Nice to meet you, Sapporo!
My name is Claire Froelich and I am from the western region of the United States. I was born and raised in the small town of Corvallis, OR, two hours south of Portland – Sapporo's American sister city. Corvallis is a 'university town' centered around Oregon State University and known for its unique culmination of forestry, agriculture, technology, and marine science. Our city is a mere 45 minutes from the Oregon coast, where the continent meets the same Pacific Ocean that touches Japan's eastern border. Because we lived so close, I've had many opportunities to travel to the beach with my family. As a child, I used to stand upon the sand and gaze out at the ocean's horizon, wondering what kind of magical land may exist on the other side.
Several years later, I became determined to visit that magical land. While a student in high school I began to study Japanese in my free time, and eventually had the wonderful opportunity to stay with a host family in Yame-shi, Fukuoka-ken where I experienced the marvelous flavor of rural Japanese life. Based on this experience, I decided to study Japanese and Spanish at the University of Montana in the northern region of the US. In order to better learn about the Japanese language and Japanese culture, I spent a year abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo, a partner of my university. During my time abroad, I came to visit Sapporo for the 2012 Yuki Matsuri and fell completely in love with this bustling city.
Even though this is my third time in Japan and I've already come to learn so many fascinating new facets of culture, I feel that there is still much, much more to learn about Japan. I hope to further deepen my understanding of this country and the history and culture that drive it this time around. While re-discovering Japan from my new perspective as a working adult, I hope to share aspects of my own culture and from my past international experiences (during my second year of university I spent a summer in Lima researching the history of Japanese immigration in Perú) in a fun and engaging manner.
If you happen to bump into me in the street, please feel free to say hello! There is also a chance for us to meet every week at the International Plaza's “Let's Talk” English conversation session. I happen to love oyaji-gyagu, so I would love to learn and share puns with you!
I'm looking forward to meeting you!