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Cinco de Mayo at Home Edition

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, May 04, 2020

How to Celebrate Cinco De Mayo From Quarantine!




Sitting at home in quarantine wishing you could head over to your favorite Mexican restaurant tomorrow to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Unfortunately we are celebrating this year’s Cinco de Mayo a little differently than normal due to the coronavirus. Here are some ways to celebrate from home!



Learn how to cook authentic Mexican recipes for dinner!

Ever wanted to try to recreate your favorite Mexican dishes? Today, you have time to make them from scratch! Head to the kitchen for some spicy fajitas and quesadillas! Maybe some homemade salsa, guacamole or queso to go alongside chips. You could try making a side of refried beans and rice to go with enchiladas, nachos or a chile relleno. If you’re feeling adventurous, Mexican bread and handmade tortillas! What about some empanadas and tamales? Or of course, just a classic dinner of burritos and tacos! And don’t forget dessert! How about some flan, churros, tres leches or sopapillas?! Yum! For recipes, click here, here and here to explore. The options are endless! ¡Provecho!



Have a Cinco de Mayo Zoom Fiesta!

Call your friends, turn up some music and dance together! While your dinner is cooking, take some time to catch up with friends and family. If you would normally celebrate this holiday with others, we can thank technology for connecting us virtually! Bonus: download a Cinco de Mayo zoom background to increase the festivity like the image above!



Support your local Mexican restaurants! 

Local businesses are struggling and could use your help! Order take out food to celebrate, especially if you’re too lazy to cook! Most places are currently delivering, which makes it even more convenient!



If the weather is warm, have a picnic!

Head to your backyard and have dinner outside! Spending time outdoors is important, especially during this difficult time. It's beneficial to your mental health! Celebrate outside with your family and neighbors, make sure to sit a safe distance away from others! Crank up some Mexican music and make the best of the day! If you leave your home make sure to bring your mask (you could even make a festive one!). 

Learn about the history of Cinco de Mayo.

Do you know why we celebrate this holiday? It’s not Mexican Independence Day! This day is in honor of the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla against the French on May 5, 1862. To learn more, click here.


Please keep practicing social distancing, we are all in this together. Stay safe and celebrate at home! Happy Cinco de Mayo Home Edition!


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 Chinese Lunar New Year!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, January 23, 2020

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year!




2020 is the Year of the Rat! This year’s Chinese New Year begins on January 25th and ends on February 4th. This time is called the Spring Festival. The Lantern Festival Festival follows from February 5th to the 8th. Keep reading to learn more about the most important Chinese holiday!




During Chinese New Year, dumplings are eaten in order to “send away” the past and welcome in the new year. A coin is placed to a random dumpling and the person to receive it will have good luck in the upcoming year. Noodles are another staple dish to eat during this special time. It is believed that the longer the noodle, the longer one’s life will be and it is forbidden to chew or cut the noodles. To celebrate the approach of spring, spring rolls are enjoyed in many variations. Certain ingredients in meals represent different symbolic meanings in the Chinese culture. For example, duck symbolizes loyalty, lobster represents endless money, eggs equal a healthy and large family, shrimp is for wealth, tofu means happiness for the family and fish stands for surplus. In addition, seaweed represents wealth, lotus seeds are considered the key to a healthy family, grapefruit symbolizes hope and bamboo shoots mean longevity.  




For dessert, simple rice and sponge cakes are served after dinner which symbolize success. Turnip cake (made of radishes) are enjoyed for breakfast or on the 7th day of the Spring Festival. Flowers are a common ingredient in Chinese desserts such as in Jujube Flower Cakes which stand for wishes coming true or blessings for children. Friendship and success are represented by the “may flower” petals used in the Osmanthus Jelly dessert. Rice balls filled with bean paste are traditionally eaten as the first breakfast of the year in the South while in the North, people shape them like peaches to symbolize longevity. 




Children receive red envelopes with money from their elders in order to have a good year full of fortune and blessings. Red is an important color in Chinese culture as it represents fortune and happiness. To protect themselves from demons and monsters, people hang red decorations and poems outside their houses. Fun fact: it is bad luck to say negative words, sweep, break glass, use sharp objects, fight or give forbidden gifts such as clocks during the Spring Festival. For more information about Chinese New Year traditions, food and myths, click here.




For the Lantern Festival, people write down their wishes and release the lantern up to the sky, with the hope that their wishes will come true in the upcoming year. 





Here in Boston, the Chinese New Year Parade will be held on February 2nd, starting at 11am in Chinatown. There will be dragon dances, martial arts, drummers, lion dances, firecrackers and more! For the full list of details about the celebration, click here.

  


In addition to the Parade, the Museum of Fine Arts offers FREE admission to the museum from 10am - 5pm on February 1st to attend the New Year Celebration. There will be performances, dancers, activities and traditions. For more information, click here


Global Immersions wishes you a happy and healthy Chinese Lunar New Year!


Thanksgiving Favorite Foods

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, November 22, 2019

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and besides getting together with family and expressing gratitude, one of the big features of the holiday is the amazing and abundant foods!  It’s a display of all our favorite fall foods, coupled with some special dishes that are reserved for Thanksgiving itself. 

One of the most iconic Thanksgiving foods, and the one we always save a little extra room for, is pie!  While most people think of pumpkin pie when they think of Thanksgiving, a study done by GE looked at the preferences of 1,550 people around the U.S., and found some differing opinions in their favorite post-dinner treat.  As shown in the map below, while the prevailing favorite was pumpkin, the Northeast seems to actually favor apple pie and in the South pecan is the most popular pie for the season.


In a separate poll taken about the overall favorites across the U.S., pumpkin pie again takes the lead with 36% of the country choosing this as their ideal Thanksgiving pie.  Apple and pecan seem to be tied for 2nd most popular, with percentages around 15%, and sweet potato pie came in fourth with 10% of the vote.


A regional difference is also seen with the rest of Thanksgiving dinner as well, with favored side dishes varying largely in popularity by region.  Bostonians might not necessarily think of mac and cheese as a traditional Thanksgiving side, but in the South, 35% of people have it on their menu!   And squash makes an appearance in 56% of New Englander’s Thanksgiving feasts, as compared to only 18% of the nation overall.



While these seem to be the most traditional Thanksgiving foods in the U.S., every family embraces the Thanksgiving meal in their own way, and may have pieces of their own culture to add. Thanksgiving is really a time of coming together and welcoming, so we hope whatever side dishes, desserts, and main courses are your favorites, that you enjoy the time spent with family and loved ones!

Sources: Delish, Food and Wine, Lonely Planet, FiveThirtyEight





Happy Mother's Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 08, 2019


Mother’s Day is celebrated by different countries and cultures around the globe as a way to recognize and show gratitude for all that mothers and mother figures do. In the United States, we traditionally celebrate the holiday on the second Sunday in the month of May. (For those of you who have not checked the calendar, Mother’s Day is this upcoming Sunday, May 12th!) The holiday was incarnated by Anna Jarvis to the United States in 1908 and became an official holiday in 1914. Countries such as Canada and Australia celebrate the second Sunday in May as well. However, other countries celebrate an equivalent Mother’s Day holiday during different months of the year. The map below shows which months countries around the world observe the holiday.




For example, countries like Egypt or other Arab countries typically celebrate the holiday around March 21st to celebrate with the marked beginning of Spring. Countries like Japan and India have chosen to import the westernized holiday and celebrate Mother’s Day in Spring. Most of Western Europe celebrates the holiday in May, while the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe choose to celebrate in March. Although these countries celebrate at different times, most of their gifts and celebrations are actually the same! The most common customs are giving thoughtful cards and presenting flowers to mothers. For instance, in Thailand, the most common flower to give a mother is jasmine! In the United Kingdom, Mother’s Day has many historical and religious roots to Christianity and a former celebration called Mothering Sunday that was celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent. To this day the churches will hand out daffodils for young children to give to their moms. In the U.K. it is also customary to make mothers fruitcake!

There are other ways of giving as well. A favorite tradition in the United States is to make your mother her favorite breakfast foods and bring the dishes on a tray to her bed. This way she is able to relax and enjoy her morning. Many families will have extended family or close friends over to celebrate. Other common gifts may include jewelry, clothing, and family photos. Click here for homemade gift ideas! The most important advice when choosing a gift for Mother’s Day is to be thoughtful and think about what acts of appreciation would mean the most to her.

On behalf of our family here at Global Immersions, we would like to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all of our host mothers! We appreciate you and all that you do. Please share your favorite Mother's Day memories with us @globalimmersions or using #HomestayBoston.


Sources: TimeandDate, Time, Scholastic, History


FREE Pancakes at IHOP 3/12/19!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Sunday, March 10, 2019

Happy National Pancake Day!

Head over to IHOP on Tuesday, March 12 to celebrate and get your FREE short stack of original buttermilk pancakes and donate to help children battling critical illnesses! Find your nearest IHOP and learn more here.

Do you know the history of Pancake Day? Last Tuesday, March 5, was also Shrove Tuesday. "Shrive" means for one to confess their sins. During the olden days, on the day before Lent, people would use all of their eggs, fat and butter to make pancakes since they would not be eating these foods over the next 6 weeks. Lent is the 40 days preceding Easter in Christian traditions where fasting and food abstaining occurs. Lent began this year on March 6 and ends April 18.


Around the world, different countries celebrate Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day in many ways! In some towns in the U.K., people have pancake races while flipping them in frying pans. In Denmark, the day is called Fastelavn, in which children dress up in costumes and eat Danish style buns. In Canada, their pancakes are filled with objects to predict the future as the ring finder will be married first, the thimble finder will be a seamstress/tailor, the name finder will be a carpenter and the coin finder will become rich. In France, Shrove Tuesday is known as Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday", but their pancake day is on February 2nd and called Candlemas. They eat crêpes which are believed to bring a year full of happiness, wealth, health and good crops. Whoever flips their pancake without dropping it on the ground, has good luck for the year. Let us know your Pancake Day traditions in the comments below!


Hosts: Try making pancakes from scratch with your students with this recipe from Food Network! TAG us in your Instagram pictures @globalimmersions and enjoy!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed

Sources:

https://www.whyeaster.com/customs/shrovetuesday.shtml

http://blog.english-heritage.org.uk/pancake-day-traditions/

http://projectbritain.com/pancakeday/world.htm

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!

Get into the Holiday Spirit in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Although we just wrapped up Thanksgiving, radio stations are already playing Christmas carols, stores are advertising holiday sales, and families are buying their Christmas trees. Boston has begun to transition into the holiday season, as many areas of the city are displaying holiday lights and hosting winter activities. If you’re excited to celebrate the holidays in Boston, check out one of these festive events this week:

Mayor’s 2018 Enchanted Trolley Tour

Mayor Marty Walsh’s Enchanted Trolley Tour is back again for the 23rd year to kick off the start of the holiday season. The Trolley Tour consists of a series of events, such as tree lightings, holiday performances, and visits with Santa for young children in Boston’s neighborhoods. Some events, such as the lighting of the Christopher Columbus Park Trellis and the Copley Square Tree took place in mid-November, while others, such as the Boston Common Tree and Commonwealth Avenue Mall lighting, are scheduled to take place this Thursday and Friday, respectively. On Saturday, December 1st, the Mayor and a crew of holiday performers, will parade through the streets of Boston’s neighborhoods bringing music, dancing, and activities for kids. Find out when the Mayor will be in your neighborhood here.


Sowa Winter Festival

Boston’s popular farmer’s market returns to its South End location this winter for two weekends only, to host a special holiday-themed bazaar. Many of the local vendors from Sowa’s summer and fall market will once again open their booths for visitors to find a variety of merchandise, such as apparel, art, jewelry, crafts, food, and drink. The Winter Festival will also feature a separate area with food trucks, face painting, live ice sculpting and more. This event is the perfect place to buy holiday gifts, or just enjoy the afternoon browsing the different shops, listening to live music, and trying some delicious treats! Find a full list of vendors here.


Holiday Music on the Row

What better way to get into the holiday spirit than with a little music? Every Saturday Boston Free Radio will be sponsoring a musical event at Assembly Row in Somerville. Different local DJ’s will be at the Row each weekend to make your visit a bit more festive.   This month, the shopping center will also host a few winter events, like an Ice Sculpture Stroll and Santa Paws Pet Photos which are both free and open to the public!


Holiday Pet Photos

Speaking of holiday-themed pet photos, the Thorndike Dog Park in Arlington will also be hosting its own Santa Paws event. On Saturday, December 1st, dogs can get a free picture taken with Santa along with some tasty dog treats. Maybe you bring your host family’s pet? or just go to see some dogs and sip some (free) hot chocolate. The event will be from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm!

Passover Celebrations: The Seder

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, March 30, 2018

Tonight marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover is a weeklong celebration in the Jewish religion that commemorates the Hebrew Bible story of the Exodus. In the Jewish faith, the Exodus is the liberation of the Israelite slaves in Egypt by Moses (a prominent  figure in the Hebrew Bible). A large aspect of the Passover celebration is the Seder. Here is some insight into how this tradition is practiced.


(The White House Seder)

The Seder

The Seder is a home ritual practiced during Passover.  The Hebrew word "Seder", which translates to "order", reflects the idea that the order in which participants do things during the Seder (like eat, pray, etc.) is significant, and is outlined in a Jewish religious text called the Haggadah. Families typically hold a Seder on the first or second night of Passover.


The Seder Plate

An important aspect of the Seder service is the Seder plate- a partitioned plate containing certain amounts of specific foods. Each food is symbolic of a certain aspect of the Passover story. A roasted lamb shank (which is not eaten) represents the old tradition of sacrificing a lamb during Passover, a hard boiled egg represents spring and the circle of life, bitter herbs represent the bitterness of slavery, haroset (a mixture of wine, nuts, and apples) represents the mortar used by the Jews in Egypt, and karpas (or greens such as parsley) are used to represent spring.  


(Matzah bread)

Unleavened bread, known as matzah, is also placed on the table to represent the bread that the Jews took with them when they fled Egypt and salt water is used to represent the tears of slaves. According to the story of Passover, the Jewish people did not have enough time to wait for their bread to rise before they had to leave Egypt. This is why many followers of the Jewish faith do not eat any form of leavened bread during the week of Passover.

Other traditions

In some homes the Seder table may also have special wine glasses, or kiddish cups. The Torah (the main text of the Jewish faith) commands that at least four symbolic cups of wine be consumed during the Seder. There is sometimes two extra cups; one for the Jewish prophet Elijah whose spirit is believed to visit at Passover, and the other is for Moses' sister Miriam to symbolize her well which is said to have provided water for Israelites in the desert. her cup is also there to symbolize the importance of women during the Exodus. Sometimes families may have pillows on their chairs during the Seder. This is to encourage reclining at the table during Passover, as a symbol of freedom.


(Matzo Ball Soup)

The Dinner 

Additionally, a Passover meal is also eaten. Passover meals differ between households, but some traditional foods that are often eaten include matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, beef brisket, chicken, and potatoes. 

Source: Time.com

Christmas: Then and Now

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 21, 2017

The winter solstice marked the short, harsh and dark winter days were coming to an end. Longer days and extended hours of sunlight are highly anticipated and brought hope to those seeking comfort in the sun. This Pagan celebration was soon absorbed by others and transitioned into a Christian holiday. The winter holiday became an anniversary celebration of the birth of Jesus. From one religion to another and constantly evolving, Christmas of today has religious implications but the commercialized aspects have far outgrown the religious ones. Narratives once revolved around Jesus, but Santa Claus has since become the integral character for Christmas stories.

Not always the popular holiday it is today, Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. Puritan beliefs countered the celebration and those participating in Christmas festivities were fined five shillings. While other settlements did not have these strict regulations and Christmas slowly gained popularity. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States in on June 26, 1870. Globalization and developing technologies have changed and spread traditions. Each family has different traditions, as does each country. Other traditions and celebrations are unique to a country or town.

Christmas trees have become a symbol of Christmas. Christmas trees were first seen in Germany and immigrants brought the concept to the United States. Thought of as a Pagan tradition, it was not widely embraced initially. The first record of a Christmas tree being publicly displayed was in the 1830s. This display in Pennsylvania was created by German immigrants who had been decorating such trees in their communities for years. Popularity of Christmas trees grew after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who was German, were photographed with their children around one.

St. Lucia (Lucy) Day is celebrated widely, but most common in Scandinavia on December 13. The name Lucy refers to “light” and the celebration initially coincide with the winter solstice. To commemorate her death, a girl will dress in a white gown with a red sash around the waist. A crown of twigs and nine lit candles adorn her head. Processions are common in towns and one girl is selected for the honor of leading it. She will dress with the sash and crown of candles, but the other participants will carry a candle


Gävlebocken, the Gävle Goat, is a holiday display in Gävle, Sweden. Comprised of straw, the goat has cost upwards of a quarter of a million dollars to create and maintain. Since the tradition was introduced in 1966, the Gävle Goat has been destroyed by vandals 35 times in the past 50 years. Increased resources have been allocated to the protection of the display.  

While everyone might be dreaming of a white Christmas, some have white sandy beaches. In the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is in the middle of summer. Australians  tend to go to the beach and have a picnic as their Christmas meal. The weather permits plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.


All in all, Christmas around the world is celebrated in various styles and fashions, but most people would agree that the most important part of Christmas is the time we spend with family!

Merry Christmas to all!


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