Natsumi Sasabe from Tokyo, Japan: Majoring in Theatre Arts at SUNY Genesee Community College (GCC)
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I have been fascinated by musical theatre and dancing. I love to perform in front of an audience and express myself. I was not good at stating my opinion with words, so for me, dancing was my way of communicating with people. During my senior year in high school, I started to think about my next step, and I realized there were only a few universities that offered performing arts program in my country. Then I started to look up schools in the U.S. and I found a lot of schools that offered the type of program I was looking for. And as I knew the world’s most famous theatre industry was in NYC, I decided to come to the U.S. and get a further education and pursue my dream.
How did you choose SUNY Genesee Community College?
There were three main reasons why I chose SUNY GCC: affordable tuition, a great theatre program, and because they provided a dorm for the students.
What do you like best about studying here?
The class sizes and the theatre!
What do you miss most?
I absolutely miss my family! When I go to my friends’ house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I feel their love and warmth, and then I remember my family and want to see them so bad.
How long have you been studying here? How has your English improved?
I have been studying here since August 2017. In the beginning, my English was not very good, especially my listening and speaking skills. I believe it’s so much better now.
What was your biggest surprise?
My biggest surprise was that the school sets up trampolines and provides some sort of amusement during the final week. I’ve never seen anything like that in schools in my country. I really love the idea that my school tries to help students reduce stress from lots of papers and exams during the final week.
How have you handled:
I ask people to repeat when I don’t understand what they are saying. It does no good to pretend that I understand everything, so I always keep that in mind. The more I speak and practice, the easier it will be for me to learn how to express myself better.
I got a scholarship from GCC and a position as Resident Assistant at the dorm, which helps me with my living expenses. And I will start a job at the Student Success Center as a Student Ambassador next semester.
...adjusting to a different educational system?
Classes here are more casual and more active than the ones in Japan. Students ask questions and the professors welcome them even if they cause further discussions that are not related to the content of the course.
What are your activities?
I’m a member of Forum Players, the theatre club at GCC, and the Student Government Association. And I’m an officer of the Multicultural Communication Club (public speaking club). I also work as a Resident Assistant at College Village supporting the residents.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
Although I usually prefer to spend time by myself rather than hanging out or studying with friends, I didn’t find it difficult or struggle to make friends in the USA. I think the most important key to make new friends is to be natural and to be yourself.
What are your career goals?
My career goal is to become an actress in the USA. Good actors are often well educated, and I think it is always good to have a wide range of knowledge in any field as an actor’s job is to reproduce people’s lives on the stage. I believe the education that I’m getting in the USA is going to help me accomplish my dream.
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