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Welcome to Boston Homestay - Pan-Latin American Group at TALK05-Nov-2017

A group of adult visitors from Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama arrived to Boston on Sunday eveni..

Welcome to Boston Homestay - Josai High School22-Oct-2017

A group from Josai High School in Japan is visiting this week to tour Boston and sight see! They..


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The Story Behind Boston's Christmas Tree

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Last week the city of Boston was notified by our northern friends in Nova Scotia, Canada that the annual Christmas tree gift was chosen! Every year the city of Boston is rewarded a giant tree as a thank you for services provided a century ago.

Exactly 100 years ago, on December 6th, 1917, the Halifax Explosion killed 2,000 people and injured upwards of 9,000 in the Nova Scotia province. A French cargo ship, the Mont Blanc, was preparing to head overseas to fight in World War I when it found itself in some trouble. The Mont Blanc collided with a Norwegian ship in the Halifax harbor and caught fire.

The ship was laden with high-powered explosives that were meant for battle in the war. Shortly after the fire began on the Mont Blanc, however, so too did her munitions. Many people believe this was the largest man-made explosion in the world prior to the development of atomic bombs.

Over 1,000 people were instantly killed, while entire neighborhoods in the Richmond district were demolished. When word reached the Massachusetts governor, he immediately dispatched a relief train filled with doctors, Red Cross nurses, and medical supplies. Once in Halifax, the aid workers handed out food and water, set up hospitals, and built shelters to treat the thousands of injured bodies and spirits.

During the weeks leading up to Christmas, the first aid responders took it upon themselves to become Santa's elves by setting up trees and decorating best they could amidst the ruin. They tried to keep Halifax's spirit up during such a devastating time. The following year, Nova Scotia sent Bostonians a Christmas tree in thanks and remembrance for their aid after the explosion.

The gift was revived again in 1971 when the Lunenburg County began an annual donation of a large Christmas tree to Boston in remembrance of the Halifax Explosion. This act was later taken over by the Nova Scotian Government to continue spreading the goodwill and holiday cheer.

This year the tree lighting ceremony will be held on November 30 from 5:00 - 6:00pm on Boston Common. Be sure to head downtown in your layers to see the spectacular tree in all its glory.

International Food Markets

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 01, 2017

One thing Boston is known for is its international population. People from around the world come to Boston for higher education, to see historic sites, to catch a sports game, or just to start anew. With such an influx of international visitors, students, and immigrants, the availability of international foods has also risen. Across the Greater Boston region, international markets have popped up, and we're excited to share with you some of the local favorites:

Asian Markets:


Super 88 Market

With two locations, one near Boston University in Allston and one in Malden, this supermarket offers a wide range of Asian groceries, including produce, meats, spices, sauces, and everything in between. There's even a food court where you can enjoy some sushi or pho at your own leisure.

Location: 1095 Commonwealth Ave, Allston & 188 Commercial Street, Malden

HMart

Located on Massachusetts Ave in Cambridge, HMart is another Asian food superstore. From ready-to-serve, to Kimchi, to snacks, to household items, HMart is your one-time stop for any Asian food you are looking for.

Location: 581 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

Ebisuya Japanese Market

If you're looking for superbly fresh sushi made right in front of you while you shop for all your pantry necessities, then you should absolutely make a stop at Ebisuya. This market is located right in Medford, and has all your Japanese cooking essentials.

Location: 65 Riverside Ave, Medford

Indian Markets:


Taj Mahal Desi Bazaar

This market may be small, but it has much to offer. With a butcher on site, the Halal meat selection is incredibly fresh and the variety of seasonings and grains are plentiful for a good price. Be sure to stop by if you're planning a traditional Indian meal.

Location: 274 Broadway, Somerville

Foodland Market

Located in Cambridge, this market also has an in-shop butcher and fresh produce and spices. A local favorite, be sure to check it out!

Location: 2234 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

African Markets:


Kaba African Market

If you're looking for African foods and spices, or natural body products, or handmade items for your home, this is a great market with knowledgeable staff right in the heart of Boston.

Location: 29 Roxbury Street, Roxbury

Merkato African Market

Specializing in Ethiopian products, this wonderful little store stocks its shelves with plenty of spices, fresh njera, and hard to find items. This shop is sure to please both mind and body!

Location: 1127 Harrison Ave, Roxbury

Middle Eastern Markets:


Hamdi Halal Market

If you're looking for high quality Halal meats at a reasonable price, this is your go to place. With a wide variety of foods and pleasant service, you will have a fabulous experience.

Location: 1433 Tremont Street, Boston

Sevan Bakery

When you visit this little store, you will discover that it is more than just a bakery. With an amazing selection of imported foods from Armenia and the Middle East, you will surely not be disappointed. Be sure to taste some of the Armenian and Middle Eastern food prepared fresh in the kitchen every day.

Location: 599 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown

Arax Market

This shop is a small Armenian grocery store that also boasts products from Turkey, Greece, and the Middle East. A local favorite, everyone recommends the olive bar and the baklava. Check it out!

Location: 585 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown

Eastern Lamejun Bakers

This little store offers a wide variety of imported gourmet essentials, including Armenian appetizers, every spice you can think of, snacking goodies, and loads of the best dips you can find. Don't forget to try their stuffed grape leaves!

Location: 145 Belmont Street, Belmont

Russian & Eastern European Markets:


Berezka International Food Store

In business for over 30 years, this Russian grocery has expanded to include more than just food. Beyond the fresh foods and imported Russian spices, they now have a department entirely focused on natural remedies. There you can find all sorts of high quality natural herbs, teas, and tinctures. Be sure to check this store out!

Location: 1215 Commonwealth Ave, Boston

Babushka Deli

This special little spot is a gem for those who find it. From kosher goodies to Greek spreads, this one of  a kind store has the Eastern European product you have been looking for. Go in with an open mind, and your day will surely be made.

Location: 62 Washington Street, Brighton

Latin American & Caribbean Markets:


Tropical Foods

This supermarket is known as the store with "the best of both worlds". Not only does it function as a regular grocery store (selling milk, eggs, veggies, etc.), it also provides ethnic products, such as special produce, curries, rice, beans, and unique/hard-to-find specialties from the Caribbean, Central/Latin America, and Africa.

Location: 450 Melnea Cass Blvd, Boston

La Internacional Food Corporation

This is a must-go for your Central and Latin American food shopping needs. Their selection of spices, cheeses, beans, and more are extraordinary. Known as a friendly and well-stocked store, this is a great local market to do some of your ethnic shopping at.

Location: 318 Somerville Ave, Somerville

Mineirao One Stop Mart

This little shop lives up to its name! With a restaurant/butcher in back, and a stocked grocery store in front, you are sure to find everything you may need. Traditional Brazilian products and brands line the shelves of this store, and all at an affordable price!

Location: 57 Union Sq, Somerville

These are just a few of many, many international food markets in the Greater Boston/Boston area. Be sure to do some of your own research and pop in to the next local market that you see!

Explore Boston: Somerville!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

As one of the most historic cities in the country, Boston has a lot to offer for both short-term visitors and the locals. The city in itself feels more like a giant town than a bustling metropolis like New York, which lends to much of the city's picturesque appeal. That same charm is mirrored in neighboring cities such as Cambridge and, more recently, Somerville.

Somerville was founded in the mid-19th century, and has flourished in the last 175 years gaining fame for being one of the 'best-run' cities in Massachusetts. The little city that sits between Cambridge and Medford has become one of the hottest places to live as of late - especially for young professionals. This is mainly due to the MBTA Red Line that runs through Cambridge and into Somerville, creating an ease of access to all that the city has to offer.

And there's a lot for Somerville to boast about! From quaint, fun little town centers, to big shopping experiences, to old factory and museum tours, the list runs long for 'Things To Do' in this city. Over the last few decades, Davis and Union Square has spearheaded the revitalization of retail, dining, and nightlife in Somerville. You can find comedy clubs, exquisite eateries and cute boutiques all within four-block spans.

If you are looking for a typical day of shopping, exercise, and/or dining, then Assembly Row is your go-to spot. From premium retail outlet stores, to restaurants galore, to a 12-screen movie theater, and even residential and office spaces, the Assembly Row development has literally everything your heart may desire - besides, perhaps, true love.

If you need more proof that Somerville is one cool city, then here it is: Somerville is the home of marshmallow Fluff. Yes, you read that correctly. Fluff was invented in Somerville, and there's even a festival to commemorate it. If the history of Fluff doesn't get you moving to check out Somerville, then one of the other 80 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places might!

All in all, Somerville is home to some of the greatest restaurants, shops, museums, art studios, and more! It's no wonder Lonely Planet named it one of the top 10 US travel destinations in 2017. Get out there!

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 History of Halloween

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Straddling the line between fall and winter, the month of October boasts beautiful scenic views, an abundance of seasonal activities, and, most importantly, Halloween. Halloween is the holiday in which consumers purchase a quarter of all the candy sold in the U.S. annually. It is a time when neighborhoods come together for trick-or-treating, costume parties, and story-telling. But where did we come up with the idea to ask our neighbors for candy, and why do we dress up in scary outfits? To understand much of what the modern Halloween celebration entails, we must also understand where it has its roots.

Halloween is thought to have originated from an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain ("sow-in"). November 1st marked the start of a new year for the Celts - the end of summer and harvest, and the beginning of a dark, cold winter. It was thought that on the night before the new year, October 31st, the boundary between the dead and the living blurred, and souls were able to wander the earth. Druids, ancient Celtic priests, would light massive bonfires, where people gathered to offer crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities for a safe and protected winter.

The Roman Empire conquered Celtic territory around 43 AD, and for several hundred years dominated those lands. Over the course of their rule, two Roman celebrations were combined with Samhain: Feralia, a day to commemorate the dead, and a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit - typically symbolized through an apple. This was incorporated into Samhain through the tradition of bobbing for apples - an activity still practiced today. By 1000 AD, the Church had dedicated November 1st as All Saints' Day to honor the dead, which was celebrated in much of the same way as Samhain - big bonfires, parades, and dressing up. The night before this grand celebration was called "All-Hallows Eve", and, eventually, "Halloween".

During Samhain and All Saints' Day, people would dress in costume and ask fellow townspeople for food. When the holiday came to America during Colonial times, a particularly American version began to emerge. It began as a public event that celebrated the harvest, where villagers would share ghost stories, tell each other's fortunes, and get into all sorts of mischief-making. By the late 1800's, Halloween became more about the community than about ghosts and pranks, as parents were encouraged to remove the "fright" out of Halloween celebrations. It was not until the mid-1900's that the holiday again took a spooky turn. It was also around this time that Halloween became geared to younger crowds.

Today, Halloween is celebrated by all age and sizes, and with spooky stories, scary costumes, and yummy treats to boot.

New England Fall Foliage

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It is officially Fall, and we are all set and ready for a season of pumpkin spice, apple cider, crisp weather, and colorful trees! In my humble opinion as a born-and-raised-Bostonian, the Northeast is the best place in the U.S. to catch the Fall foliage. Whether or not you want to hike the White Mountains or hop on a foliage train tour, you will certainly find some incredibly beautiful views in and around the region this season. Here's a breakdown of the best ways to view the Fall foliage:

If you want to see colorful trees without the hassle of traveling far, you can enjoy wonderful views by touring around Boston on your own! The Boston Common/Public Garden and the Esplanade all put on a spectacular display of colors during the Fall. The Common and the Garden, located next to each other, tend to change color a bit earlier than the Esplanade. Take a stroll across the foot bridge in the Public Garden to see Mallard Island (of Make Way for Ducklings) or search for the brass labels underneath trees in the Common to discover what leafy species you can admire. In October, the Esplanade, the long linear park along the Charles River, will be aflame with reds, oranges, and yellows. Take a jog along the river or grab a buddy and a lunch and enjoy the colors in a piece of peaceful park!

If you want an easy escape from the bustling city, hop on the Orange MBTA Line to Forest Hills and walk through the Arnold Arboretum. The 265-acre Arboretum hosts almost 5,000 different species of trees that turn into a fiery composition in October. Boston's Fall Foliage Festival will be hosted in Arnold Arboretum on the last Sunday of October, so be sure to come out and enjoy apples, cider, storytelling, and the brilliant colors of the Arboretum.

Another option for foliage sight-seeing is taking a walk, jog, or bike down the Southwest Corridor through Jamaica Plain to Back Bay and Beacon Hill. These elegant neighborhoods boast a variety of colorful leaves and textures. The picturesque neighborhoods will not disappoint with lovely little eateries, shops, and brilliant leafy colors.

If you want a more extensive Fall foliage experience, there are tours to different New England areas that will NOT disappoint. The Fall Foliage Sightseeing Tour from Boston includes a lunch, a visit to an apple orchard, and views of old Colonial churches, farms, and villages. This is a great option to immerse yourself in the New England seasonal colors and tranquil landscapes. Another option is the Autumn on Old Cape Cod Tour. This coach tour stops at the Sandwich Glass museum and the JFK memorial in Hyannis Port before turning into a sightseeing cruise along Lewis Bay, where you will see entrancing views of quaint Cape Cod villages. Lastly, the New England Coastal Tour will take you from Boston to Maine along the beautiful New England coast. You will see the wonderful fall foliage along the Massachusetts and New Hampshire coasts, and get a chance to lunch and shop in Kennebunkport, Maine.

There are many ways to admire the colorful foliage in and around Boston, so be sure to check out as much of the region as you can this Fall!

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.

A Favorite Fall Activity: Apple Picking!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 06, 2017

As the beginning of September brought some chilly weather and the start of a new school year, we are reminded that autumn is right around the corner. Fall is one of the most beautiful times to be in the Northeast of the United States, and the tell-tale scenic changing colors reminds us, once more, that apple picking season is upon us.

Fresh hot cider, juicy apples, and delicious freshly baked cider doughnuts are some of the best things New England orchards have to offer. Beyond that, the fun activity is known for its bonding and relaxing nature! Here is a list of apple orchards within an hour's drive from Boston:

Belkin Family Lookout Farm

One of the longest running farms in the country, the Belkin Family Lookout Farm boats apples, pumpkins, Asian pears, train rides, and farm animal fun! The closest working farm to the city, this gem will surely brighten up your fall.

Price: $12 weekday admission per person (kids under 2 are FREE); $16 weekend admission

10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 89 Pleasant St., South Natick, Massachusetts, 508-653-0653

Brooksby Farm

Located a little further outside of Boston, Brooksby Farm has all of the Fall holiday essentials. This Pick-Your-Own apple orchard also has doughnuts, cider, pumpkin patches, and more!

Price: $9 for 1/2-peck bag; $17 for 1-peck bag


9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, 54 Felton St., Peabody, Massachusetts, 978-531-7456

Dowse Orchards

For over 200 years, Dowse Orchards has been a functioning farm that produces apples, veggies, flowers, pumpkins, and Christmas trees.  This Fall come out to pick your favorite sweet Golden and Red apples for the best pies around!

Price: $16 for 1/2-peck bag


9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays & Sundays, 98 North Main St., Sherborn, Massachusetts, 508-653-2639, dowseorchards.com.

Honey Pot Hill

Nominated for Best Apple Orchard of 2017 by USA Today, Honey Pot Hill Orchards is a must-see this Fall! From hedge mazes, to hay rides, to farm animals, to hot cider and cider doughnuts, to jams, veggies, and pies, and, of course, to pick-your-own apples (and blueberries!), Honey Pot Hill has so much to offer for the best Fall day! Be sure to come out and enjoy the festivities this year.

Price: $18 for 10lb bag; $28 for 20lb bag


9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, 138 Sudbury Road, Stow,  Massachusetts, 978-562-5666

For a more comprehensive list of apple-picking Orchards in and around Boston, follow this link!

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!