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J-Term (January Term) is an innovative ten-day program that provides students with the opportunity to dedicate themselves to a particular course or project. It offers something of interest for everyone and is an excellent way for students to pursue personal passions and explore intellectual and academic curiosities.

There are three options for J-Term: In-depth and fascinating on-campus courses, organized trips, or participation in an internship.

  • In 2017 On-Campus offerings vary from the arts, to mathematics, to engineering, to organic chemistry to name a few areas.
  • The 2017 trips include genetics research at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor Maine and Marine Biology at the Island Institute at Cape Eleuthera in the Bahamas. A third trip option is a return exchange with a school in Hikone-Higashi Japan.
  • Internships provide yet another option for students. Participants are paired with mentors in a job-shadow environment. This allows these students to delve into the areas of their own choosing from diverse fields such as medical, research, engineering, education, law etc. Thus one of the strongest features of J-Term is that it allows students the opportunity to customize and shape their experience.

MSSM J-Term Offerings 2017

J Term in Japan


Submitted by James Robertson, Residential Instructor

Our travels to Japan went quite smoothly and we ended up at our first hotel at the time we had scheduled to arrive. Our first day in Japan was spent at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. While we were there we toured The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, rode a variety of rides, ate Japan’s version of park food, and just had a fun time. In the evening chaos struck in the form of gastrointestinal distress. Our plans immediately changed to accommodate the afflicted. Fortunately, our hosts at Hikone Higashi High School were fantastic accommodating hosts. Unfortunately, the ailments and perceived contagious levels of our students cancelled all but our first day in Hikone.

After a long three days recovering our health and sanity our group headed off to Tokyo. Upon arrival we stopped at a local hospital to confirm that we

were given a clean bill of health and ready to tackle the final third of our trip. (As a side note, if you ever find yourself in Japan and needing to go to the

ER, don’t hesitate to go. The tests we went through, while not cheap, were very affordable.) Upon confirmation that we were all in good health, we unpacked at the luxurious RIHGA Royal Hotel next to Waseda University. For dinner, we made our way to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. You have to credit Japan for this really cool restaurant style where they essentially sit you at the buffet and run it by you for your convenience and you grab what you want from it.

The next morning, we awoke to a rare Tokyo snowstorm. We put on our tough faces and trekked to the train station where we hopped onto a bullet train northbound. This storm cancelled the hopper tour bus we planned to take, closed the restaurant where we were to have dinner, and slowed the bullet trains. In spite of this, we took the normal bus to the

Ōsaki Hachimangū shrine in Sendai where we were met with bitter cold and wet weather which was juxtaposed against ancient and grand scenery which created a foreboding and raw atmosphere that had a wild beauty to it. We then made our way to Koriyama, a medium sized city in Fukushima. We had the opportunity to go shopping, visit a large Japanese arcade, and feast at a “grill your own food” (Yakniku) restaurant. We made it back to Tokyo and thankfully the four inches of snow had melted.

On our final day we explored Tokyo in pristine weather. We were able to see the touristy old district of Asakusa, electronics and anime filled district of Akihabara, and dined on authentic ramen in the often overlooked district of Kanda. By now, we were traveling on the trains and subways like we were professionals, making connections and deftly maneuvering through crowds. It was such a disappointment that we had to pack and leave the next day after getting our feet wet. We did some last minute shopping then made our way to the airport where we bid farewell to Japan and began our long journey back to the states.

J Term in Dominican Republic


Submitted by James Torruelas, Spanish Instructor

On January 11, 2016, five MSSM students and two chaperones, Spanish teacher James Torruellas and Louise Hamlin, R.N., gathered at Logan

International airport, in Boston, ready to embark on a most significant and memorable adventure-The Santo Domingo J-Term.

The event was a resounding success. Here are some of reasons why:

  • We were able to finally establish a working “sister school, partnership plan” wherein the Spanish department and the Spanish club at MSSM have an objective toward providing meaningful and practical service, not only by working with IPPC (Pilar Constanzo Polytechnic Institute), but also with the two community schools managed by the administration of IPPC- The Salesian Society, an order of the Catholic church;
  • All five students received 6 days of rich cultural and linguistic immersion by living with ordinary, Dominican families tied to IPPC;
  • Professional contacts were established with key IPPC faculty and administration that pave the way for future exchanges and academic interaction with MSSM;
  • Our MSSM students created lifelong friends with whom they will continue to share experiences and exchange cultural activities in the future.

All of this—round trip airfare from Boston to the Dominican Republic, 6 days, lodging, food, sites, ground transportation, IPPC school uniforms, 3 days in foreign school environment—for $1,295 per student.

For more photos of this wonderful experience, please visit MSSM’s Facebook page.

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