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

A quick trip to N.Y.

Criss-crossing the continent

I wish I read more books when I was young

Professor Charter did not give us too much reading but we were required to think of plot, characters, setting, points of view, style and theme in order to state our opinions for each short story we read in the class. It would have been easier if I could learn these points by heart but I had to write them down on my notebook so that I could review them at home.

I was taking her class twice a week but I had to study for this class for the whole week so that I could manage to keep up with the class. Reading a short story took me probably three times longer than the other students since my reading speed was very slow.

After reading a short story in the class, Professor Charters explained the key points of the story and we had to take a small quiz on it in the following week. One third of my grade was evaluated depending on how I answered these quizzes. The rest was decided by the result of mid-term and final-term exams. Apparently anyone can pass her class as long as their marks were good enough. However, according to professor Charters, her students seemed to think passing her class was more difficult than they thought.

Mid and final term exams were quite difficult indeed. The question was like ‘Compare these two sentences and state the differences between them’. I don’t know how many times I hated my decision that I took English literature instead of taking a major in Art. Apparently taking English literature course at an American university is quite challenging for people who already had studied English literature at Japanese universities.

For the class materials, professor Charters picked up Hemingway and other famous contemporary writers in addition to Raymond Carver. Hemingway was easier to understand but I thought I should have read his biography as well as other writers. In order to fully understand American short stories, we were expected to know their cultural background. It was quite difficult a for non-american person like me to understand each writer’s background but I tried to learn as much as I could.

Professor Charters picked up Henri Rene Albert Guy de Maupassant and Albert Camus in her class. When we were studying about Maupassant I had no idea what Professor Charters was talking about. I could read Maupassant’s writing but it was very difficult to look for a theme in it.

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