By Elise Crosley | Reporter
Senior Akari Obu came to Waco from Fukuoka, Japan for only one semester. Obu said family and friends questioned her decision in studying abroad in the United States when she is so close to graduating. However, Obu has wanted to study abroad in the United States since she was a little girl.
She attended a Japanese university and is, technically, a senior. She will graduate from her university in Japan in March and start working in April. Obu came to Baylor solely to gain new experiences and broaden her horizons. She’s taking communication, film and digital media, child and family studies and volleyball classes out of pure “curiosity.”
“Whenever I talk with people at Baylor, I can find and reconfirm who I am and what my culture is. Before coming here, I didn’t think about my culture and my perspective seriously. By doing that, I found new thoughts and perspectives,” Obu said.
Obu grew up living with her parents and younger sister in Fukuoka, located in Southern Japan.
“There are many buildings in the city, but there are also many places with nature, so many Japanese people think it is very comfortable to live in. In addition, the food in my hometown is very delicious. Fukuoka is known for their good food,” Obu said.
When Obu’s parents were busy, she said she took care of her younger sister and was kind of like a mother to her. Her parents are both deaf, so she said she has been working as their ears most of her life.
“I think acting as their ears helped to shape the person I am today,” Obu said.
Obu explained some of the differences between Japan and the United States.
“I like Japanese people because they are polite. We show people our politeness by speaking formally and bowing. Respect is a huge part of the Japanese culture,” Obu said.
She emphasized her appreciation for the laid back American culture and the way employers seemed to put less stress on American employees compared to in Japan. She also appreciates the diversity of the United States.
“There is a lot of diversity in the United States. Japan doesn’t have as much diversity, so I was surprised seeing all these people live together. Even though there still may be issues of discrimination because of the differences of race, I like that they live ‘together’ in one country,” Obu said.
She discussed misconceptions Baylor students have had about her and Japanese culture.
“During the first few weeks at Baylor, many people here asked me about ‘anime.’ However, unfortunately, I don’t know so much about it. I just know a few, so I couldn’t answer their questions about the anime they really liked or were interested in. I felt bad, but at the same time, I think many people might think Japanese people know all about anime. That is one misunderstanding that I wished people understood,” Obu said.
She made many friends her one semester here at Baylor, including Chantilly, Va. sophomore Jessica Kim.
“Akari is very kind and sweet. Even before we became friends, she would give me a big warm smile whenever I saw her. She is incredibly open-minded and puts those around her at ease. She has only been at Baylor for a few months but has already impacted so many of us,” Kim said.
Obu had the opportunity to experience the Thanksgiving holiday for the first time this semester. She traveled with her uncle to D.C. for the break. She added that “every dish was so delicious.”
“Thanksgiving day reminded me what I was thankful for. That was a valuable opportunity to think about that and what made me who I am today,” Obu said.