Tokyo Tech News

Home visits and language exchanges connect Winter Program participants and Tokyo Tech peers


Published: March 4, 2019

For Winter Program participants, the 10-week research stay at Tokyo Tech offers more than stellar research guidance, time for intensive research, and access to the latest equipment. It also provides opportunities to engage with Tokyo Tech community members. In 2018, a home visit program and a new language exchange scheme brought Winter Program participants together with Tokyo Tech students and families for communication, cultural exchange, and friendship.

Home Visit: Winter Program participants and Tokyo Tech tennis club members

Home Visit: Winter Program participants and Tokyo Tech tennis club members

Tandem partners — Language exchange

Layla Almahanadi

4th-year undergraduate, Australian National University

Tandem partners Layla (left) and Mai
Tandem partners Layla (left) and Mai

Organized by Tokyo Tech student group ACTION, the Tandem exchange connects Japanese students and international students who are interested in language exchange. The partners decide the frequency of meetings, their location, and their duration. My partner, Mai, and I met both on and off campus twice weekly while I was at Tokyo Tech.

This language exchange was one of the activities I enjoyed most in Japan.

Not only did I gain a really sweet, friendly, and funny friend, I was introduced to Japanese restaurants and culture, and even Mai's friends. And this is not to mention the enormous help Mai gave me with the Japanese language.

I have some background in Japanese, so during our first meeting each week, we communicated exclusively in Japanese, and at the second meeting, we spoke only English. Though it was challenging at the beginning, the approach proved to be really beneficial, as we practiced both listening and speaking skills.

I definitely encourage other Winter Program participants to join Tandem, not only for the language benefits, but also to have a gateway to understanding and getting to know Japanese culture from your partner's perspective.

Home Visit

(from left) James, host family children, Mio, Owen, and Layla

(from left) James, host family children, Mio, Owen, and Layla

James O'Connor

2nd-year master's student, The University of Melbourne

Layla, Owen, and I joined Tokyo Tech student Mio in visiting the home of Kayo, her husband, and their 9-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. Together we made and ate inari-style sushi, nabe, or Japanese hot pot, and bonito sashimi. Later, we folded origami together. Our hosts' home was beautiful, and the experience gave me an appreciation of family life in Japan, something I could not have done without being invited to someone's home.

The Tokyo Tech Winter Program provided a great transition into Japanese life, encouraging us to integrate and associate with Japanese students. This resulted in friends made, a language learned, and overall a very positive experience of Japan.

Mio Kamasaka

4th-year, Department of Polymer Chemistry, Tokyo Tech

I really enjoyed the Home Visit program with Winter Program participants. James, Owen, and Layla were so curious about Japanese culture, lifestyles, and meals that they asked our host family and me many questions. We also enjoyed playing karuta, a traditional Japanese card game. I was surprised that their reading and listening skills in Japanese were so strong that they were able to enjoy the game. It was so interesting that I would like to invite them to my house next time.

David Goodridge

1st-year master's student, The University of Melbourne

David (right) with Home Visit host Tetsuya
David (right) with Home Visit host Tetsuya

I found participating in the Home Visit program to be a highly valuable experience. I was very impressed by the hospitality and friendliness of the Adachi family. I am grateful to Tetsuya for being a great host and to his family for taking great time and effort to invite me to their home. I believe I was able to enjoy this experience even more as I was able to speak Japanese, and I had past experiences in Japan. I hope that Tetsuya and I can continue to stay in contact and that this can be the start of a continuing friendship.


Tokyo Tech Winter Program,
International Student Exchange Division


Tel +81-3-5734-3785 / 3786