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Get Lost in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 31, 2016

I'm inching closer and closer to graduation every single day. And yeah, it's absolutely terrifying. So as my college years come to a close, I've become extremely nostalgic. I mean, for goodness sakes, I moved to Boston four years ago. Four years ago, my mom and I drove up to the front steps of my freshmen year dorm. Four years ago, I walked into my room and yelped: "Mom, what is this? A prison?"

Well, the good thing is it wasn't truly a prison. Yes, my single-turned-double was extremely tight, and my roommate and I had to find some creative ways to coexist - but I wouldn't change my experience for anything.  For the first years of college I remember being sure that once college was done, I'd be fleeing Boston. Well, that's definitely not true anymore. My plans are to stay here, and live blissfully with my lobster rolls and green beer.

Although I'm staying here, and I guess not much will change, I thought I'd compile a list of must-dos in Boston. I didn't do much exploring my first few years of college, but more and more I realized how much this city has to offer. You guys should be aware of that too.

(even amy poehler agrees with me)

 Explore the North End, and not just for the Mike's Pastry

I'm a sucker for lobster tails. They're puffy and creamy, and I could easily chow down on like 15 of them. Mike's Pastry, besides its cannolis, is pretty well known for its lobster tails. Even though every time I go to the North End, I run straight to Mike's - I'm telling you to do the exact opposite of that. There is SO much to do in the North End, and Mike's should still be part of it - but not the only part.

Some of you may be a little far to do this, but if your walk is an hour or less, take that chance and walk all the way to the North End. You'll find all these little nook and crannies, and you might just stumble into a restaurant that you wouldn't have otherwise. That's what happened to me when I walked into Trattoria Il Panino. Okay, before you start telling me that this place is well known and that I'm ridiculous for even bringing it up, let me explain myself first. When I walked to the North End over the summer, I went around and through. The back of the trattoria was hidden in this small street, and it looked great, so I walked in. Most trattorias around Boston aren't true Italian. This place isn't like that at all - this is the true Italian. The minute I told them my family was from Italy, they immediately started speaking to me in Italian. Thankfully, I understand some of it (thanks daddy). I got some of the best service I've ever gotten, and I left with a full and happy belly.

(I ate that entire thing)

Because I'm always hungry and apparently an entire skillet of pasta couldn't fill me up, I went looking for dessert. Gigi's was the only gelato place that I could see from a short distance - but don't be lazy like me. Go on a hunt! Gigi's was good, but nothing compared to the true goodness that I found inside of Bova's Bakery. Bova's is a lot like Mike's: you know, the old school traditional bakeries that look straight out of Don Vito's neighborhood. Who knows? You might even bump into a Corleone. But back to the point - Bova's is delicious. You might feel a little lost, because they sell both baked goods and calzones - so do what I did, take the calzone to go, and eat a cannoli (or five).

Non c'è niente come il cibo italiano.

Since you're in the North End, go to the Boston Public Market

I've talked extensively about the Boston Public Market, so I won't go on for long. Moving from the Italian streets of the North End to the market might seem a little weird at first - one is very old school, and the other is a brand new, state of the art indoor market. But you just can't miss this market. You'll most likely be filled to the rim from your five cannolis, but just take a stroll.  You can pick up some flowers, and have a sip of Hopsters Alley's IPA.

Sit and chill by the Charles River

There are many times during my day where (my boyfriend and) I  repeat the line "can you just sit and chill?" And though I hear it repeatedly and attempt to make it my mantra, I don't do it very often (sorry Santi). If you're a coffee chugging, hyperactive nut like me, please follow my next recommendation. Go to the Charles River, and just sit. That's right. Just sit. Okay, don't sit inside the river because that's probably not so safe. There's a walkway around the river that's easily one of the most beautiful sights in Boston. You'll see people running, babies laughing, and couples strolling - seriously, you can't ask for a happier place. There's a dock right around the Hatch Shell. Tie your hair back (because Boston winds are no joke), take out your bag of baby carrots, and post up. You'll clear your head, and leave with some serious peace of mind.

Okay enough of this calm, here comes the storm

Well, it's not really a storm, but I thought that was a nice segway. While you sit on the Charles River dock, you'll probably see a couple kayaks roaming past you. You're not crazy, they're actually there, and they're coming straight from the Charles River Canoe & Kayak. Once Boston decides to stop changing up its weather every other day, you should take a trip down there. I went last summer with one of my best friends, and did absolutely none of the paddling, but it was still a total blast. While he paddled about 300 pounds across the river, I just sat back and tanned. Pretty lovely.

(what a view amirite?)

If you go around 11 or so, my recommendation is to (obviously) pack some snacks. I got real hungry (obviously) and had to cut my tanning escapade short. So if you're trying to just enjoy your day, and have your kayak take you wherever it may, pack a granola bar or a full thanksgiving meal - whatever floats your boat (see what I did there?).

Harvard Square isn't just for Harvard students

That's right. Even though both the T stop and the general area are named after the Ivy League school, you don't have to be a student to go there. I admittedly didn't really know much about HS before I started commuting to work. There is SO much to see there. But I'm going to start with my favorites: Felipe's, Liquiteria, and BerryLine.

Felipe's Taqueria

Almost all yelp reviews say this is the greatest Mexican food in Boston. I'll clarify that right now: it's actually the greatest Mexican food ever. Yes, it's better than Chipotle, it's even better than my hometown honey Lime Mexican Grill (that's a bold statement right there). I don't know what they do in that kitchen, or how the burrito maker goes as fast as he does - but I'm grateful regardless of what their secrets may be. Felipe's made me want to create a time machine, just so that I could keep eating and re-eating my rice-less chicken burrito. It'll get messy because the pico will spill out of the burrito, and through your fingers. But don't you dare waste that - do as your cheeto-finger-licking self would do, and lick away.

Liquiteria

This next one just shows how basic I truly am - this place is a smoothie making, juice pressing joint. There is one almost on every corner in Manhattan, but for some godforsaken reason there is only one here. And just my luck, it's not in my neighborhood (sigh). If you love kale juice and chia pudding, go here and pay $10 for your smoothie. Haha, I know. It's $10 for literally a cup of pressed vegetables, but it'll be the best (and the healthiest) $10 you'll ever spend.

BerryLine

This is my spot in Harvard Square. I shouldn't even be talking about it, because now everyone will flock there. But since I'm a good person and I want BerryLine's sales to boom so they eventually open up in Fenway, I'll tell you how wonderful of a frozen yogurt shop this is. Hands down, this is the best frozen yogurt I've ever had. It's just as smooth, with a hint of creamy as any other froyo joint, but their flavors are so insanely unique. They range from raspberry fudge to lavender honey to caramel toffee to oreo, and almost all of their toppings are homemade. I don't even know what goes into making mochi, and they make it. I'd say don't eat before this so you can try all their baked goods, but I go there straight from Felipe's...(my summer body plan is going well).

(this is the lavender honey topped with coconut, mochi, and strawberries - aka best toppings ever)

I've given you five recommendations for now, and I really do think you should take all of them. I've gone to all of these places personally, and I wouldn't be placing them at the top of my Boston tips list if I didn't love them and appreciate them as much as I do. There are more tips to come, but go on an adventure and try these out for size. 

Bahston's wicked beddah than yah think.

boston strong.

America's Hot for Hot Sauces

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, March 21, 2016

I have my moments with hot sauce. There will be months where I'll just completely hate it, and months where I'll put it in everything, even my cereal (I'm kidding, but I hear hot sauce and corn flakes is quite the delicacy). No matter how much I hate it, or love it occasionally, hot sauce is everywhere. At my favorite Mexican place in Miami, there is literally an entire rack of hot sauce. Who knew there was more than just Tabasco and Sriracha? Apparently not me. Hot sauce is such a thing right now, you'll hear about it in Beyonce's latest song: I got hot sauce in my bag, swag. Beyonce isn't even making that up, you can actually have hot sauce in your bag, with sriracha's new portable bottle. Find it here. You're welcome.


In spirit of the fiery condiment, and my on and off relationship with it, I decided to find some of the best ones for you. I'm going to relay them to you in order of spice level. If you're a wimp like me, and the simple thought of a jalapeno seed makes you want to cry, you should stop reading after the second or third brand.

Gochujang

Bear with me, I can't really pronounce this so let me spell it out phonetically: Goh - choo - jong. Okay, there we go. This hot sauce is essentially the Korean version of Sriracha. Made from dried red chiles, rice powder, and soybean paste, it's definitely the mildest out of the group - kind of like a chile based ketchup. Wimp away my fellow wimps, this one is for you.

Texas Pete

This one is like the frat star of hot sauces. It's extremely American and it's proud of it. Started in North Carolina, legend has it the prideful hot sauce was set to be named "Mexican Pete." Coming from North Carolina, the dad of the hot sauce's creator just wouldn't have it. So I guess after a few U-S-A's and beers,  Texas Pete was born. I'm including it here because it's kind of like a watered down Louisiana hot sauce, so I highly recommend putting it in your buffalo dip.

Frank's RedHot

I'd call this the older brother of the frat star above. They're both fantastic, but this one just has a little bit more experience in the hot sauce department. This is the tried and true Louisiana hot sauce you've been looking for. Fun fact, this was the hot sauce that was originally used in the first ever buffalo wing sauce. If you're a lover of spicier buffalo style hot sauce, I'd go with this one over his younger brother Pete.

Huy Fond Foods Sriracha

 This hot sauce is seriously legendary. The recipe came all the way from a small town named Si Racha, in Thailand, and most recently, it's made quite the impression in the US. The rooster branded LA based company makes its sauce with a blend of red jalapenos, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. It's far superior to the classic red hot sauce, it has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavor. This and tabasco are the two hot sauces I never grow sick of.


Tabasco

This is my absolute favorite hot sauce ever. I know, it's like the most basic of all hot sauces, but it's also the most delicious. Being the hot sauce wimp that I am, I love the green Tabasco more than anything, but the red one if just as fantastic. Every time I order a bloody mary, you'll see me kissing my green bottle, and immediately filling my drink with it. Don't just take my love and word for it, it also just happens to be America's numero uno hot sauce. Good job USA.


Cholula

Okay, I'm only including this one for you guys because I can't actually have it ever. The only time I've ever tried it, slowly turned into one of the most horrifying experiences I've ever had. Relay for Life, circa 2013, I decided to grab some Qdoba for dinner (what was I thinking?). I couldn't find my friend Tabasco, so I went for the Cholula. Everyone always told me it was WAY better than Tabasco - I stupidly believed them. I doused my chix burrito with the stuff, and about an hour later once I was back at Relay, I had an allergic reaction. I turned into Angelina Jolie's ugly younger sister. My lips were the size of Texas (sorry, Pete), and I could feel my face puffing up. I don't know what it is, but I just can't have Cholula. You, my dear reader, most likely won't have the same reaction I did because I have some weird food aversions (i.e. Cholula and bananas), so take the leap and try it for yourself. It's a little bit spicier than Sriracha, since its base pepper is 7 times hotter than a jalapeno, and it tastes like what a true Mexican hot sauce should. Who knows? You may end up looking like Angelina Jolie's hotter younger sister.

Nando's Hot Peri-Peri Sauce

This hot sauce is so real, it doesn't even have any food coloring in it. I'm letting you know now, it's brown. So no, it's not expired. Piri piri, in Swahili, translates directly to pepper pepper, and refers to the tradition of scorching the African bird's eye chile. Hot enough for ya? Everything from the seeds to the stem are in this sauce, so it's ridiculously hot. But if you're looking for a hot sauce that leaves you with a citrusy aftertaste, post scorch, this is the one for you.

Huy Fong Chili Garlic

Similarly to my run-in with Cholula, I went into my short lived escapade with Chili Garlic with inaccurate expectations. I assumed that this paste would be similar to its sister sauce, Sriracha. Well, as you may have guessed, I was wrong. If you're trying to give yourself a heart attack, or entering a largest ulcer competition, I'd go ahead and try Chili Garlic. It's so hot, I actually started crying as I attempted to swallow it down. However, I will say that it cleared my sinuses quite beautifully. So there you have it, only try this hot sauce if you have a sinus infection and/or are seriously crazy.

Even though hot sauce eating competitions make me want to barf, and I won't commit to anything with an above mild label, hot sauce has become a regular at everyone's table. I'd say try these all on for size, but best believe I'll keep going through Tabasco bottles like it's no one's business. What can I say? I got tabasco in my bag. 


Leap Year: It's Not Just a Movie

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 29, 2016

I've seen the movie Leap Year, so in my eyes, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the once-every-four-years leap year. But in the spirit of February 29th, I went ahead and researched it. Turns out, I know nothing about leap year.

(Here's a pic from the movie - such a guilty pleasure)

The truth is, I never really knew why we had leap years - and it's actually pretty simple (well, not really but I'll summarize it). Apparently, a complete orbit of the earth takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete - not 365 days as the Gregorian calendar states. Because of this pretty precise anomaly, leap years are added to the calendars to keep our seasons, and the earth, in sync.

That's the most basic explanation of leap years, but who really wants to talk about orbits of the earth? Let's talk about something a little more interesting - the tradition of women proposing on leap year. We all know that men usually struggle with taking a hint, but apparently this notion dates all the way back to the 5th century. Thanks to an Irish nun named St. Bridget (maybe the OG Bridget Jones?), we have the chance to pop the question every four years. Legend has it, she approached St. Patrick, telling him she simply couldn't keep waiting for her suitors to propose - you go girl.

St. Bridget wasn't the only one fed up with men, Queen Margaret of Scotland also wasn't having it. In 1288, she drafted a law that allowed unmarried women to propose during leap year, and get this: any man who refused, was handed a fine. I guess she was taking Queen Bey's "if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it" pretty seriously. I know this seems a little crazy, because our assumption is that as soon as we get down on one knee, our man will flee (I'm a poet and I don't even know it?), but it's not all that true. According to the UK's The Telegraph, more than half of men, would not only be pleasantly surprised, but would accept the proposal (I always knew the Brits were great). There's some bogus research out there that says Leap Year proposals are more likely to end in failed marriages, because women proposing is "against human nature" (scoff) - but I'd like to beg to differ. If you have the confidence to propose to your man, all the power to you (YAAS QUEEN YAAS).

Proposals aren't the only things to celebrate on Leap Year, but birthdays are pretty important too. Yes, everyday marks somebody's birthday somewhere, but Leap Year birthdays are particularly special. September 29th (my birthday) is obviously the most important birthday day of the year, but February 29th is kind of cool too.

If you're a leap year baby, according to the internet, you should be in Anthony, a small town that borders Texas and New Mexico. What a bore, you may think. Well, you're wrong. Anthony is the leap year capital of the world. Every four years, on February 29th, people from all over the world (I'm not kidding, people come from like Australia, India, even England), meet up. This year, leap babies will be indulging in wine tastings, cowboy reenactments, and a leap-tastic parade.

Taking a trip to the Texas/New Mexico border today may be a little last minute, so if you're reading this and you're a leap baby, there are some real deals you can take advantage of wherever you are.

Caribou Coffee (who knew they sold more than just k-cups?) does it right. It doesn't matter whether you're a leap baby or not, today you can go in and buy one beverage at normal price, and get another for 29 cents. Bear with me, I couldn't figure out why they were charging 29 cents for a coffee - I got it about 15 seconds later.

A large portion of my family is Italian, so saying that I absolutely love Olive Garden is probably sacrilegious. But really, who can resist unlimited salad and breadsticks? I'll tell you who, nemmeno gli italiani (not even the Italians). If you're a leap baby, you can get not only one, but FOUR free desserts on your birthday. Andiamo leap babies!

I'm a dunkin girl. As you know, I love my strawberry frosted donut and caramel-coconut iced coffee (medium with almond milk please!), but I'd switch to Krispy Kreme any day for a box of donuts at $2.29. The only catch is you'll have to first buy a box of donuts at regular price. But come on, 24 donuts for $10.29? Worth it.

Hard Rock Cafe's nachos are my jam (I'm punny aren't I?). Out of pure interest, and definitely stupidity, I decided to look up its nutrition facts. You can indulge in a plate of nachos for a minuscule 1,886 calories, 45 grams of fat, and 65 grams of total carbs. My mouth is watering, so I'll just go ahead and tell you why I'm bringing up their nachos in the first place. If you're a leap baby, you can go into any Hard Rock and devour a free meal. Do yourself a favor: order the nachos and ignore the post-binge stomach pains and regret.

(Had to show you how amazing these are)

The Leap Year deals are pretty never ending, so if you want to drool through them, find them here.

Between some deliciously fattening deals, and the ability to propose, I petition to make February 29th a national holiday.

Gotta go pick up my donuts and find someone with a February 29th birthday now. 


Idioms: Lost In Translation

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, October 22, 2015

At Global Immersions, we are proud to say that we serve almost 1,000 individuals annually from more than 50 countries. Furthermore, we have an incredible amount of diversity within our hosts as well, and we are always excited to learn about new cultures whilst helping clients immerse themselves into the US culture. It always fascinates us how our visitors and hosts are able to speak multiple languages, and this is why in this blog, we are going to list some of our favorite idioms we have heard from other countries!

Every language has its own anthology of sayings, whether it is offering advice on how to live or emphasizing values and beliefs. Idioms highlight the manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language, and there are thousands that exist in every language. However, sometimes there are idioms that cannot be translated literally, and the ones below truly gives an interesting insight into the languages of some of our visitors! 

Since we get a lot of Chinese visitors coming to Boston throughout the year, here are some of our favorite Chinese idioms we have heard:

  • Idiom: 杯弓蛇影 (bēi gōng shé yǐng / būi gōng sèh yíng)
    • Literal Translation: Seeing the reflection of a bow in a cup and thinking it's a snake
    • What It Means: Worrying about things that aren't actually there
  • Idiom: 脱颖而出 (tuōyǐng’érchū)
    • Literal Translation: A sharp stick points out
    • What It Means: To Fully Expose One's Talent
  • Idiom: 单丝不成线,独木不成林 (dān sī bù chéng xiàn, dú mù bù chéng lín)
    • Literal Translation: A single thread cannot become a cord, and a single tree does not make a forest.
    • What It Means: Co-operation is a necessity

Next up are some of the most creative yet funny idioms we have heard from Japan! It is interesting to note that the Japanese language has a significant amount of expressions involving cats!

  • Idiom: どんぐりの背比べ (donguri no seikurabe)
    • Literal Translation: It's acorns comparing heights
    • What It Means: The group is roughly the same in ability or quality
  • Idiom: 猫の手も借りたい (neko no te mo karitai)
    • Literal Translation: Borrow even cat's paws
    • What It Means: So busy you don't have time for anything
  • Idiom: 猫舌 (nekojita)
    • Literal Translation: Cat's tongue
    • What It Means: Needing to wait until hot food cools to eat it
  • Idiom: 猫の額 (neko no hitai)
    • Literal Translation: Cat's forehead
    • What It Means: Something that is very small
Moving on from the idioms of cats from Japan, we have a list of idioms involving animals from France that will surely make you laugh!
  • Idiom: Avaler des couleuvres
    • Literal Translation: To swallow grass snakes
    • What It Means: Being so offended you cannot reply
  • Idiom: Sauter du coq à l’âne.
    • Literal Translation: To jump from the rooster to the donkey
    • What It Means: Changing topics without logic in a conversation
  • Idiom: Se regarder en chiens de faïence.
    • Literal Translation: To look at each other like earthenware dogs
    • What It Means: To look at one another coldly, with distrust.
After going through some of the funniest idioms we have heard, it seems that animals tend to be a recurring theme in a lot of languages, whether it is Japanese, French, German, Or Swedish. However, although the literal translation might sound ridiculous in English, the idioms themselves do carry a lot of meaning behind them. Here are some Swedish idioms that are genius! 

  • Idiom: Det är ingen ko på isen
    • Literal Translation: There's no cow on the ice
    • What It Means: There is no need to worry
  • Idiom: Att glida in på en räkmacka
    • Literal Translation: To slide in on a shrimp sandwich
    • What It Means: Referring to somebody who didn't have to work to get where they are
  • Idiom: Se regarder en chiens de faïence.
    • Literal Translation: To look at each other like earthenware dogs
    • What It Means: To look at one another coldly, with distrust. 

We hope the next time you have a visitor from one of the countries above, you test out these idioms with them! What are some of your favorite idioms you have heard? Let us know!  


Diversity in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, June 04, 2015

Here at Global Immersions, we frequently discuss with incoming students what it means to stay with an American Homestay family in Boston. What a lot of people might not realize is that over 46 million people who live in the United States were actually born in other countries! In large cities like Boston, the population tends to be even more diverse, therefore Global Immersions hosts are made up of a wide variety of nationalities. We feel that visitors who participate in our programs are fortunate to have hosts that not only allow them to experience US culture, but the culture of their home countries as well! It truly is an experience that allows you to travel the world without ever leaving home. Below, you can find suggestion on how to incorporate your visitor in your daily life, ensuring that both the host and visitor can have an unforgettable learning experience! 

Something we like to reiterate to our hosts is that involving your students doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming! Inviting them to a family barbecue, a local pool, or even the grocery store is a great way to introduce your visitors to US culture. Holidays, birthdays, and other family gatherings are also wonderful cultural experiences. Always keep in mind that while something may seem uninteresting and normal for you could be completely different for them! 

Since so many of our hosts are from a wide variety of different countries, they speak many different languages! As you may know, Global Immersions has a strict policy when it comes to placing students in a home where their native language is spoken. At the same time, it is important to remember not to speak your native language with your family and friends around your visitor, as this can make them extremely uncomfortable. You could instead teach them a few words of your native language as a way to introduce them to another culture. Also, don't forget to help them with their English, the main reason for their stay in Boston! 

At the end of the day, being a good host has nothing to do with where you're from or the money you spend, it's all about the experience you provide and the connections you make. We certainly appreciate all of the hard work our hosts put in to making the home stay experience meaningful and comfortable for all of our visitors. What is the most valuable thing you have learned from hosting an international visitor? Let us know! 

Cinco de Mayo

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, May 04, 2015

Many people understand that Cinco de Mayo is an Americanized Mexican holiday which is celebrated with delicious food and drinks. Some people may not realize, however, that the holiday is hardly celebrated at all in Mexico, and the meaning behind this holiday has nothing to do with fiestas. Despite this, Cinco de Mayo is a great opportunity to learn about a new culture! 

Cinco de Mayo, which means "Fifth of May" in Spanish, is a day which commemorates the victory over French forces at the battle of Puebla. Don't mistake this day for Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually celebrated on September 16! 

Having lived in Mexico for three years, I can honestly say that Mexican cuisine has some of the most diverse and rich foods in the world. It is also nothing at all like the Mexican food you may find in Boston. However, don't let this deter you from trying out some of the delicious restaurants Boston has to offer. Here you can find a list of Boston's best Mexican restaurants. 

If you want to try making some really authentic Mexican food in your own kitchen, try out some of the recipes below. These were some of my favorite dishes while living in Mexico!

  

Let's begin with breakfast. My all-time favorite breakfast food in Mexico is chilaquiles. They are fried tortillas topped with salsa verde, queso fresco, and crema de queso. If you're feeling extra hungry, top it with some shredded chicken! Enchiladas are also a breakfast food, contrary to popular belief. They're also incredible simple to make! simply roll up a tortilla with your favorite meat, top with salsa verde and cheese and you're on your way to a delicious breakfast! 

For Lunch, the most popular dish is, of course, the taco. However these aren't the cruchy shells filled to the brim with meats and vegetables that you're probably familiar with. Tacos are simply one or two corn tortillas topped with your favorite meat, some onions, cilantro and, you guessed it, salsa verde. My absolute favorite taco is the taco al pastor. Unfortunately, these fiery orange pork tacos are difficult to recreate. Instead, try out a taco de bistec, or a gringa which is similar to the quesadillas we are familiar with here! 

By dinner time, you'll probably be so full of delicious meats and cheeses and tortillas, that all you'll want is a light snack. Try cutting up some vegetables like jicama, cucumber, carrots and even mango and squeezing some lime on them. For an extra kick, add chili powder! It is absolutely delicious and will forever change the way you enjoy your fruits and veggies.

So, on this Cinco de Mayo, do your best to try out some of these authentic Mexican dishes, rather than your usual quesadilla. Let us know how you like to celebrate this fun day! 

An American's Experiences in Japan

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, March 09, 2015

Our Homestay Coordinator, Cassidy McAllister, had the opportunity to live in Japan for seven years. In this blog, she elaborates on some of the experiences and observations she made while living abroad. 

When I first returned to the United States after living in Japan for four years, to say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. Although I had lived in America for about half of my life at this point, I had forgotten a lot about the country including the basic everyday culture and what living here was like. I expect that Japanese visitors in America will feel similarly about the differences between the two countries as I did. Many things about America that we consider to be normal and everyday things are a novelty to the Japanese, just as their everyday culture is to us. The Japanese are often fascinated with American culture which can be represented through its presence in their modern culture; the presence of Disney Land, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and other popular American food chains which can be found throughout Tokyo.  I speak from personal experience, but these are some of the things that I found exciting upon returning to America and things your visitor might also enjoy:

1)      Pizza: In Japan a large pizza from Pizza Hut ranges from $30 to $40 versus the regular $10 to $20 price range here in America. From my experience, pizza was a special food that was eaten on occasion and as a result it was considered to be very exciting. Your Japanese visitors will most likely be enthused at the idea of eating pizza and will be amazed at all of the options offered. In Japan, the toppings are very different and it is not uncommon to have corn or mayonnaise on a pizza as a regular topping.

Suggested Activity: Take your visitor out to pizza and allow them to choose which type of pizza they would like. As I said, the toppings are very different in America and they will most likely be excited to try a new type. Better yet, make a pizza with your student and allow them to top it however they would like.

2)      Shopping Malls: Shopping malls do not exist in Japan and your visitor will most likely find it exciting to have so many shops in a large building complete with plenty of American food for them to try. In Japan, shops are as you would see frequently in Boston, on the street lined up.

Suggested Activity: Take your visitor to a shopping mall and visit the food court! Again, these do not exist in Japan so they will be excited and unfamiliar with the concept.

3)      Grocery Stores and Food Choices: Based on my experience with grocery stores in Japan, they are significantly larger here in America. Not only are they larger, they have greater varieties of each type of food. I can recall the biggest shocker for me was spending hours in a grocery store marveling at the fact that there were over 10 different flavors of Oreos. IN the eyes of many Japanese, America is a country of overabundance, which is reflected simply in our grocery stores.

Suggested Activity: Take your visitor to the grocery store and let them pick out the type of cookies or ice cream they’d like. They will likely be overwhelmed with the number of choices and be excited to try some of the crazy flavors.

In addition to these, here are some other things your visitor might be surprised or fascinated by:

1)      House Size Difference: In Japan, homes are often smaller and more modest. America tends to have larger homes and the concept of having a pool in one’s backyard is unheard of in Japan.

2)      Portion Sizes: When I returned back from Japan, I was appalled at the gigantic sizes of portions here in America. I remember ordering a large and receiving a huge bucket of a cup which I was not expecting. I can safely say that a large in Japan is equivalent to a size small or sometimes medium here in America. Japan is all about moderation, America is all about overabundance.

3)      Dinner Plates: In Japan, one often orders many smaller plates at a restaurant for dinner. The concept of a dinner plate does not exist as we know it here in America, where an entrée and several sides are all piled onto one single large plate. This goes in hand with our increased portion sizes here, but this concept might overwhelm the Japanese and seem excessive.

4)      Tipping in Restaurants: In Japan, despite their exceptional service, there is no tipping.

5)      Vending Machines: In Japan, vending machines are a lot more advanced than here in America. My experience with vending machines here is having a few options for cold beverages that sometimes don’t even come out of the machine because it is defective. This is not the case in Japan. There are hot beverages, beer, and even hot ready-made food. They have it down to a science. Even funnier, vending machines can be found absolutely anywhere and everywhere, including near the top of Japan’s highest mountain Mount Fuji as shown in the image below.

We hope that by reading about Cassidy's experiences, you as a host can understand Japanese culture, and your Japanese visitor! 

What experiences have you had with Japanese homestay students? What are your favorite activities to do with your visitor? Let us know!

The Iconic Thanksgiving

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, November 24, 2014

Whether you're from the U.S. or abroad, the imagery that comes to mind of Thanksgiving is that of a perfectly browned roast turkey surrounded by heaping mounds of various dishes and the entire family, eagerly awaiting a slice of the juicy poultry. But why is the turkey the most intrinsic part of the Thanksgiving meal? And where do some of the other most enjoyable, but uniquely Thanksgiving dishes (marshmallow topped roasted squash, bread stuffing, and mashed potatoes to name a few) come from? 

Many people believe that the classic Thanksgiving dishes get their origins from the first Thanksgiving held in 1621 when the English Pilgrims put aside their differences with the Native Americans and shared a fall harvest meal together. However, Thanksgiving didn't actually become a widely celebrated annual holiday until about 200 years later. The first celebrated Thanksgiving was in fact in celebration of the pilgrim's first successful harvest in the new world. The main dishes of this first Thanksgiving in the 1800's would probably have included venison, corn, fowl (often turkey) and barley - no potatoes, pumpkin, or even stuffing were yet commonly eaten in New England. Although turkey, cranberries, and sweetened pumpkin rinds were most likely eaten in this celebration, none of the recipes quite resembled those of today.

So how did the holiday evolve if it wasn't from the classically cited harvest meal of the pilgrims and Native Americans? It turns out that the writer of the classic children's tale "Mary had a Little Lamb" petitioned for the holiday to become nationalized after reading about the pilgrim's first fall harvest event. To gain a following in her campaign she published a number of recipes as suggestions to be used for the holiday celebration including the classic roast turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie recipes still used today. During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln (one of the most famous U.S. presidents) made the holiday a national annual event on the last Thursday of each year. 

With the history in mind and for preparation for the holiday here are a few of the most common Thanksgiving dishes and their most classic recipes.

The Roast Turkey and Stuffing 

A whole raw turkey is typically simply seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper and filled with aromatic vegetables and fruit such as apples, celery, carrot, onion and bread (this is where the stuffing comes from) and roasted in the oven for around three hours. 

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are boiled until soft and then smashed into a smooth and chunky mash. Butter, salt, pepper, and sour cream are typically added making a creamy addition to the Thanksgiving meal.

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean casserole is a one-dish plate using green beans as the main ingredient. Adding creamy soup or cheese and sour dream, caramelized onions, and fried onions on tops and then baking the dish adds a unique spin on this vegetable.

Pumpkin Pie

A flaky crust that lines the sides and bottoms of a pie pan provides the base for this decadent dessert. Pumpkin puree from a roasted pumpkin with added sugar, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, molasses, egg, and heavy cream make the custardy filling. Once baked the golden orange pie becomes one of the most iconic Thanksgiving images. 

So is your mouth watering yet? Or did we miss any classic Thanksgiving dishes? How will you be celebrating the holiday? We want to know! 

Sources: http://www.foodnetwork.com/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-menus/classic-thanksgiving-menu.htmlhttp://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/first-thanksgiving-meal

Tips for Success as a Homestay Visitor

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Global Immersions welcomes visitors from all over the world into their Homestay program consistently throughout the year. Many come to homestay as part of a group for a short-term cultural immersion experience. Others stay in homestay while studying at private high schools or colleges in the Boston area. Young professionals learning English, students touring the U.S., and researchers from all over the world decide to become a part of our homestay experience. While ultimately all our visitors do well and achieve the experience of American culture first hand while living with our host families, some visitors adapt to this huge transition from their home country to the United States more easily than others. Here are some tips many of our most successfully adaptable visitors have used during their time in Boston to gain the most positive homestay experience possible. 

1. Take charge of your experience and pay attention to the details. Some successful visitors have brought a notebook with a pen attached. In this, writing important contacts before leaving your home country is extremely helpful, such as:

  • The name and address of the language school or your daily destination 
  •  Phone number and email of the host family
  •  Name and address of the homestay and host family  
  •  Your home contact information written in English 
  •  Your passport number (in case you lose it)


2. Contact and establish a connection with your host family before arrival. This allows you to be better acquainted with the family in which you will be living before you actually live there making the adaptation to a new home and family easier. Sending a quick email introducing yourself (in English of course) is a great way to break the ice before you even arrive to Boston.

3. Know why you are staying in homestay and coming to Boston. In your notebook, make a note of the top three reasons you are leaving your home, and all that is familiar, to travel far away and stay with an American family. When you are feeling unsure of yourself after arriving, you can remind yourself what you had hoped to gain by going on this adventure!



4. Research Boston and where you will be studying/attending on the web. If you know a bit about the school, city and state are moving to, you will begin to feel at home when you recognize things upon arrival. Did you know for example, Boston has the country's oldest public park (the Boston Common), first ever public beach (Revere Beach), the oldest baseball stadium (Fenway Park in the photo above) and first subway system? Here are some more Boston fun facts



5. When you first arrive- recognize and accept that Americans are very open, friendly and curious people. They appreciate and enjoy outgoing people who smile and ask questions. You may not be naturally open and talkative – but to be successful, give it a try! Practice with your host family. Ask them how long they have lived in Boston; have they visited your country or any other countries outside of the USA; ask them about their animals; ask them about things to do in Boston. Asking questions is a big key to success!



6. Practice saying yes to (almost) everything. Start as you wish to continue – by allowing new experiences in. Try the food (such as lobster in the photo above), drink the water, accept offers of help.



7. And get involved! Engage your host family and ask them about things to do in the city. Make dinner with your host family and attend family events, church, check out an American grocery store, or see a local sports team. Explore the many exciting and beautiful aspects of Boston, from Newbury St. to Chinatown to the Boston Public Garden (in the photo above) and the neighborhood where your homestay is located and share those experiences with others!



8. Be grateful! Even when times are tough, this will be an astonishing opportunity and time in your life. Thank your family for supporting your journey here, your teachers, coworkers, friends and especially thank your host family. Know that you have taken a great opportunity and have been helped by many! A group of Japanese visitors even made this creative 'thank u!' photo for us at Global Immersions, featured in the photo above.  

 So look over these tips before you come to Boston- or if you're already here see what else you can do to even further improve your homestay experience based on these tips!  

What do you think? Are these helpful for you as a visitor? As a host, what else would you consider helpful for visitors to do to ensure a positive homestay? Do you have any input? 
We want to know!

Regional American Foods

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The United States is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Almost every single person in the U.S. has a family history of immigration to the country and the number of people from all over the world still coming to America today is ever increasing. Due to this history of diversity, the American cuisine covers a huge range of foods, from our Mexican neighbors to the south to a vast number of variations with roots in European cuisine and so much more. Over the years these influences have had varying impacts on the cuisines of each region in the United States. Such dishes with foreign roots have been varied region to region to utilize the food resources of the area and have caused each region to develop their own traditional cuisine over time. Often this regional traditional food is overshadowed by the abundance and notoriety of American fast food such as the McDonald's hamburger or the Pizza Hut pizza. To better depict the variety of traditional American foods here is a list of some of the most well-known traditional dishes from different regions of the United States.

The Northeast

Boiled lobster is one of the quintessential Northeast and New England cuisines. The state of Maine alone accounts for 90% of the entire country's lobster supply. Traditionally boiled whole and alive it is eaten with butter or lemon. A tourist favorite is a lobster roll which mixes the lobster meat in mayo and is stuffed into a toasted hot dog roll.

Various types of clams, mussels, shrimp, and other shellfish are traditional to this region and are typically cooked by boiling or frying.

Chowder is a type of soup using any of these seafoods or fish and uses a cream based broth, has potatoes and onions, and often times pieces of bacon as well.

Blueberries are also a regional staple. The most traditional way to cook these small berries is in a cobbler- a variation on a traditional English dessert that does not use a crust, but cooks the blueberries with a flour, sugar, and cinnamon crusty top.

Southeast

The south is the birthplace of the fried food. Fried chicken hails from the south and has been perfected through the art of frying in lard or shortening. A staple in any southern cook's handbook, fried chicken is covered in salt and pepper, fried in a skillet, and served with gravy- a sauce using the leftover chicken fat, cream, flour, and spices.

Biscuits are another southern classic. Unlike British biscuit which are often thin and crunchy, southern biscuits are light a fluffy and used to dip the traditional gravy used for fried chicken and other dishes.

Collard Greens are a leafy vegetable similar to kale or cabbage. A staple in the southern cuisine they are the state vegetable of South Carolina. Traditionally they are boiled with the ham hocks and served with the leftover juices from the boiled concoction.

Midwest/ Plains

Barbecue or BBQ is the quintessential plains/ southern food. Traditionally using pork, the meat is slathered in BBQ sauce before, during, and after cooking. In the midwest this sauce is typically made with a tomato, spices, and a vinegar base. The meat is then slow cooked over a charcoal or wood fire (typically hickory in the midwest) for a long period of time until the meat becomes tender and juicy.

Corn is a staple in the midwest and plain diet as the region is know for it's expansive farms and corn based agriculture. Corn on the cob is the most traditional way to eat corn. The ears of corn are boiled whole in water and then smothered in butter, salt and pepper and eaten directly off the cob.

Corn dogs also hail from this region of the United States. Hot dogs have their origin in New York and are a type of sausage traditionally using the leftovers from pork processing. In the midwest and plains region these hot dogs are skewered on a stick and coated in a cornmeal batter, then deep fried.

Cherries are another regional favorite in the northern part of this area. Traditionally they are cooked in a pie with a crust on bottom, cherry filling, and then enclosed in a crust on top and baked until golden brown.

Southwest

The cuisine of the southwest of the United States has strong influence from their Mexican neighbors. A southwest classic is the burrito. It uses the traditional Mexican flour tortilla and is then filled with slow cooked meat, beans, vegetables, and rice and rolled into a wrap form.

Nachos are another southwest staple. Although the ingredients hail from Mexico, this dish is not a Mexican development. Nachos are fried tortilla chips that are coated in cheese and beans, vegetables, or meat, and then placed in the oven to melt.

Salsa goes along with many of the southwest dishes. Although it means “sauce” in Spanish, in the U.S. it is a specific type of sauce using tomatoes, onions, vinegar, cilantro, and jalapeños which are cooked or marinated together and eaten on nachos, burritos, fajitas, and various other southwestern dishes.

West and Pacific Northwest

Salmon is a favorite on the Pacific coast of the United States. Smoked, or grilled it is eaten across the country, but nowhere more so than on the west coast, the salmon's native land. It is a staple on menus and in households in the region.

Cobb salad was developed in California by a chef who, using leftover ingredients he found in the kitchen, formed one of the best known American salads today. A typical cobb salad starts with lettuce greens, then is topped with hard-boiled egg, bacon, bleu cheese, tomatoes, and avocado, with a dijon mustard and olive oil dressing.

Cioppino is a classic San Francisco dish with Italian roots. It has a soup base using fish stock, tomato, onion, garlic, and parsley, and is then filled with a variety of fish depending on the season. The most typical fish used are shrimp, crab, and clams.

All these dishes exemplify the diversity of the population of the United States. Did any of these dishes surprise you as being traditional to a specific region? Have you tried any of these dishes outside of the United States? Are there any dishes you think we should have included? We want to know!

And for some of the recipes for these regional delicacies, click here!

Sources: http://whatscookingamerica.net/AmericanRegionalFoods/RegionalAmericanIndex.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuisine_of_the_United_States


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