Every school year is a learning experience for students, but in 2016-17, Yuri Nakayma is doubling her education. A foreign exchange student from Japan, she is not only acquiring knowledge from her class subjects, but also about American life. Nakayma is spending her tenth grade year at Tippecanoe High School.

While the U.S culture has been a big adjustment for Nakayma, she has been made to feel very welcome in the community. “The people here have been patient, accepting and kind. I like Tipp City,” she said.

Nakayma is here through the AFS program, which places foreign exchange students from all across the world with host families. By spending time in the U.S., Nakayma is planning for her future as she wants to work in a field that uses the English language. She figured the best way to learn it was to spend time here.

Back in Japan, Nakayma attends a girl’s only high school, located in Tokyo. She rides a train for an hour to get both to and from school. In Japan, schooling is only required up through the ninth grade and students must apply to high schools and take admittance exams.

One big difference between the two countries that Nakayma has noticed is in human behavior. “People are more physically expressive here with hugs and even in the winter people still wear T-shirts,” she said.

Another culture shock for Nakayma was the grocery stores, which are much bigger here than in Japan. She had also never seen the conveyor belts at the check-out. “In Japan my mother goes to the market every day to buy for that night’s meal. Here groceries are bought for the whole week,” said Nakayma.

The wide variety of different flavored Oreo’s has been surprising to Nakayma, as she was accustomed to only the original. She has also discovered that American’s consume more junk food and drink more soda. “Like at McDonald’s you only get one cup. There’s not a pop machine that you can use to refill,” she said.

Nakayma is trying to get the full high school experience while in the U.S by getting involved in different activities. She attended Homecoming, is a member of the Friends for Change club, and is going to be a part of the stage crew for the spring musical. Back in Japan, she is on the swim team and in the spring is planning participate in track and field.

This is not the first time that Nakayma has been in the U.S, from birth until three years old she lived in New York, but has no memory of that time. She is very pleased to be back and is thankful for the experience being gained with English. “It is hard being a foreign exchange student, but also fun. I recommend experiencing a different culture,” she said. (The AFS is always looking for host families)

In June, Nakayma will go back to Japan, and no matter where the future leads, Tipp City will always be a part of her.