By Ayumi Yoshihama |Staff Writer|
I came to the United States to attend community college in Northern California and earn my Associate’s degree.
I transferred to CSUSB to earn my Bachelor’s degree in Communication, and this is my last quarter in the U.S.
Before I came to the states, I did not like to study much, so my English was not that great. I could read and write one sentence and speak in broken English,
but struggled with comprehension.
Since I have been listening to American and British music, I started
looking to improve my English skills, and I became more serious about studying English.
After graduating from high school in Okinawa, I decided to attend an English language school in Tokyo for a year in order to get into college in the U.S.
It was not easy, as
I started from the lowest English level class. I studied diligently, averaging only three or four hours of sleep every night.
In July 2010, I finally started going to Butte College, a community college in Oroville, while living in Chico, a little town in Northern California.
Before coming to the states, I thought I had studied English enough to hold a brief conversation, but since I only knew academic English, the slang that the students at Butte College spoke became another language barrier.
I also had difficulty with pronunciation. I was totally lost and had no confidence with speaking conversational English.
The cultural difference between Japan and America really threw me off.
Communication and lifestyle differences made the transition especially difficult.
It seems normal for Americans to have similar conversational patterns, no matter who they are talking to.
However, Japanese people change the grammar structure and how they behave depending on the person they are speaking with.
For example, Japanese uses honorific suffixes of speech when addressing strangers, store staff, professors, employers, and people who are older than them. It was awkward at first to adapt
to the new culture, but now I feel comfortable here.
After I took the class, I decided to major in Communication, as I was compelled to learn how our culture affects us.
After graduating from Butte College, I transferred to CSUSB as a Communication major.
I chose CSUSB because I found this campus is more diverse
than where I lived, and there is a larger variety of Intercultural Communication classes available.
After four years of studying abroad in the U.S., I learned to look at the world with a broader view while establishing my own identity.
Studying abroad is not always easy,
as your family and friends cannot be around you all the time, and you might feel lonely and have setbacks.
However, all these experiences will make you stronger, more confident, and
live a more fulfilled life if you learn from them.