Homestay Testimonials: Tom Macchi

Tom Macchi
International Business and Culture
Economics and Japanese
Summer 2009

Favorite Course

Okada Sensei's Intensive Oral Japanese. Seeing as I was living with a host family this class was the absolute most appropriate for my situation and focused much more on practical use of Japanese. It was a ton of fun bringing what I learned in class right home to my family to practice. The course was a big help in allowing me to feel comfortable traveling Japan independently.

Favorite Dish

Kobe Beef, Unagi (Eel), Curry Rice, Ramen, Natto, Soba, Takoyaki, Gyoza, Toriniku Sashimi (Raw Chicken), Tonkatsu, Tempura, Okonomiyaki, and everything made by my homestay family.

What was your best excursion with your host family?

To say there was one "best" excursion with my host family would severely downplay my experience with them considering we did so many awesome things together on a daily basis. One great experience was when my host mother took me out to dinner with her mother at a local restaurant for a 'girl's night out', even though I was with them. It was great to follow them down a side-street somewhere in Minami Kashiwa, passing tons of little restaurants and shops I would never had otherwise found. We eventually entered the backdoor to a building which turned out to be the front door to a little local restaurant filled with people. I quickly became the center of attention at the bar-style restaurant as everyone was eager to ask me, the interesting gaikokujin (foreigner), an assortment of questions. It was a very fun experience.

Another great experience was when my host father took me to his heavy metal/rock band's rehearsal near Kashiwa station - one that, it turned out, I would be participating in as the drummer. After three hours of intensive practice we finally ran through each song and we managed to finish them successfully without changing tempo. It was a memorable experience to begin with, but then the band invited me to one of their gigs as a VIP, which made the experience all that much more rewarding.

And then there was the time when my host family took me on a trip to a mountainous region, (I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the area, but it was magnificent,) where I visited 400-year old homes and ate soba without chopsticks but instead with a long, Y-shaped vegetable. It was incredible.

Share a favorite memory from your homestay experience.

Choosing to live in Japan with a host family was the single best decision I made in coming to Japan. I was exposed to more people, taken on more adventures to places I had never even heard of or would have found otherwise, and able to speak, practice, and enhance my Japanese 24/7. I literally lived in the same way as most Japanese people do: waking up early, catching the train for an almost two hour commute each way to school, and coming home to a family for dinner and homework. I loved it. My peers thought I was crazy but to be honest homestay, the long commute, and life away from any native English speaker was and is the only way to appreciate what it is really like to live in Japan. It's not easy and it definitely challenges you every moment of every day, but to live in Japan and to have that level of depth in Japanese life is absolutely worth it.

Most of my peers lived relatively close to Temple's Japan campus in dorm-style housing with English speaking roommates, making it a mostly English-speaking environment. That style of living internationally is fine for most people and even comfortable considering traveling to and living in a foreign country is a big move in itself. But that style of living in Japan is only a taste of what your experience could be if you choose homestay.

My advice to all prospective TUJ students is to seriously consider homestay. Don't just cross it off as a 'last resort' housing option; give it some thought. You will be living in a house with Japanese people. You will be given home-made Japanese food for breakfast and dinner everyday during your entire stay. And you will be able to choose to hangout with your English speaking friends whenever you want. The same is not true for any other housing option.

I chose homestay as my only housing option and I came away with more than I could ever have dreamed of. Going to Japan was only enhanced by the experience I had with my family, and I hope you will consider it, too. But no matter which housing you choose, enjoy every last bit of your experience. Let the hustle and bustle, diversity, and culture of Japan sink in. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone, either. Try getting lost once or twice somewhere in Tokyo just to prepare yourself for unexpected situations. Whatever you do, just have fun!