Category Archives: Mito City

Personal day in Mito: Being a member of the family

I’ve actually managed to make myself to believe that I’ve adjusted to the heat here in Japan. As the day went on, I realized how wrong I was! The feeling you get isn’t that you’re sweating. It’s more that you start to get a gooey feeling all over your body from the heat. It’s like your skin is slowly leaking out the water in your body.

But enough about me trying to deal with a heat and humidity uncommon to Sweden. The personal day for has felt like some kind of sanctuary for me, since everything during this program has been outside the box for me. I’ve been panicking like crazy and felt like just disappearing into thin air. During Wednesday evening, that feeling luckily left me. Thursday was fine and today I’ve just been enjoying myself, the time with my host family and the time I spent on my own today.

After Oba-san served lunch for me and Taiki, the younger of the two brothers I’m staying with, we ended up folding origami together. I can’t communicate that well with Oba-san, since my Japanese isn’t good enough. I find this quite sad, since I would love to hear about the Japan she used to live in when she was young. After Masaki returned home from school, they gave me a ride to the climbing gym. That was a good thing, since it was a bit tricky to find the gym. They were so worried about me that they even called beforehand. After a brief explanation about how the facility worked I got to enjoy some great climbing. That was, of course, after convincing my host family that I would be ok with going to Mito station by myself. As I’ve been living by myself and traveling a lot by myself, I’m incredibly independent in a way. This is to the extreme that I sometimes feel suffocated by my host family and their care. So being able to at least spend some time on my own is a great vent for me during these occasions.

During my walk to the station I boosted my ego in Japanese language. This was because I got lost on the way several times. Did I mention that I have no internet on my phone except for Wi-Fi? Somehow my phone just hates Japanese sim-cards. Some people might find it crippling to walk around without any internet access on their phone. I, on the other hand, find it extremely handy. This is because I have to interact with people and actually try to find a way around some obstacles. I feel that this is definitely something to try out a bit more in Sweden. I also walked past some kids on the way to Mito station. They stared at me and were so happy to meet a foreigner. They greeted me in both Japanese and English. Sometimes it’s the little things that create memories for some.

Since I’m without internet, I got a bit worried at the station. Have the others gone on without me? Did we miss each other? Well, worst case scenario, I’ll just eat alone and bend the truth a little to ensure my host family that we were having fun as a group. As things turned out, we met up without any drama though and quickly went for an Izakaya. We ran into some minor problems though. Curse those minors, always getting in our way of consuming the nectar of the gods, known as alcohol! But we found a place where everyone was allowed and got to ordering. I feel a bit sad for the waiter though, since we couldn’t get our order straight in the beginning. You could hear that he got a bit frustrated at us too. I ended up taking care of the children, like a good uncle. This was fine for me since I’m restrictive with consuming alcohol while representing a company or an organisation.

When I returned home to my kind host family, I surprised the boys with a small gift. After eating an evening snack my host family surprised me with presents for me and my family. The world certainly needs more of this. Not the gift giving but the part where you’re mindful of others. As we sit down I start thinking about one thing. It must be a big step for my host family, letting someone in like this. It makes me think about my foster family and what a big step it must have been for them to accept someone into their family. That’s what my host family has done for me. They’ve accepted me into their family. This is such a humbling feeling for me. I can’t possibly find any words to describe this feeling, except that I feel a lot of gratitude towards them. I also feel a lot of joy for them being so relaxed around me, it’s like I’m a family member now. It gives proof to that family isn’t blood, it’s the relations you build with the people around you.

Oscar Tindvall (Sweden)

Comprehensive review of July 26: Hitachi Corporation visit

We started our second day of World Campus International early, arriving at 7:45 at Keimei High School, in Mito, Ibaraki. We left immediately for the Hitachi Corporation, located nearby, where we were met with a smile and a stern policy against photography on the premises. In the effort of preserving memories, we immediately broke the only rule we knew, and took a group photograph on a particularly special staircase, reserved only for workers who have recently retired from Hitachi. After a quick ride up the adjoining escalator, we all simultaneously retired from our short-lived careers at the technology company. If these traditions are to be believed, I can only assume Hitachi has an unusually high turnover for its employees.

To begin our official goodbye tour of the complex, we were shown an informational video about the bullet we dodged by quitting when we did. The technology presented to us was daunting and impressive, and between comprehensive facility tours, and inspired question-answer-style forums, I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that nobody really knows all of the secrets that Hitachi Corporation holds. All I know is that it’s beyond my grasp of science and human cooperation. Upon boarding the bus to bring us back to Keimei, we left with heavy eyes and tearful hearts, and returned to our home base with commemorative pens. I assume our final paychecks are in the mail.

After we situated ourselves in the meeting room/dance hall we had overthrown earlier this week, we tested Juuso’s patience, and his ability to rip paper in half, as we spent half an hour meticulously smudging the handwriting on roughly thirty Thank You-cards, all while pretending to write our own names on them. To our dismay, only one card was smudged, but luckily Juuso stepped his game up and kindly ripped a second one for us out of the kindness of his heart. We then changed into our knock-arounds, and practiced our dancing and singing for the Arigato event coming up. Whitney took some personal initiative and kindly volunteered me to sing a solo in one of our songs. My gratitude is palpable, I’m sure. As far as the dancing goes, Juuso says we’ve improving, but I think he might just be getting tired of ripping things in half.

My time spent at home consisted largely of a trip across the neighborhood to a local bookstore with my host brothers. On our way there, we stopped at the Mito Art complex, and took an elevator to the top of its 100-meter tower. The tower was quirky and fascinating, with windows on every side, granting an unobstructed view of the area for miles in every direction. It was a unique and worthy experience, and I genuinely don’t have any jokes to say about my time there. With that, Mito Art Tower is likely the least-funny place in Ibaraki.

Dinner was special tonight. My host family treated me to a night out at a Japanese restaurant, offering me the authentic Japanese experience that any red-blooded American otaku would die for. I couldn’t understand much of what they were saying to the waitress, but in no time I was bombarded with a plethora of foods. Everything from chicken livers to shrimp sashimi and kimchi came flying through the door. Dishes began piling on the table. The waitress had extra help just for carrying plates and bowls into the room. It was after the third or fourth course that I began to wonder if this wasn’t some sort of ritualistic food sacrifice to the white American demon. I had happily filled up on chicken and fish and egg, and yet the food kept coming. After a cartoonishly large stack of plates had been carried away, the American demon had been sated. Sorry about all the rain recently; it’s kinda my responsibility to return the favor.

Overall, my day was exciting and developmental. I look forward more every day to what strange experience Japan and the World Campus International team have to offer us moving forward.

Jack Malban (USA)

New arrivals, welcome to Session 3 – 2017

Day 1 was spent travelling and meeting our new host families. Me and most of the continuing participants from Session 2 met up in the lobby of our hotel after breakfast and checked out, and after gathering up we walked to the train station (I should not have packed in a backpack). Luckily the train ride to Tokyo station was quite short.

In Tokyo station, we met two of the new participants, both nice and from the Netherlands. We were also dragged to the stores to get some food, but were instead absorbed into the character stores, where my wallet mysteriously got a lot lighter.

After taking a train from Tokyo station and travelling for a while, we met the new participants at the station they had come to from the airport. We changed to a very small Japanese school bus, and drove for a while until we arrived at Keimei high school. A huge U-shaped building with a field in the middle, including tennis courts.

Here we stashed our baggage and quite quickly started the welcome ceremony. We introduced ourselves in country order and sat down with our new, and for many participants, their first host families.

After a few speeches and something small to eat, the ceremony was over and we all went to our new homes. The rest of the evening was spent talking and eating with my host family, which was made a little difficult by our communication limitations. But with body language, google translate, drawing, some English and some Japanese, it worked out and was a very cool experience. I went to sleep sharing a room with the oldest brother a bit too late, and suddenly the first day of a very fun week to come was over.

Isak Hjeltnes (Norway)

Regarding March 11, 2011 Japanese Earthquake

March 12, 2011

Dear Friends of World Campus International,

The shocking earthquake hitting the north-east part of Japan has caused massive destruction to the region. Currently, the Japanese national and local governments are working to assess the degree of damage.

Though there are areas of Japan that have been severely affected, all of our partner communities seem to have avoided tragedy. Currently, we do plan to facilitate the World Campus – Japan program from June 23 thru August 30.

Because the damages are reported in the northern region of Japan, and our community partners are located in central to western Japan, we are confident that our summer program will not be affected by the earthquake.

We have already contacted several community partners who are hosting our summer program and confirmed that they are OK and not severely or at all affected by these tragic events. We will continue to reach out to the rest of our community partners and communicate to you via this website any updated information.

Thank you for your understanding.

Hiro Nishimura
Chairman and CEO
World Campus International, Inc.

Update: Message from CEO, Hiro Nishimura on March 17, 2011

Update 2: Message from CEO, Hiro Nishimura on April 06, 2011 – Regarding New 2011 World Campus – Japan Program plan