Waki Kawamoto started her education attending a University in Kansas City, but after a short time there, she decided there was another university suited much better for her. “I actually transferred to Stephens College this year, but I use to go to a school which is in Kansas City and a used an agent in Japan and they pick out the schools and I applied for the other one in New Jersery, but I decided to come to Stephens College because I wanted to study Fashion Management Marketing,” she says. “Also, I graduated from an only girls school in Japan and this school is an only girls school and I thought I could focus and be more comfortable studying.”
Coming from Japan to America has been a lifetime dream for Waki Kawamoto. After taking a few courses at Stephens College in Fashion Management, Waki says she has a better idea of what she wants to do when she graduates and changing her major to business management will help her in the future. “I choose this major because in the future after I graduate I want to do some [kind of] planning thing, like party planner kind of thing so I choose this major, but there is more about fashion and studying about the designer and the material and stuff and it is kind of different from what I thought,” she says. “I really have interest in Business classes even though I have to spend a lot of time with homework and stuff so I think I am going to switch to a Business major plus minor in Fashion.”
Although the number of international students attending Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri is small, Waki says she is enjoying going to college. She also says living on campus is a good experience for an international student who doesn't have family living in the United States. “I love this school. The people here are so nice here and especially I think it is good for international students since we just have a total of five international students in this whole school so usually international students get together and don’t talk to the other American students and you can’t improve your English [that way], but in this school you have to speak English because everybody else is American and they only speak English,” she says. “I also had a wonderful roommate and the first time you come from a different country you don’t know anything, you don’t speak English, you don’t know how to communicate, but she [the roommate] is just there all the time so you have to talk and you have to be friends,” she says. “It was a great experience my first roommate and my second roommate were wonderful, especially my first roommate was really a great girl and she always bring me back to her house for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I love having a roommate. It is so nice because you don’t have family here so they pretty much the only family [you have] in America."
Waki says one cultural different from her country is being able to eat a variety of foods from different cultural backgrounds. “I love American foods and I went to a lot of Asia food restaurant which you might not find in Japan. You can find a Mexican restaurant, you can find a Thai restaurant, but it is not like it is in America,” she says. “In America it is actual Thai people making the Thai food and Mexican people making real Mexican food so if you are in America you can get every kind of food and that is really, really good and I am pretty sure that when I go back to Japan I am going to miss all this food!”
Waki Kawamoto plans to graduate from college in 2007. She says coming to America has taught her to be more independent. “Well American students are more individuals from their families. Most of the students parents doesn’t help, well they do help, but they don’t pay everything like in Japan,” she says. “In Japan if you go to a college the parents always pay most of them, but in America a lot of students are paying themselves and afford their life themselves,” she says. “It really is an experience to me because even I thought I was independent in Japan my mom was doing my laundry and cook for me and my parents paid everything, but when I came to America I have to do everything especially since I am living in the dorms. So I have to do my laundry like everybody else does and I think it is great. It makes me stronger.”