Why did you decide to study in the USA?
First of all, the United States is one of the most educated countries in the world, in terms of rank of University and grad school. It gives me a high level of education and helps me develop my future career. Its education is practical and efficient for students' development and understanding of each subject. It is provided by great facility and facilities. After I finish my degree, it makes it possible to get a high career as long as I put myself into high motivation. Moreover, the USA is mainly speaking English which is a common language. I can get opportunities to speak English and communicate with native speakers, which is the most effective way to improve a second language. It allows me to get great English. Another reason why I decided to study in the USA is that there are a lot of people who are from different countries and have different ethnic backgrounds. It is easy to see different people with their own identities. This environment makes it easier to comprehend intercultural communication. That’s why I decided to study in the United States.
Why did you choose this particular college or university? What attracted you about your school? What is special about your school and its location?
Chemeketa Community College has a great international program. They help me to study in the United States and solve daily problems such as insurance, housing, and health. They give me helpful advice anytime. They make a welcome environment to international students. Another thing is the facilities and faculties. These are well organized and allow me to improve my education. It has a good math tutoring center, writing center, and science room to help those subjects. Chemeketa is located in Salem which is the capital of Oregon State. It is not far from Portland which is the main city of Oregon and coast which is one of the fun activities. I can spend time for fun these places. Furthermore, there is the state capital.
I want to study political science so that I can be a volunteer and see the real political situation.
What do you like best about your program or university?
The thing that I like about the program is the events. There are a lot of events on campus that are very inclusive. They have a variety of events such as free food, politics, culture, and something fun. It is easy for students to access those events and makes it possible to enjoy their college life. I am excited about each event and I try to join every time.
What do you miss most about home?
The thing I miss about my home is Japanese food. There are few Japanese restaurants in Salem. Those who run the restaurant are Japanese so that I am able to eat authentic Japanese food. However, they are more expensive than in Japan. For me, it is not easy to go and eat these Japanese restaurants in Salem. When it comes to Sushi which is one of the representatives of Japanese food, they are also expensive, but these are very tasty as a Japanese perspective. It is easier to access to sushi rather than other Japanese meal. The atmosphere in sushi restaurants is similar to sushi restaurants in Japan. When I miss them, I usually go there and eat sushi.
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
The biggest surprising thing about the USA was people. People in the United States are very different from Japanese people. How people behave was very surprising in a variety of situations. People walking on the street and campus tend to smile at me when I have eye contact with them. The way of how instructors teach and behave in the classroom is very different than in my country. The relationship between the young generation and the old generation are very close. These differences of people were not what I expected before I came to the United States. These differences between the USA and Japan was a very surprising thing.
... your biggest disappointment?
The biggest disappointment about the USA was a sense of time. People in the United States are not sensitive to time. In other words, they are not punctual. For example, the time the meeting should start is 1pm but eventually, it starts at 1:15. When it comes to public buses, they are relatively later than the official time the board shows. In my country, they are very sensitive to time. We have to be on time, otherwise, we get fired or lose grades easily. The bus in Japan gets to each bus station on time. It is not only the bus but also the train. In Japan, trains and subways are the main way of public transportation. They are always coming on time except for an accident. How people feel about time was a disappointment about USA to me.
How have you handled:
I have learned English since middle school. I learned a lot from English textbooks when I was in Japan. There are few native speakers in Japanese school so that it is hard to grasp and understand the sense of English. The most difficult part is when I write an essay, I usually struggle with word choice. In order to overcome this hardship, I go to the writing center and ask them to get the appropriate advice about word choice from people who speak English as a first language. Another way to handle the language differences is to use English tutor. International program of Chemeketa has an English tutor. I use it once a week to cultivate my sense of English. In the conversation between my native speakers, it is also difficult to comprehend what they said because they use conversational English such as casual English, or slang. I try to ask them right after I hear those English. These are how I handle language differences.
Finance is one of the common concerns for international students. The United States high educated country but is also an expensive country to get an education there. For me, in order to deal with finances, I got jobs and pay through jobs on campus. The money from my job is able to cover food, textbooks, my car insurance, and other supplies for life. I rely on parents to pay for tuition fee and housing. Another way I try to work on is to maintain my GPA to get a scholarship from the school. For international students, it is tough to get a scholarship for international students. I try to keep my grades to get financial aid from the school.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
The way to adjust different educational system is to ask help from instructors and classmates, make time for studying and plans. Each instructor has office hours for students. It opens for any students and they visit them with questions. I try to go to their office hours as much as I can in order to ensure the direction and what to do. They are willing to help me and guide me right track. For me, it is hard to comprehend whole classes. It helps me to catch up with classes. I spend time studying. It takes a while to understand the whole book because there is a lot of vocabulary I do not know. I need to use a translator to search for the meaning of each word. I can adjust the different educational education as long as I comprehend direction and English.
What are your activities? (clubs, sports, student associations, travel, homestay programs, special activities or trips sponsored by your program)
I join each event sponsored by Chemeketa or international program as much as I can. Some events need volunteers. I try to help them as a volunteer. I am also running Japanese Culture club now. I established this club to get inclusive for other students in Chemeketa and enjoy my own college life. The meeting of the Japanese culture club once a week. Other things I do is to be Japanese tutor and student government. These are my jobs on campus. Job on campus allow me to get opportunities to communicate with other people and make friends.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
When I make friends in the United States, there are easy aspects and difficult aspects. People in USA are friendly and casual. They are willing to communicate with me when I try to talk to them. It is easy for me to develop our relationship to make friends. The difficult part to make friends is that they have a different perspective and culture from me. It is hard to grasp how they feel when I say something or behave in front of them. I need to think about their emotions and feelings. It takes a while to understand them. Another difficult part is English. For me, my English is good enough to express my emotions by using appropriate way. It makes it harder to make relationships.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My future career goal is to finish a master's degree in political science in the United States. I would like to go to grad school after I graduate from University. My job will be related to English. I study and finish my degree in USA and develop my English. Nowadays, the world has become globalized so that it requires those who are able to speak English in a variety of situations such as international business or political situation. Japan also need people with good English proficiency to develop country. After I finish education in the USA, I want to contribute to developing my country.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
My advice to other students who are considering a U.S. education is that do not be afraid of anything they do. They are able to get opportunities to study abroad in the United States so they should try everything they want. I used to be afraid of everything before I came here and the first month after I got here. However, studying abroad is not what I thought it was. People are kind and help me a lot. These days, I am not afraid of anything anymore. I am not afraid of talking to people, communicating with other people, taking classes, getting jobs, and driving cars. I am able to be willing to try new things without being afraid. It makes it possible to enjoy my life.