Living in Hitachi
Hitachi is located on the Pacific Ocean so the weather is temperate. Winters, from December to March, are cold and windy with temperatures around 0-10ºC (32 to 50ºF). Spring, from April to early June, is cool at 10-20ºC (50-70ºF). The rainy season lasts from mid-June to the end of July and it is warm and humid every day. Summer, from July to September, is hot at 30-35ºC (86-95ºF) with humidity over 80%. Fall, from October to December, is pleasant with warm temperatures and dry breezes.
Japan is still very much a cash-based society. Credit cards such as Visa and Master Card are used widely, but debit cards are not common. Prior to your departure to Japan, please exchange your local currency for yen at your financial institution. You can also exchange money at international airports in Japan but the rates may not be as good as those in your home country. Note that traveler’s cheques are not accepted at many places and it is difficult to cash them. If you do bring traveler’s cheques, please exchange them for cash at an international airport. Credit/debit cards can only be used at some ATMs. This page, http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2208.html, has some good information about where you can use your card. Japanese cash can be withdrawn from ATMs at some convenience stores.
How can I withdraw money from my bank account in my home country?
You can use your bank card to withdraw yen from ATMs in post offices if it has a Cirrus or Plus mark on the back. ATM machines at 7-Eleven have also worked quite well. There may be a small fee depending on your financial institution. Please ensure that you contact your financial institution to clear your card for use in Japan and inquire about the fees. You may be able to use your debit card to withdraw money if it is part of the Visa Electron or Maestro networks.
Homestays and transportation fees
Interns can do homestays with Japanese families living nearby on the local train line if host families are available. Multiple homestays, each one for approximately a month, may be necessary if a stay exceeds one month. Train passes will probably cost a maximum of 10,000 yen a month and homestays are 2,000 yen per night including utilities, internet and usually laundry services, breakfast and dinner. If a bus pass is necessary, the pass will probably cost a maximum of approximately 12,000 yen. Some homestays may require bicycling to the nearest train station. As the exchange rate fluctuates, all figures are in Japanese yen. Depending on the availability of host families, alternatives, such as furnished apartments, may be necessary.
Interns who would like to live independently currently stay in furnished apartments. These apartments are located approximately 15 to 30 minutes from campus on foot. They come with heating, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. The monthly rent is 36,000 per month and utilities (gas, water, electricity) are extra. In general, a deposit of 20,000 yen is required of which half is returned upon moving out unless additional cleaning charges are incurred. This is very reasonable for Japan. Please note that this information may change at any time.
Please also note that apartments in Japan are smaller than those in western countries. The apartments we offer have one room (size of six tatami mats) with a small kitchen area that is only big enough to cook in, and a room with a toilet, shower and bathtub. This is the standard size in Japan.
For interns who rent apartments, fire and liability insurance must be purchased and costs approximately 5,000 yen per year.
Each student-intern needs to purchase all the necessary insurance for their health and any liabilities they may have in Japan. Housing-related insurance (fire and liability) will cover everything except for health. Interns who stay short-term in Japan on a tourist visa for 90 days or less can show proof of insurance purchased at home and use that. We require that interns buy travel insurance. We recommend a plan that covers airplane ticket fees in case of cancellation, personal property and health costs. Please refer online to Allianz, American Express or World Nomads to compare plans.
Interns entering Japan on a visa for internships longer than 90 days will need to purchase national health insurance. National health insurance costs approximately 1,000 yen per month and covers 70% of most medical costs. The remaining 30% will need to be paid in cash when medical care is received. For standard health care, the 30% is usually some hundreds or thousands of yen. This insurance covers visits to the doctor and dentist and prescription medication. Liability insurance covering damage to persons or property is also required for all interns. Many homeowner insurance policies cover liability insurance overseas for those listed as living in the house. A scanned copy of the policy is enough to prove coverage. If the student-intern does not have liability insurance, a one-year policy can be bought through the university coop after arrival for around 1,500 yen. In order to buy insurance through the university coop, interns need to become members of the coop for a one-time fee of 5,000 yen. However, this 5,000 yen fee will be fully refunded before leaving upon return of the membership card. For those staying less than a year, the balance of the insurance policy will also be refunded upon returning the coop card.
Food and Other Expenses
As IC is located outside of the Tokyo metropolitan area, food and the daily cost of living are generally much cheaper. For interns who are living in apartments, or those who wish to purchase food on their own, two grocery stores are located within walking distance of campus. There are also many reasonably priced restaurants, ramen shops and fast-food restaurants.
On campus, food options include two university co-op shops and a cafeteria where many students choose to purchase their daily lunches and/or snacks if they do not bring their own. Prices are reasonable and a lunch consisting of a single obento (lunch box) usually consisting of meat, vegetables and rice plus a drink will generally cost around 500 yen. Past interns living on tight budgets have been able to cover their food and daily living expenses for approximately 1500 yen per day while others have lived relatively comfortably on between 2000 and 3000 yen per day.
No Payment to IC
Please note that interns will not be required to pay any money to Ibaraki Christian University (IC) and IC will not be required to pay any money to interns for the internship. Interns will not be required to pay any fees or tuition to IC for any classes they take.
We understand that many challenges await interns on our campus and in Japan. The teachers, staff and students are happy to provide thorough on-site support for everything to help interns enjoy their stay in Japan. We provide assistance for living including finding furnished housing or host families, turning on utilities and purchasing the necessary insurance. Teachers can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help with any medical emergencies, concerns or issues that may arise during the internship.
Life on campus
What is the campus like?
IC has a beautiful campus right beside Omika train station on the Joban line. The campus comprises a kindergarten, junior high school, high school and university. There is a library, three gymnasiums, two campus convenience stores (called co-op), a cafeteria and a lot of green, open space. When you come to IC, we will take you on a tour to show you the campus and the people you will work with.
Will I be greeting any high-level administrators at IC?
Yes. If scheduling allows, we will introduce you to the president, vice-president and several deans.
Should I bring any gifts for the high-level administrators?
That is completely at your discretion. Gifts are always nice, but we do not want to overly burden you both in terms of shopping and carrying gifts. Some schools have gifts that they give to students who are going abroad as representatives of their schools; some do not. You may want to check with your school or department. You might want to bring some gifts to give to the students, your landlord or your host family.
Will I be able to use the computers at IC?
Yes. We will provide you with a login ID and access to computers. We have both Macintosh and Windows-based computers that you can use for preparing materials, for teaching and for events. You can also bring your own smartphone, tablet or laptop if you prefer, and you can register for free access to Wi-Fi here on campus.
Do you have a manual for interns?
Yes. In addition to the information posted here, we have a manual specifically aimed at interns who are currently on campus. Interns will receive it during orientation.
Are there any restrictions about hanging out with students off campus?
No. In fact, we encourage you to associate with students as much as possible. While you are interning on campus, we expect you to speak only English, but you are welcome to speak Japanese with the students off campus. You are also welcome to speak Japanese on campus during Japanese lessons and club activities.
What can I see in Hitachi and nearby?
We suggest that you take a look at the Where to Visit page of the Ibarakinavi, http://english.ibarakiguide.jp/, which is the official tourist site of Ibaraki Prefecture. There are many good sightseeing places in Hitachi and Mito. Our interns and students have also written a blog about places to visit in and around Hitachi. Please check this blog for details: https://icinternblog.wordpress.com.