A Japanese student’s perspective on studying abroad

By Ryo Uchiyama
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The stunning experience at foreign countries surely enriches your life. Photo by Ryo Uchiyama.

Question: What has your experience been like at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB)?

Answer: As for my first impression after coming all the way up to California, I recognized that everything in the United States is totally different from my country, Japan. Land-wise, I am so impressed to see a lot of areas surrounded by both mountains and sea. Seeing the school curriculum in CSUMB, there are some unique outdoor classes like surfing, marine activity, walking, or scuba diving. These classes are barely held in the universities, even though Japan also has some beautiful nature. Since the area around CSUMB is very rich for enjoying some outdoor sports, I would say that I had such a great opportunity to spend time for these different sports. Additionally, people-wise, I personally feel that a lot of people have open minds to others. For example, I still remember that when I first arrived at Monterey, I was actually surprised by people, who just walked close by, smiled at me even though we’ve never met ever before. A lot of people, whom I met here, told me that Japanese people are closer to others, or sometimes shy and quiet. I would say that’s partially true, but it is more likely that they do not involve themselves with other people’s business. These differences also allowed me to see the world from other perspectives.

What is it like outside of America?

You will see a lot of differences between Japan and the United States. I would like to tell you some differences between the two countries, mainly focusing on hospitality, convenience stores and the Japanese food. First of all, you’ll be surprised at the hospitality when you go to restaurants, convenience stores, or so. Wherever we work in Japan, people are required to be polite and faithful to the customers. When you go to a restaurant, you must notice how careful they treat the customer. More so, we do not need to tip for the waiter. That might be an interesting part of Japanese culture for American people. Second of all, the convenience stores are different from the ones in America. The convenience stores in Japan are indispensable for the people to live. Since most of them are open 24/7, people count on it very much. Also, unlike the ones in this country, Japanese convenience stores have various kinds of merchandise, such as clothes and medicines. A couple of the international students who came to my university were really surprised at the variety of stuff that filled Japanese convenience stores. Lastly, you’ll notice how different the authentic Japanese food is from the Japanese food in the U.S. I assume that some of the students here really like to eat Japanese food like sushi, ramen and tempura. Once you go to a Japanese sushi restaurant, you can understand the one you usually eat in the United States is totally different from the authentic one. As noted above, once you visit foreign countries, you will see how the foreign countries are different. I strongly believe that these experiences ultimately broaden your perspective and enrich your mind.

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