By Shelby Stewart
Moving from a big city to a little countryside village sounds like a movie, but for Hikari Makino, it’s reality.
Makino is a foreign exchange student at Brandon High School this school year, who arrived from Tokyo, Japan—population about 9 million. The first thing she noticed was the change in scenery from her city to Ortonville.
“In Tokyo, we have a lot of tall buildings,” said Makino. “I like both.”
One thing that Makino misses about her school is speaking her native language, she says. She has only been learning English for four years, while most of her fellow exchange students have been learning for six, and she finds speaking and listening difficult sometimes.
However, she is excited to use English in the future.
“I want to volunteer with the Tokyo Olympics in 2020,” said Makino. “I want to work with people from other countries.”
With English as her second language, Makino feels she could work with other English speakers who travel to Japan. She says most people in Japan don’t know or learn English, and she enjoys it.
Though she is looking to the far future in her hometown, she is also excited for this school year at Brandon.
“We don’t have school dances,” said Makino. “I want to go to prom and homecoming.”
Something else that Makino is looking forward to is the holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving.
“I feel like they are bigger here,” said Makino. She even went trick-or-treating for the first time, which is not a common tradition in Japan, and dressed up as a devil.
She also really likes her history class, and is looking forward to her graduation. Though she will miss her friends in the foreign exchange program, graduation for her is a much bigger event than in Tokyo. She also misses her school in Tokyo for a few reason.
“We don’t have school buses,” said Makino. “We take the train to school.”
Tokyo has a lot more public transportation, and though she is 16, Makino can’t drive a car, so she has to rely on someone else to drive here somewhere she wants to go.
And one thing Makino really misses is sleeping in.
“School starts so early here,” she said. “My school starts at 8:30, I miss sleeping.”
This year, Makino plans on attending school events and participating on the swim team with her classmates.