Through this program, I learned a lot of things, and my perspective and I myself changed. Originally, the first impression I had before is that American make the most of argument even in informal conversation, and it did not change until the end. It is natural that each one has own idea and tries to express it. So it is important if I talk or not while Japanese communication style is more implicit and I do not need to talk a lot. Also communication style is more explicit in the US than that in Japan. American are more open to express their emotion when laughing, surprising or so. For example, they do not put their hands on their mouth when laughing.
By exposing myself to the American culture, I considered there are three points that make American life be distinguished from Japanese one. First, typical American diet contains a lot of some kind of fat and oil while typical Japanese diet has low fat ingredients such as vegetables or rice although climate in both places is very similar. This fact affects the health, which turned out that the number of not thin people in the United States is larger than that in Japan. Second, People in the US is emotionally open and friendly while Japanese are indifferent to other people. I was spoken to several times even while walking on the street. In particular, conversation at the shop or at the restaurant is totally different. In the US I was asked like “How are you going?”, and I responded to her “I’m fine, thank you. And you?” while in Japan salesclerks just say “Irassyaimase”, which means like “welcome”. Also, while eating at the restaurant, the waiter often asks us how the food is. It is said that the service is the better in Japan than any other countries but communication is made the most of in the US. Third, there are various kind of entertainments outside the house such as bowling, watching baseball, park or adventure park in the US and has close relationship with their lifestyle, which is not seen in Japan. In Japan the way to spend weekends is limited because of geographical reason or trend but in the US it depends on each one’s will. They can do something whatever they want to do with some money or time. I think American has curiosity about enjoyable things. And it makes them be independent and decisive with the fact of that there are a lot of chances to choose what they do.
However, the most important thing I learned in this program is the awareness of lack of English skills as well as consideration of American culture. The thing learning in the English class and when preparing for entrance examination of university is partly useless in informal conversation. However, when I tried to speak English, American people tried to listen to what I mean despite I cannot speak fluently, so I hope that I can translate what I want to say into correct English words unconsciously and immediately in the near future. Also, it is hard for me to catch the beginning of the sentence, so I will need to try to improve listening skill, too.
After taking part in this program, I became more interested in America and like to learn its culture or history more eagerly than before. I was able to study the topic which is historically important in this time without missing the relationship with culture. Now I like to learn especially about the detailed history of African American or Native American and the identity of them in the aspect of nation and each ethnic group, about which I write essays during this program in Japan. Compared to Japan, there are a lot of ethnic groups in America, whose situation is called “Salad Bowl”, so it is important to understand the race to avoid discrimination again and live together. Also, I would like to examine the topic that I researched on the focus group to make sure that female singer in both Japan and the US reflects the ideal woman in society by implementing questionnaire by SNS or reading several material by taking much time.
In addition, the perception of US that I had before changed totally. At first, I thought that history of American is academic and unconsciously it is separated from culture, but I found that both have close relationship such as the relationship of “rock and roll” and African American or so.
Moreover, I myself changed at following four points. First, I came to think it is not so difficult to have a conversation if I have the strong will to understand what they say in spite of difference of language or culture. And after overcoming the obstacle of language, I want to live in the US someday. Second, American communication in the informal conversation or the formal such as during the lecture is speaker-oriented and based on the “call and response” while that of Japan is listener-oriented. Before I just listen to the class and think about the content during and after the class, but by having the opportunities to ask each professor after the class, I became skeptical in a good meaning and my brain worked fully. Third, at first I was afraid of countering culture shock but while living in the US, but I leaped beyond the first wall. I become a little more educated by learning the American history and its culture and came to have curiosity and wide perspective about culture. Forth, I found the good of Japan, too by living a life in the US and learning American culture. After I left Japan, I missed Japanese culture that I feel every day in Japan.
I am grateful to all the people who have been involved with me. Thank you.