Japanese Exchange Student: ASK Not What He Expected, But He Enjoys it

October 1, 2018

Culture, Opinion

20181001_123957

Photo by Skylar Morales — Konosuke Nakata in his 5th period Publishing class.

By Konosuke Nakata

Since I was a child, I have been studying English, and my cousin studied abroad in Australia for a month. After she came back to Japan, she spoke English fluently. I thought that she was so cool, and I wanted to speak English like her. This is one reason I chose to study abroad. Another reason is that English is going to help me in my future dream job, which is working in foreign trade in the field of fashion, as a merchandiser, like my father. This is why I want to become fluent in English.

I decided to go through the foreign exchange company called FLAG. Before becoming an exchange student, we needed to pass a special test. I thought the test was tough, and I had to take it 10 times. After I passed the test, I had to choose which country I wanted to go to: U.S or Canada. I decided on the U.S. because I thought there were a lot of people from different countries in the U.S. and I wanted to communicate and exchange different cultural experiences with them. The thing I worried most about before coming here was whether or not I was going to be able to communicate with my classmates, and host family.

Before I come to New Mexico, the company sent us to  Ohio for two weeks for a camp for all the foreign exchange students. The time that I spent there was so amazing, and the best two weeks of my life. At camp, we learned how to communicate with others, and what classes American high school students take. We also performed skits, went to places like Wal-Mart (it’s so big. There are so many things to buy!), visited a Rock’n’Roll museum, the beach, and Niagara Falls, which was so amazing and beautiful. The water from the waterfall made me wet, but this is my favorite memory of the camp. One night we watched horror movies, “The Boy” and “The Conjuring.” My friends and I thought the movies were very scary, and some of them couldn’t sleep that night. When we had to say goodbye on the last night, we were all crying.

When I first came to America, I expected the high school to be big, and that there would be lots of club activities and sports to play. I also thought that there was going to be a large cafeteria in the high school. My first impression of The ASK academy’s students and teachers was that they are so kind. If I need help with something, everyone would kindly help me. One thing that surprised me was that there are only a few sports at this high school. This does not really bother me, it is just different than I expected. 

There are a few differences between American and Japanese high schools. Most Japanese high schools have the same sports all year, but in the U.S, most high schools separate the sports by season. Another difference is in Japan, the students sit in rows and stay in the same classroom all day, and different teachers rotate in and out of the classroom and it is lecture the whole day. Things like essays and other assignments must always be done for homework. At the beginning and end of class we all greet the teacher together. 

My host brother, Daniel Garcia, is a 10th grader at The ASK Academy. When I first met him, I thought he was shy. During my first week we didn’t talk much, but now we talk a lot. He, my host mom, and my host dad always help me with my homework. My host family and I are planning to go to Texas to see a football game, and the Balloon Fiesta, and I may go to Disneyland with my exchange company. We have a Disneyland in Japan, but the one in the U.S. is bigger.  I’m looking forward to going.

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