Masaaki Hata, School of Mechanical System Engineering(1)

Diary for Michigan Exchange Program
Masaaki Hata, School of Mechanical System Engineering

Since I came to Saginaw

Hata 1 It has been 3 months since I came to Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan as an exchange program student. I still have six more months left in Michigan before I return to Japan. When I first came to SVSU, I had some difficulties adjusting to life at my new university and living in America. Initially I faced many challenges, however I soon became accustomed to life abroad. With each passing day, the relationships with my roommates and classmates have deepened. As a result, I feel that I am fortunate to have chosen to study abroad.

Hata 2 The sky in Saginaw is so beautiful. On clear days, I can see for miles as the air is dry and there are no mountains around Saginaw city. My apartment is located on the campus, so it is very convenient. We can walk to our school's cafeterias and co-op store. There is also bus service, so we can easily access major supermarkets. As you can see in the picture, my apartment is very clean and comfortable. Michigan can be very cold in October, so it is necessary to wear warm clothing, but my apartment is very warm as it is very well insulated.

School life

Hata 3 I have classes from Monday to Thursday. Most students don't have classes on Friday, so our weekends start on Thursday nights. Some students go back to their homes, and others have parties with their friends to relax. On the weekends I usually attend parties, swim in the pool on campus, which is open year-round, or I do homework and prepare for my classes. Anyway, I always look forward to my weekends. When I was in Hikone, I made friends with the students who studied at JCMU (Japan Center of Michigan Universities), so they sometimes call me to hang out together and take me to different places in Michigan. I am so glad that I made so many friends at JCMU when I lived in Hikone.

While I do enjoy my weekends, I still have to study hard because I have the same subjects two or three times a week and I need to prepare for classes, do assignments, and study for quizzes and tests. Though my English class meets just once a week, I often have to read 30 to 40 pages every week. Compared to native speakers of English, I must spend more hours preparing for classes due to the speed of the lectures and the amount of new vocabulary I must master. Fortunately, my instructors and fellow students are very generous with their time, so when I have questions they always help me.

My classes
The classes I've taken are:

1 Manufacturing Process & Systems (4 credits)

In this class, I learned the basic skills about the manufacturing process of machining, welding, manufacturing materials,metal-casting, forging, and so on. Actually, this class was very similar to the class I took at the University of Shiga Prefecture (USP). However,the content of this course at SVSU had a different approach from what I learned at USP. This course consists of two classes and lab work every week. The lab work allowed me to practice what I learned in the classes.The teacher is a nice person who told us a lot of jokes. Actually, I couldn't catch all of his American style jokes, but I loved this class all the same.

2 Topics in Critical Writing (3 credits)

In this English writing class I learned about contemporary American culture. We looked at different aspects of pop-culture. For example, advertising in America, American movies, and so on. The students were required to write reports and share our opinions on topics discussed in class. Also, I needed to access the SVSU library database to get references to support my opinions. This class was really hard, but I could learn a lot about American pop-culture. I recommend that students take this class.

3 Black studies (3 credits)

Through this class, I could learn about African-American history. Topics included: discrimination of African-American, African history, and contemporary concepts. We were required to give a group presentation. I was able to make friends with the other members of my group. My classmates and I were expected to share our opinions on a number of different topics.

4 Dynamics Engineering (3 credits)

In essence, this is a physics class. However, I found this class to be a little more challenging and practical than my physics class at USP. For example, I had to memorize The United States customary units of measurement, which is different from the metric system that I studied in Japan.

(December, 2010)