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The student program at Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), in the U.S.

Release date: 2009.07.30

 

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Introduction
 From August 15 to September 12 in 2008, 12 medical students and 15 other students of Kyushu University attended the medical and technology English program at MIIS.
 This program started from last year, 2007, so this was the second time. The first time, only 9 students attended, however, this time, as many as 27 students attended this program. Twelve of those are second grade medical students. This was greatly thanks to Dr. Tsuzuki, Mr. Matsuo and Mr. Kajiwara. Moreover, the Kyushu University Graduates Fund helped us with financial aid. Their cooperation enabled us to study smoothly and comfortably. We, medical students, represent all of the participants of the program, and would like to express gratitude to all of them here. In order to show our ability of English, we will report on our lives in Monterey in English.


◆How to use “free time”  (1MD07013Y  Masato Uenomachi)
 At MIIS, we had 3 hours as lunch time. On top of that, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there were only morning classes. So, it seems that we had plenty of free time and did not study hard. But, it is the “free time” that was important to study English. I think it was as important as the classes were. This is because we communicated a lot in English in the town. Imagine the scene of walking in Monterey. There were many cute buildings like those of old tales, and Monterey was filled with English. In such an environment, we naturally wanted to communicate with people in English. Active learning is a strong point of studying abroad. Now, I am going to talk about how we used the “free time.”
 First, we had lunch, and we had a lot of choices where to have meals. For example, there was the school café, burger shops, Chinese restaurants, Mexican restaurants and a Thai restaurant. So we could enjoy lunch time every day. (Pictures 1 and 2)
 After that, we still had a lot of time. We usually walked around Monterey in order to kill the time. In my case, I tried to find my favorite café. It was because I like coffee, so I was interested in American cafes. After I visited some cafes, I found a very hot café, “Peet’s Coffee.” I visited the café many times and asked some questions about coffee beans and beverages. While communicating with the shop assistants, I made friends with Roman and Sandy. When I visited there for the last time, Sandy treated me to a free cup of coffee. I was so grateful!
 In Monterey, there were many beautiful sights to see. While visiting there and communicating a lot in English, we felt the English becoming a part of us. The environment was very good for studying English. We could enjoy the month with English.


◆My Days at Monterey  (1MD07014G  Taisuke Uchida)
 I arrived at San Francisco the day before the office staff of Kyushu University at California came to the airport. Therefore, I stayed at a hotel in the city for one night. The next day, we went to Monterey from San Francisco airport by bus with the office staff. At MIIS, where I went to study, I met my host-family for the first time. They were Chinese and looked very kind. Actually, they were very kind. Before going to Monterey, I thought that I would have difficulty in communicating in English. However, I realized that the most important thing to communicate in English is not the skill but the enthusiasm to make myself understood. Of course, everyone in the U.S. speaks English, so I gradually got accustomed to hearing and speaking English. My host-family often taught me English, which was a great help to me. They took me to various tourist spots and their favorite restaurants on weekends. (Pictures 3 and 4) And they introduced me to their friends, so I made friends with many American people.
 From Monday through Friday, I went to MIIS, which was graduate school. I commuted there by bus or sometimes my host-father drove me there. In MIIS, there were many people from various countries. There, I studied skills of presentation, discussion, pronunciation in American English and so on. Every class was interactive and brushed up my skills.
 This program didn’t enable me to speak English fluently, but my English skill was brushed up to some extent. In addition to English skill, I saw American culture, which enabled me to see Japanese culture more objectively. Therefore, now I understand Japanese culture more deeply than before. I really think that this program gave me many things which I can’t express in any language.


◆My wonderful days with my host family  (1MD07015R  Hikaru Uchiyama)
 Since I had never been to a foreign country before this summer study trip, I was very surprised with everything I saw and heard at Monterey. Of course most of the things were new and interesting for me but the most impressive thing I think was the days with my host family.
 I was welcomed into a typical American family which had parents and three children and an uncle. My host father was very gentle and generous. My host mother was witty and very curious about Japan. My host children were very vigorous. And my host uncle had lived in Hawaii and knew about Japan well. All of them were kind to me and taught me a lot of things about the U.S.
 Everyday I got up at 6 o’clock and had American-style breakfast; toast and bacon. I studied at MIIS and enjoyed the calm climate of Monterey. After school, when I went back home, I played with my brothers who had already come back. Since their ideas and pronunciation were different from those of adults and teachers, I sometimes couldn’t understand them. But I could enjoy my time with them very much. After that my host mother made us dinner. She was a good cook and had an international mind so she made me various countries’ meals, which were very delicious. (Picture 5) After dinner, usually I started to do my homework right away and sometimes I watched movies with my host family. Then they told me various things and I could compare the American culture with the Japanese one.
 On the weekend, my host parents took me a lot of places, San Francisco, Carmel Beach, Asilomar Beach, Monterey Aquarium, a scenic site called Big Sur, Pebble beach Resort, and a Festival at Sand city. (Picture 6) The time in the car when I chatted with my host family and sang American songs together was the most precious for me.
Now I catch up with my host mother by e-mail. I’ll never forget my precious time at Monterey with “my family”. I will keep this contact with them forever.


◆Studying at Monterey  (1MD07020S  Yukiyasu EHARA)
 After I finished studying abroad this time, I found out that there are two main reasons why Japanese people are poor at speaking English. First, Japanese are apt to hide their mistakes and if some mistakes are pointed out, then they will get quiet in order not to make more mistakes. It is often said that “the younger you are, the more you acquire English”, but I think age is not a key factor. The important thing is that you should go on using English even if you have mistakes. Repeated trials and errors make you speak English better.
 Second, Japan is made up of only one race. In San Francisco, you often run into foreigners, so you often have chances to speak other languages. The more chances you have to speak other languages, the less likely you are to forget them. With perseverance, you can learn to speak them. On the other hand, in Japan, we rarely have chances to speak English in our daily lives. So the important thing is that we should make more opportunities to speak English. For example, you can talk only in English with other people who also want to learn English.
 One month in Monterey made me continue receiving a lot of stimuli, and I can feel that I grew up mentally. What I learned there is not only speaking English but also having chances to think about me or Japan in a relative way. Thanks to many people who supported me, I was able to finish studying in the US safely this time. I think that I should apply this experience to everything in my future. (Picture 7 and 8)


◆Scenery of Monterey  (1MD07052M  Hiromitsu Tanaka)
 There were two scenes in Monterey which impressed me. One is the scenery of Big Sur and the other is the scenery I could see near my host mother’s house.
 Taisuke’s host family offered to take me to Big Sur. (Picture 9) Big Sur is a famous cliff in Monterey. I hadn’t known much about it before I went there, but I did nothing but admire the beautiful view. I hadn’t ever seen such a magnificent view in my life. I couldn’t utter a single word. There was a steep cliff, and the sea merged into the sky over the horizon.  Unlike scenery I had seen in Japan, the scene was not only beautiful, but rugged.  I felt as if it saw into my mind. It said to me, “I see you suffer from an inferiority complex that you are poor at English.” The words had a great influence on me. I suddenly felt like introducing myself to nature. And, I did my best to do so. After that, I felt somewhat refreshed.
 Chris, my host mother, lives in her house within thirty minutes’ walk of the sea. I was taken there by her many times. I still cannot express my feelings then, but I won’t forget that great view. The glow of the sky at sunset was beyond description. (Picture 10) Even in Japan, the sea reminds me of the days I spent there with Chris. On the last night with her, she told me that she won’t forget my love of the sunset. I’m so happy to think the scenery relates my nature to her.
 I’ll remember the above two scenes forever.


◆Summer in Monterey  (1MD07076E  Sahomi Hayashi)
 The reason why I participated in this program was I like foreign cultures and English so much and I had wanted to go abroad since I was a high school student. Also, I was not good at speaking or telling my ideas voluntarily in front of a lot of people, so what I wanted to get in addition to developing the ability to speak and listen to English, was to improve such aspects of myself. But what I got through this program were more than those things.
 My host family members were all Chinese who came to America 10 years before and they could speak English very well. But they said that I should talk with native speakers more for study and introduced their friends to me and made many opportunities to practice speaking English. They corrected wrong pronunciations and taught me slang, which I couldn’t learn in Japan. Also, talking with my host family, I learned not only two different cultures: American, Chinese, but also could see my country in a different way from before and rediscover my home.
 I was surprised at so many things in America, but the most impressive thing was that there are a lot of people who come from different countries. Since I seldom see foreigners in Japan, the fact seemed very refreshing to me that many people from other countries lead satisfying lives in their own way in a country. Also, I was surprised that people in Monterey are very friendly, for example strangers say” Hi” to each other on streets, since it is unbelievable in Japan. I liked the openness in Monterey so much and I think I became more friendly than before I went to America. Moreover, the class style at MIIS was much different from ones I had taken in Japan before; Students in Japan seldom tell their ideas in classes and I was a typical person in that way, but the classes I took at MIIS put an emphasis on students’ speech, so I could tell my ideas in front of the audience and get used to it through working with presentation classes. As I mentioned above, one of my goals this summer was to improve the shy aspect of myself and I could reach that goal through this program.
 I had such great experiences in Monterey this summer that I cannot write everything about that here. But I met a lot of people, made a lot of friends, made progress in English and I could broaden my horizons through the program this summer. I am very glad to have had such wonderful experiences and I appreciate all the people who supported us from the heart. Thank you so much.


◆One month in Monterey  (1MD07088W  Chihiro Miyagi)
 One month I spent in Monterey, was so special and pleasant for me, and I learned lots of things there which I could never do in Japan.
 The best thing in Monterey was that I was able to meet my lovely and kind host family. The members of the family are Eric (father), Melanie (mother), Cobi (15, son), Logan (11, son), old doggy Jasper and two hens.  Since Eric is a doctor and Melanie is a nurse, this environment was the best for me.  One day, Melanie showed me her hospital.  There were so many different things comparing to Japanese common hospitals.  For example, in Japan, it is common that 6 people stay together in the same room, but such a situation would never happen in America.  Each patient is usually given their own room, and the maximum number of patients in a single room is probably two, Melanie said.  In the viewpoint of carefulness and provision for malpractice, the United States is much more advanced than Japan.  In the aspect of cost, however, the situation in America causes the rise of medical costs, and poor people are often forced to give up seeing a doctor.  So I can’t say which medical service is better, but I learned and acquired many new perspectives by talking with my host family.
 I am so thankful to Ms. Takahara and everyone in the International Exchange Promotion Center, Mr. Matsuo and Mr. Kajiwara in Kyushu Univ. California office, Prof. Tsuzuki and everyone in the Medical Student Center of Kyushu Univ., and especially to all the people who I met in Monterey.
 Thank you.


◆Monterey Program for me  (1MD07095M  Seiichi Yano)
 I applied to this summer program in Monterey because I’ve wanted to study abroad since my high school days. There were mainly two reasons for it. One is that I want to improve my English. The second reason is that I’m interested in working abroad, and I’d like to feel what American life is really like.
 Hiromitsu and I home stayed at Christina’s. Christina, a 50 year-old woman, was very kind as her appearance shows.  We could live a nice life.  Her house is in Marina, which you can get to in 45 minutes by bus. Another student’s host family, who lived in the vicinity of us, also took care of us. I still keep in touch with both families via e-mail. (Picture 11)
 MIIS gave us a variety of classes such as discussion, presentation and interview classes. We could learn not simply English but also teamwork and a proactive attitude. We had a little homework, but 2 days during the week had afternoons off. So we had enough free time to enjoy ourselves. After school, we went to the aquarium, a road market, movies, and many famous places. (Picture 12)
 On holidays, we visited many sites with my host family, enjoyed a party, and even had a short trip to San Jose for shopping in the gigantic mall. MIIS also planned many activities for us such as a beach party, BBQ, cone festival, and whale watching.
 Before experiencing this program, I was expecting to just have fun and study English. However, there was much more to it than I thought. I got a positive attitude, a broadened point of view and many friends. The nicest of it is that I enjoyed myself to my heart’s content.
 In closing, I’d like to thank all the people concerned with this program for giving us a wonderful experience. I hope that this program will continue so that future students can have this precious experience.


◆Chinese Christmas  (1MD07100P  Noriko Yamamoto)
 When I was in Monterey, I asked my host sister about “Christmas” and “New Year’s Day” in America and China. She is Chinese and came to America when she was 13 years old. She answered my question willingly and I could hear interesting stories. This time, I’ll tell you the story about “Chinese New Year’s Day.”
 The most surprising thing is that it is not January 1. In China, New Year’s Day is on a day sometime from the end of January to the beginning of February, and the day changes every year. For example, New Year’s Day was February 7 last year. The day depends on the lunar system and people can know from new calendars when New Year’s Day is going to be. January 1st  is small New Year’s Day in China. In the Morning on New Year’s Day, people can get money from parents, grandparents and so on. This is my host sister’s favorite event. When she woke up and looked under the pillow, she could find money in an envelope. Young people can get more money than older people, but there is no limit of age. This is different from Japan. Moreover, people send New Year’s cards, and this is the same in America and Japan.
 My host family was Chinese, so I could learn many things about not only America but also China. The differences are very interesting between China, America and Japan. If I have a chance, I want to go abroad again and enjoy foreign events. Thank you.


◆My Home Stay  (1MD07109M  Kanako Chishiki)
 Since I have never been abroad, this studying abroad was my first experience in a foreign country. I enjoyed my life in the USA very much. On this trip, I enjoyed the home stay most.  I stayed with another girl. My host family was a big family. There were parents, five children, two dogs, a cat, several horses, and several chickens. They live out in nature. What is more, we could see many stars from their house. I liked the view very much. (Pictures 13 and 14)
 My host parents loved their children very much. They were very humorous and kind parents. My host children were very cheerful and friendly. They were from 7 to 15 1/2 years old. When we returned from school, they always asked “How was your school today?” to us with smile. In their house, we played tag, hide-and-seek, and badminton every day. Though they were so quiet in the beginning, we soon got friendly through playing these games. Thanks to them, I learned easy English.
 My host family took us many places. Since they are Christian, they took us to church every Sunday. I had never been to church, so it was a new experience for me. At the beginning of the Mass, everyone sang songs. I liked the songs. I was very surprised that the songs sounded modern. They also took us to San Francisco, Big Sur, an aquarium, and other places. I enjoyed those places very much. What is more, they held my birthday party. I was very glad.
 I got many memories through my home stay. I could learn about American culture, life style, and family. I loved my host family. I’m so happy to have met and stayed with them. I want to meet them again someday. I’m looking forward to that day.


◆Monterey Summer Program  (1MD07111G  Yoko Nagai)
 I decided to join this program this spring, though I had never thought that I would really be going to study abroad before. I decided to go, because I wanted to improve my capacities for listening and speaking English.
 One of my good memories is that I had a beach party at Monterey beach with my friends. This was my first experience to make hamburgers, play beach volleyball, play Frisbee, and bury my friend in the sand. It was a very exciting event for us.
 Another of my good memories is that I went to San Francisco with my friend. We enjoyed big hamburgers, and steep hills which were very famous there. We strolled around San Francisco wearing sunglass. (Picture 15)
At MIIS, I learned various subjects. For example, we learned how to make English presentations. We chose our theme, read English papers about our theme, made some conclusions, made power point, and presented in front of many people.  It was hard for me, so I practiced many times. I thought it was a good experience, because I was able to improve my ability to do presentations.
 I enjoyed my classes, because our teachers were very kind. Thanks to them, we were able to study English harder.
I thought I was lucky that I was able to take part in this program. I got many new friends and acquaintances, had good memories and experiences, and went many places where I wouldn’t have been able to go if I had only stayed in a hotel for a few days. What’s more, I got confidence in my English ability, and will continue to study English on my own.
 If you are hesitating about whether to join or not, you should try this program, because it is a great opportunity for you!


◆To Participate in the Summer Program  (1MD07114E  Sayako Mori)
 In this summer program, I had many opportunities to experience things that I can’t experience in Japan.
 Before I went to Monterey, I felt worried about my ability in English and whether I could communicate with people in English. However, my host family was so kind that I was relieved. Whenever I went home from MIIS I played with the children until dinner. They took us many places on holidays such as a beautiful beach and river, San Francisco, and an aquarium. Because I had such a wonderful three weeks, saying good-bye to them on last day made me so sad. I was impressed that my host family prayed for us and shed tears on that day. I will never forget the days that I spent with my host family.
 I was impressed by the kindness of people in America as well as my host family. I don’t know how many times I was helped by people. In Japan too, people help a person who is in trouble but it’s often only when they are asked for help, I feel. In America, people gathered from my looks that I was in trouble and offered to help me before I asked. The attitude of them gave me a good impression of America. I want to become a person who is willing to help a person who is in a trouble like them.
 I learned many things in MIIS, of course. We had many opportunities to speak English in front of an audience in classes of MIIS. Through these classes, little by little, I got confidence and got accustomed to speaking English in front of an audience. I knew that an important thing to improve English is to have many conversations in English. (Pictures 16 and 17)
 I had many unforgettable experiences in this program. I would like to thank many people for giving me this great opportunity.

 

Afterword
 We would like to thank again all the people concerned with the program. Through it, of course we could grow in English. Furthermore, we were able to realize how broad the world is. We really hope that more and more students can experience such a great program. Finally, we attached our schedule in Monterey as pictures 18 and 19. Please refer to these slides.

 

Acknowledgment
 We would like to thank Ms. Christine Kuramoto for her comments on our manuscripts.

 

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