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St. Patrick's Day

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 10, 2020

St. Patrick’s Day



Did you know that Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish? And that he wore blue, not green? Or that his name was originally “Maewyn Succat”? Make sure to wear green on March, 17th because Irish folklore claims that leprechauns pinch anyone not wearing green! Legend has it the red-headed fairies also appear at the end of a rainbow with a pot of gold! How did this green holiday come to be today?



Saint Patrick was actually born in Britain and taken to Ireland at 16 as a slave. He introduced Christianity to the Irish people and used the shamrock (3 leaf clover) as a metaphor to explain the Holy Trinity. Although he died on March, 17th, 461, his legacy was passed on through generations in Ireland and around the world. The first celebration in the United States was in Boston in 1737, while the first parade was in New York City in 1762. For more history, click here.


As of 2016, there were over 32 million people with Irish ancestry in the United States, which is 7 times more than the population of 4.8 million total people in Ireland. Over 10% of U.S. citizens are Irish, while 1/5 Massachusetts citizens have Irish ancestry. Middlesex County in Massachusetts has over 348,978 Irish Americans, which has the greatest Irish populated county in the country. Norfolk County, Massachusetts, has about 203,285 citizens with Irish ancestry. For more facts, click here and here.



Many countries around the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by illuminating their landmarks with green and have parades. The Sydney Opera House in Australia as well as Christ the Redeemer in Brazil are lit with green lights. In England, the tallest ferris wheel in Europe, the London Eye, is lit with green lights. In New York City, the Empire State Building and in Paris, France the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy also change their lights to green. The Chicago River and Vilnia River in Lithuania are two rivers that are dyed green for the holiday. Even the Pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx in Egypt are lit with green!  For more, click here.



On this holiday, corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and soda bread are the main meal. For traditional recipes, click here and for festive green recipes, click here


Happy Leap Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, February 28, 2020

HAPPY LEAP DAY!


Every 4 years, we get an extra day of the year thanks to Roman leader Julius Caesar! Do you know how it is celebrated around the world?  In certain European countries, February 29th is known as “Bachelor’s Day”. If a man proposes and the woman refuses, he must buy her 12 pairs of gloves, to find the lack of a ring on her finger. In Ireland, women propose to men, instead of the other way around! According to Irish tradition, Saint Brigid made a deal with Saint Patrick for women to have this right, every four years. In Greece, it is unlucky for a marriage to occur on this day or even year. It is also bad luck to have Leap Year as a birthday in Scotland. 

Speaking of birthdays, people with the birthday of February 29th are called “Leaplings!” Some joke saying that they are technically only their age divided by 4. Statistically, there are only about 5 million people on the planet that share February 29th as their birthday. To learn more about Leap Year, click here and here.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day!




Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the world, but why? Here’s more to know about the history behind the romantic holiday and the traditions in other countries. 


There are many claims about the origin of the holiday as there is not one story. A priest wrote a note to his jailor’s daughter and signed it with “from your Valentine”. He was martyred in 270 C.E.by emperor Claudius II Gothicus. Another possibility is that St. Valentine married couples in secret to save the husbands from being drafted to the military, which was against the emperor’s wishes. It became a holiday in the 1300s after Pope Gelasius I changed the festival of Lupercalia, in which women and men were coupled by lottery, to St. Valentine’s Day. The first Valentine’s Day cards were distributed in the 1500's and printed in the late 1700's. The United States didn’t officially print them until the 19th century. For more information, click here.



Here, in the United States, it is common for couples to go out on a dinner date and exchange chocolate, roses, balloons and teddy bears on the “day of love”. Single friends celebrate together and treat themselves for “Galentine's Day” instead. In schools, children write notes for their classmates and pass out candy. But what about other countries?




In Denmark, in addition to giving chocolate to friends and lovers, snowdrops (white flowers) are placed inside handmade cards. Estonia and Finland celebrate not only for couples, but for everyone with “Friendship Day”. In South Korea, not only is the 14th of February a day for celebration, but every 14th of each month is a special day! In Ghana, National Chocolate Day is celebrated as it is one of the world’s largest cocoa producers. A “Week of Sweetness” is celebrated in Argentina in July. In the Philippines, February 14th is the most common day to get married as hundreds of couples are married every year. It is also a common day for couples to get engaged in Romania. Bulgarians celebrate with wine on the “Day of Winemakers”. For how more countries celebrate the day, click here and here.


Need some music for Valentine’s Day? Check these love songs out: Love Story - Taylor Swift, Valentine - 5 Seconds of Summer, My Funny Valentine - Frank Sinatra, Valentine - Willie Nelson, and All You Need is Love - The Beatles. For more songs, click here and here.


Host Tip of the Week: Communication

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, April 04, 2019


The Host Tip theme this week is communication. Just like in any relationship, communication with the student in your home is essential in order to manifest a healthy and productive homestay experience. Communication methods and skills are especially important when language and cultural barriers are in place in order to effectively convey important information. Therefore, having as many kinds of communication as possible, such as audio forms, written, and visual.

Here are a few tips from our hosts to help make communication with your student as easy as possible!



Prepaid "burner" Cell Phones: In the modern day, mobile communication methods are becoming more and more common to stay in touch with others. Some of our veteran hosts have found purchasing prepaid cell phones to be a useful homestay strategy. These phones are prepaid and can be refilled as needed when a new student arrives. The phone offers a way to communicate with hosts especially if the student is unable to use their international cell phone in Boston or only has Wifi. Most major companies such as Verizon, T-Mobile, or Sprint have pre-paid phone plans in Boston. Pre-paid SIM cards are also available at stores like CVS, Staples, and Walmart. Click this link for the best options in Boston. Ultimately this mobile communication strategy benefits both the host as well as the visitor and provides a safety net for the student in case of emergency!


Whiteboard: Whiteboards are a great visual communication method and can be easily customized and updated regularly to the information necessary for your house. For example, some hosts draw boxes where students can check "yes or no" to coming home for dinner each night of the week. Others have a weekly calendar for both the student and host family to list activities and/or events for planning purposes. This form of communication is straightforward and easy to interpret!


Messaging Apps: It is important to remember that our visitors come from all over the world which means that mobile apps used to communicate may be different from our own norms of iMessage and text messaging. Often it is helpful to download the app used in the country of the respective student to facilitate communication. For instance, most of Europe uses an application called WhatsApp to communicate informally between friends and family. Many of our hosts have learned that Japanese students use an app called LINE. Talk with your student about which apps they use to communicate.


Overall our advice is to find communicate methods that work for you, your family, and your student to ensure a positive homestay experience!


Boston Holiday Markets

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas is right around the corner, only 5 days away! Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Whether you’re buying presents for others or just want to look around, you can’t go wrong with one of Boston’s seasonal markets. Check out this list below to see where you should shop this weekend! 


Harvard Square Holiday Market 

The Harvard Square Holiday Fair returns Cambridge for its 33rd season. This holiday market features a variety of handmade items from local New England artists. As you browse the market, stopping at different stores and speaking to the craftspeople, you’ll find a selection of unique gifts, from jewelry to ceramics, to paintings to candles -perfect for friends, family, or yourself! This year’s Holiday Fair will be held at St. Paul’s Church Hall at 29 Mt. Auburn St. The market is open weekdays from 11:30 am- 7: 00 pm, Saturday from 10: 00 am – 7: 00 pm, and Sunday from noon – 6: 00 pm. Admission is free!


Downtown Boston Holiday Market

Have you walked through Downtown Crossing lately? If so, then maybe you’ve seen the Downtown Holiday Arts Market at its new pop-up location at 467 Washington Street. While doing some holiday shopping Downtown, make sure you stop by the Holiday Market where area vendors will be showcasing their work. Like the Harvard Square Holiday Fair, this winter market has an array of different handmade items, such as woodcarvings, metal sculptures, food, clothing and much more. You can find a list of participating vendors here – I’m sure you’ll recognize a few names! The Holiday Arts Market will be open until January 6th (with the exception of Christmas Day and January 1-2) The market is open weekdays from 11:00 am – 7: 00 pm and weekends from 11: 00 am – 5: 00 pm. 



Boston’s Cultural Survival Bazaar is an annual event at the Prudential Center that brings together indigenous artists from a range of different cultures. This special market is the perfect place to find a gift for globally-minded friends and family while supporting indigenous cultures. In the past, the Bazaar has brought artists from the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tibet, India, Nepal, China, and many more. Make a quick trip around the world by browsing handcrafted pottery, blown glass, natural-dyed textiles, baskets, jewelry, and paintings. The Bazaar is open December 21st- 23rd from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm and until 8:00 pm on Sunday

Happy Holiday shopping! Share your unique holiday finds with us by Happy Holidays! If you see any of these festive plays, be sure to share your experience with us by using #HomestayBoston or tagging @globalimmersions!

International Students in MA: By the Numbers

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September has really flown by! Now, almost one month into the school year, a new group of international students are well into their immersion experience in Massachusetts. It’s no surprise that many international students choose to study in Boston, after all, the city is a hub for colleges and universities. If you’re curious about the international student population in Massachusetts (or in the U.S. in general), here is some information you may find interesting!

How many international students study in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts is #4 in the ranking of most international students by state. According to the most recent Open Doors Report from the Institute of International Education, Massachusetts had about 62, 926 international students in 2017, a 5.9% increase from the previous year.

Where do international students study?

While Massachusetts has a variety of schools with international student populations, the institutions with the most international students are Northeastern University (13,201), Boston University (8,992), Harvard University (5,978), MIT (4,685) and UMASS Amherst (3,364). Aside from these larger universities, MA and specifically Boston are home to many language schools where students from all over the world come to study English. Students staying with Global Immersions' host families attend these various language schools, as well as different universities and community colleges in the Boston area.

Where do international students in Massachusetts come from?

According to the data, most international students in the state are from China (33.6%), followed by students from India (15.25%), South Korea (4.7%), Canada (3.9%) and Saudi Arabia (2.6%). Most students that study overseas in the U.S. during their college years come from China, however, India has a fast-growing population of international students. It is expected that a larger portion of international students will be from India in the future. 


This map shows the leading places of origin for international students in the U.S. The darker the blue, the more international students from that country.

What do international students in Massachusetts study?

International students are enrolled in many different programs and focus on a lot of different subjects. Many students choose Boston to study language, however, at four-year universities, popular major choices include those in the STEM fields, Business Administration, or the Arts and Humanities. According to Open Doors, in the U.S. most international students are enrolled in doctoral-granting universities, followed by master’s colleges and universities. Of the 20 million students enrolled in U.S. universities, over 1 million are international students. Of that 1 million, about 900,000 are enrolled in universities across the country, and about 175,000 are completing their OPT post-graduation. The chart below shows that on average, the number of international students in the U.S. has increased over time. 


Are you an international student studying in Boston this Fall? Like us on Facebook to take advantage of all the fun (and free!) events happening around the city. We hope you enjoy your immersion experience! 

Labor Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, August 27, 2018


American Labor Day:

The first Monday of September, the day when workers and all they have accomplished is celebrated. For most people this holiday just means they get to enjoy a three day weekend and a day off work. It also  means that sadly summer is coming to an end and the school year is starting. Do you know how this holiday came to be?

History:

12 day hours, 7 days a week was the average work schedule for an American in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution. Adults and even children were working in unsafe and extreme conditions for little money. Strikes and rallies were formed to protest rights such as the Chicago Haymarket Riot in 1886. In New York 1882, 10,000 people took an unpaid day off work and marched for rights. This became the first Labor Day Parade which is still held today. People kept protesting for the work day to go from 12 hours to 8 hours to the point where violence was involved. Finally, in spring of 1894, President Cleveland signed a bill to pass a legal holiday for workers and their rights. To learn more about the history, click here.

Labor Day Traditions Around the World:


Many Americans have barbecues, family gatherings, go to the beach and see fireworks in early September. For more than 80 countries around the world, May Day or International Workers Day is held on May 1. In some countries, people even work on the day instead of it being a work-free holiday.

In France, people give their family members flowers. Parades and campaigns are held for workers' rights as many shops are closed. In Jamaica, people celebrate the workers who contribute to their country on May 24th, which originally honored the labor rebellion. It also used to honor Queen Victoria's birthday because she helped end slavery. In the Bahamas, the first Friday in June is taken off to remember the workers' strike held in  1942. There is a parade held in the capital, Nassau every year. 

In New Zealand, the fourth Monday in October is a public holiday to honor the 1840 eight-hour working day movement. In Trinidad and Tobago, June 19th is a day to remember the 1937 Butler labor riots. In Bangladesh, April 24th is known as Labor Safety day to honor the victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse. This day is used for inspecting safety measures in companies and businesses. 

In Italy, festivals, concerts and public demonstrations are held around this holiday. In Germany, 'Witches Night' is celebrated the night of April 30 to rid the evil spirits and pranks are played on friends. May 1, spring is welcomed by people putting up maypoles and marches being held for workers rights. In countries such as Ireland, Poland and Norway, the beginning of spring is celebrated with planting flowers and being outside on May Day.

We hope you enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!

All About McDonald's

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, August 03, 2018

In America, fast food began in 1916 at a White Castle in Wichita Kansas.  By the 1920's, people would deliver food to cars as curb service starting at A&W Root Beer Shop. Roller skates were worn by the waitresses called car hops. Drive through windows were invented in the 1940's becoming a quick and easy way to order and receive food. 

McDonald's, one of the most successful companies in the world, started out as a hot dog stand, which then became a drive in barbecue restaurant. In 1948, it became the burger place we know of today. 

Let's learn about a few facts about McDonald's.

The Golden Arches of McDonald's became the logo in 1968. 12.5% of the population has worked at McDonald's at some point in their life. Every second, 75 hamburgers are sold and 68 million customers are served each day. You can find a McDonald's in 119 out of 196 total countries in the world. Ronald McDonald is the most universal character in the world besides Santa Claus. 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes a year are purchased and used to make McDonald's infamous french fries. 550 million Big Macs are sold a year globally.

Whether you're craving a Big Mac or nuggets, you can have an inexpensive, quick and easy meal at McDonald's in the U.S. Most everyone obviously knows and has eaten at McDonald's, no matter where you're from. Here in the U.S., there are over 1.5 more McDonald's than hospitals. In Hong Kong, you can even get married in a McDonald's starting at $1,200. In 1961, Hamburger University was opened where over 5,000 people attend every year to learn how to become a manager of McDonald's. Did you know that McDonald's is the world's largest distributor of toys? Over 1.5 billion toys are given out in Happy Meals a year.

McDonald's menus varies from country to country around the globe reflecting the culture.  In Japan, you can find a teriyaki burger, squid ink burger and McChocolate potato fries. A McRice burger in Singapore, mashed-potato burger in China, and McSamurai pork burger in Thailand. In Germany, there's the McSasuage burger, a McFalafel in Israel, and a McCurry pan in India. The McLobster can be found in Canada, Gazpacho soup in Spain, and McNoodles in Austria. Would you be up for trying some of these meals at your McDonald's? For more global McDonald's foods, click here. 


Watch Americans taste and provide feedback on menu items at McDonald's in Japan here and Dubai here

Whether you are traveling abroad or in Boston for the first time, visiting a McDonald's to check out the menu should be on your itinerary. 



International Summer Festivals

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, May 29, 2018

June 22nd will be the longest day of the year. The Summer Solstice signifies the first official day of summer in the United States and the start of what will hopefully be a period of warmer weather in Boston! The meaning of the Summer Solstice varies across cultures, though many recognize the start of summer with special holidays, festivals or rituals. While the United States does not have a popular holiday related to the start of summer, other areas of the world have specific cultural traditions that celebrate the Summer Solstice. Here is how some countries welcome the start of the summer season.

Kupala Night

Kupala Night is a celebration observed in countries with Slavic ancestry such as Ukraine, Russia, Poland, and Belarus. The festival signifies the end of the summer solstice and the start of the harvest season. During this festival participants build fires that they then jump over to demonstrate bravery and strength. A strong theme of the festival is love, and couples will jump over the fire while holding hands to prove that their relationship will last. Additionally, women will float flower wreathes in rivers, which men then try to capture, in the hope of also capturing the interest of the woman who floated the wreath. A sinking wreath is considered a predication of loneliness while a floating wreath indicates the prospect of love. Some participants will also search through the woods for the mythical "fern flower", which is thought to bring good fortune if found, although botanical experts do not believe that this flower actually exists. Historically, this search was an excuse for unmarried couples to spend alone time together without a chaperone, though today is done just for fun. While the festival has Pagan roots it has been incorporated into the Christian calendar as "St. Johns Eve" however, it still contains Pagan elements such as fortune telling rituals and the wearing of flower crowns. Many of these traditions are customary to rural areas as the holiday has been given a more modern twist is major cities where fireworks and concerts are also held.


Midsummer

At the start of the Swedish holiday of Midsummer, many Swedes head to the country side to begin their five week summer vacation.  On Midsummer's Eve (usually a Friday between the 19th and 25th of June) cities essentially shut down as many businesses close and streets are deserted. Families gather together in the country and have large celebrations complete with traditional dances around a may pole and crafting flower wreathes and other decorations. A typical midsummer meal is a variety of pickled herring and potatoes as well as grilled salmon or ribs followed by strawberries for desert. After dinner many Swedes go out dancing. Midsummer is also a popular time for weddings or christenings. Despite the fact thatSwedes are not particularly religious, many people want to get married at a country church during this time of year.


The Duanwu Festival

The Duanwu Festival, known in the West as the "Dragon Boat Festival", is a traditional Chinese holiday that takes place each year near the summer solstice.The festival is also often called the "Double Fifth Festival" as it takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Lunar Calendar. This year the festival will take place from June 16th to 18th. The Festival celebrates Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who is considered to be a martyr in the country. Qu Yaun was a member of the ruling house in the ancient state of Chu.  He drowned himself when the powerful Chinese state of Qin captured Ying, the Chu capital. The story of Qu Yuan describes how local admirers of Qu raced out on boats to try to save him. When they could not find Qu, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that fish would eat them instead of Qu's body. This is the origin of Duanwu's dragon boat races and the reason why people snack on "zongzi", or sticky rice balls, during this holiday.

Boston will hold its own Dragon Boat Festival this summer. The 39th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival will take place over the weekend of June 9th - 10th and feature Dragon Boat races as well as performances, art, and food.


The Bon Festival

Japan's Bon Festival, or Obon, occurs this year on August 13th - 15th. The three day celebration honors Japanese ancestors and has become an opportunity for families to reunite and spend time together. During the festival people hang lanterns outside their houses to help guide their dead ancestors back home. Families will also visit and clean the graves of loved ones who have died. Perhaps the most significant tradition of the Bon Festival is the Bon Odori, a traditional folk dance that welcomes the spirit of the dead. The dance is different in each region with songs a lyrics specific to that area.

Boston will also host Obon celebrations this summer. Historically Japanese schools such as Boston Higashi School and Showa Boston will each have their own Bon Festival featuring music, dancing, and Japanese food.

Source: WikipediaCulture Trip, Meet the Slavs, Sweden.se, Colorzine

Mother's Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, April 30, 2018


In the United States Mother's Day is traditionally celebrated on the second Sunday in May, so this year that means May 13th. Mother's Day was founded by a woman named Anna Jarvis, who held a memorial for her deceased Mother at a church in West Virginia in 1905. Anna's Mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War.  Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother and all mothers in America and so she began to advocate for Mother's Day as a recognized holiday. At first, Congress rejected the proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday, but then several states, beginning with Jarvis' home state of West Virginia, began to adopt Mother's Day as a holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day as a national holiday to honor America's mothers. Mother's Day is also celebrated elsewhere in the world. Here are how some countries observe Mother's Day.


Thailand

Mother's Day in Thailand is celebrated on August 12th, on the day of  Queen Sirkit's birthday, a former queen of Thailand who is considered the "mother of the country".  In the days before the holiday, Thai people celebrate by displaying portraits and shrines of Queen Sirkit, as well as putting on fireworks shows and candle lighting ceremonies. In addition to comemorating the birthday of the Queen, Thai mother's are celebrated on this day as well. Children often give their mother's gifts such as white jasmine flowers, which represent maternal love. Children may also give alms to monks in honor of their mothers.


Australia

In Australia, Mother's Day is celebrated on the same day as in the U.S. The traditional flower of the Australian Mother's Day is the Chrysanthemum, which is in full bloom during the season of Autumn when Australian Mother's Day occurs. On this day, Chrysanthemums, as well as carnations, are given to mothers. Many Australians wear colored carnations if their mothers are still living and white carnations if they are deceased.


Poland

Polish Mother's Day, also known as "DzieƄ Matki", is celebrated on May 26th. The holiday gained popularity after WWII, and is now an official holiday of Poland. Because it is an official holiday, many businesses are closed and families have celebrations at home. On Mother's Day, schools often host special events where children give their mothers gifts such as "laurki", or papers decorated with flowers and written messages. At home, family members may gather and have a party, complete with more gift giving and cake.


India

India's Mother's Day is celebrated on the same day as in the U.S. On Mother's Day , Indian children give their Mother's cards and often cook a meal for them. A similar holiday is celebrated by followers of the Hindu religion in October. This festival, called "Durga Puja", honors the goddess Durga, or the "Divine Mother" of India. Durga Purja lasts 10 days, during which people fast, then feast, pray, sing, dance, and perform cultural dramas.

Source: Thebump.com


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