My Trip to San Francisco

Taking in the San Francisco night skyline
San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge
By Noriko Maegawa

Noriko Maegawa is from Matsusaka City in Mie Prefecture, and visited San Francisco as part of a study tour group in March, 2017. She has written about some of her experiences in America.

My name is Noriko Maegawa. I visited San Francisco from March 10th to the 17th as part of a study tour put on by Matsusaka City in Mie Prefecture, and also stayed with a host family on March 14th and 15th. I have always been interested in the cultural differences as well as people’s lifestyles in other countries, so even though I was a little nervous, I decided to apply as I knew it would be a great experience.

My home-stay was with the Chen family. They were not only very kind to me but they were also interested in my experiences as a Japanese person and the Japanese language. The first night I stayed with them they drove me to a spot where you could see the whole city of San Francisco. They clearly explained the different sights to me in English and took my photo.
During my homestay I did notice some cultural differences. The first is the prayer said before eating. In Japan, we say ‘Itadakimasu’ before we eat and ‘Gochisousama’ after we finish, but the Chen family prayed before the meal. They gave thanks for meeting me and the events of the day. The other thing I noticed was how they took care of children. On the second day of my homestay, Mrs. Chen brought along a six year old girl when she came home. The girl was apparently the daughter of one of Mrs. Chen’s friends, and Mrs. Chen was watching her while the mother was busy. The girl stayed with us, eating, watching TV, and just chatting, until her mother came to pick her up.

Another thing I was very interested in was LGBT issues. While the media in Japan has been talking more about LGBT topics recently, in San Francisco I was actually able to go to the GLBT History Museum and learn about these issues and LGBT history firsthand. The museum had displays on the different periods of LGBT history, and I learned about the discrimination LGBT people faced as well as the activists who stood up against that oppression.

During this trip, the thing that struck me was how friendly and kind everyone was. All the people I met in San Francisco welcomed me with open arms. In the future, I want to learn even more about Japan and San-Francisco’s connections and share the knowledge to help both communities reach a deeper understanding.

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