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Summer language exchange unites international and local students

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Published: September 12, 2019

For international students, part of the thrill — and the challenge — of study abroad in Japan is learning to communicate in Japanese. Participants in the Tokyo Tech Summer Program, a research-oriented program for incoming international students, accepted the challenge with relish, thanks to a new initiative in cooperation with Tokyo Tech student group Action.

Having offered participants in Tokyo Tech Winter Program 2018 the opportunity to engage in tandem language exchanges, Action teamed up with the Summer Program to connect international exchange students with Tokyo Tech peers for communication, cultural exchange, and friendship.

Tristen Smith, Georgia Institute of Technology

Partner: Kasumi Tsutsumi, 3rd year, Mechanical Engineering

Tristen (right) with Tokyo Tech tandem partner Kasumi
Tristen (right) with Tokyo Tech tandem partner Kasumi

I had many meetings with my partner, Kasumi. Usually we would have lunch together and talk about our school progress and activities, but we also went off-campus sometimes too. Kasumi would ask me about my current research studies, and I would ask her how her classes and tests were going. During these conversations, we would switch between English and Japanese while correcting each other's grammar. Often we would ask each other about word meaning or how to express a certain phrase. We learned a lot from each other and grew in our language abilities.

Jamie Hau, University College London

Partner: Yuki Yamazaki, 4th year, Architecture and Building Engineering

Jamie (left) with Tokyo Tech tandem partner Yuki
Jamie (left) with Tokyo Tech tandem partner Yuki

I met with my partner, Yuki, every week during the Summer Program. She brought me to really nice cafes and restaurants, including a traditional teahouse, a shaved ice cafe, and a restaurant specializing in omelets with rice, amongst many other places. It was a great experience getting to know Japanese culture through chatting and hanging out with a local student!

Crystal Gong, University of California, Berkeley

Partner: Yuka Koike, 3rd year, Systems and Control Engineering

Crystal (right) with Tokyo Tech tandem partner Yuka
Crystal (right) with Tokyo Tech tandem partner Yuka

Yuka and I did a lot of things together, such as getting green tea desserts, going to izakaya restaurants, meeting up in the cafeteria for lunch, and most interestingly, going to a summer fireworks festival. The Katsushika Fireworks Festival was the best fireworks show I've ever seen. We also got some festival food, and Yuka explained the culture behind the food and summer festivals. I got to learn a lot about Japanese culture and also made a great friend!

Olga Medrano Martin Del Campo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Partner: Yaoki Sato, 4th year, Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering

Olga (left) with Tokyo Tech tandem partner Yaoki
Olga (left) with Tokyo Tech tandem partner Yaoki

Yaoki and I met once every week, speaking in English during one half of our meeting and Japanese during the other half. We had so much fun together! Thanks to Yaoki, I got to know many awesome places in Tokyo, and he explained many aspects about Japan, including the Shinto religion, flower blossom viewing parties, politics, and melon bread! I tried my best to help him prepare for his experience as an exchange student at MIT.

Contact

Tokyo Tech Summer Program

International Student Exchange Division

Email summer.program@jim.titech.ac.jp

Tel +81-3-5734-3785 / 3786

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