DCE Intern: Home Stay with Ibaraki Christian


I recommend brushing up on your Shogi before travelling to Japan. This is a game similar to checkers and chess. It helps if you know kanji before hand but the more you play the more you will become familiar with this unique game. Cllick the image to see the rules.

Before you become an intern at IC you are given a choice of living with a home stay family or living in an apartment. Both choices have terrific benefits during the internship.

I jumped at the opportunity to stay with a family during my two month stay in Ibaraki for my internship at DCE. I am learning to speak and write a new language with the parents, I eat delicious foods around Ibaraki at places like Mito, Kasama and Hitachi, and I have introduced their son to ukulele. Visiting different attractions have been incredible such as the Mito City Tower.

The family have a study school on the property. The mother works hard to teach students English, mathematics, science, history, geography and much more. I read manga like Naruto for a break while enjoying milk and Japanese snacks. This provides an extra teaching opportunity with younger students.

The ritual every morning for my home stay family is centered around the breakfast table. I am thankful for every meal. Each and every morning you wake up, you say good morning and thank the family for cooking the meal. On weekends we go out to see my host brothers soccer game. It helps to be interested in soccer, and show a genuine interest in the interests and hobbies the family enjoy doing too.

I asked another intern, Martin Chan about their home stay experience. He compares the quality of the food as a feast, better than a restaurant. My home stay family are accommodating and kind.

Thank you for this incredible opportunity. I have been given the opportunity to understand what it is like to live like a Japanese person day to day.

What are Students like at Ibaraki Christian?

Many applicants wonder what the students at Ibaraki Christian University are like. After all, as an intern you spend most of your time working with students in small groups during chat hour, one on one for English homework help and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) preperation, and in English Conversation Classes every week.

Future interns might be afraid that the students won’t be very friendly, won’t be interested in talking to them, or so on. But I can absolutely reassure you that this is not the case.

Students playing Pictionary while waiting for cookies to bake in Chat Hour.

After asking each of the current interns and one of the teachers to give me one word describing the students at Ibaraki Christian, we came up with this list:

  • Adorable
  • Hardworking
  • Shy
  • Wonderful
  • Sweethearts
  • Friendly

The students can certainly be quiet and reserved during chat hour, and there will be times when you have to sit and stare at each other and wait until they finally feel so uncomfortable that they say something. But if you put in the effort to get to know the students, do fun activities with them, and above all, be patient with them, they will slowly become more comfortable and more active in trying to speak with you. It’s rarely that they don’t want to talk with you, but simply that they’re nervous about talking in English.

Students playing Lizzete’s Battle Royale Game!

They’re also more than happy to make friends with you! Be warned, students have very busy schedules–if you ask them what they’re doing on the weekend or on a given evening, the answer will more often than not be something like “studying for my three tests next week”, “working at my part time job”, “going to a make up class” or so on. But if you ask to hang out, chances are they will want to when they have time.

Interns and students enjoying dinner at CoCo’s.

I’ve gone to Licca-chan Castle with a student and her mother, gone out to karaoke with students, gone shopping with students, gone out to eat with students, gone sightseeing with them, gone to cat cafes with them, and even gone to Tokyo for a day trip with them. Each and every time was a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Miho and Brianna when we visited Hananuki Dam.

You don’t have to worry about not getting along with the students when you come–only how much you’ll miss them when you leave.

Ibaraki Christian Kindergarten

October 17 & November 7, 2017

On these days, Onaca, Lizzete, and I (Brianna) had the pleasure of attending Ibaraki Christian’s very own kindergarten! It was an experience to go down in the books.

We made our way with Rory to the facility, to be greeted with utmost kindness, and of course cuteness by not only the staff, but some kindergarteners as well! Like most Japanese schools, we must take off our shoes. We could either sport the facility’s slippers, or our very own indoor shoes. After a brief tour of the facility, we were instructed to wait until being greeted by the respective kindergarten teachers. Once greeted, we were led into the classroom, only to be swept away by those oh-so-cute faces of the kindergarteners! We can justify this, they were NOT shy.

On the first day, October 17th, we were to teach the 4-year-old classes, Nozomi (hope) 1 & 2. To kick things off, we instructed them to gather and sit in a circle. Using our bodies and arms, we made a circle. They understood, and did as so.  The three of us introduced ourselves, and got quite the reactions, some I will not forget. Lizzete and I gave shortened versions of our names; Liz and Bri. When Onaca (AH-NAH-KA) introduced herself, we were received with giggles–I believe they heard onaka (OH-NAH-KA), the Japanese word for stomach. It was quite funny.  Moving along, we wanted to get the children moving (heh, see what I did there?). We began with Total Physical Response (TPR). We gave them commands such as: stand up, sit down, touch the floor, point to the door (ooh, that rhymes! I’m on fire!), stomp, and clap. We ourselves did it along with them. To be silly, we consequentially made them stand up, only to sit back down shortly afterwards. They got quite the kick out of that. Onwards, we gathered round back into a big circle and introduced them to body parts with pictures: head, shoulders, knees, toes, eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. For head, we had a picture of Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece. He was quite a hit. We then closed with “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” and the “Hokey Pokey” and said our goodbyes.

The second and final time, we got a better understanding of the kids and how to use our time. Unfortunately, it is a process and will take much more than two times to perfect our lesson.  This time, we were with the Ai (love) 1 & 2 class. These were the 5-year-olds. Even though a year older, they were still not shy.  We pretty much did the same lesson, with minor revisions and better management of time. The 5-year-olds, however had a significantly greater retention of the vocabulary that was presented to them, and were much more responsive.

Overall, it was a great experience!

Bunkasai: The Culture Festival (Fall 2017)

Friday afternoon’s festival-goers.

We had a long weekend last week–no school Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday! The long break didn’t make for an empty campus though. In fact, it was more packed than ever! Why, you ask? Well, because it was the bunkasai! Or, in English, the culture festival.

The culture festival at Ibaraki Christian is a huge undertaking that all of the college clubs, the high school, junior high school, and kindergarten participate in. Wednesday was used for preparation and set up, Thursday the college opened their festival activities, and on Friday everyone’s activities were up and running for the day. Continue reading “Bunkasai: The Culture Festival (Fall 2017)”

Going to Hitachi Seaside Park


A picture of the kochia at Hitachi Seaside Park
Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki

When I learned that Ibaraki Prefecture has been ranked the least attractive Prefecture for five years in a row, I wondered how this could be. I thought, we have mountains and beaches, the Fukuroda waterfall, the amazing Tsuchiura Fireworks Festival, and we’re not too far from Tokyo. It only began to make sense to me when I learned that Ibaraki is well known for its natto, the smelly fermented soybeans that Japanese people, but very few others, love to eat. If natto is Ibaraki’s claim to fame, perhaps the prefecture does not have much else to offer. Continue reading “Going to Hitachi Seaside Park”

English Chat Hour: Sweets Edition!

There are a few things in life that I am particularly passionate about, and one of those is food. While I appreciate any kind of well made food,  I particularly love sweets. Cakes, ice cream, cookies, candy, cupcakes, puddings… You name a sweet, chances are I’ve probably eaten and/or made it–and if not, sign me up to try it.  Honestly, it wouldn’t be too big of a leap to say that when I get a hold of a particularly delicious daifuku my face looks a lot like the Sweet Tooth Salaryman Kantaro’s (さぼリーマン甘太朗) when he indulges in a delicious dessert.

Of course, one of the best parts of being a sweets enthusiast is sharing all those tasty treats with other people! I particularly wanted to share some of my favorite sweets from America with the students at IC, so I asked students at Chat Hour if they would be interested in learning to make something. The five girls at my table were incredibly enthusiastic about the idea, so I reserved the small kitchen on the second floor of the cafeteria building for last Friday during 2nd hour.

Continue reading “English Chat Hour: Sweets Edition!”

IC English Speech Contest 2017

In the morning of last Friday, I believe I had a little glimpse of Japan’s future…

It was the 65th Ibaraki Christian English Speech Contest. In a busy yet rather smooth morning, many junior high school and high school students walked in with their teachers and parents. Indeed, there were many nervous faces. But, I could clearly see that they were ready to take up the challenge of speaking in front of a large crowd, using their second language. Of course, some were maximizing their final minutes to practice with their teachers to gain some extra confidence.

There were 5 events: Junior high school recitation, Junior high school and High school pronunciation, Junior high school speech, and High school presentation. As an “English-as-a-second-language” (ESL) learner myself, I could resonate with the challenge of overcoming the influence of our mother tongue, to pronounce English words accurately. I was particularly impressed with the high schoolers who did presentations. They’ve internalized their contents. Despite unexpected hiccups and interruptions, they were able to rise above the occasion and delivered their presentations with confidence.

This event was particularly valuable for us interns who were interested in Japanese culture. This was definitely not a social event where people from different schools meet and mingle. They were here to represent their schools, to compete. The formality, the atmosphere, the tension – these things might have recalled some of my high school memories in Hong Kong. Sorry for being a bit nostalgic. Three years in an American college probably has made these memories a little bit blurry…

2017 DCE Halloween Party

Everyone looking happy and on various levels of sugar highs at the end of the  party.

Last Friday, after weeks of planning, we finally had the joint DCE and EPH Halloween party! The 20th is a little early, I know, but Japan doesn’t exactly celebrate Halloween like America does. Halloween parties, while not a rarity, aren’t the norm, there’s no trick-or-treating, and you’ll very rarely see anyone out and about in costumes on Halloween. Only one thing seems to remain the same–commercialism. Halloween goods are in every convenience store, Daiso, and shopping mall. With all this in mind, I doubt the students gave a second thought to the Halloween party not being on Halloween.

And regardless of the timing, the Halloween party was a blast! We started the night out by teaching The Time Warp to the students to get them energized and make them laugh a little at our antics. Originally, we had planned to do the Thriller dance, but pro tip there: It takes longer than a half hour to learn.

Continue reading “2017 DCE Halloween Party”

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