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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Yuria Kai: City College student reflects on life in U.S. after childhood in Japan
City College student and native of Tokyo, Yuria Kai. Valerie Espinoza | [email protected]

Bryce Wallace

Guest Writer

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Photos by Valerie Espinoza

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Yuria Kai was sleeping late one weekend when she woke up to someone humming in her living room. It was her apartment complex’s maintenance worker, whom she had called three days previously. She wondered, “Did he let himself in? Why did he not come three days ago, and why is he wearing shoes on the carpet?”

As Americans, these might seem like silly questions, but to someone from another country, wearing shoes on the carpet is totally weird.

A City College student and a native of Tokyo, Kai finished high school in Japan and decided she wanted to change things up. So she decided to study communication studies in the U.S.A. After being here for three years, Kai has formed a charmingly complex personality from her new bicultural lifestyle.

Kai has adapted to American culture so well, that it would be hard to tell that she isn’t American on first glance. She’s an average built 21-year-old woman, complete with all the hip fashion accessories of American women. In particular, she seems very fond of large sunglasses. Though, seemingly American on the outside, Kai hasn’t quite given in to American influence. Although she makes trips to the movie theater here and there, she still prefers Japanese TV shows, and even follows Japanese politics rather than American.

“I don’t care about American politics, because I’m Japanese,” says Kai.

Three years is plenty of time to learn American ways and meet new friends, and Kai has done just that. Through experience, she has found that she prefers the company of men over women in America. This wasn’t the case in Japan. She blames it on one thing that she has had to learn to get used to after moving here: gossip.

“Friendship with girls,” says Kai, referring to one of the hardest things about living in America. “They are not nice at all.”

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“Here in America, if you had a crazy night out, the next morning your friends would say, ‘What happened to you? You look like you got wasted,” Kai says. “In Japan they would say, ‘Oh, you look so pretty today!’”

That’s not the only thing she says she has had to get used to here in the States.

According to Kai, America is very “dirty” and “infested with homeless.” To her, this is unusual. She claims that a homeless person is a rare sight in Tokyo.

Though she has a few complaints about her time living here, she also has some good observations. Apparently there is no such thing as Mexican cuisine in Japan. This has quickly become Kai’s favorite thing about America.

“Avocados and guacamole,” she says. “So good!”

Kai mentions that learning English was hard to do while she was trying to complete her classes. Today, though, you wouldn’t be able to tell. She has a Japanese accent, but she speaks English fluently and even understands American slang.

“We have no problems with communicating,” says Timothy Buth, who was assigned to a group presentation with Kai in their Communication Experience class.

“It’s really cool to have her in our class. Her culture adds a different point of view.”

Kai hasn’t just transitioned well into the language, though. She has moved her favorite pastime — dancing — from Japan to Sacramento. She has been practicing dance since she was 3. She started dancing jazz style, but has since moved on to hip-hop style.

“Dance styles are pretty similar globally,” says friend and fellow dancer Heather Ochoa. “She knew how to dance hip-hop in Japan, so she can dance hip-hop in America.”

Because American media, like dance, is popular in other countries, the people who live in other countries learn about the U.S.A. by watching American media. The problem is most Americans don’t really look and act like people on TV. Kai, like many other travelers, says she was absolutely floored to realize that not all Americans look like Brad Pitt.

All together, Kai seems neutral about her time here in California. It isn’t horrible but it isn’t great, either. She does love to travel, though, and hopes to move around  the world for the rest of her life. Her time in America will end when she finishes her education plan here.

After that, her next stop is Germany.

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