Student Spotlight – Erina Maeda

Erina Maeda is from Japan, and has been studying at ELC Santa Barbara since April 2017 in our Semi-Intensive Plus Course. In the last year, she’s traveled, made friends, eaten a million ELC potlucks, and made unforgettable memories. After a year in sunny California, she’s looking forward to returning to her family and friends in her hometown of Aichi. Find out more about Erina here!

Where are you from?
I’m from Japan — from Aichi.

Where is Aichi?
Aichi is a prefecture in the center of Japan, between Tokyo and Osaka.

What kind of city is it?
My city is very — how can I say this? — it’s much closer to Tokyo. In Aichi, we are very famous for a car: Toyota. We have the Toyota company, so it’s a very technological city.

Is Aichi famous for anything else?
Toyota and food.

What’s special about Aichi food?
Archie food is kind of — hm… Many people from other cities said Aichi food has too much flavor.

Too much flavor?! What does mean?
In Japan, for example, in Kyoto food usually has too little flavor and Tokyo is… I don’t know. But Aichi has too much flavor. They use too much flavor in their food.

Is it spicy?
No, it’s just flavor! For me, it’s totally normal. Aichi is also very convenient because if I travel to Tokyo or Osaka, it’s in the middle so both cities are very convenient.

What about hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?
The tea ceremony!

What is a “tea ceremony”?
I learned how to do the Japanese tea ceremony, so that’s my hobby. And yoga.

What do you do for a tea ceremony? How does it work?
I wear a kimono and then I make green tea in a special small room. We drink tea, sometimes with a Japanese sweet. And sometimes we have flower arrangements.

I’ve noticed a lot more young women wearing kimonos in Japan. Do you know why it’s more popular now?
I guess it’s a kind of sightseeing. Maybe before it wasn’t so common because the kimono is kind of old-fashioned. It’s traditional. We had less people wearing kimonos. But when we go to Kyoto or Tokyo or Asakusa, any old traditional town, they want to try to keep the traditional Japanese style. Kyoto is very special for Japan because it has famous Japanese architecture and famous sightseeing places. It’s just for one day. [The girls] can’t put it on themselves. It’s very difficult. They have to go to a special shop. But for me, it’s no problem because I learned it for the Japanese tea ceremony. I can wear it myself. But it’s rare.

That’s cool! Well, you are going home very soon! What do you miss most about Japan?
Food!

Which food?
I don’t know! Any food.

Haha. What’s your favorite food?
Hm… My mother’s food. I can’t decide on just one!

That’s really nice! You should tell your mother. She will be very happy! What about in Santa Barbara? Did you have a favorite moment in Santa Barbara?
For me everything was very interesting. There were a lot of new things. But I don’t know which one. Hm… Oh, I liked the Thanksgiving at ELC because in Japan we know about Halloween or Christmas or New Year’s only. We also celebrate those holidays. But we don’t have Thanksgiving, so for me it was a new thing. I learned a lot of new things about it.

Is there anything similar to Thanksgiving in Japan?
Not a holiday to be thankful, but in Japan we usually meet the whole family for New Year’s. If I live alone, I will go back to my parents’ house and my brother will also come and we meet and we have dinner together.

So it’s a time for a family reunion! That’s a big part of Thanksgiving, too. Okay, how about the last thing you want to do in Santa Barbara before you go home?
Nothing. I already went to many places, like traveling with friends. I met many American friends. I had a great host family. I met many friends from other countries. So nothing.

At Dinner in Santa Barbara Enjoying the view with friends