Beyond the Borders: Yuki Yazawa brings strong work ethic to new country

Yuki Yazawa's bright attitude and passionate drive have brought her from Sapporo, Japan to Geneseo and while it is different, Yazawa likes what she has found.

"The big difference is here we can change our minds easily and change our majors … opportunities are open" she said. In Japan, high school seniors must decide what they want to do and enroll in a special school for that occupation. Before that, they must take an entrance exam that requires over a year of study and preparation. If they fail the test, they must wait an entire year before they are allowed to take it again. For Yazawa, this system didn't fit.

In the summer of her sophomore year of high school, Yazawa lived with a family in Houston. The people she encountered ignited within her a desire to study full-time in America "I liked the diversity of people," she said. "People [here] are friendly, so I thought maybe I could have more fun in America!"

Yazawa cites strangers holding doors for one other on campus as an example. She says those kinds of occurrences are rare in Japan. "Here, it's like one little city of the college," she said.

Getting to this little city was no easy task. Though she studied English throughout high school, she knew that in order to score highly on the Test of English as a Foreign Language proficiency exam, she would have to study intensely. For over a year, she attended classes and studied to become a fluent speaker, but was still nervous. "I was so scared [to find out] if I could get enough of a score," she said. Yazawa knows people who took the test repeatedly for years before finally scoring high enough to enroll in the United States.

Yazawa's hard work paid off. She is now a freshman business administration major looking forward to her years here. She enjoys spending time with her friends and seeing different parts of the country. In addition to Houston, Yazawa has visited Washington, D.C. and New York City. Next up: Paris, Italy and the west coast.

Yazawa is pursuing her interest in fashion. "American fashion magazines are kind of like high class fashion and usually Japanese fashion magazines are kind of like more for those people on the street … much more practical," she said. Yazawa hopes to combine her interests in clothing and travel by joining either the fashion or trade industries.

It will be no surprise if she excels in either path. Yazawa's diligence and willingness to walk the road less traveled have brought her to a place of opportunity. She seems to appreciate the differences her new environment offers while remembering where she is from and why she is here.