Yui Tsuzuki arrived in Durham six months ago with her husband, who is a visiting scholar at the Duke Law School. They call Japan home. In the following interview, Yui shares about her experiences as an International Spouse in the U.S.
How did you feel when you first arrived in the United States? What surprised you?
I felt a little afraid because America has a lot of guns. We don’t have guns in Japan, so I was worried about that. I really like it here though now. A lot of things surprised me. For example, I was surprised by public restrooms, as they are not so clean here. I was surprised that Walmart sells guns. And many people believe in a specific religion here. In Japan, most people have no religion. So that is very different here than in Japan. I have been going to a church to study English and it is a good community. And people are so conscious about security here. When I go to basketball games or public events, they always check you. I was surprised when that first happened.
How have your thoughts about the U.S. changed since you arrived?
I have learned that women in the U.S.A. are very strong. Many women here work. So many women are working moms. In Japan, there are not so many working moms. I really respect American women.
What do you like most about living in Durham?
I wanted to improve my English, so I enjoy going to ESL school. I go to ESL classes at Durham Tech and Orange Literacy in Chapel Hill. I like having the opportunity to make so many new friends, especially international friends.
What opportunities for the international community have you taken advantage of?
Here at Duke, there is the Global Café every week. I also go to the ESL classes and host an international potluck party.
What is the International Potluck?
One of my friends invited me to help her organize an international potluck. At first, I wasn’t sure. I had never done anything like it because in Japan, volunteer work is not so common. But my mind changed because here, there is a lot of volunteer work. Many volunteers through the church have been super kind to me. So I decided to help my friend organize the potluck events. I love volunteer work now. We invite many people to the potluck and make many friends. We usually have around 20 people there. Last year, we started to host the potlucks in the International House. But the number of people who came began to increase. The space at the IHouse was too small, so we changed the location to the Environment Hall. We co-host with a post-doc.
What do you miss most about Japan?
The food. Definitely the food. And bathtubs. Japanese bathtubs are deeper and more relaxing.
What experiences from your time in Durham do you think will be most impactful when you return to Japan?
Learning English, for sure. My change in mind around volunteer work too. Volunteer work is good for me. After I return to Japan, I would love to help people from other countries.