Emilio Haruki Nishiyama is from Spain and has been studying for four weeks in our TOEFL Preparation Course. When he’s not studying, Emilio enjoys exploring the different neighborhoods of Boston and visiting the many historic and cultural landmarks in the city. He’s excited to improve his English and hopefully return to Boston for university next year.
Where were you born and raised? Give us a mental picture of the place.
I was born in the city of Alicante in Spain. This is located in the Southeast of the country and it’s a city that’s near the ocean, right on the coast. In the summer and spring, it’s hot so my family and I we always go to the beach. We go to swim and play. I lived there for about nine years, then I spent two years in Barcelona, which is more in the north, but still on the Mediterranean coast. After that, I moved to Madrid for six years, the capital of the country. I love each city of Spain for different reasons, Alicante is my home city, the people in Barcelona are so nice, and the nightlife in Madrid is very exciting and lively. Lastly, one year ago I arrived to Panama.
What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
What I like to do is swimming because I grew up near the ocean so I have always loved to swim. I’m faster in the pool, but I like swimming in the ocean. Another hobby, I love acting on the stage like theater. For example, last November I participated in the play Les Miserables at my school. About 70 students were part of the show, either acting, or in the band and I was one of the main characters. It’s a musical so I had to sing also.
What is your special talent?
I guess my talent is acting, I really enjoy it. Not to be arrogant, but I think I act well. In my theater course, we had to take acting classes, dancing classes, and singing classes. This helped me a lot in my play.
What is your profession? What do you like about it?
My profession right now is student, I am in high school. What I like about it, in my case, I get to travel a lot while studying. I traveled a lot in Spain and right now I am at an international school in Panama. I enjoy getting to discover new things and making friends with new people. I also get to learn, not only about what they are teaching in school, but learning about the new people from different cultures.
Tell us about your family, do you have kids? Siblings? Pets? Do they live close to you?
In Panama I have my father, mother and one sister, she is four years younger than me. I have a black dog called Chuche, he is half terrier and half schnauzer. My distant family, I have three aunts, three uncles and four cousins in Spain. My mother is Japanese and my dad is from Spain. I also have family in Japan, I have two aunts, two uncles and two cousins. Right now, I only have one grandmother and she lives in Japan.
Why did you choose to study English in Boston? Did you consider other options?
Well, originally the plan was to study in Canada or the US to learn more English. My parents were looking in both places and I suggested a placed with good universities so while I was learning English I could visit those universities. My father suggested Boston because he studied for his masters of business here and he told me many good things about this city. My parents searched for schools and this is where we decided so it was a family decision.
What are all the ways that Boston is different than your city/town?
There are many ways they are different. The population of Boston is almost the exact same as Panama City. Boston is a very clean city and I’m very surprised about it. Another thing is how organized the traffic in Boston is. I don’t see traffic jams in this city, while in Panama there are heavy traffic jams in the city. It’s easier to get around in Boston, like you can walk anywhere, you can walk to places in Panama City, but it’s easier here. There are many more trains in Boston and the trains go everywhere. In Panama there is only one metro line right now, so everyone drives, that’s why there’s so much traffic.
What were you most surprised to learn about the US or Boston? Did you experience any culture shock?
First of all, everyone here uses butter for anything, for cooking any food! I am Japanese and we use a lot of soy sauce and in Spain we mostly use olive oil. I’m not very used to this idea of using butter. That doesn’t mean I don’t like butter, it tastes good!
What do you miss most about your country?
I don’t really miss that much about Spain because this city looks very European so maybe I don’t miss a lot about Spain. I do miss the nightlife of Madrid because nights in Madrid are very crazy and all the bars and restaurants are open until the next morning. This city has a lot of young people, so there are a lot of night activities, but it isn’t the same compared to Madrid.
What are your top three favorite places in Boston?
When I first came here with my dad, I visited a lot of places around the city. I like the Boston Common in general because as the name says, there’s a lot of people of different cultures and ages who go there. You can see people from here, tourists, or students from universities and they do whatever they want in the common. For example, sometimes you see people protesting or selling ice cream. It’s also very relaxing. The second place would be the North End, “Little Italy.” It really looks like Italy because there’s all the restaurants and bakeries and it’s very interesting. The third place would be the harbor because there’s many tourist places to see like the USS Constitution. You can visit old military ships and get tours from veterans so it’s very interesting. It’s also very pretty.
Where have you found the best food from your country in Boston?
I have not found food from Panama because the food in Panama is so influenced by other places so there isn’t anything that’s really essentially from Panama. I’ve seen a lot of sushi restaurants in Boston, there is a sushi grill right here next to the school. The sushi is pretty good! Well Spanish cuisine, I haven’t seen a Spanish restaurant here, but I hope they don’t put ketchup on the potato omelette because in Spain that’s the last thing you should do in the restaurant!
Favorite moment in class at ELC:
My favorite class might be communication skills because you talk a lot and I am here to learn English. Obviously I have to learn grammar and I am studying for the TOEFL test, but learning a language is more for communicating with other people in that language so I think communications is a good class, very productive. The teachers always make the class very funny and pick interesting topics that I really enjoy talking about and it helps me improve my speaking.
Favorite activity at ELC:
Well I really like the Museum of Fine Arts. I like that you can see all the arts of different cultures. You can find arts of Asia, Europe, South America, Americans that come from Europe, Native Americans, essentially you can find everything. I definitely suggest it. I also really enjoyed the weekend trips to distant places like Niagara Falls, it’s nice to see other places.
What are some tips you have for people who want to learn English?
Maybe I would tell them to read a lot, it’s good training. If your English level is low, you can start from children’s books and upgrade the difficulty to more advanced. Reading is a good boost to improving your English. Also, talking because language is used to talk with other people. Just talk with people in English when you can. It sounds very basic, but I think these are two very important ways to practice your English.
What are your plans after ELC?
I still have one more year of high school so I will finish in Panama. Right now I am looking for some universities here, if after my high school graduation, maybe I can apply for university here or Spain or Japan. I want to take a minor in theater and major in international business. Actually, this week I went to look at Suffolk University, right down the street. I saw that they also have a Madrid campus, so maybe I can do some years there and some years here in Boston.