On a gorgeous, 60-degree and sunny day in March I had the pleasure of interviewing Hayato Matsuzawa, a newly enrolled student in the Academic English Program at Bridge. Hayato told me that he loves living in Colorado, so I asked him some questions about his experience living here thus far.
Hi Hayato. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Hayato Matsuzawa and I’m 24. I’m from Japan and I want to study sports administration or the sports industry. That’s why I came to the United States. I graduated from a Japanese university and I want to get my Master’s degree here.
How long have you been here, in Colorado?
I’ve been here for 8 months. I came here at the end of last May. Yeah, so far, so good!
How would you say Colorado compares to your hometown in Japan?
I was born in the countryside, a village, and then I went to Hokkaido for college. I studied at a teacher’s college for 4 years for my undergraduate degree in physical education and sports sociology. Colorado is similar to Hokkaido in Japan. We have a lot of snow in Hokkaido and beer and ski slopes.
What is the best thing about living in Colorado?
That’s definitely the ski slopes, if you ask me.
So, how long have you been skiing?
I’ve been skiing for 20 years, since I was born. In my hometown there is one, small ski slope and I was on the ski team while I was in junior high, high school and university. I bought a Colorado Pass and that includes unlimited skiing at Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and 10 days for Vail and Beaver Creek.
Are the mountains the same here as they are in Japan?
No, not the same. Colorado ski slopes are much bigger than Japanese ski slopes. The snow is different too. Japanese snow is more humid and Colorado has a lot of powder, dry snow. And the high altitude feels good even though it is easy to get tired. It’s tough, but when I see the sign that tells the altitude here I think, ‘this place is higher than Mt. Fuji or something.’ No place in Japan is as high as it is here at the top of the mountains.
How do you like the weather?
I like Colorado’s weather. I heard that there are 300 days in a year that are sunny. I enjoy the blue sky.
What do you like to do on the weekends?
I like hiking, going to the park and jogging. I also like watching sports games like NHL or baseball. I’ve been to the Colorado Rockies game once and I am going to watch the Colorado Avalanche – the ice hockey team – this weekend because my friend is staying in Denver for a couple of days.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met since you’ve been in Colorado.
I don’t know other cities or towns, but in Denver, there are many kinds of people from all over the world. There were some American English teachers in Japanese high schools and universities but it was the first time for me to meet Arabic, Korean and Chinese people. It’s been very fun. The people here are friendly and it’s really comfortable to live here.
Have you done any traveling around Colorado?
I’m home-staying and my host grandmother is living in Colorado Springs so I went to her house two or three times. I’ve also stayed in the mountains in a cabin with my friends. We went hiking and had a BBQ.
Have you seen any wildlife here?
What do you think about elk?
At first, I thought ‘that’s just a deer’ but some people told me that they were elk and I thought ‘oh elk, I’ve heard of that name in a textbook or something.’ But it was the first time for me to see one. I also saw buffalos for the first time here.
Where did you see them?
I was on the way to Colorado Springs and I took a local road instead of the highway. There were buffalos on the side of the road.
Have you eaten any buffalo?
Yes, one day my host mother cooked buffalo. She made spaghetti with buffalo meat.
How was it?
It was delicious.
What kind of restaurants do you go to?
I was surprised that there are many sushi restaurants here because Colorado doesn’t have an ocean. I was wondering how they could get fish…by airplane? Japan’s sushi restaurants are better. I like to go to Korean restaurants here. When I was in Japan I ate a lot of Korean food but I didn’t know that it was Korean food until I came here. I like bibimbap.
Where do you like to hang out with your friends?
There are a lot of places to have fun: movie theaters, shopping centers or places to see music.
What are your plans? How long do you plan to be in Colorado?
I think for two more years until I graduate with my Master’s.
If you had to leave today, what would you miss most about Colorado?
Hmmm, if I had to leave here I would most miss the opportunity to study.
If you were to leave now, what would you tell your friends in Japan about Colorado?
First of all, I would tell them that I met a lot of people from different cultures because, in Japan, there are only Japanese. It’s kind of a homogeneous country. And, of course, I’d tell them that I skied on the Colorado ski slopes. There are many famous ski slopes and before I came here I knew their names but I’d never skied them.
So, do you think your friends would be jealous of you?
Yeah, I’m sure!