When Koheita Nagai arrived in the USA from Japan in May 2013, the only English words he knew were “Hello” and “Good morning.” At first, life was difficult – no English, no friends, nowhere to settle down. However, after six months, his life in America has improved dramatically; he improved his English, found a great place to live and made friends from all over the world. As we followed Ko, as he is affectionately known, around for a day, we learned many more things about him and what it’s like to be a VIU student in the USA. So, get comfortable and ride along, as Ko shows us how he goes about his daily life.
“I saved money to study in America.”
In Japan, I delivered pizzas on my motorbike to save money to come to the US. It was my dream to study
abroad in the US, and I worked very hard toward my goal. Life here is exciting because everything is new for me; even the things that would not be special to me back in Japan are special to me here just because they are American! Finding a great school, especially the best ESL program was one of my goals. A friend of mine suggested VIU to me because of its affordability and quality, and I am so glad I chose it.
“Sometimes my roommates wake me up!”
I used to live with an American host family to improve my English, but they were not around enough for me to improve much. Shortly after, I moved to another accommodation, provided for students by VIU. My roommates are from India and Ethiopia. I usually wake up at 7 am to prepare for school, but sometimes my roommates have to wake me up, to be honest. I take a bus from Fair Oaks Mall at 8:00am and arrive at school by 8:20 am. Class runs from at 8:45 – 3:00 pm. During my short break time, I usually eat a sandwich, salad or pizza with my peers.
“The ESL program helps me achieve my academic goals.”
The very first week, classes were kind of scary; I felt that my classmates’ English proficiency was better than mine. But, it got better because of the excellent instructors and my own efforts. The teachers always give good examples, answer questions thoroughly and help us speak English in class. I developed these skills and also practiced my English during ESL Club activities, such as the Hiking Club. All in all, I have found studying English in VIU’s ESL Program to be a helpful step toward achieving my academic goals.
“Bowling with friends is fun!”
I am not fan of staying at home; instead I love to explore new things. Playing billiard with my roommates at
the apartment is one of the favorite things to do. When I was in Japan, I didn’t use to cook by myself. In contrast, here I often cook food like Japanese curry, a pizza called “Okonomiyaki” and other food that my Indian roommates taught me to make. We usually eat together while talking and watching TV, and do assignments afterwards. There is a gym in my apartment building where I go twice a week. On weekends, I usually wake up at 10:00 am if there are no school activities. We spend the weekend watching movies, listening to music and going bowling, which is fun!
“Living alone abroad has made me more confident.”
VIU’s multinational students opened my eyes to the various cultures and religious of the world. Having all of us here gives us a chance to compare our cultural practices. For instance, whenever I meet people in the US, I need to say “Hello, how are you” whereas in Japan, I would never say that to a stranger. Furthermore, it was very uncomfortable for me to keep my shoes on at home. I had to get used to them. I have gone everywhere by myself in the US, which is good for me; it helped me gain confidence. Coming to VIU and the United States on my own made it possible for me to learn how to live alone and how important friends are!