Yutaroh of Tokyo, Japan is studying Computer Science at Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I started at a school in Japan and stopped, but I wanted to restart again, and I thought it was a good opportunity to change universities. My university in Japan had an exchange program that took me to another college here in Michigan. So, when I decided to come back, I looked for schools in Michigan.
Why did you choose this particular college or university? What attracted you about your school? What is special about your school and its location?
I am planning to transfer to another school so I like that you can transfer your credits from here to other schools easily.
What do you like best about your program or university?
If you compare this program to Japan, here you can ask anything of your professors. It helps me learn more.
I like my classes; I think the professors are good. If you have questions about anything, even outside of classes, you can ask anybody. People are friendly and helpful.
What do you miss most about home?
The food. I love Disney, so I miss Tokyo Disneyland. And of course, I miss my family.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
I think I was surprised by how kind people are compared to Japan. For example, people hold open the doors for you here. In Japan, no one does that.
In Japanese classes, students are not interested in the class; they go to a university just to get a job in the future, so they are not interested in the classes. Here I feel like people are studying because they want to study. That inspires me to study harder, so I think that’s a good thing.
…your biggest disappointment?
Tuition is expensive, but I think that is it. Classes are better here, and students are better too.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
I just try to talk more or do everything in English. I watch movies in English. I think having someone who you can talk to in English is so good. I have a girlfriend, and if I didn’t have her my English wouldn’t have improved that much. Having someone to talk with will make your English skills better.
I am applying for jobs at Kalamazoo Valley to earn some spending money. I also made a website and am trying to earn income from that.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
In the classroom, there are 20 or fewer students, so the professors have time to answer students’ questions.
When there are a lot of students, I can’t pay attention in class. Because Kalamazoo has a smaller number of students in class at a time, it helps me concentrate better.
I am taking a math class and other students don’t really talk in class except for group presentations. Other times students talk a lot and I can get to know their opinions. Sometimes there are group quizzes, and if my classmates don’t know the answer, I can help to teach them and also see if my answer is correct. If I don’t know how to do something my classmates help teach me how to do it.
I do more presentations and group work than in Japan. It was hard to adjust to at first.
What are your activities? (clubs, sports, student associations, travel, homestay programs, special activities or trips sponsored by your program)
I am a part of the International Student Group, and I recently went to an International Summer Kickoff. I joined the Japanese club when I was at another school here, too.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
It is harder than making friends in Japan because of the language barrier, but I think if you join clubs, it is easy to make friends. If you don’t get involved there is not much opportunity to make friends. You have to talk to other students in class. Right now I am working on making more friends.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
Eventually, I want to make my own software or websites that everyone uses, like Facebook. I always wanted to start a business or be an entrepreneur which is why I studied business before, but I decided I wanted to be able to make the business myself which is why I am studying Computer Science.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
In Japan, we study English but we don’t do enough conversation and speaking skills so try to make friends who speak English and talk a lot.
Try to study hard. In Japan, you have classes once a week, so you don’t need to study as much. In Japan we have a lot of time to have fun and work, but here you do have to spend a lot of time studying to get good grades.
For math, if I cannot understand, I study it in Japanese first. I google it and study it then try it in English again.
Watch movies and TV shows to get to know American culture, but it is not completely accurate. You can get to learn about the culture a little bit.
I wish someone told me that American’s use credit cards a lot. They don’t use cash and you need to know how to use Uber. I didn’t know that I could ride a bus for free. I take the bus now to get to Kalamazoo Valley.
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