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CLE Explores Japan

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.

by Mary King, Community & Campus Liaison

CLE Explore Japan 2015This summer, a group of CLE students will embark on our most exciting overseas trip to date. It’s one you’ve all been hoping for (yes, we do pay attention to what you’re interested in!). Give me a mental drum roll, please—and make it a taiko drum roll—because this summer we will be visiting Japan!

No offense to Ireland and Spain, but this will be our most sensational international journey yet. CLE students have visited various places in Europe and South America before, but we are braving new frontiers this year. To provide students with more variety and greater chances to expand their horizons, we will hit a whole different continent this time around. Students, take a moment to thank your parents for their feedback in the trip-planning surveys. They had a big part in choosing the destination.

These days Japan is well known for some of its eccentricities: cat cafes, vending machines that dispense almost anything, Kit-Kats in a bazillion flavors, capsule hotels, and that’s only scratching the surface. We’ll probably encounter some of these during our travels (except the capsule hotels, we won’t stuff you into one of those), but we’ll also take you places to absorb the traditional culture as well. We’ll go to the Imperial Palace and Meiji Shrine to see traditional architecture and gardens. We’ll go to Hakone, where we’ll get the most picturesque views of Mt. Fuji possible. We’ll go to the Tsukiji Fish Market, where it is physically impossible for the sushi to be any fresher.

Tokyo Tower - JapanWe’ll also visit Tokyo Tower, assuming that it has not yet been taken out by a giant robot or cordoned off for an epic magical battle (Admit it, anime fans, that’s the first thing you thought of; I know I’m not the only one). We’ll go to the Chinatown in Yokohama, where you can taste dozens of kinds of ramen at the Ramen Museum. We’ll hit the Harajuku and Shibuya areas of Tokyo, the centers of fashion, modern culture, cosplay, and anime shopping.

Students are going to eat fantastic food, take a ton of cool photos, and hopefully experience just the right amount of culture shock. While Japan is certainly a modern country, its traditional culture, local and national, is still very much alive and integrated into everyday life. That’s something we don’t have a whole lot of in America; we’re newcomers to the scene, we’ve been around less than 300 years!

Mt FujiIn short, this trip will push you way out of your comfort zone. It’ll be drastically different than anything you’ve ever experienced. It will be awesome.

Be warned, you may come back a bit spoiled. Instant ramen noodles aren’t good enough once you’ve had the real thing. Driving for hours in traffic is even more tedious once you’ve been on a bullet train. Have you ever worn kimono? You should try it, they’re surprisingly comfortable! Have you ever eaten seaweed? You will, it’s tasty! Have you ever—actually—just make a list. We’ll see how many new and exciting things we can cross off by the end of the trip.

But you can start preparing now! When one is traveling to any country where one does not speak the language, it’s important to know a few key words and phrases in the local language.

These four phrases are essential:

  • Please: Onegai shimasu.
  • Thank you: Arigatou gozaimasu.
  • Help me!: Tasukete!
  • Restroom: Otoire

Of course, there are others that will be helpful as well:

  • Hello: Konnichi wa.
  • I’m sorry: Gomen nasai.
  • Excuse me: Sumimasen.
  • Where is ____?: ____ wa doko desu ka?
  • I don’t understand Japanese: Nihongo ga wakarimasen.
  • Please speak slowly: Yukkuri hanashite kudasai.

Newsletter Articles – May 2015

Toiletry bag for travel

Nothing motivates a traveler for the perfect trip – business or pleasure – like having all the items he or she needs neatly packed and ready to go. Regardless of the reason to travel, the point is that you are going to be somewhere for a short time, and unfortunately, all possessions cannot be brought along. So pack a light, simply organized piece of luggage that will solve your basic hygiene, fashion, entertainment, and even safety needs while you are away.

CLE trip to Ireland

Anyone who has set about to travel abroad is in search of something. It could be as simple as temporary respite from the mundane, beckoning the call of long-sought adventures, or answering more ethereal questions of who am I and what is my place in this great, big world? But really, let’s be honest. Deep at the center of all of our motives behind traveling abroad are the simple questions of where are we going? When are we going to get there? And what are we going to eat??

When in Rome

How would you feel traveling to a different country?
Would you be confused by the new culture? Most people look at other cultures as different and hard to understand. There are multiple ways to familiarize one’s self with another culture. One way is to just use the internet to do research on your destination’s culture. Another approach is to be prepared, perhaps trying out the culture’s customs before you go. But most of all, make sure to keep an open mind when traveling: listen to new music, attend events, try new foods, try new clothing styles, etc. Traveling is all about opening up to the experience and the culture.


Every year, CLE offers its students the opportunity to travel to new, exciting locations around the world. This year, we asked our students, parents, and staff for suggestions on the 2015 trip, and the results are in: we are heading to Japan!

As exciting as traveling may be, it’s important to remember that preparing for the trip is an integral part of enjoying yourself abroad. After all, what fun is experiencing a new culture if you get a call from your roommate letting you know that your electric bill is overdue or that your unwashed dishes are starting to get moldy?

So in the spirit of being prepared, here is a quick checklist of must-do’s for anyone planning to visit Japan or travel anywhere this year.

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