I am an international student studying at Chemeketa Community College, from Tokyo, Japan. I have noticed a great number of cultural differences between Japan and the United States since I got here. I have also faced many cultural differences I did not expect. My perspective, which makes me feel different, is shaped by the Japanese environment where I had spent most of my life. I would like to compare with my country (Japan), and the United States.
1. Cultural Differences between People.
People here and in Japan are so different. People in the United States are more friendly than in Japan. In my experience, when I walk down the street, people walking toward me smiled at me. I smiled back. In Japan, you will never see people smiling at people they do not know. Americans also talk to people no matter who they are in public places such as buses, restaurants, or schools. To me, they talk to each other, like they already know them. I am so impressed with this situation. You are able to talk no matter where you are. This is a good culture for me because I like to talk to people. Moreover, it is easy to make friends in the United States when I am in school. If I try to talk to them, they are willing to respond and keep having a conversation. Once Americans become friends, their attitude is very positive to invite their friends to hang out together. They try to invite people a lot to hang out to get along with them. I really like such a good culture because I am usually afraid of inviting my friends to ask hanging out. They help me to get close to them and keep a relationship with us.
I will never forget the first food I had on the first day I got here. The staff working at the Chemeketa Community College picked me up at the airport and took me to the Hunsberger shop. I was shocked at how big the hamburger was. I ordered the medium size of it, but it was not medium to me. It was much bigger than I expected. I got used to seeing Japanese size which is smaller than American food. The size of food is beyond my Japanese perspective. I could not even finish it. Since then, I try to be careful when I order food at the restaurant. The thing I am also surprised at was that I could take leftover home. At that time, I refused to receive a box because it is unfamiliar to Japanese culture. However, this culture is very practical and does not waste food people cannot eat. Most of the restaurants have boxes for leftovers and ask me if I need them. Since then, I take extra food to my house, keep them, and eat them as lunch.
3. Jobs in the United States.
I am working on campus as a Japanese Tutor and Student Government. The first surprising thing is the relationship between supervisors and employees. It seems like they are very close, like friends. This is because they talk to each other fairly. In Japan, the workplace is very formal. The employees have to use appropriate language in a very polite way when they have a conversation with their supervisors and customers. Another reason I feel the workplace is that equal fair is the employees’ right to state an opinion or suggest their thinking is protected by their supervisors and workplace. Around them, I feel free to say my opinions or even complain. I really like my current job on campus. I am satisfied with working and contributing to my coworkers and my school.
4. Campus life.
Campus life here has a lot of potentials to have fun. There are more inclusive events than Japanese college as one of the cultural differences. Events here at Chemeketa Community College have a variety of options, such as volunteer for the community, political events, shows, and free food. These events make it possible to enjoy college life. Another thing is the club activities. There are multiple clubs such as chess club, game club, dance club, and student service club. These clubs are open to every student and also to community members. People are able to get opportunities to meet new people and make friends. Especially, for international students, this is a good chance to improve their English and make native friends. The classroom has fewer chances to make friends, but through club or events, they are able to enjoy their college life very well.
Studying abroad in the United States is a very valuable experience for me. I can see cultural differences and get a new point of view. I struggled with cultural differences, and it was hard to adapt to them. However, now I am really enjoying these differences every day. I have shaped my perspectives by facing a new environment.
Yoshinobu 'Yoshi' Enomoto of Tokyo, Japan, is majoring in Political Science at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon.
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