In flawless English, Akiko Ishimine can tell you precisely what she missed most after leaving San Antonio for her home in Okinawa, Japan.
“Food,” she sighed. “I miss Tex-Mex, and I also miss brownies.”
She indicates the trendy skirt and leggings she wears for her visit to Johnson.
“I also miss, like, shopping malls.”
Her easy familiarity with all things American was not always so apparent. Ishimine admits that some elements of life at Johnson were initially a bit much, even for a student well-versed in the English language.
“I was so, so, so freaked out when I saw couples kissing on the way, and hugging!” she laughed. “And the size of American food.”
Ishimine has come a long way in the past year; in more ways than one. Having spent the last school year at Johnson as a foreign exchange student, Ishimine has since returned to Japan, endured grueling preparation for the extremely difficult college entrance examinations, and graduated from high school.
“I’m going to college starting this April, and I’m moving to Tokyo,” she said.
Life in one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas will be a challenge for the young international, who recently leased an apartment nearby the school she is set to attend.
“I have to do everything by myself,” Ishimine said. “I want to be good at cooking, and everything.”
With an aim to major in American Literature, she hopes to continue her study of our language and culture as time goes on.
“There’s an exchange program in my college, with UCLA, so I’m going to try out for that,” Ishimine said.
She attributes her experiences abroad to numerous elements of the person she has become.
“[It’s] everything. My exchange year is part of me, right now,” she said. “I learned how to be confident.”
Ishimine would encourage all students to seize such opportunities, if ever given the chance.
“Just learn a lot of culture; their culture. And challenge yourself in everything, I would say.”