Category Archives: EDUCATION

Cultural Immersion, Health, and Safety: CIEE Tokyo's Onsite Orientation

CIEE strives to provide students with as many opportunities as possible to immerse themselves in Japanese culture. One way we do this is by offering a number of activities throughout the program, including a daytrip to Kamakura City during the onsite orientation period just after students arrive. In Fall 2016 we continued this tradition and enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day at the city that served as Japan’s capital from the late 12th to early 14th century.

Kamakura is rich in culture and history. It was during the Kamakura period that the samurai warrior class emerged to play a significant role in Japanese society. It is also the home of world-renowned cultural and religious sites. During our daytrip, local guides took us on a tour of three important sites: Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Hasedera Temple, and the Great Buddha Statue. By seeing these sites and hearing the guides’ explanations firsthand, students had a helpful introduction to Japanese religious traditions; knowledge that is important to understanding the fundamentals of Japanese culture and society.

In front of the Daibutsu “Great Buddha” statue in Kamakura.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in the distance.

In addition to the Kamakura daytrip and other immersive activities, during the onsite orientation we conduct sessions on academics, daily life and cultural adaptation, and health and safety. We place great importance on all these subjects, and where health and safety are concerned we go above and beyond to help ensure the wellbeing of our students. As in past semesters, we visited the Life Safety Learning Center (LSLC), a facility operated by the Tokyo Fire Department where people are welcome to learn how to respond to emergency situations. Under the guidance of LSLC staff, students experienced a simulated earthquake and learned how to best protect themselves, learned how to escape a simulated burning building, and …continue reading

    

New Years in Nagano

A few days after the end of my first semester at TUJ, after I’d caught up on what felt like two entire months of missed sleep, I was eating dinner with my roommate as it dawned on both of us that we now had almost a month and half before classes began again to spend in a foreign country, a daunting prospect when coupled with the realization that a good number of the friends we’d made had just returned to the United States and various other origin points, with us staying behind in Japan for another semester.

The break actually went faster than we expected, as both of us were able to get part time jobs, or arubaito in Japanese, teaching English at different international schools, in order to offset some of the cost of the coming semester. On top of working, however, the best part of the vacation was definitely our New Years.

We were determined to spend at least a little bit of the break exploring a different part of Japan than Tokyo, and so we planned out a trip over the New Year weekend up into the mountains around Nagano, planning to spend New Years day at the famous Zenkoji temple, and then the day after take the trek out to see the snow monkey hot springs at Jigokudani Monkey Park.

We arrived at Matsumoto station around seven pm on New Years eve, and quickly realized that, due to an error in our planning, we were still about twenty km from the inn we’d reserved for the weekend. Right before we settled in for a long cold hike through the dark farmland, we were able to hitch a ride with an incredibly friendly schoolteacher who was looking for an opportunity to practice his English.

Upon arriving at the inn, we were …continue reading