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Best in Hospitality

Valentines Day Fun!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentines Day is a holiday that truly allows you to express your appreciation for another person, how sweet! One of the most popular holidays in the United States, over 141 million valentines cards and candy are exchanged on the 14th of February. That's a lot of conversation hearts (8 billion, to be exact). But why do we celebrate this romantic holiday? 


Well, Valentines Day originates during the Roman Empire during a time when the Emperor, Claudius, did not allow men to marry because he believed it made them weak. Because of this, Saint Valentine performed secret wedding ceremonies so men could marry their sweethearts. He got in a lot of trouble for this, and was put to death on February 14th. Before he died, he wrote a letter to his sweetheart and signed it "your Valentine."

While Valentine's Day is originally associated with romantic couples, it has grown so that people now express appreciation for anyone that is special to them. One of the most commonly observed customs is exchanging "Valentines." Initially, people exchanged hand-written notes, however in the 19th century, mass produced greeting cards became readily available, just like the one's students hand out in classrooms.

It's fun and easy to make Valentines on your own, and a great way to teach your visitor about one of the traditions this unique holiday has! Here you can find a list of homemade valentines that don't involve any candy, and are super fun to make at home. It's a great way to show your visitor how much you appreciate them!  

If can't bear the thought of foregoing your Valentines chocolate, then try out this delicious homemade truffle, and teach your visitor a thing or two in the kitchen. With only three ingredients, you really can't go wrong. They're fun to make and yummy, too! It's fun and easy to involve your visitor during the holiday, and they'll be interested to know all about it.

Here at Global Immersions, we're excited to celebrate Valentines Day with family, friends, and loads of chocolate. How do you like to celebrate this special holiday? 

 

Food Delivery Service Apps

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, January 29, 2015


Being in a city has many perks; sights to see, many restaurants, and public transportation to get you almost anywhere you need to go. But when that big snowstorm hits or temperatures drop below freezing, going outside becomes increasingly unappealing.  That’s why new food delivery services are becoming increasingly popular; whether used as an application on your phone or online, food delivered to your doorstep is just a click away.


If you've been on the T recently, you've probably seen ads for one of these services called “Foodler”. Foodler and its competitors such as GrubHub and Seamless provide a database of restaurants based on your location and include information such as the distance from your home, delivery fees and minimums, as well as a full menu for you to order from. Each app offers different options, some with more than others. Once the food is selected, users have the option of paying with cash or card and choosing delivery or pickup. 

This is extremely convenient for our visitors since lunch is their responsibility. On these cold winter days, it's hard to go outside in the snow to get your food, so these apps are a perfect alternative. Be sure to let them know about the conveniences of this app, they'll be sure to find something they enjoy. 


For Chinese visitors, there is an app called "FoodEasyGo" that provides a variety of authentic Asian food and snacks. From Korean spicy tofu soup to Taiwanese bubble tea, you can find all kinds of delicious dishes with this website: http://www.foodeasygo.com/. These services take convenience to a new level, and when you don’t feel like cooking or are stuck at home on a cold winter’s day they are the perfect solution to your hunger pangs. The best part is that it is in Chinese and English, so language barriers are never an issue. 

Do you know of any other cool food apps? Share them with your student and let us know!

Comfort Food Ideas for Hosts!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, January 28, 2015


With all of the bad weather we've been experiencing, and more to come in the next month, it's a good time for us to consider some great American comfort foods we can enjoy while we're snowed in. Food is something everyone enjoys, and is actually a great tool for bonding as well. So sit down around the table with your homestay student and enjoy one of these classic winter comfort foods!

Cooking is a universal activity, that anyone can enjoy. Having your student join you in the kitchen is an excellent way to get to know each other, and they can learn a new cooking skill. It's also a great idea to let your student take the reins every once in a while; maybe they can teach you a thing or two, and you can enjoy a dish you've never tried before!

As for American dishes that are fun to make, and delicious to eat, Chicken Parmesan is at the top of the list. It is one of the classics that you can find in any Italian restaurant. Here in Boston's North End, you can find a wide variation of this dish. However, you can also make it at home with this simple recipe. Chicken Parmesan sure sounds Italian thanks to its traditionally Italian ingredients, but would you believe its true origin is of chefs and home cooks from the United States? It really is the perfect dish to serve and share on a cold winter's night.

 

Next on our list is a dish that is sure to warm you up on those long snow days: Chicken Noodle Soup. There's really nothing more delicious than a warm bowl of soup on a cold day. This recipe is a classic, full of vegetables, chicken, and a homemade broth that is sure to please anyone. Chicken noodle soup has long been considered to have medicinal properties, and it is true that it may have anti-inflammatory effect on the body, making it the perfect dish for when you get that inevitable winter cold. 

Lastly, we need to have dessert! And I have a special treat for all of you. My favorite comfort food is my mother's famous (among friends and family) bread and butter pudding. Made with old bread and served with a healthy portion of cream, it is extremely simple, but incredibly rich and delicious! 

Bread and Butter Pudding by Patricia Drake

Ingredients

  • soft butter
  • bread of any kind
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • heavy cream for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit 
  2. Butter a 2 quart baking dish
  3. Spread generous amount of butter on one side of the bread and begin to layer, butter side down. Between layers, place raisins
  4. Once the layers have been placed, mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the bread. Press down on the bread so it is all submerged. Let stand 10 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to bake, up to 24 hours.
  5. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 30 minutes more
  6. Serve warm with heavy cream poured on top.
No matter what meal you chose to enjoy this winter, we hope you enjoy it with family, friends, and your visitors! 

Do you have a favorite dish you share with your visitors? Let us know!

Holiday Cookies

Global Immersions - Friday, December 05, 2014

For most of us, this holiday season will bring decorating, shopping and most importantly cookie baking. If you are looking for a way to get your visitor involved this holiday season, try including them in some good old fashioned cookie baking! It is common tradition in the US to bake special cookies for the holidays, such as little Gingerbread Men or Holiday themed sugar cookies. These cookies could be made for a cheerful holiday cookie exchange party or saved for Santa on Christmas Eve.

What many Americans don’t know is that holiday cookie traditions are common all over the world. Many countries have their own recipes and ingredients to make a special cookie of their own to enjoy during the cold winter months. Let’s take a look at how different cultures make their cookies unique and maybe you and your visitor can tackle one of these recipes for your own holiday festivities!

Long ago, before sugar, monks who worked in the monastery kitchens in Nurnberg Germany would bake cookies with real honey that was given to them from bee keepers in a nearby forest.  These cookies were given the name Nürnberger Lebkuchen, or for short ‘honey cookies’, and they are still made to this day to celebrate the holiday season. Click here for the recipe

Now let’s take a look at cookies that are served to celebrate Hanukah. Commonly known as Hanukkah cookies,  there are two types of cookies made for the holiday.  Rugalach cookies are filled with many different sweets such as white chocolate, apricots, walnuts and brown sugar. The other type are sugar cookies cut in the shape of dreidels or of the Star of David. 

Click here for Hanukah cookie recipes.

This last cookie is very common in Africa where Kwanzaa is celebrated to begin the New Year. Kwanzaa cookies, commonly known as Benne Cakes, originated in Africa where the Benne Seed comes from. In America, Benne Seeds are known as Sesame Seeds. These cakes are eaten across Africa for good luck for the start of the New Year. 

Click here if you want to make your own Benne Cakes.


If you’re feeling adventurous this holiday season, try one of these new cookie recipes with your visitor. Maybe they will have a holiday cookie of their own to bake for you and to share their tradition!


Sources:

http://germanfood.about.com/od/adventandchristmas/ss/nuernberger_lebkuchen.htm

http://homecooking.about.com/od/cookierecipes/r/blcookie35.htm

http://allrecipes.com/recipes/holidays-and-events/hanukkah/cookies/

Spring has Sprung in Boston!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

With warm weather already brightening and warming up the city, things are opening for the season and events are being scheduled all around town. Here are seven fun spring things to do to celebrate winter being officially over and to prepare for the summer to come!

Take a ride on the Swan Boats

The Swan Boats have officially started running again for the season! On Saturday they once again started their voyages across the waters of the lagoon in the Boston Public Garden. And the best part? Only $3 per ride for adults! So get in the springtime spirit and take a Swan Boat tour through the sprouting gardens on this one-of-a-kind classic Bostonian experience. For more info on schedules and fares click here.

Bike Around Town

Hubway, the bike rental location, has opened again with lots of new stations this year! Grab a bike near your home or office and pedal your way to the next lunch meeting, errand or shopping trip, or visit to see friends and family with this easy to use bike sharing system. To check out the complete list of stations and how to sign up go to https://www.thehubway.com/stations and happy pedaling!

Rent a Canoe or Kayak

With locations in Boston, Cambridge, Newton, and Waltham what better way to enjoy the beauty of the Charles River than by canoeing or kayaking along it? Charles River Canoe and Kayak is opening again on April 26th and renting your ticket to a unique way to enjoy this quintessential Bostonian landmark. Guided tours are also available. For rates, maps, and more click here. 

Volunteer Locally

April 26th is Volunteer Day in Massachusetts. What better way to celebrate the end of winter than by volunteering locally? Various organizations are taking part in this day so check out what local volunteering opportunities are in your area. To volunteer and learn more about opportunities with the Audubon society click here. For Mass.gov opportunities click here.

Check out Some Art

On May 2nd the Boston Art Crawl will once again be taking place. Join art lovers of all kinds as they explore the first Friday at SoWa in Boston's South End. On this art crawl and scavenger hunt there will be strategic stops to talk with artists and gallery curators, enjoy refreshments, and meet interesting and new people. For more event info click here. 

Head to the SoWa Open Market

On May 4th the SoWa Open Market will be open once again every Sunday until October on Harrison Ave in Boston's South End. Meet the folks behind the work. Chat with a farmer. Munch on a gourmet sandwich. Shop handmade and support local businesses! Art, clothing, accessories, ceramics, jewelry, housewares, gourmet foods, fresh produce and flowers, mobile eats – you’ll find it all at the SoWa Open Market!

Enjoy some Festival Festivities at Earthfest

On May 17th Radio 92.9 and Whole Foods will be hosting their annual Earthfest. Live music performances will be free to the public. In addition to the musical performances on the main stage, the 2014 Radio 92.9 EarthFest will also feature once again The Kids Planet—an expanded interactive family area. The Kids Planet will feature a wide variety of musical acts and entertainment as well as environmental activities and educational displays. Booths and foods sampling will also be available. Go to their official website for more info. 

So get out there and enjoy the weather and these local events!

Are there any other notable activities we missed this spring? We want to know!

Important MBTA Changes this Spring

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Government Center Closure
Beginning March 22nd, 2014 the MBTA stop Government Center will be closed for two years while construction crews work to reconstruct the station into a fully accessible, modern, more comfortable, and safer facility. This reconstruction project, titled the Government Center Reconstruction Project, will combine improvements to the Green Line Station, Blue Line Station, and Cambridge Street/ Government Center plaza to allow for better access for persons with disabilities as well as include a new head house structure as the primary entrance, improved interior, mechanical systems, lighting, LED signage, escalators, and elevator access. Addition vendor retail space will be made available and a security protection and monitoring system will also be installed. Plans include the reopening of the station to be scheduled for spring of 2016. During the time of closure both Green and Blue lines will pass through the station but not stop there. If your trip usually included a stop at Government Center the MBTA asks you be prepared for an extra 10-15 minutes of commute time. For more information on the project and how the changes will affect you please go to their website.

Extended MBTA Operating Hours
Starting on March 28th the T will begin to run all Subway trains and the fifteen most popular bus routes until 3am on Saturday and Sunday. College students and young people in the growing economy of innovation have long complained about the 1am closing time of the T during the weekend days. Bars and restaurants do not close until 2am and workers in the technology sector have stated the hours do not align with their late night work ethic. These changes hope to alleviate some of these transportation issues and hope to open Boston up as a late night city. This service will be a one year experiment in efforts to understand the sustainability of the new schedule before permanent installation. But if this pilot goes well and maintains high ridership throughout the year the changes have a high likelihood of becoming permanent. No one is quite certain how many people would ride the T during these extended hours, but the T estimates that on an average Saturday night about 5,200 people enter the Red, Green, Orange, or Blue line turnstile between the hours of 12am and 1am, compared to around 3,000 during a typical week night. This information is very promising for the sustainability of these new hours.  And fortunately, during these extended hours all fares will remain the same for all forms of transportation. The bus lines that will be running until 3am include: 1, 15, 22, 23, 28, 32, 39, 57, 66, 71, 73, 77, 111, 116, and 117. 

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

Boston: City of Culture

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, August 22, 2013


Boston is a very lively city, with many lively residents from all walks of life! There are so many different people from all over the world who call our lovely city home. While we do take great pride in our home town, we also give tribute to our roots through various different cultural festivals. At any given time throughout the year, visitors and residents can find many cultural activities in various neighborhoods in the Greater Boston Area. 

Here are just a few examples!



St. Anthony’s Feast 

Each year the people of the North End invite you to celebrate with them as they honor their patrons at the St. Anthony's Feast with colorful parades, religious services, strolling singers, live entertainment and of course an abundance of great Italian and American food.

Begun in 1919, by Italian immigrants from the small town of Montefalcione in Avellino, Saint Anthony’s Feast has become the largest Italian Religious Festival in New England. Named the “Feast of all Feasts” by National Geographic Magazine, this authentic Italian street festival has it all for people of every age: parades, strolling singers, live entertainment, contests and religious services are held daily.

The highlight of the Feast is the ten hour procession of the Statue of Saint Anthony through the streets of the North End accompanied by devotees, numerous marching bands and floats. The Statue of the Saint returns to his chapel as confetti and streamers cascade from the rooftops.


Cambridge Carnival International 

Cambridge Carnival is a colorful and festive celebration rooted in African traditions. This free festival, embarking on its 21st year, is considered a Cambridge Institution, and is the largest festival in Cambridge, with thousands of attendees. The highlight of the festival is a grand costume parade accompanied by rich rhythmic musicality promoting all types of cultures. Participants can be seen as revelers masquerading through the streets in dazzling handmade costumes, dancing to the beat of the Carnival. The festival is also an opportunity to celebrate Cambridge’s diversity, enjoy international foods, and purchase multicultural crafts from around the world!

What is Carnival? Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, which mark an overturning of daily life.



August Moon Festival 

The August Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most celebrated Chinese holidays. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month and Chinese families celebrate the end of the harvest season with a big feast. People go to Chinatown to enjoy mooncakes, which are round pastries filled with lotus seed past. There are dragon and lion dances, whose origins also date back to ancient China.

Here in Boston it’s a big celebration. There is always lots of food and performances—everyone has a lot of fun! In addition to lion dances, there are also Chinese opera performances, martial arts, Chinese dough art, and Chinese folk dancing. If you head into town early, you can enjoy some yummy dim sum before the festival! 

These are only a couple of the cultural events that visitors can find in Boston. The city offers an array of different cultural events daily - you just have to explore! Check out their City of Boston calendar listing for festivals and cultural events around the city.  Have you been to any cultural festivals in Boston? What did you think?


Sources: Wikipedia

Preparing for Reverse Culture Shock

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, July 12, 2013

When you travel you are often warned about culture shock and given you advice on how to handle it from fellow travelers. Culture shock “is the disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar culture due to immigration or a visit to a new country.[1] This disorientation shows itself in a variety of ways: sadness, anxiety, irritability, or all of the above.  For our visitors, we always try and make the transition process easier, especially for those staying for months at a time, by offering advice on the adjustment process or hosting culture shock orientations.  

Travel experts will tell you that culture shock is like a wave or that there is a culture shock curve; travelers are really excited when they first arrive, then they will eventually become uncomfortable with all the little (or large) differences in culture, and later they will feel homesick and want to go home. Once they finally settle in they will never want to leave; their host country’s culture now feels like their own. For more information check out Northeastern University’s description of the stages of culture shock.  http://www.northeastern.edu/nuin/greece/culture_shock.html

But what about reverse culture shock? We hear so much about how to handle being in a foreign country that we rarely consider what it will be like to come home after an extended visit abroad. Here at Global Immersions, our staff members have had extensive travel experience and know a lot about the ins and outs of both culture shock and reverse culture shock.

Studies show that people experience a similar emotional roller coaster when returning home after living abroad as they do when visiting or living in a new culture. Some people feel disoriented in their own culture and have to re-adapt to the cultural nuances they may have never thought about in the past.

Take a look at this diagram which displays the stages of Culture shock and reverse culture shock! 


Usually when you first return home, you are excited to see your family and friends, sleep in your own bed and have the satisfaction of getting your point across in your native language. As time passes, you might feel as though you do not fit in as well at home as you thought you would.  Depression might set in as your regular routine might not offer the same excitement as your routine abroad.  Sometimes little things become difficult, such as taking public transportation, the pace of your own culture and the lack of new things to do.  People find they cannot relate to their friends too.

Reverse culture shock passes with time and each person will experience the process differently. Discussing reverse culture shock with your international visitor as their return date approaches will help ease the transition into their home country.  Raising awareness of the types of emotions that may surface could help your guest prepare for and better cope with any reverse culture shock struggles that might arise. 

For helpful tips and fun sojourner tales, check out these links for information on Reverse Culture Shock!  

·   Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock 

·   Can you survive Culture shock?

·   Reverse Culture Shock: What, When and How to Cope

·  Home Sweet Home? Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock 
 


[1]  Macionis, John, and Linda Gerber. "Chapter 3 - Culture." Sociology. 7th edition ed. Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada Inc., 2010. 54. 


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. 



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