The concept is more than just a room full of candles and familiar faces though - it is a way of life that has helped Danes appreciate the importance of simplicity and practice a slower pace of life.

CEOs of companies, such as Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, have written books on hygge and how others around the world can start to incorporate it in their lives. Here is a list that Wiking includes in his  "The Little Book of Hygge":

  • Get comfy. Take a break.
  • Be here now. Turn off the phones.
  • Turn down the lights. Bring out the candles.
  • Build relationships. Spend time with your tribe.
  • Give yourself a break from the demands of healthy living. Cake is most definitely hygge.
  • Live life today, like there is no coffee tomorrow.

Though there is not a direct translation of the word hygge in English, the tangible feeling of comfort, coziness, and contentedness is one we are all familiar with. Remember to pause what you are doing today, take a deep breath, and slow down.

Keeping Pets Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, August 23, 2017

If you own a pet, you have probably experienced the predicament of being uncomfortably squashed into a corner of your bed, and not wanting to disturb your cute sleeping furry friend. Have you ever wondered if someone across the globe is experiencing the same exact dilemma at the same time as you? Is 'Shelly' over in Australia admiring her sleeping pup while her left foot goes numb stuck between the bed and the wall? Perhaps! Interestingly though, keeping pets (both in the home and generally) can greatly vary from country to country.

Dogs, cats, birds, fish, and the like have lived peacefully with humans for thousands of years. Pet preferences and their purpose in the home, however, can differ by culture.

In Russia, cats are the go-to pet of choice with 57% of homes having this adorable, yet sometimes evil, four-legged creature. Perhaps people prefer cats because they do not need to take them outside during bitterly cold winter days. Similarly, cats are idealized in Japanese culture. Though cats do not dominate as many households in Japan, they are seen as incredibly protective and lucky animals.

When it comes to avian pets, Turkey has the highest concentration of homes with birds at 20%. Traditionally, birds have been compared to the human soul, therefore, Turkish people, as well as Persians, have deeply valued having birds within their homes.

China takes the cake when it comes to aquatic pets, as fish can be found in 17% of households. In areas with such density, it is understandable that people might prefer smaller sized animals.

Now, the United States certainly has the biggest pet population all together, including 70 million dogs and 73 million cats. The U.S. is not the breadwinner when it comes to dogs as pets, however. In fact, Argentina boasts the most dog-dense population with 66% of homes having at least one dog - 16% of which were adopted off of the streets. Furthermore, 80% of Argentine homes have at least one pet in general, making it the most pet-friendly country in the world. In some cultures, however, dogs serve a purpose in the home. In rural China, for example, a dog's purpose is to protect the home and/or livestock. They generally do not sleep inside with the family, and can even be eaten once they are too old to continue working. In many Islamic countries, dogs are seen as impure and unhygienic, and it is rare for dogs to be household pets. On the flip side, areas like the United States and the U.K. greatly value the companionship that dogs offer, calling them "man's best friend".

All in all, depending on where you are, you might find drastic differences in the types of pets people keep!

The Meaning of Personal Space Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, August 09, 2017

We are all thoroughly aware of that uncomfortable sensation - a tickling up and down our spines - when someone hovers in or around our 'personal space' bubbles for longer than expected. Have you ever wondered what might cause that creepy-crawly feeling? Or if the other person feels it too? Our judgment on this phenomenon naturally varies from person to person, and by nature of the relationship we have with the other person. Interestingly enough, however, we must also consider culture as a large contributor to our preferred personal space distances.

A study published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology examines the differences of preferred interpersonal distances across the world to measure just how close people are willing to get. The researchers handed out the image below to about 9,000 participants, and asked them to mark where Person B should stand, in relation to Person A, if they were a stranger, an acquaintance, or a close friend.

In the USA, the average person preferred strangers to remain 95cm away, whereas if they were an acquaintance or close friend, they preferred 65cm and 45cm, respectfully. Countries that value large personal space distances include Romania, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Uganda. And on the flip side of that coin, Argentina, Peru, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Austria do not mind if you get up close and personal. An interesting note is the difference in preferences in Norway, where they fall about in the middle when it comes to strangers (100cm), but enjoy the most proximity when it comes to close friends (35cm).

Needless to say, the 'personal space bubble' means something different to people across the globe.

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

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