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Basic Characteristics of Americans and American Culture

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 20, 2014

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

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

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

To view the complete list click here!

Useful Apps for your Smart Phone

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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

The Transit App:

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


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

Around Me:

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


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


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


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

Google Translate:

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


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

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

Boston Slang

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 03, 2014

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

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

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

Bubbler: A water fountain.

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

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

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

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

Flurries: Light snow

Frappe: A milkshake

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

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

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

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

The Pike: In reference to the Massachusetts turnpike

The Pru: The Prudential Center

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

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

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

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

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

Secondary Education Across the Globe

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Although for many of us the words ‘secondary education’ conjure up memories of brightly clad sports teams and painful social standards that often govern the locker-lined hallways of American high schools, in many parts of the world this level of education is vastly different. In fact, in most countries the final formal years of education before the possibility of entering into higher education are not mandatory and are not even four years long.  For most countries, compulsory education is required for nine years and only those who plan to continue to higher education attend the final years of education before this step towards university can be taken. Most countries also require rigorous entrance examinations for students to be admitted into secondary education.  Working with students from all over the world inspired our Go Global Blog this week as we examine secondary education in the home countries of many of our high school age international visitors.

In China the Chinese Communist Party has had strong influence in the education system for years, making marked improvements in the quality of education as part of their modernization plan to strengthen the country. There, high school consists of three years of costly voluntary education after nine years of mandatory education. The basic curriculum for secondary education includes Chinese, Mathematics and English as they are the three subjects in which all students must pass in their final exam called the Gaokao. These final exams are highly competitive as they determine acceptance into university. Most provinces of China also examine students in subjects such as natural science, physics or biology, and social sciences, which include history and geography. Extracurricular activities are uncommon as the school day typically lasts from early morning to early evening and they are not nearly as important as the Gaokao for university acceptance. After secondary school these students are considered educated although almost all continue on to higher education or vocational schools afterwards.

In Japan, the education of students is also measured by rigorous examinations. Students must pass exams in Japanese, English, mathematics, science, and social studies to even be accepted into secondary education and are examined once again at the end of the three year period for entrance into the most prestigious universities. Education in Japan is generally much more rigorous than in the U.S. with an average of 240 school days a year, compared to 180 in the average American school and with classes often held on Saturdays. Uniforms are also mandatory and students are often required to collectively clean the entire school building at the end of each day. The typical student has two hours of homework a night and most students choose one extracurricular activity in which to take part in for their entire high school career, each taking about 2 hours after school each day. In both China and Japan, the amount of mandatory courses a student must take make it almost impossible for students to take elective courses.

In Denmark we see a similar secondary schooling structure.  Much like in Japan and China, the objective of upper level schooling is to prepare students for higher education after nine years of mandatory education. A marked difference in the Danish system is the ability of students to choose which area of interest in which they would like to pursue their educational career at the secondary level. Students must take an exam at the end of their nine year mandatory education and with those results they choose to continue education in a program focusing on business and socio-economic disciplines, called HHX, humanities or social or natural sciences, called STX, or technologic and scientific subjects, called HTX.  All maintain a core curriculum containing basic subjects along with the specialized courses. Another marked difference in the Danish education system is that student must accept the lesson plans of their teachers. Unlike in Japan and China where the governments control the curriculum and the teachers choose how to teach it; in Denmark each school’s curriculum is self-governed and it is required that students approve a teacher’s lesson plan prior to teaching.

In all three of these countries, the challenging level at which students compete for entrance into universities enhances educational competitiveness in ways in which many college level students in the United States can sympathize with after years of studying for tests such as the SAT and ACT.  Although the ways in which classrooms are taught and governed are different all over the globe, the pressure for students to do well in hopes of entrance into higher education is a phenomenon experienced youths all over the world. 

Experiencing American Culture

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, November 21, 2013

Watching a lot of Hollywood films and American television shows can give people from other countries interesting conclusions about the United States. In fact, there are usually things that seem typically American that are, in fact, completely false. When visitors come to the U.S. for an extended period of time, they usually find something that blows their notions of the U.S. out of the water.

What sorts of things about American culture surprised you when you visited? We want to know!

Some of the things that shocked visitors include:

Customer service: In stores, when a sales assistant says “Can I help you?” s/he actually means “Can I help you?”

Humility: How open Americans are about their shortcomings and always ready for self-criticism.

Public Transport: There is almost no public transportation except in a few large cities. People actually have to have cars to get places. Cars are necessity, not luxury.

University Concentrations: The idea of a liberal art education is strange. A student can still acquire marketable skills, expand his or her horizons, get a job after graduation, and, what is even more surprising, obtain an advance degree in a totally different field later. Yes, accountant can attend a med school and become a doctor and musician can go for a master degree in computer science.

Portion sizes: The typical food portion in America is humongous.  A person can easily share one meal with another guy and not feel hungry for hours to come.

These are only some of the things that people thought were surprising about the United States. With such a large and vibrant population, the diversity you will find in our country is amazing! There is always something new and different happening here and what someone may find surprising may seem normal to someone else. For this reason, the Global Immersions team always stresses the importance of keeping an open mind. If you approach something with a positive outlook, then you will find your travels much more enjoyable! For more insights on what aspects of American culture shocks visitors, check out this article on Thought Catalog

source: Thought Catalog

Managing Expectations

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, September 20, 2013

Before travelling, there are always expectations about accommodations and experiences while abroad. If it is a traveler’s first time in a different country, he or she may believe that the customs and standard of living is the same as his or her home country. Many things influence a person’s expectations, such as stereotypes, and it can be a rather rude awakening when visitors realize what they imagined does not match the reality. 
Have you ever visited the United States? What were some expectations you had? We want to know!

To help our visitors settle in well at their homestays, our team does its very best to dispel any unrealistic expectations that they may have when they arrive. Most often this occurs during our homestay orientation, where we talk about what homestay is all about and other important information. For example, we do our best to tell each and every student who comes to the United States in our group programs that anything they have seen in movies about America is generally not true. We do not all live in large, fancy homes, especially in areas like Boston! Our city is a pretty tightly packed area and most of our housing is rather cozy. What someone will find most often are houses that hold two or even three families, stacked up on top of each other! 

We also talk about how to deal with expectations about host families. Our network is comprised of so many different people—they don’t fit in the same mould! When visitors come to the United States, they probably have an image of stereotypical Americans: blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. There may be some differences in what each visitor expects, but we find that this is the most common expectation. The Global Immersions team does its best to reinforce the fact that very many Americans don’t look like this at all! We have hosts who have emigrated from their home country to make a living in the United States and we have hosts from various ethnic and racial backgrounds. A part of what makes our country great is the diversity in our towns and cities. You won’t meet two people exactly alike! When we talk to our visitors we always stress that while something may be different, different isn’t always bad. It’s just different. The important part is to keep an open mind.
That is the key to overcoming dashed expectations: keeping an open mind. If a visitor is too caught up in disappointment, he or she will miss out on having a great adventure. Meeting each new situation with easy grace allows a person to learn more and experience new things. So while visitors may find that all the stereotypes about Americans aren’t necessarily true and that interpreting daily social interactions may be difficult at times (curse those “Americanisms”!), if they keep an open mind the experience they will have may change their outlook on travelling and other cultures. It’s a learning experience!
A good resource for managing your expectations can be found here. Even if you’re not thinking of volunteering abroad, many of i-to-i’s points help when preparing to travel!    

Interpreting "Americanisms"

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, September 09, 2013

Americans love it when people are polite. We expect it whenever we go shopping, dine in a restaurant, or have conversations with others. Foreigners may find that Americans can be a little too polite and, as a result, seem insincere or shallow. This chart about British politeness has been floating around the web for the past week and many find its accuracy rather amusing. When it comes to interpreting our every day interactions, visitors claim that we behave in much of the same way. 

For example, many people not native to the United States have commonly misinterpreted the intent behind an invitation to get coffee or share a meal. When someone says “Oh, we should definitely grab dinner together sometime!” or “We should have a coffee sometime soon,” they may just be being polite. A visitor may interpret this as a sincere invitation to get together in the future—and many times it can be!—but usually someone is just being polite. Americans don’t like to seem as if we are pushing you aside; we say these things to let you know that we’re thinking of you and that you’re someone we would like to see in the future. Eventually. If a new acquaintance says this to a person they met just five minutes ago, they may suggest this to show that they would like to be friends, but they probably don’t expect to see this person again. 

People may also suggest this even if they have no intention of ever seeing another person again. They may not even like them! But this form of politeness has been ingrained into our everyday society that you’ll say these things to people because it’s expected—even if the idea of getting dinner with a particular person is the last thing you ever want to do. It’s a confusing and often frustrating procedure, especially to someone who isn’t familiar with interpreting "Americanisms." 

Another example of a common Americanism is when an American asks “How are you?” When we ask you this, it could be sincere or it could be insincere. Usually when a person asks someone how they are, they’re just expecting a short answer. A “fine” or an “okay” is the answer an American usually expects from whomever they’re talking to; they do not, however, expect a full list of what their conversation partner is feeling or thinking. In fact, if you answer in this way, the person you’re talking to may give you a strange look. If you say that you are terrible or not feeling well, then your American friend may ask you to elaborate. If they rather not hear why you’re feeling awful, then they will probably just settle for a “that’s too bad” or something of the sort. In essence, “How are you?” is simply another way of greeting another person. Usually people say it to others when they’re in a hurry and cannot stop to talk, but want to be polite and acknowledge someone as they rush by. 

Many times visitors will see our culture as rather insincere. We say things we really don’t mean for reasons that may not be entirely obvious. However this came to be, visitors need to keep in mind that it is all a matter of cultural understanding. It takes a while to understand the subtleties that make up a society and, while it may be frustrating in the beginning, you will eventually be able to fully understand the true messages an American is trying to convey. Remember: we try to soften everything with a bit of politeness. The goal is not to offend anyone! 

A great resource for understanding American culture can actually be found on Youtube. Dan Fishel, an international student at Columbia Business School, breaks down various aspects of culture shock in the United States. This particular video deals with American phrases and what they actually mean. Check it out! 

Have you ever misinterpreted something an American friend said? What happened? We want to know!  

Common American Stereotypes

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, August 30, 2013

Stereotypes exist all around the world. Typically stereotypes are negative and exaggerate a quality that people may find disagreeable. When you hear a stereotype about a country or a group of people, they are very rarely true. For example, not every American subsists solely on fast food! While there are some who may eat at McDonald’s multiple times throughout the day, rarely will you encounter an American who only eats burgers and french fries for every meal. This is a stereotype—a simplified and standardized conception of a group of people.

Have you ever encountered any stereotypes of your country? What did you think about them? We want to know!

Typical American Stereotypes

Americans are fat and lazy.

This is completely untrue! While you can find many lazy individuals all around the country, you can also find just as many hard-working people! Yes, the U.S. is known for its obesity rate (a sad 35% of American adults), but a study in 2012 showed that there are actually five countries ahead of us in that area.

Americans are stupid.

Some Americans can be, yes, but not any more than other people around the world. There are so many bright and intelligent people in the U.S., just the same as any other country. Our media may not portray American culture in the best and most intelligent light, but that’s not to say that a visitor runs into people who can barely count to ten on a daily basis.

Americans are selfish and arrogant.

Alright, I can see why some people might consider this true. Honestly, you can find some of the nicest, most generous people in our country. While people in certain areas (like here in Boston) might seem cold and aloof, they can be very welcoming and helpful once you get to know them. In the South, generally people are friendly and open, even to perfect strangers! Like any society, we have nice people and some not so nice people. It’s unfortunate if you run into a nasty person, but chances are you’ll run into someone who is a total sweetheart!

Americans are violent.

Granted, our gun laws may not meet the world’s expectations and, sure, news broadcasts are always showing examples of gun violence. That does not mean, however, that every American is out to cause harm to others. Many people own guns, many don’t. In fact, there is a call for stronger gun laws to stop gun violence and create safer environments in American communities. Most of the people a visitor meets here in the U.S. are just doing their best to create a good life for themselves—without the use of a gun or any sort of violence whatsoever.

Americans are rude.

            This one plays into the selfish and arrogant stereotype, but a person can be rude without being arrogant/selfish, right? Okay, Americans can be loud. We can be high maintenance (ask anyone who works in customer service!) and we can get a little annoying. This doesn’t mean that we intentionally set out to be completely rude and ignorant—sometimes we can just get a little carried away! Many people you’ll meet here in Boston and other cities around the country are actually pretty polite. Sometimes it’s all about how a person interprets politeness—what one culture considers impolite, another may think nothing of. It’s not being rude, it’s just being different.

There are many ways to avoid believing stereotypes. The first is to simply spend time in the cultures steeped in these sorts of assumptions and learn all you can about them. Nothing can cure (or reinforce, sometimes unfortunately) these assumptions better than living amongst the people who are the victims of them. Another way is to simply educate yourself about these cultures. It isn’t cheap to travel, as any member of the Global Immersions team will tell you, but you can do your research! Talk to people who have travelled, ask them about their experiences! Chances are, they can go a long way in teaching you the truth about Americans or any other culture out there! 

This article on Psychology Today is a great resource for separating cultural stereotypes from national character. It could shed some light in better understanding the truth of American and many other stereotypes around the world.  

Sources: K104.7 FM

Returning Home: Re-entry Experiences

Global Immersions - Friday, June 21, 2013

Traveling and/or living abroad is an exciting experience, however, those of us who have traveled abroad or hosted an international visitor understand that adjusting to a new culture can sometimes be a difficult process.  Helping people adjust to a new culture is something we discuss daily at Global Immersions. But... what about adjusting to your own culture after being abroad? Coming home can sometimes be just as difficult and the re-entry process after returning from being abroad is something we often neglect to discuss.  Here at Global Immersions two members of our staff have recently returned from studying abroad and have fun and helpful anecdotes on their re-entry experiences.


Our Homestay Recruiter, Liza, has just recently returned from a semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland. When asked about her experiences about her time abroad and returning to Boston here is some of what she had to share, “While I did feel a little out of sorts at the beginning, for the most part I was fine,” she said. “Dublin is so much like Boston that I felt right at home. I did, however, experience some annoyance with the school system and city life. All the stores closed down at 5 PM!”

Coming home we never expect to have any trouble falling back into old routines, but sometimes it can be harder than we think. Things like tipping at a restaurant or public transportation, once familiar, become foreign after so much time away. Even crossing the street can be a strange experience! “I’m so used to looking right to left for cars,” Liza said. “Not only do I have to remember we drive on the opposite side of the road, I have to stop myself from freaking out when the driver is sitting on the wrong side of the car. It looks like no one's driving it.”

Christina, our Homestay Coordinator, has also just returned from a semester abroad. While in Spain, she picked up many habits that have affected the way she interacts with people at home. “Barcelona is the pick pocketing capital of the world,” she said. “Now whenever someone bumps into me on the train, my hands shoot to my purse.” Having been the victim of pick pocketing herself while abroad, Christina is a little more attentive with her belongings than she was before she left. While theft can happen in Boston, it is less rampant than abroad; it is taking a bit of time for her to remember that. But when it comes to general awareness, perhaps a little paranoia is not such a bad thing.

Any resident of Boston would tell you that jaywalking is a common occurrence in the city streets. People are always swerving in and out of cars to reach the other side of the road. Although Christina still does her fair share of jaywalking now that she is home, this is something that people would not do in Spain. “I’d see people waiting for the walk signal to change even when there were no cars in the road at all,” she said. “And I would just cross anyway. People always gave me weird looks.” Being back in Boston and seeing all of her fellow jaywalkers is a sense of pleasant familiarity.

For helpful information on adjusting to being home check out an article in Transitions Abroad:  Coming Home, Relationships, Roots and Unpacking.

If you have any stories about your experience adjusting after returning from time abroad.  We want to know!

These stories and your own personal experiences are helpful to share to prepare your visitors when they are getting ready to return home. 

Breakfast Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 29, 2013
A "traditional" American breakfast
Breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day, and if you’re hard at work studying or experiencing American culture here in Boston, it’s good to start the day off with a full stomach! Just like any other meal, what is considered a “breakfast” food is different all over the world, and depending on your host family, they may serve a “traditional” American breakfast, or maybe a breakfast from their families home country. Even within a country, breakfast meals may be different. In the American South grits are popular, while in Boston you're much more likely to have a bagel and cream cheese. Here are some examples of the standard breakfast in a few different countries. Have you tried them all? What are your favorites? Let us know!


In Australia, the typical breakfast consists of cold cereal and vegemite. Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract. It is a spread for sandwiches, toast, crumpets and cracker biscuits as well as a filling for pastries. It is similar to British, New Zealand and South African Marmite, Australian Promite, Swiss Cenovis and German Hefeextrakt.


In Bogotá, Columbia, the traditional breakfast is changua, a milk, scallion, and egg soup. Changua is a mixture of equal amounts of water and milk is heated with a dash of salt. Once it comes to a boil, one egg per serving is cracked into the pot without breaking the yolk, and allowed to cook for about a minute while covered. 


In Italy, the traditional breakfast is pretty sparse – usually just a cappuccino and hard roll or biscotti. Cappuccino is a coffee drink which is most often prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the color of their habits.

A traditional Turkish breakfast spread


In Turkey a traditional breakfast consists of bread, cheese, butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey, and kaymak. It can also include sucuk, a spicy Turkish sausage, and Turkish tea. Kaymak is a Turkish creamy dairy product, similar to clotted cream. It is made from the milk of water buffalo or of cows.


A traditional Japanese breakfast includes miso soup, steamed white rice, and Japanese pickles. Miso is a soup consisting of a stock called "dashi" into which softened miso paste is mixed. Many ingredients are added depending on regional and seasonal recipes, and personal preference.

United States

An American breakfast varies widely from place to place, but typical options include eggs, pancakes, bacon, or cereal. Cereal can either be served hot as oatmeal or cold with milk.   

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