Sayaka Otsu — Exchange Student Interview

Check out the following interview to learn more about Hirosaki University student, Sayaka Otsu, who is studying at the University of Maine. In the attached photo, you’ll find Sayaka in the center front!

sayakas phtoto foa

1)Tell us about yourself!!
Hello! I’m Sayaka Otsu. I’m from Japan. My hometown is Sapporo, Hokkaido. It is one of the famous places for sightseeing in Japan. They have lots of beautiful landscapes, festivals, and historical places. Especially, the food is awesome! I recommend that you eat SUSHI in Hokkaido. By the way, I love travel. I went to several countries before, but all countries have good people, foods, and interesting culture differences. Of course, Maine, too! My most important thing for travel is to communicate with local people. I always learn something. It always give me some new awareness. There are no unimportant meetings. In addition, Many people say I look like a junior high school student, but I’m 21 years old! I’ll be 22years old on September 1! Keep that in mind!!!!!

2) What motivated you to study abroad?
I’m interested in those difference in cultures. These days, we have lots of choices in terms of where to get information. We can connect through internet and it is could reach anywhere in the world. However, the information is not always accurate. Sometimes, it is based on an individual’s image of the country. So, if you want know about a country, you should visit there and look around.

3) What’s the best experience that you’ve had so far in your host country?
It was when I succeeded in conversing with a native English speaker. At first, I could understand what they said to some extent, but I was concentrating on my listening, so I couldn’t speak as much. I didn’t say anything when I spend time with my friends in the USA. I felt so bad because I’m not a quiet person actually. So, I was so happy when I realized that my English is getting better!

4) What were some of your expectation how were your expectations different than reality?
Before I came here, I thought the USA is little bit dangerous because I heard some bad news from the TV shows. Also, guns and Marijuana are completely illegal in Japan, so I couldn’t imagine how society could be safe. However, people in Maine are really friendly. They always help me, and try to understand my English. So, I realized that is also based on an individual’s image of the country by TV shows about the bad news in the USA.

5) What are some of the biggest cultural differences that you’ve experienced so far?
I think most of the people are pretty laid back here. I have a good example. One day, I took a bus to go back home, and suddenly, I heard something crashed outside the bus. The driver stopped and went outside. When he got back to the bus, he held broken side mirror. Then, I looked outside. The traffic sign was bent. I couldn’t believe it because I had no idea how to crush the traffic sign by the road, and what is more surprising, he and passengers, all people expect ME were just laughing! I couldn’t understand why they could be laughing because I was so scared to ride his bus!! Also, the bus was 15 minutes late because of this accident, but he never apologized, and passengers didn’t complain about anything!!! If he did it in Japan, it would be a big problem.

6) Have you eaten a lobster yet? How do you feel Maine seafood compares to that in Japan?
Of course, I love it!. I’m little bit surprised that it is cheap here. Japanese spiny lobster is also good. I like to eat it with SASHIMI. Unfortunately, It’s so expensive, but you must try it when you come to Japan. Both of the lobsters are so tasty!

Big thanks to Sayaka for sharing her experiences while in Maine.

The First Word of the Week!

Friends of Aomori’s Social Media network will now feature a weekly Japanese word of the week, in order to showcase the beauty of the Japanese language, and expand the cultural exchange to include knowledge of Japanese language!

Edit: Please note that the graphic erroneously reads 2016, it should read 2017. Please excuse this mistake!

wwod 1

The first weekly word is: 友達 (ともだち/tomodachi) which means friend! This word includes two Kanji, which are Japanese characters adopted from Chinese, together they form the most commonly used word for friend!

You can also find FOA’s word of week on Instagram @FriendsofAomori and on Facebook @friendsofaomori

Vending Machines in Japan, Art and Innovation

The culture surrounding vending machines is very different between Japan and America. Check out the JapanTimes article linked below to learn about how one Japanese photographer, Eiji Ohashi, explores the relationship the people of Japan have with vending machines.

In Japanese vending machine is 自動販売機 (Jidohanbaiki) but is often shortened in conversation to 自販機 (Jihanki)

Follow this link to read the article!

For an in depth understanding of Japan’s vending machines and their history watch the following short documentary from NHK world’s series Begin Japanology. Did you know that you can get hot drinks and even fresh, hot food from a Vending Machine?