Beyond the Borders: Wataru Fujimoto finds friends in Geneseo

Sophomore Wataru Fujimoto's mom doesn't want him to come back to Japan, and frankly, he doesn't want to return either.

Originally from Kawasaki, Japan (10 minutes outside of Tokyo), this vivacious and friendly business major has come to appreciate the less-rigid lifestyle that Americans lead.

When Fujimoto told his family he had decided to come to the United States for college, his mom advised him not to come back for a job. Instead, she told him to live outside of Japan.

"Japanese society is very logical in some ways," Fujimoto said. "It's a culture that we have to respect older people, even if they're a year older - age really matters." Although Fujimoto does not like that cultural rule, he is faced with no other decision than to respect his mom's wishes.

This is not the first time Fujimoto has lived in the U.S. He had the privilege of living in Austin, Texas and Orange County, Calif. from the ripe ages of 8 to 12. Upon returning to Japan, he realized how much he really missed the U.S. and did not like Japan and its schools.

Consequently, his study abroad counselor told him about Geneseo. With its affordable pricing, Fujimoto made the ultimate decision in 2008 to come here for the next four years.

"I like how it's not too big and you get to know most people here and can become active," Fujimoto said.

At the same time, his college experience here is not what he initially expected. He compared his experience to that of his friends attending schools in Austin - schools with football teams and large stadiums full of rowdy fans - something he wishes Geneseo had. Fujimoto, however, is grateful for the hockey team and the school spirit it generates. "I'm a hockey fan and I play hockey too," Fujimoto added.

When he's not playing the spectator role of a dedicated fan cheering the Ice Knights on, Fujimoto leads the typical college lifestyle. "I hang out with my friends in my suite or go to the gym and work out or play video games," he said. Fujimoto said sometimes he will also read newspapers if he feels like it, and on a lucky day he reads The Lamron.

As expected, Fujimoto misses home, especially his mom's cooking, his dog and his house. Wegmans' Chinese food, however, is able to make up for his cravings. He cites Wegmans as better Chinese food than what's provided on Main Street. He said his favorite food of all time, though, is Taco Bell, his love for it originating from his younger years spent in the U.S. "I go to Taco Bell every day," Fujimoto said.

Aside from the cultural difference of age playing a huge role in Japanese society, Fujimoto noted that in the U.S., people's relationships are a lot closer physically. "In Japan, we tend to keep a little more space between each other," he said.

After graduating, Fujimoto would ideally like to work in the sports industry, managing teams for the NHL or MLB.