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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 Solar Eclipse: Legends & Myths

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What two things cannot be hidden for long?

If you guessed the sun and the moon, you are 100% correct.

Perhaps the two most dependable natural fixtures in the world, we always expect to see the moon when we lay our head down at night, and see the sun upon waking up in the morning. For many people around the world, time, as a concept, becomes twisted and distorted when an occurrence disrupts the function of either. Say, for example, a solar eclipse - where the moon shifts in between the earth and the sun, blocking the sun's light from earth for a short amount of time. For the first time in nearly a hundred years, next Monday, August 21st, North America will experience a total solar eclipse.

With the nearing of this remarkable event, we did some research on solar eclipses and the legends that surround them. E.C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, once said "'If you do a worldwide survey of eclipse lore, the theme that constantly appears is it's always a disruption of the established order'". Perceptions of what that disruption signifies varies from culture to culture. Some see the solar eclipse as an event to be feared, while others view it as a time for reflection.

Many cultures see the eclipse as a moment when a demon or an animal consumes the sun. The indigenous Pomo of Northern California imagined a great bear, ambling through the skies and eating the sun when it refused to leave his path. Bolivian and Korean legends say an evil king sent "fire dogs" to steal the sun but they could not hold it in their mouths for long. Similarly, the Vikings saw sky wolves chasing the sun. Once they caught it, an eclipse would happen. By Vietnam tradition, the sun is eaten by a frog during an eclipse.

Other myths describe the solar eclipse as a part of natural law. The Navajo's regard the eclipse as balancing out cosmic orders. Many Navajos still observe ancient traditions by singing special songs, spending time with their family, and refraining from food, drink or sleep.

If you're travelling in the United States and want to see whether or not you will be in a prime viewing spot for next Monday's eclipse, check out this site! Boston will only experience about a 63% eclipse, but it will still be quite the sight. Experts believe that the moon will cover most of the sun at approximately 2:45pm. If you're looking for more information on Monday's solar eclipse in Massachusetts, follow this link!

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.

The American Barbecue

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Cooking outside over an open flame has a rich history expanding past our pioneering ancestors. Now, barbecuing is a summertime staple. A barbecue can take many forms ranging from the most extravagant to the simplistic hot dog on a stick. Each region of America has its own style when it comes to barbecue due to cooking styles, meats, sauces, and rubs. The states stretching from the Carolinas to Texas mark the Barbecue Belt. In these states, barbecuing is a serious matter. Various customs are influenced by the community who  originally settled there.

Traditionally in North Carolina, whole pigs are smoked over an open fire. Tennessee barbeques are also heavily pork based, but are in the form of ribs or pulled pork. Due to the size of the state and the diverse communities within it, Texas barbecues differ. Texas barbecues are traditionally beef based and brisket is the most popular cut. Although, in East Texas pork can be found as often as beef. Preparation and presentation of the meat is altered based on where it is cooked. West Texas “cowboy-style” barbecue avoids sauce and Mexican influences arise in South Texas barbecue. Learn more about the regional differences here.

While barbecue restaurants may be more popular in the South, there are local joints to fulfill the craving. Boston’s Sweet Cheeks on Boylston Street brings southern charm and barbecue to the city. Before heading to a Red Sox game, be sure to stop by for a bite and a tall glass of their delightful sweet tea. Their menu is full of favorites, including ribs, brisket and wings. The fluffy biscuits are a must! Classics like corn on the cob, fried green tomatoes and coleslaw are in abundance. Find their menu here.

The reasonable prices, large portions and fast service make Redbones BBQ in Davis Square a local favorite. The extensive menu is comprised of perfect cuts of beef and pork, in addition to catfish, fried chicken, and baked beans. Exciting appetizers of corn fritters and buffalo shrimp are the perfect starters for a meal at this eatery. If the trip to Somerville seems far, their food truck brings their delectable creations to the streets on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Find their menu here



Boston/Greater Boston Farmers Markets

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Did you know that there is at least one farmers market operating every day of the week in the Boston/Greater Boston area? These markets provide fresh, locally grown products to their communities. Here's a weekly rundown of where you can find a farmers market:

Sunday

If you're in the Cambridge area, be sure to check out the Charles Square Farmers Market in the Charles Hotel Courtyard (1 Bennett Street) from 10am - 3pm. A bit further southwest, you can find yourself at the Needham Farmers Market in front of the Needham Town Hall (Garrity Way) from 12pm - 4pm.

Monday

The Central Square Farmers Market in the Bishop Allen Drive at Norfolk Street (parking lot) in Cambridge is a popular option on Monday's from 12pm - 6pm. The South Boston Farmers Market, located in the W. Broadway Municipal Parking Lot (446 West Broadway, South Boston), is another great market that accepts WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons. It is open from 12pm - 6pm.

Tuesday

The Harvard University Farmers Market in Cambridge, Harvard Science Center Plaza (Oxford and Kirkland streets), is a well located market near the fun and excitement of Harvard Square. It is open from 12pm - 6pm. The JP Farmers Market is another cute niche tucked away in the Bank of America parking lot on Center Street in JP. Stop by from 12pm - 3pm to check out the locally grown produce and vegetables! If you are out west in Newton, be sure to plan a stop at the Newton Farmers Market at Cold Spring Park (1200 Beacon Street) from 1:30pm - 6pm. The Copley Square Farmers Market is one you cannot miss! From 11am - 6pm, in the shopping heart of Boston, come down to check out the beautiful fruits and veggies local vendors bring to Copley Square.

Wednesday

Cambridge Center Farmers Market near the Kendall/MIT MBTA station (on Main Street) is a popular choice from 11am - 6pm. The Charlestown Farmers Market at the intersection of Austin and Main streets is open from 2pm - 7pm. If you are a bit north of the city, you can check out the East Boston Farmers Market behind the Maverick MBTA station (209 Sumner Street) from 3pm - 6:30pm. Located west of Boston? No problem! Check out the Dedham Farmers Market in front of First Church of Dedham (670 High Street) from 3pm - 7pm. Lastly, the Oak Square Farmers Market in Brighton (Presentation School Foundation parking lot) is open from 4pm - 7pm.

Thursday

Come out to the Kendall Square Farmers Market every Thursday from 11am - 2pm, located at 500 Kendall Street. The Brookline Farmers Market is a long-standing market that's been running for over thirty years! Check it out from 1:30pm - 6:30pm in the Center Street West Parking Lot in Coolidge Corner. Mission Hill Farmers Market is another fun experience, located in Brigham Circle on Huntington Ave and Francis Street, from 11am - 6pm!

Friday

Friday's in Cambridge return to the same place as Sunday's market, just from 12pm - 6pm instead! And if you missed out on Tuesday, the Copley Square Farmers Market returns on Friday's from 11am - 6pm.

Saturday

Saturday is a big day for farmers markets in and around the city! Cambridgeport Farmers Market can be found in the Morse School Parking Lot from 10am - 2pm. The Braintree Farmers Market, a local favorite featuring meats, fruits, veggies, and Vermont maple syrup, is held in the Town Hall Mall (1 JFK Memorial Drive) from 9am - 1pm. The family friendly Roslindale Farmers Market meets every Saturday from 9:00am - 1:30pm in Adams Park (Roslindale Village). Union Square Farmers Market in Somerville is a local hotspot for good eats from 9:00am - 1pm! There are TWO farmers markets in JP on Saturday: Egleston Farmers Market from 10am - 2pm located across from the Sam Adams Brewery (29-31 Germania Street) and JP Farmers Market returns at the same place as Tuesday from 12pm -3pm! And finally, if you have a chance, be sure to check out the Waltham Farmers Market from 9:30am - 2pm at the Arthur J. Clark Government Building (119 School Street)

Every day of the week:

Boston Public Market, located at 100 Hanover Street (Downtown, Haymarket), is a farmers market that sells meat, fruits, vegetables, and many other local products from 8am - 8pm every single day!!! Be sure to check it out while you are in Boston!

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.


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