Hiroko Fujimori is studying English at the University of Texas, Austin.
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
Because I wanted to learn practical English in an English-speaking country. I was especially interested in developing my listening and speaking skills.
How did you choose your intensive English program?
It was a special program arranged by my university. I did not choose it myself.
What do you like best about studying here?
I like the fact that there are different levels of classes depending on the student’s ability, and that you can have grammar, writing and speaking lessons, and the teachers are kind and have a thorough understanding of the students.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss Japanese traditional food.
How long have you been studying here? How has your English improved?
I’ve been studying here for three months. My listening skills have improved a lot, and it has been easier to write in English. Furthermore, I understand the nuances of English grammar much better than before.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
The portions of food in America, which are too large compared to the size of meals in Japan, was what surprised me most. Moreover, people in Austin are so kind and I’m impressed about it. In my classes at UT, students join discussions and state their opinion positively, which is totally different from Japanese students.
How have you handled language differences?
I try to get over my language difficulties by using body language, and by explaining what I want to say in simple English. I also ask people to explain what they mean when I can’t understand what they’re saying.
What are your activities?
I joined the travels to several cities around Austin which were a part of the special program organized by school in Japan.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
I had two roommates from Spain and Brazil. Because we lived together, I had a lot of opportunities to talk with them, which made us good friends. In addition, I had pair work or group work in every UT classes, so I enjoyed the time learning and talking with my classmates.
What are your career goals?
It was my first long stay in a foreign county, so I could put myself in the environment in which English was actually used, and I also used it every day, which made me more familiar with the language. It is important for me to be able to switch smoothly between English and Japanese when I write in English because my goal is to be a translator.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering studying English in the USA?
If you go abroad to improve your English skills, I recommend analyzing your English to try to understand your deficiencies and how you can improve them. It is important to have a good attitude and make an effort to learn as much as possible.