My Journey to Japan   

How I came to Japan!

When I was very young I was deeply interested in Chinese history and language. As a middle-schooler, I begged my mother to let me go to the Chinese Saturday school. She finally agreed, so I studied Chinese language and culture for two years.

Going into high school, however, my school did not not offer Chinese as an elective, they offered Japanese. It was closer than French or Spanish, so my brother and I decided to take it. Through this class I gained a new interest in Japanese history and culture, although I didn’t learn much of the language! We mainly just watched Ghibli films!

As senior year approached, I looked for many universities in the states, as I wanted to be closer to my family, but all of these schools cost $20,000 to $40,000 per year. One day, while on a walk with my father and my dog, my dad said, “if you really want to move to Asia then why don’t you just go now.” This comment surprised me and as soon as I got home I started researching universities in Japan and China.

I found that Japan has more programs for foreigners in undergraduate than China, so I applied to three Japanese universities. I was a nervous wreck until I found out whether I got in or not. Hokkaido University was where I really wanted to go, so when I got accepted I was ecstatic.

My mother was not happy, she still blames my father, but I came nonetheless. I hope that I am saving my parents money and making them proud!

Maggie Thomas (US)

# by chitchatcafe | 2019-02-21 15:27 | 英会話 プライベート レッスン


Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I have wonderful memories of my childhood, waiting for Santa and spreading granola on the lawn for the reindeer… However, Christmas can be a sad time these days as I no longer get to spend Christmas with my family. Although Christmas Eve in Japan is usually a romantic time for couples, in the U.S. the whole season is usually meant for spending time with family. My grandmother and I would put up the Christmas decorations and bake holiday treats, my father and I would watch old holiday films, and my mother and I would go shopping for everyone’s perfect gift. The last two Christmas’s I have been in Japan. I love that Sapporo Station is decorated with lights and playing Christmas music, but it can feel a bit lonely. That is why, this year, my mother decided to come in December and spend some time with me before the holiday season was over. It was a really nice treat for me to see my mother, so I took her to the German Christmas Market in Odori Park, and to Otaru to buy souvenirs for the rest of the family.

Of course my mother could not stay for very long, she was only in Sapporo for one week. I was very sad to see her go back right before Christmas, but she gave me wrapped presents to open on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, I had a really good time with some friends who made a Western style dinner with turkey, stuffing, and truffles. On Christmas Day itself, I had another good night with friends making takoyaki and playing board games. I learned that it is important to enjoy Christmas no matter where you are or who you are with. Celebrating together and understanding the true meaning of Christmas is what really matters!

Maggie (US)

# by chitchatcafe | 2019-01-06 14:13 | 英会話 教師 札幌

Cheap beers in the summer   

During the Summer holidays I went to Europe for one month. It was my first time visiting continental Europe and I was able to visit Germany, France, Denmark and Czech Republic.

Coming from Australia I always thought alcohol in Japan was very cheap (in Australia a beer at a bar is about 900 yen!) but I soon found once I arrived in Germany that beer was even cheaper there than it was in Japan.

In addition to cheap beers, if you keep your cans and dispose them into recycling machine inside major you can receive a decent amount of money in return (that can be used to buy your next can of drink!)

Glass bottles can also be returned to receive money at a specialty shop selling only drinks.

It is a very good system and encourages people to recycle correctly.

It public places, especially parks - people would leave their empty bottles beside the bin rather than put them inside. This made it easy for people who wanted to earn a little money to collect the bottles left behind.

In Germany alcohol is cheap - however, the further you go east in Europe the cheaper things become. This, of course means that the alcohol also becomes cheaper.

In eastern Europe Czech Republic is famous for being a backpacker heaven. Backpackers from around the world who come to Europe will naturally spend a few days in Czech Republic - most likely in the capital city of Prague, enjoying the too cheap beers (and also delicious fruity ciders) and very affordable accommodation.

A night in a hostel in Prague can cost about 1000 yen and a beer brought in a bar about 300 yen.

One evening I went to a supermarket close by my hostel to buy some dinner and a bottle of Coke. Once in the supermarket I made my way to the refrigerated section and put my hand inside the cool shelving to grab a bottle of the dark sugary drink. Yet as I did this my eyes fell across the shelf above the soft drinks, lined with glass bottles of beers and ciders.

The price below the beer was labelled '20 korunas'
The price below the cider was labelled '25 korunas'
The price below the coke was labelled '35 korunas'

I hesitated a moment, my hand lingering in the fridge before I eventually wrapped a hand around a bottle of beer and walked to the cash register to make my purchase.

Summer is for beer after all.

Jessica (Australia)

# by chitchatcafe | 2018-11-28 11:56 | 英会話 教師 札幌

The Fun and Frustrations of Moving   

Hello everyone! It has been a little more than 2 months since I moved to Sapporo and it's been one of the best decisions of my life! Every day brings something new, some fun and exciting, but sometimes it can be challenging. Coming from a small town in Australia didn't exactly prepare me for living in a big city, let alone a foreign city where I don't speak much of the language. However, the people have met here have made it all worth it, and I wake up every day excited.
Since I arrived here in early September, I have climbed mountains, bathed in isolated outside onsens, attempted to master Japanese bureaucracy and getting healthier than I have been in years. Every day I go for a run/ride just, so I can enjoy the autumn leaves, feeling that winter chill getting closer and closer.
Last month I also moved in with my cousin Jessica, and every evening we try to talk for a few hours about what we've been reading, sometimes at the expense of sleep. It took me a while to get settled in, but now I feel this apartment is now my home.
It has been nice meeting everyone at Chit Chat, some customers I have met during chat session, and some I terrified with my Halloween costume; A big thanks to everyone who voted for me! I'm looking forward to meeting every one of the next few months and I am looking forward to the nest party.
And so here I am; into a new routine in a new country and I know it’s going to be a fun and exciting 12 months. Hopefully I can become more confidant, wiser and of course a better photographer.

Rocky (Australia)


# by chitchatcafe | 2018-11-14 15:50 | 英会話 プライベート レッスン


I use many words to describe my dog. For example, angel, baby, gorgeous, Willie, Wilhelm, etc… His real name is William and he is a beautiful brown/red colored dachshund. The story of how I got William is a bit strange. My mother’s friend found William wandering the streets of her neighborhood. She tried to find his owner, but no-one would claim him. After a few days she took him to the Humane Society, where they would keep him until someone came looking for him. Two weeks had gone by and no-one was interested in William, my mother’s friend knew he was a very good dog so she called my mother and asked her to adopt him. My mother was at work at the time, but she has a soft heart so she sent me a picture of William and asked me to go pick him up. At first I was very confused, I loved dogs, but wasn’t sure if we were ready to just go pick one up that day. We didn’t have food, a cage, or anything else necessary for owning a dog. But my mother insisted, so I went to go find him at the Humane Society. As soon as our eyes met, I knew William was the dog for me. I took him home that day while he was shaking and scared, but he has lived with my family now for almost four years, and is the happiest dog in the world. The hardest part about living in Japan is being away from William. That is why I made him a new name that only I call him, schnookums. It is a rarely used term of endearment, and it is the only name I think of when I think of my dog. I call my schnookums every day and hope I will get to meet him soon!

Maggie (USA)

# by chitchatcafe | 2018-11-10 15:44 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌