Show & Movie Recommendations

The Global Connections theme this past Monday was about international shows and movies (because who doesn’t like to watch them?). Everyone had a lot of fun talking and sharing their favorite movies from both their home country and shows that they may have recently seen. Watching shows from diverse countries is a fun and great way to learn about other cultures and familiarize yourself with various languages! Below are some show & movie recommendations from fellow students at the Global Connections meeting, Global Leaders, and ISSS Staff members! Learn more about Global Connections here and join us next time!

Student Recommendations:

TV Series Movies
The Brother Sun (U.S) A Separation (Iran)
Samdal-ri (South Korea) Cook Up a Storm (Hong Kong, China)
Trapped [Indian Movie] (India)
KGF (India)


Global Leaders Recommendations:

TV Series Movies
Kingdom (South Korea) Meet Joe Black (U.S)
The Family Man (India) Rurouni Kenshin (Japan)
Atlanta (U.S) Captain Miller (India)
Athadu (India)


 ISSS Staff Recommendations:

TV Series Movies
Gilmore Girls (U.S) Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (U.S)
The Last of Us (U.S) Polite Society (U.K)
Letterkenny (Canada) Bend it Like Beckham (U.K)
Reservation Dogs (U.S) Elemental (U.S)


Thanksgiving: What it is and fun traditions to take a part in!

Thanksgiving is a national U.S. holiday that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving celebrates the fall harvest, giving thanks to what we have, and coming together with friends and family. There are many traditions and activities that people take part in during the Thanksgiving break and below are some ideas and events that you can take part in. 

Thanksgiving Dinner: Many families get together on Thanksgiving day to cook together during the day, many families also tend to start eating late afternoon in order to have room in their stomachs for all the delicious food! A traditional Thanksgiving dinner can include a roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, dinner rolls, corn pudding, mashed potatoes. For dessert pies are the go to: pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, and berry pies.


Friendsgivng: Since Thanksgiving is generally celebrated with family, Friendsgiving is a time to get together with friends for a Thanksgiving dinner. Generally this is more of a potluck gathering where each person will bring something to share with the group. 


American Football: Watching a football game while gathering with family and cooking is a big part of the day. There are 3 different games that are played throughout the day. It is tradition that the Detroit Lions host a game as well as the Dallas Cowboys host a game on Thanksgiving day. After each game, the winning team can be seen eating a part of the turkey to celebrate their win. This year the games are: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions, Washington Commanders vs. Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks.

 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: This parade is an annual parade in New York City that first took place in 1924. This is typically a 3 hour parade that is held in Manhattan and ends in front of the Macy’s Herald Square. There are many floats, giant balloons and performances.

Turkey Trot:  A Turkey Trot is a footrace that is usually a 5K and is held around Thanksgiving hence named this way. This is also a chance to give back to the local community as a way for many local charities to raise money, hold a canned food drive, or a toy collection. Many of the participants also dress up as turkeys during the race!

Giving Back: Thanksgiving is also the time to show appreciation and show kindness to others. Many people volunteer at soup kitchens, community centers or food banks that support their community and others. Many people also donate food, clothes and supplies and also volunteer to go grocery shopping for others who may not be able to. 

The Magical Thadingyut Festival of Myanmar

What is the Thadingyut Festival?

The Thadingyut Festival, also known as the Lighting Festival in Myanmar, is a cherished cultural and religious observance that takes place on the full moon day of the Burmese lunar month of Thadingyut. This festival is the second most popular festival in Myanmar/Burma after Thingyan which is Burmese Water Festival. This three-day festival marks the end of Buddhist Lent, a period of deep reflection and meditation for monks. Thadingyut Festival is a time when Myanmar truly comes alive. Streets, homes, and public buildings are adorned with colorful electric bulbs and candles, symbolizing the three stairways of the Buddha’s descent from Tāvatiṃsa Heaven after delivering the Abhidhamma teachings to his mother, Maya. Beyond the visual spectacle, Thadingyut carries deep spiritual meaning, celebrating the profound wisdom enshrined in the Buddha’s teachings. During these days, Buddhists pay their respects to monks and offer gifts at pagodas and monasteries. Young people express their gratitude to elders through thoughtful gifts and fruits, fostering a strong sense of unity and reverence within the community. Thadingyut Festival beautifully weaves together tradition, spirituality, and the warmth of familial bonds within the rich cultural fabric of Myanmar.

What do you do at the Thadingyut Festival?

During the Thadingyut Festival a vibrant tapestry of traditions and meaningful activities unfolds. The streets, homes, and public buildings across Myanmar are decorated with bright beautiful light bulbs and candles to symbolize the Buddha’s descent from Heaven. Most Buddhists visit pagodas and monasteries to pray and pay respects to monks and offer food. People would also host donations at monasteries to practice good deeds. Beyond the illuminating decorations, this is also a fun time for young people since fireworks are allowed during the 3 days. Many fireworks would be up in the sky at night to celebrate the festival. Similar to the red pocket for lunar new years, young people would also get pocket money for praying to their elders as a sign of respect. In essence, Thadingyut Festival unites tradition, spirituality, and community, making it a captivating and cherished event in Myanmar’s cultural calendar.

When is the Festival? 

The Thadingyut Festival, also known as the Lighting Festival, typically occurs during the full moon day of the Burmese lunar month of Thadingyut, which roughly corresponds to the month of October in the Gregorian calendar. This festival lasts for three days, including the day before the full moon day, the full moon day itself, and the day after. Here are the dates for the festival.

Written by Nick Shein

Scholar Spotlight: Regiani Aparecida Santos Zacarias

Regiani Aparecida Santos Zacarias is a visiting scholar from São Paulo State University where she is also a Professor. Read more about Regiani below!

Which SJSU department/college are you affiliated with?

Department of English

What is your role here at SJSU? What do you hope to accomplish during your time here?

I am a linguist and a lexicographer. During my time at SJSU I want to improve my research on Lexicography. I am writing a Portuguese-English Verb Dictionary for Basic Education Brazilian students.

What do you enjoy most about SJSU or your time here in the U.S.?

The opportunity of learning from my host professor and other faculty members and students as well. Integrating with people and doing library research.

What is something you want others to know about your hometown, home country, or culture?

Brazil is a country of huge cultural diversity and therefore every region has its own beauty. When you think about Brazil, consider the 5 main regions: North, Northeast, Center-West, Southern and South. Each region shares similar socio-economic and cultural aspects.

Brazil invests a lot in Education and it is one of the few countries where anyone, including foreigners, have the right to free Higher Education at State and Federal Universities.

What do you wish you would have known sooner about life in the U.S. or SJSU?

This is the third time I live in the U.S. I am a former Fulbright Scholar. I believe there is certain information that one can only access ‘in loco’. I was surprised with the cost of accommodation, it is higher than in other U.S. cities I know.

What message do you have for our Global Spartan community?

Thank you very much for having me here. Thank you Dr. Linda Mitchel for opening up this opportunity. Dear Spartans, please contact me if you want to schedule a chat or any academic activity. I will be glad to collaborate. or

Scholar Spotlight: Jose Ignacio de Alvear Cardenas

Jose Ignacio de Alvear Cardenas is a visiting scholar from Delft University of Technology and is an Aerospace Engineering Master’s Graduate. Read more about Jose below!



Which SJSU department/college are you affiliated with?

SJSU Human Factors Program – NASA Ames Research Center

What is your role here at SJSU? What do you hope to accomplish during your time here?

SJSURF Project Associate working at NASA Ames.

I would like to contribute to a project of national or worldwide impact in the fields of aircraft operations, robotics and/or AI with the ambition of positively impacting millions within years reach, while being supervised by world-class experts in the field.

Fortunately, I am working for SJSURF at NASA Ames as part of the Airspace Operations Lab, and our work is focused on the integration of new vehicles in the current airspace, such as drones, Urban Air Mobility or air taxis, balloons and High Altitude Long Endurance (HALEs) vehicles.

In my case, I am mostly focused on drones. Nowadays, one of the main reasons why we do not see drones flying in urban areas is that they are constrained to the visual line of sight of the pilot. So, during my time here, I am excited to be working on a project in collaboration with the FAA and industry that will help realize scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations such that vehicles can be piloted from a distance or fly autonomously. This will enable the introduction of new services and vehicle types at a national level in the years to come.

What do you enjoy most about SJSU or your time here in the U.S.?

Beyond the academic and professional sphere, my time in the U.S. has allowed me to explore some of the most astonishing natural landscapes in the world. From the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe to the breathtaking vistas of Yosemite National Park, I’ve been fortunate to witness the sheer majesty of nature. In Lake Tahoe, I also traded my hiking boots for skis and embraced the thrill of downhill skiing amidst the picturesque snow-capped mountains. Stinson Beach provided scenic hiking trails that led to a refreshing plunge into the cool waters. And in Santa Cruz, I embraced the California surfing culture and caught waves in the Pacific Ocean. These remarkable destinations not only provided moments of tranquility but also filled my time in the U.S. with thrilling outdoor adventures and unforgettable memories.

Moreover, my time in the U.S. has been instrumental in expanding my professional network. The Bay Area, known for its innovation and entrepreneurship, has provided abundant opportunities for networking. I’ve had the privilege of attending multiple networking events organized by incubators, start-ups, and embassies, where I could connect with like-minded individuals, explore potential collaborations and learn about branches of knowledge that are very distant from my area of expertise. Additionally, I was honored to be invited as a panelist at an event hosted by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, where I had the unique opportunity to share my expertise in AI and its societal impacts. We delved not only into the future potential of AI and its associated risks but also explored the essence of what it means to be human.

Finally, one of the things I have enjoyed the most is to learn about the diverse American culture. The region of California, particularly the Bay Area, is a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and cuisines, providing a rich tapestry of experiences. The hospitality of the American people has been a constant throughout my journey, making me feel welcome and at home. Despite being far from my family, the genuine kindness of strangers has left a lasting impression, making my time in the U.S. not only professionally rewarding but also incredibly enriching on a personal level.

What is something you want others to know about your hometown, home country, or culture?

Spain is a country that thrives on diversity. From the food we savor to the landscapes we explore, there’s an astonishing array of experiences awaiting anyone who visits or gets to know my homeland. One thing I want others to understand about Spain is that there are not two places in the country that are exactly the same, making it a truly unique and captivating destination.

When it comes to Spanish cuisine, the diversity is astounding. Each region boasts its own culinary traditions and specialties, resulting in a food lover’s paradise. From the iconic paella of Valencia to the hearty stews of Castilla y León, and the fresh seafood of Galicia, you can embark on a gastronomic journey that will leave you in awe. Tapas vary from one corner of Spain to another, showcasing local flavors and ingredients.

Spain is not a monolithic culture; each region has its own language or dialect, traditions, and unique cultural practices. From the ancient Basque traditions in the North to the lively flamenco traditions of Andalusia in the South, Spain is a patchwork of rich regional identities.

If you’re a nature enthusiast, Spain offers an astonishing range of landscapes. In the North, you’ll find lush, green hills and dramatic coastlines along the Cantabrian Sea, while the South boasts the arid beauty of Andalusia’s deserts and the pristine beaches of the Mediterranean. Spain also features the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada mountains, as well as the volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands. The country’s diverse geography leads to an equally diverse climate, from the sunny beaches of the Costa del Sol to the snowy slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama near Madrid.

In summary, similar to the US, Spain is a land of diversity, where culinary delights, regional customs, and natural wonders come together to create an enchanting mosaic. So, when you think of Spain, think of a place where there are not two spots alike, where every corner is a new adventure waiting to be discovered.

What do you wish you would have known sooner about life in the U.S. or SJSU?

Firstly, the American way of life often revolves around personal vehicles, which came as a surprise after living in the Netherlands for seven years, where public transportation and bicycles are more common. In the U.S., a car is indispensable for everyday tasks, from grocery shopping to accessing healthcare services. Furthermore, having a car is vital to fully experience the breathtaking natural landscapes that the U.S. offers, as many of these locations are not easily reachable without personal transportation. If you don’t already have a driver’s license, obtaining one can significantly enhance your mobility and overall quality of life during your stay in the U.S. In my case, I am now in the process of obtaining mine.

Secondly, the U.S. visa process is a complex and time-consuming endeavor, and it’s essential to be well-informed about the requirements and potential challenges that can arise before and during your stay. It’s vital to stay on top of the subject and to work closely with your sponsoring institution, seeking expert guidance from immigration professionals when needed.

What message do you have for our Global Spartan community?

Studying or working abroad is an incredible journey of growth, learning, and exploration that will leave an indelible mark on your life and career. For those of us that yearn to explore the world, with luck our lives span as little as 100 years, so seize every opportunity you have to burst the bubble you live in, get out of your comfort zone and discover how other parts of the world think and what makes them tick; their goals and dreams.

Given the extremely polarized world we are witnessing, it’s now more crucial than ever to bridge gaps, build connections, and foster a global perspective. By immersing yourself in different cultures, you not only expand your horizons but also become a catalyst for positive change. You become a bridge between nations, a unifier of ideas, and a champion of understanding. Let curiosity be your compass, and let the world be your classroom; the world is waiting for you to make your mark!