Xin Yee Tee
Live in the moment
Message to freshmen who are going to Boston soon
I regret that I spoke too much Japanese in Boston, so my advice is to increase chances of speaking English in Showa Boston
Recommended way to practice English in Showa Boston
Lunch with teachers!
Before the interview
Xin: I felt so nervous this time before the interview. Because before this, I have never talked to Sae before, so I am not sure if the interview would be a successful one. The reason why I invited Sae to share her story with me today, is because both of us volunteered in an English discussion event.
That was my first time really get to talk to Sae, and I thought there must be something interesting to learn from her. I am not sure if you have ever talked to her. If not, let’s listen to her story in Boston together.
Xin: Thank you for being with me today after school! I am sorry that I just grabbed you here without making an appointment. (Laugh)
Can you tell me what you have been doing after the Boston program?
Sae: After the semester, I went to a language school in downtown Boston. My language school experience was so great, I had a wonderful time. Because in Showa Boston, we are all Japanese and we can talk in Japanese or “Japanese English”.
But in language school, everyone speaks English. Sometimes I could not explain what I wanted to say or what I was thinking. So, I needed to correct my sentences, or words I used, in English.
Also, I was impressed that many students came from different countries and they were all hard workers. I was surprised. After I came back to Japan, I wanted to study English more.
Actually, in this spring, I am going to Australia during the holiday.
Xin: Wow, have you decided which school you are going to?
Sae: Yes, I am going to the language school of The University of Queensland (ICTE-UQ).
Xin: That sounds really exciting! Why did you choose this school?
Sae: There are many programs, but since I have never been to Australia, I want to go to country other than the US.
Xin: Is this a language study program?
Xin: So you will be staying there for a month?
Sae: 5 weeks.
Xin: It is short, right? Compared to the Boston program.
Sae: It is short, but if compared to the language school program that I joined in Boston, it is actually 2 weeks longer.
Even though the language program in Boston was only 3 weeks, it was an essential program. I really had a wonderful time. So I think maybe I will learn more in 5 weeks in Australia.
Xin: Where will you live? Homestay?
Sae: Yes, homestay.
Xin: So, let’s talk about life in Boston! How would you describe your Boston life?
Sae: Emm…I was in section six in Boston. Many students could speak English fluently, but I couldn’t. I was very nervous. I really wanted to speak English fluently as the others do.
So, I always listened to TOEIC CDs after school in my room, and before I went to bed, sometimes I would go through some vocabulary books.
Sometimes, I went to the supermarket. I especially like Trader Joes. I would walk around and ask the staff some questions, like “Which salad dressing do you recommend?” or “Which shampoo is the best in America?” I tried to ask some questions.
Xin: Did you go alone?
Sae: Yes, alone. Because I did to want to talk in Japanese to Japanese students.
Xin: What did you feel when you first tried to ask a question?
Sae: I was worried about whether they understood my questions. But when people understood me, I was really happy and I thought I want to try to talk to other people, again.
Xin: It is really a good way to practice English, I think! Did your friends know that you were doing that?
Sae: No, it was a secret.
Xin: Oh! A secret!
Is going to Boston important to you?
Xin: Do you think that going to Boston is important to you?
Sae: I think it was important for English study, but it was not only about business. For example, sometimes accounting class was difficult for me because I did not have a good foundation of accounting study. I could not understand well.
Xin: I think in Boston, maybe we could focus more on English study. Well, beside that, did you learn something new or get any new hobby in Boston?
Sae: Well, I learned to enjoy hanging out alone.
Xin: How often did you go out alone?
Sae: Hmm…twice a week.
Xin: Where did you usually go?
Sae: The supermarket or North End. I like North End. I used to walk from Park Street to North End when I was studying in language school. And I like taking pictures, so I took many pictures in Boston.
Xin: Do you feel that you became more independent after you came back from Boston?
Xin: What else do you think you got from Boston experience? Like me, I think I gained more confidence speaking English. How about you?
Sae: Yes, I think so, too!
Xin: More confidence?
Sae: Yes. I got a new part-time job after coming back from Boston, it is a beer restaurant.
Xin: Beer restaurant!
Sae: Yeah. Many foreigners and tourism come, and sometimes I get to speak English.
Xin: Where is your restaurant?
Sae: It is at somewhere near my station.
Xin: So it is not at Shinjuku or Shibuya.
Sae: No. Do you know Gunma?
Xin: Yes! I see! Is it like a fancy restaurant or…?
Sae: Hmm…it is a bar.
Commuting in Tokyo
Xin: How long does it take for you to go home from school?
Sae: About 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Xin: 2 hours and a half! What do you do on the train?!
Sae: Hmm…sleeping or listening to music.
Xin: Is it very crowded on the train?
Sae: Nope. I try to go home after 3rd period to avoid rush hour. So it is not crowded.
Xin: But it is so far!
Sae: Yes, everyone is surprised about that.
Xin: Do you think it is a waste of time spending such a long time commuting?
Sae: No, not really. Because I love my house and I want to eat the food that my mom cooks.
Xin: It is really so far!
What would make your Boston life better?
Xin: I was overwhelmed by how far you are staying. Well, let us talk more about your life in Boston. What would make your Boston life better? Your friends, attitude or anything else?
Sae: Hmm…I could not get up early before I went. But in Boston, I had to get up early, by myself. I got used to getting up early. It sounds so simple haha.
Well, also I realized how important my mom is to me. She always takes care of everything. I really appreciated her.
Xin: What is the most important thing for you in Boston?
Sae: I think it is English skills…I get to speak English more fluently than before.
Xin: Have you ever felt depressed in Boston?
Sae: There were people who work harder than me, or people who improved their TOEIC score. I felt depressed when I thought I was not working hard enough.
Xin: How did you overcome that depression?
Sae: Hmm…I told myself that I need to study more. And I kept telling myself that I really have to work harder, if not it would be a waste of money.
Xin: Did you talk to anyone when you feel depressed?
Sae: No, just my mom.
Xin: Wow, so you overcome it all by yourself.
Advice to freshmen
Xin: Can you give any advice to students who are going to Boston soon?
Sae: Hmm… I regretted that I spoke Japanese too much. So, I want to tell them, “When you eat lunch in the cafeteria, let’s have lunch with teachers!” And try to increase opportunities to speak in English.
Xin: Even though you were living in Showa Boston?
Sae: Yes, that is the point.
Xin: I think it is really important to have lunch with teachers, it is a good way to practice English.
Sae: Yeah, many students did that in Boston.
Xin: Do you feel like going back to Boston?
Sae: Yeah. I want to go to other countries, but I want to go back to Boston too, someday.
Xin: Great! I think that is all for today!
Sae: Thank you so much!
After the interview
Xin: It is a pleasure to talk to Sae, even though I did not know her well before this interview. It surprised me that everyone can have a different experience in Boston. Just like Sae, she spent her life in Boston the way she wanted it to be. She tried to walk out from Showa Boston, and talked to people in the store.
Even though she has some regrets, like not speaking English enough in Boston, the experience has opened her mind to a wider world. She is going to her next abroad program soon. I think she will learn more from her next journey!