Odgerel Batbold, a junior at San Francisco State University, has been named a winner in the Dilena Takeyama Center’s first scholarship program. The $3,500 award is helping her to attend Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo this year as a part of the study abroad program.
Batbold, who is from Alameda, is majoring in accounting and hopes one day to be involved in international business. She grew up in Mongolia, where she recalls she became fascinated with Japan after watching Japanese anime and movies as a little girl. About four years ago, she immigrated to the United States in search of better educational opportunities. She spoke little English when she started high school in Alameda, where she and her mother settled.
She began studying Japanese at San Francisco State in an effort to become tri-lingual.
Now in her first semester at Aoyama Gakuin University, she will enroll in classes in Japanese language and culture, as well as a variety of classes in international economy and global business.
In an e-mail from Japan, she says that she has been surprised by Tokyo’s hot and humid weather, its complex transportation system and the culture shock she has experienced.
“Before I came here in Japan, I had actually thought that I would be able to adapt the Tokyo life style quickly, because being an immigrant myself, I knew a little bit about what to expect from living in a foreign country with different culture,” Batbold wrote. “I was confident that my experience of living in the U.S. will help me to adapt the new environment easily. However, even with my experience, I still feel overwhelmed by this new city and my new life style.”
Nevertheless, she said that the people have been very nice and even compliment her broken Japanese.
“ Every time I get a little home sick, I would tell myself that I have come this far and that this is the opportunity that not many people can have,” she writes. “ Every day is a new adventure and it makes me so happy just by thinking about the experiences that I will be having by the time I come back to the SFSU, because I am sure that I will make the best of this experience.”
The Dilena Takeyama Center launched the scholarship program to assist students in the U.S. and Japan who plan to utilize their studies and future careers in ways that promote improved relations between the two countries.