I didn’t join many societies whilst I was at school, but if there were events run on campus for students then I tried to attend these to get involved in the non-academic life. Lots of my free time was spent developing relationships in the art world. There were many galleries that Professors of mine had links with, and so it was really cool as I could submit my artwork and gain experience with how to set up an exhibit, how to conduct reception parties. I remember the first time I was able to see the fruits of my labor presented to an audience with Professor Chapin: that was a really cool moment for me, as an artist and a student. The comradery of creating these exhibits with other students removed some of the pressure of being a sole artist, and it was crucial (I think) for my development as I could learn and make errors without the stress brought about by it being your career or a source of income. I definitely made friends for life during that time.
As a hobby, I played violin whilst at college and that helped me to expand my horizons and meet more people too. I remember there was a charity event held and a friend of mine who played piano and I did a concert together. I’m realizing most of my pursuits are creative, but I joined an amateur orchestra for a couple of years and this was a hobby I wanted to continue. I love music, it made me happy, and I was glad to be able to keep up such an important part of my life in the United States.
Settling in to the United States
When I was in first year, I was in a dorm with a girl in a similar situation to me and although we don’t see each other as much now we ended up coming to New York City together and travelling together. I think it helped that she was also an artist, and we had been through similar journeys at University. My time at FMCC, and the friends I made along the way, definitely informed my next steps and how I continued my career and journey.
In my second year I lived with a host family, and my host-Mother was Laura. She worked at FMCC and so she became like my ‘American mother’. We still have a great relationship now, and she has good relationships with teachers at the school so even now I feel as though I have a strong connection to the place that I studied. During the two years that I studied at the college, my parents did not come to see me, making my American family all the more important. I went home to Japan twice to visit but I really became immersed in American life – so much so that when I went home my family commented on how much weight I had gained due to the American food!
Top 3 aspects of life at FMCC
- Meeting my best friends, and getting to know so many people from a diverse range of backgrounds. The people really made the experience special for me.
- Learning various cultures from my friends and peers. In Japan there is one culture really, we are all one group ‘Japanese’ living together, whereas here I wasn’t just meeting people from the US but from all sorts of different countries. Each day was an adventure.
- Learning to live independently – coming over from Japan I had to be strong, as I was away from family and friends for the first time for an extended period.
Top spots on Campus/at FMCC
- The school library – there was support for students and access to a range of materials that enabled me to study. I spent a lot of time here whilst studying, and the peaceful setting helped me to focus too.
- The gym – we were in the countryside, so I was usually in the library, or the gym.
- Café in Saratoga – a real culture spot in the town, and a place to hang out with friends and relax.
- Student dorms were comfortable and sharing with others made it easier to make new friends.