MATSUNOSUKE - Akiko Hirano's Pie & Cake

Akiko Hirano's Essay

Backnumbers American Cake form a Housewife who studied abroad

Essays from Akiko Hirano who studied in the U.S. at age 45.

Reproduced and translated with additions from the 2000 Sojusha Publishers' publication (sold out).

COVER: American Cake form a Housewife who studied abroad
housewife's dream

The dream of exchange to the U.S.

Invitation to Illinois

The illusory exchange

An 8 million yen investment in me!

The struggle with English begins

Inside a multi-cultural class

Japanese food in
an underground kitchen

My composition appears in a text book

If only I had read more books
when I was younger

The death of
a Chinese exchange student

American style stress relief

Finally, a real university student

Independent students in the states

Driving debut

Amazing silver power

Visiting New York City

Crossing North American Continent by car

Driving debut

When I was a student at Connecticut University, I was living in a school dorm so I didn’t have to go anywhere outside of the campus. However there were some times I had to run errands outside of the campus and I needed a car then. This was inevitable when you were in the States.

Shortly before I moved to Eastern University, I took the plunge to get a car for myself. I picked a dark red Nissan Altima and decided to lease this car for $248 per month. I had an urge to purchase it but I couldn’t afford to do so. This car was a demo-car so it was almost like new and it was affordable for me.

I didn’t personally like the dark red color so much but I didn’t have a choice. It just needed to be a Japanese car and close to new. I would be in a big trouble if my car stopped moving or broke down in the middle of the road in the States. People say that keeping a cellphone with you is important if you drive a used car and Japanese new car is the safest. Especially if you are a woman, you could be in a great danger when your car gets stalled in the middle of nowhere.

My Nissan Altima was pretty good. I felt like she became my friend and my world got expanded like 20 times in this car. I’ve had a driver’s license since I was 16 years old in Japan. Back then we were allowed to drive compact cars for 2 years if you are over 16. I’ve been driving a car since then so I was able to get used to the right-side-of-the-road driving without hesitating too much.

Even though I had an international driver’s license, I decided to get a Connecticut state driver’s license since I heard that my insurance would be lower if I have one. As the result, I had to pay only $1500 for the first six months and I could negotiate to lower the price till $780 when I showed a proof that I didn’t have an accident or violation in the past 5 years in Japan.

When you drive a car, you come across different incidents. This happened when I went out to eat with two of my Japanese school friends for celebrating my getting a driver’s license. On the way back we got stopped by a police. A police officer came of the car and was walking toward us. I thought “I didn’t do anything wrong!” and my heart was beating really fast. Instantly I was going to get my license to show but my friend who was sitting next to me said I shouldn’t move. He remembered there was some similar incident like this and the driver got shot by the police. The driver was trying to get something from the dash board and he got shot because the police suspected there was something wrong with his movement.

This was not by police but some student got shot by a resident when he knocked on the door and moved when he was told to freeze. When you are in the states, you should never move your body in case you got stopped by police. You could end up losing your life.

Also, for your information, police pull over their cars just behind your car in the states when they do in front of your car in Japan. After your car is asked to pull over to the side of the road, you have to wait in your car until they approach to you.

In my case, the police officer came to me and I claimed that as far as I know I didn’t violate any rules. To my surprise the officer told me that he asked me to stop because I was driving unsteady on the road. What a rude thing! I was kind of shocked to hear that.

In Connecticut, there are lots of signs of deer and they often do appear on the road. I had come across with a deer for three times before and this is another trouble. Usually if you come across a deer on the road you would think he will run away from the car. However they will freeze in front of your car. Therefore it’s really scary when you happen to meet them at night time. They are quite huge and your windshield could get broken and you could die if they hit your car badly. Poor thing, I happened to see some dead deer on the road sometimes.

Other than deer, you see raccoons, skunks and sometimes cows on the road who escaped from the agriculture department. There was some wild rural scenery around the university I went to. The roads were not too wide because of the rural place but they got busy during the rush hours.

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