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Welcome to Boston Homestay - Niijima Gakuen High School!11-Dec-2019

A large group of high school visitors from Niijima Gakuen High School in Japan arrived to Boston..

Welcome to Boston Homestay - Japanese High School Group!09-Dec-2019

A group of high school visitors from Japan arrived to Boston on Monday evening. The group will atte..


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Explore Boston: Neighborhoods South

Global Immersions Recruiting - Saturday, July 20, 2019

Aside from Boston’s most touristy neighborhoods, there are great suburbs to explore! In our Explore Boston series: Neighborhoods we will highlight and explore some of the neighborhoods and towns where our hosts call home. This blog takes us to the following neighborhoods: Hyde Park, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain and Mattapan.


Hyde Park:

Hyde Park is commonly named “A Small Town in the City.” The town has its own charm to offer. If you have the chance to explore around Hyde Park, make sure to head to Cleary Square for food stops, storefronts, and historical landmarks. In the square you will find the Vertullo Building. Built in 1868, the Vertullo Building is a must-see in Hyde Park as it is the only surviving wooden commercial building in the area! Nearby you will find Everett Square Theatre. Built in 1915, the theatre was originally used as an artistic space for theatre, musical, and other live performances. The town is now working to restore and renovate the historical building. If you are looking for outdoor activities away from city life, Hyde Park is also close to Blue Hills and Stony Brook Reservation where you can enjoy beautiful New England foliage and scenery. Finally, if you are looking for a bite to eat in HP, check out Ron’s Ice Cream (for both your bowling and ice cream needs) as well as Tutto Italiano, and the Fairmount Grille. Click here for a list of other recommended restaurants nearby.



Mattapan:

The neighborhood of Mattapan is located between Dorchester, Milton, and Hyde Park. The neighborhood was originally a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and since the 1980s has gained large Haitian, African, and Caribbean populations making for diverse people, food, and culture! If you have the chance to walk around, the first place on your list should be Mattapan Square! This marks the center of the town where Blue Hill Avenue, River Street, and Cummins highway intersect. Here you will find the most commercial (not residential) part of the neighborhood with shops and small businesses. If you continue down Blue Hill Avenue, you will find many “Triple-Decker” homes which are quintessential to Mattapan amongst other Victorian and brick style houses. The neighborhood is also well known for the historic Mattapan Trolley. This antique train, although slower at times, serves as a connector to the Red Line at Ashmont. For a Boston neighborhood, Mattapan is filled with more green spaces than most including the Harambee Park, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Boston Nature and Wildlife Sanctuary, the Clark Cooper Community Gardens, and Forest Hill cemetery. Mattapan is also home to one of the Boston Public Library branches! Lastly, here are some of Mattapan’s favorite restaurants.



Roslindale:

Fondly referred to as Rozzie, Roslindale is a beautiful quaint suburb in southern Boston surrounded by hills and dales between Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury. The neighborhood was officially annexed by Boston in 1873. The most famous place to visit in Roslindale is Roslindale Village where you will find shops, stores, and restaurants! Here are some of our favorite places to eat including Romano’s Pizzeria and Taqueria, Fornax Bread Company, and Redd’s in Rozzie. If you are looking for some natural scenery, make sure to explore the neighboring south end of Arnold Arboretum or Adam’s Park for Roslindale community events. From June until November, there is also a Roslindale Farmer’s Market on Saturdays for all to enjoy.


Jamaica Plain:

Jamaica Plain, or JP, is a neighborhood filled with artists, activists, young professionals, and families. The most popular spot to check out is Centre Street. There you will find the neighborhood’s locally owned shops and restaurants known for the best thrift shopping and delicious food. Some of our favorite restaurants in the area include Tres Gatos, Ten Tables, Doyle’s Cafe (for Tuesday night trivia), and JP Licks. Make sure to walk through City Feed and Supply, Jamaica Plain’s very own local market, to purchase organic food and community goods. If you are a thrift shopper, 40 South Street will be up your alley! For those interested in art, make sure to walk to the MFA or Isabella Stewart Gardner. Finally, if you are looking for parks and nature walks, JP is just for you. Part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, visitors can enjoy the views of Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum, and Forest Hill Cemetery. There is something for everyone to enjoy!


Host Tip of the Week: The First House Tour

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, June 06, 2019


Our most recent Host Tip discussed strategies on how to best welcome visitors into your home by making the outside of your residence easily accessible. Making sure your home is properly marked and easy for the new visitor to find will help ease the transition to their new home in Boston. This week we want to talk about another important aspect of welcoming visitors into your home: how to perfect the first House Tour! What should you do when a visitor first arrives to your home? First impressions are important and as always we want both our students and our hosts to feel as comfortable as possible. Most likely the student will be tired or jet lagged upon arrival. The key to a successful first greeting is to find a balance between communicating necessary information while not overwhelming the student with excess information.

  • First, show them their bedroom and help them carry their belongings to where they will stay. From there, offer to give the student a brief tour of the home showing them their bathroom, kitchen, living room, and other common areas.
  • Depending on their arrival time, many hosts advise having a snack or meal prepared upon the student’s arrival after their long travel day. Would the student like to shower, take a nap, or have a snack before continuing the house tour? Always best to check-in before overwhelming the student with information.
  • After the student is settled in, it’s time to talk logistics! Make sure to provide a house key and show the visitor how to use the key and door lock. During this time, also make sure to provide the visitor with any specifics about your home. Is is best to use the front or back door? Is there an alarm system they will need to know how to shut off? Practice each lesson a few times to ensure they feel confident on how to enter the home. Try to remember other nuances of your home as well. Show your student where to place their dishes, how to turn on the shower, how to use the TV, etc. It is also imperative that you exchange contact information with your student so that they know the best way to reach you at all times!

 

If the visitor arrives late to the home and has to be up early the next day and take public transportation to their daily destination here are a few pointers:

  • Do all of the above and when the visitor is settled, discuss public transportation and how to get there from your home. Where can they find the bus stop near your home? Do they have walking directions to follow? If they do not have directions, write down your own for them labeled with landmarks. Will they need a T pass? How do they use it? Will they need to switch trains?
  • If a visitor arrives during daylight hours, we recommend accompanying the student to the bus stop and/or train station. We advise discussing house rules during dinner the next evening once the visitor has had a chance to sleep and will be more prepared to absorb new information.
  • Lastly, make sure to discuss how to get home, especially if the student will come when it is dark outside, and where to get off the bus, etc. How do they get home and will someone be home when they get there? Walk through every logistical step with them so they know what to expect! 

Have hosting tips of your own? We would love to hear your thoughts! Please share your recommendations with us here.


Host Tip of the Week: Welcoming Your Visitor

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, May 13, 2019


Our Host Tip of the week focuses on how to best welcome visitors into your home! This is the first post in a series of ways to welcome a new visitor. Our veteran hosts tell us that an integral aspect of making a visitor feel welcomed from the beginning is to ensure that the outside of your home is easily accessible. Boston can be a confusing city to navigate upon arrival, from the beginning with Logan Airport all the way to finding the homestay, as streets and roads are often not properly marked. This can be stressful for a tired and exhausted visitor who has been traveling from overseas. Making sure your home is properly marked and easy for the new visitor to find will help ease the transition to their new home in Boston.


 

The outside of your home will provide the first impression that a visitor has about homestay. If the visitor is being delivered to your home by a car service or ride sharing service or is taking public transportation to your home for the first time, having the home properly marked and identified is crucial.


Here are some tips for making sure your the outside of your home is ready to welcome a new visitor:

  • Make sure your house number is marked and visible from the street.
  • If your residence shares two family homes, confirm that the two different neighboring apartments are labeled or easy to distinguish (especially if there is a shared entryway).
  • Make sure your doorbell is in working order. If not, put instructions on the door of how to contact you upon arrival.
  • How do you access your home? From the side/back door or from the driveway? Do you live in an apartment and need to be buzzed in to the building? If the visitor will need specific instructions on how to enter the homestay, make sure to inform us prior to arrival so we are able to inform the visitor or car service. The more information, the better!
  • Put your last name by the doorbell or marked house number, so that your visitor is able to verify two pieces of information before entering the home.
  • Are there special driving instructions to get to your home that might be confusing on Google Maps? Do you live on a dead end road or on a newly named street? Often GPS does not have new roads identified and one can easily get lost trying to get to the destination, especially a ride shared/taxi driver who is not familiar with the neighborhood. Make sure to tell us or the visitor in advance if you are communicating prior to arrival.
  • Have the porch light or outside lights on and working when your visitor arrives, especially for evening arrivals.

 


Lastly, aside from the outside of your home, make sure your cell phone is charged and on when expecting the arrival of your visitor. Be ready and listening for the visitor to arrive to avoid mishaps with the arrival. Please answer the phone even if you do not recognize the number as the car service will call before delivery or if the visitor is lost and needs to speak with you.  If you are going to be outside in the backyard and not in the house, put a note on the door. Remember, communication is key!

We have found that all of these small steps help make a big difference with a new visitor's arrival to homestay. If you have been told by friends coming to your home it is difficult to find, then it will be even more challenging for someone from another country. Starting off homestay with a stressful arrival experience due to lack of identification on your home can easily be fixed. Take a minute and head outside to check to make sure your home is ready to welcome your next homestay visitor!

 

Have hosting tips and advice for other hosts? We would love to hear your thoughts! Please share your recommendations with us here.


Host Tip of the Week: Communication Part 2

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, April 29, 2019

The Host Tip theme this week is communication focusing on improving communication strategies within the home. An integral part of the homestay experience is making our visitors feel as comfortable in the home as possible. Although visitors are in a new country and are surrounded by the unfamiliar, our goal is for our hosts to create a home away from home. One of the best ways to ensure this kind of relationship is to manifest forms of effective communication with our visitors!


 


Written Instructions:
As our hosts can tell you, the visitors in our program come with a wide range of English language skills and capabilities. For those with lower levels of English comprehension, it is often easier for visitors to read written instructions versus having it verbally told to them by the host. An easy way to
accommodate all visitors is to label and/or provide written instructions and any necessary information on how to work appliances like the washer, dryer, and shower, etc. Anything in your home that you have to explain how to use and might not seem self-explanatory is worth taking the time to write down instructions.  The best part is, you only have to do it once. Try using Post-it Notes or a label maker to help you create instructions.

Use Simple Vocabulary: When providing written instructions or in everyday conversations use simple vocabulary. Slang and idioms are often not known to an English learner, especially a beginner, and can cause a lot of confusion and miscommunication. Many hosts tell us they use translation sites such as Google Translate or other translation apps to effectively communicate. These are just some of the useful tools to help both the hosts and visitors. Overall our advice is to find communication methods that work for you, your family, and your student to ensure a positive homestay experience!


As always, we want to hear what you're thinking. Share your recommendations and host tips with us by using #HomestayBoston or sharing with @globalimmersions!

 


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!


Host Tip of the Week: Homestay Binder

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, March 29, 2019


We are excited to announce a new weekly blog called "Host Tip of  the Week" This blog will feature advice from our hosts which they have found helpful over the past years. Our hope is that these insights will be beneficial to others, especially our newer hosts! The tips may range from providing transportation schedules, to providing ways to better connect or communicate with our host students in facilitating their American transition. This week’s theme is imparting local knowledge.


Ever find that you are repeating instructions or your student has a lot of questions about your home and the area? Try making a Welcome to Homestay Binder!  The welcome binder is reusable and can be left in the bedroom for each new student to access.  The binder can be updated as needed and will save you time.  The binder will help eliminate a lot of stress for the student when arriving and settling in to your home and the area.



Sample of different pages from a Host's binder



Customize the binder to provide the materials that may be most relevant or helpful for your home. Some suggestions include: MBTA schedules and a "T" map, walking directions from your home to public transportation, WiFi information for the house, your contact information (business card), house guidelines, what is available for continental breakfast, keys to your home on key ring, monthly calendar with any activities scheduled (i.e, exercise classes, family day activities, children's sporting game, etc.), places in the neighborhood to shop, eat, etc., and activities and places to explore in Boston!  Include photos as visual aids or provide translations of the most common languages. A binder is convenient as students can reference the information readily and easily and use Google translate if needed!


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