International students adjust to U.S.

By James Walls
Reporter (Fall 2012)

With the holidays quickly approaching, many international students will either be heading home for the holidays or preparing for the season here in the states.

For Takahiro Yamaguchi and Kaori Sawamoto, two International students from Japan, it is no exception.

“In Japan we also have Christmas at the same time of year,” Sawamoto said. “I don’t know if Americans do the same, but Japanese love Christmas Eve as well. Japanese take Christmas as just a big event, so we don’t think much about Jesus Christ when we spend the Christmas.”

While Sawamoto said she will not be returning home for the holidays, Yamaguchi noted how he missed his parents, and will be returning to Japan to visit them.

“I will meet them on Dec. 15, so it’s coming soon,” Yamaguchi said, happy about the news. “I did not realize how precious the existence of my parents were, but after coming to America and staying for a while, I really understand that my parents were always nicest to me.  I really love my parents.”

Having been at Crowder for two semesters, both Yamaguchi and Sawamoto have been adjusting to life in the United States. “I think they have adjusted very well,” said Rose-Marie Speck, their English Language Institute (ELI) instructor. “Overall, they have really seemed to make an effort to connect with the community and adjust with the culture.”

Despite having been at Crowder for almost a year, Missouri is not the only place they’ve seen in the United States.  They both lived in California prior to moving here, and have visited New York City, New Orleans and Washington D.C. as well. During their time away from Japan, they have come to know the one thing they miss most about their home country.

“The food,” Yamaguchi and Sawamoto said in unison.

Despite this, Yamaguchi noted something else he’s come to see in his time here, and that is diversity in cultures. This in itself is no surprise, considering Crowder alone represents nearly 30 different countries in its international program.

But how do different countries bring in the new year?

“Japanese people celebrate the New Year with one’s family, normally,” Yamaguchi said, explaining the tradition in Japan. “And we eat ‘Toshikoshi-soba’ which means ‘noodle which is eaten because of celebrating the new year’ just before the new year comes.”

Despite the differences in traditions, many cultures have the same take on the holidays, and that is to spend them with those one cares about, and enjoy them while they last. That in itself is something many can relate to.