Ao Shibayama from Japan: Studying English and Hospitality at College of the Desert

Ao Shibayama from Japan: Studying English and Hospitality at College of the Desert

Why did you decide to study in the USA?

I was in the Bukkyo short program about two years ago, and I had really good time but I was not able to speak English so I decided to come back to College of the Desert as an exchange student to improve my English skills and learn American culture.

Why did you choose College of the Desert?

The biggest factor to come here is my experience. And I also like the weather and ambience. College of the Desert has a good system of support for international students from school things to daily life things.

What do you like best?

I think it is that I can try and do whatever I want because professors or the college office staff always support me to do something. I can feel free to ask anything if I need a help.

What do you miss most?

To be honest, it is my family, friends, and Japanese foods.

How has this program helped you to handle future study at a U.S. university?

Almost seven months has passed since I came here. I still have struggles with English especially in academic classes but I’m sure it is getting better. When I came here, I was not able to order at restaurants but now I’m fine in daily life without any struggles.

What was your biggest surprise?

It was the diversity of race. Everyone has their own backgrounds.

... your biggest disappointment?

I was disappointed about time. This means that most of stores close early and sometimes people rude about time.

How have you handled:

... language differences?

I live with a host family now. Even though I cannot explain things perfectly, I do mistakes and sometimes communication takes a long time, my host family tries to understand what I mean. It is really helpful for me to overcome this struggle, and I’m also able to learn about American culture through the homestay.

... finances?

I came here with an F1 visa so I cannot work in America, and the homestay cost is expensive. In addition, the price of textbooks is more expensive than Japan.

... adjusting to a different educational system?

Students are passive in Japan, which means education style is one way from professor to students. On the other hand, students are active and tend to say something in class in America.

What are your activities?

I have done a lot of things since I came here such as travels, homestay program, and international club events.

How easy or difficult was making friends?

I think it is not difficult to make friends because there are a lot of opportunities to meet people from other countries on campus. The most effective way to make friends is joining a club or events. Even in class, the opportunity is available through group activities.

How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country? 

I would like to work with English after this study abroad. In America, I can learn not only English but a different culture. I believe Japan is going to be a global society in a couple of years, so I want to make my career as a global worker; and to achieve this, I need to improve my English skills and learn about different cultures.

What is your advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education?

I think that studying in the USA is really amazing to improve your English skills and your personality. Living in a foreign country with a different language and culture is not easy, but I’m sure this experience makes you strong and it will be an unforgettable memory in your life. If you work really hard, it is going to be a success.

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