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

Invitation to Illinois

Before I married, a friend of my mothers' whose husband is a professor at Kyoto University invited me to work at Illinois University as a secretary.

Secretary was not really true, it was more like a gopher but he was a nice friendly professor who would often ask me to lunch and when I told him I couldn't type he retorted that it was fine "I will type, you can arrange the books and the appointments!"

Compared to other professors he was very kind to his secretaries and dispensed with formalities of hierarchical relationships. And perhaps for that reason my days were a lot of fun and our families got together often.

After 6 months of teaching he came back to Japan and asked me if I would like to go to Illinois? For someone like me who wanted to study somewhere other than Japan it was the best thing I had ever heard. And not only that he asked me if I would like to live with him and commute from there!?

I told my parents what the professor had said and my father who is usually very strict said "if he is the one asking then it’s fine". However my mother was against it and only gave in on the condition that the professor's son came to stay with my parents. In a way it was a cultural exchange program between our families and my parents were somewhat relieved. All I had to do was wait for the day to come.

The road to Illinois was long - literally.. The professor's mother was living in California and was looking after his car. He was to pick up his car and drive me across the mid-west (and the country) all the way to Illinois.

First we passed through Los Angeles and then on through the mountain ranges which turned out to be a major journey - I was amazed at the grand scale of America. Driving eastwards I exclaimed "No wonder we lost the war" when I saw the Grand Canyon - although I was born after the war it was one of the first things I thought when I saw the magnificence of it all.

When we arrived in our destination in the state of Illinois we were welcomed by the professor's family. After settling in I spent my days studying English at ELS (English Language School) and practicing my typing in the evenings at typing school. You name it, it was all new to me and time flew during those first few months.

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