Japanese exchange student studying aboard in America shares differences between two countries

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Japanese exchange student studying aboard in America shares differences between two countries

A Japanese exchange student who is studying aboard in America has opened up about how coming to the US helped her overcome her 'body image issues' and

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A Japanese exchange student who is studying aboard in America has opened up about how coming to the US helped her overcome her ‘body image issues’ and feel more ‘confident’ after growing up in a place where ‘shaming is normal’ and ‘girls are pressured to be skinny.’

Yumeka Umemori, 21, left her home in Asia to attend college in Manhattan six months ago – and she was stunned over how different her new life in the States was compared to her old one, especially when it came to ‘beauty standards.’

She spoke out about the experience exclusively to DailyMail.com, and she said she soon discovered that people were much more open about their struggles and more supportive of one another here versus in her home country.

‘In Japan, I think a lot of girls feel pressured to be skinny and body shaming is normal compared to the US,’ she explained. 

A Japanese student studying in America shared how coming to the US helped her overcome 'body image issues' after growing up in a place where 'girls are pressured to be skinny'

A Japanese student studying in America shared how coming to the US helped her overcome 'body image issues' after growing up in a place where 'girls are pressured to be skinny'

A Japanese student studying in America shared how coming to the US helped her overcome ‘body image issues’ after growing up in a place where ‘girls are pressured to be skinny’

Yumeka Umemori, 21, left her home in Asia to attend college in Manhattan six months ago - and she was stunned over how different her new life in the States was compared to her old one

Yumeka Umemori, 21, left her home in Asia to attend college in Manhattan six months ago - and she was stunned over how different her new life in the States was compared to her old one

Yumeka Umemori, 21, left her home in Asia to attend college in Manhattan six months ago – and she was stunned over how different her new life in the States was compared to her old one

She spoke out about the experience exclusively to DailyMail.com, and she said she soon discovered that people were more supportive of one another here versus in her home country

She spoke out about the experience exclusively to DailyMail.com, and she said she soon discovered that people were more supportive of one another here versus in her home country

She spoke out about the experience exclusively to DailyMail.com, and she said she soon discovered that people were more supportive of one another here versus in her home country 

‘There are so many social media accounts promoting dieting and achieving a “dream body” that would definitely be banned here in the US.

‘In the US, more people talk about body positivity and commenting on others bodies isn’t as common as it is in Japan. 

Yumeka explained that she is very 'opinionated,' which isn't very common in Japan - so she's always longed to live in America

Yumeka explained that she is very 'opinionated,' which isn't very common in Japan - so she's always longed to live in America

Yumeka explained that she is very ‘opinionated,’ which isn’t very common in Japan – so she’s always longed to live in America

‘When I was struggling with my body image in the past, I watched so many videos on social media where influencers were talking about their journey with body dysmorphia and that made me feel less lonely.

‘[Since moving here, I’ve] realized that it is very normalized to talk about those issues outside Japan.’ 

Yumeka explained that she is very ‘opinionated,’ which isn’t very common in Japan – so she’s always longed to live in America.

‘American people are very direct about what they want and what they don’t. In Japan, a lot of the time – it depends on the situation – if you are “too direct” you can be seen as rude,’ she continued. 

‘For this reason, I would always think living in the US would be easier for me because I am “too opinionated” in Japan.’

And as soon as she arrived, she said she was amazed at how ‘expressive’ and ‘open to talking’ Americans were compared to Japanese people. But even so, she admitted that the first few months here were ‘really hard for her.’

‘I had so many things I didn’t know. For example, tipping culture at restaurants,’ she said. 

‘Since I wasn’t confident about my English yet at that time, it was also hard for me having to talk to strangers in English in order to live.

‘It was very hard for me, especially during classes. My listening was poor so I often couldn’t follow [along]. 

‘And I was also too intimidated by other students to talk to them or ask questions – so I often left classes without understanding anything at all.’

But Yumeka added that she’s ‘happy’ it forced her to ‘improve her language’ in the end – and now, she ‘feels a lot more comfortable talking to people.’

'American people are very direct about what they want and what they don't. In Japan, a lot of the time, if you are "too direct" you can be seen as rude,' she said

'American people are very direct about what they want and what they don't. In Japan, a lot of the time, if you are "too direct" you can be seen as rude,' she said

‘American people are very direct about what they want and what they don’t. In Japan, a lot of the time, if you are “too direct” you can be seen as rude,’ she said

And as soon as she arrived, she said she was amazed at how 'expressive' and 'open to talking' Americans were compared to Japanese people

And as soon as she arrived, she said she was amazed at how 'expressive' and 'open to talking' Americans were compared to Japanese people

And as soon as she arrived, she said she was amazed at how ‘expressive’ and ‘open to talking’ Americans were compared to Japanese people

As for what she loves most about American culture, she said it's the fact that 'uniqueness is valued here' and that 'everyone accepts everyone' in the US

As for what she loves most about American culture, she said it's the fact that 'uniqueness is valued here' and that 'everyone accepts everyone' in the US

As for what she loves most about American culture, she said it’s the fact that ‘uniqueness is valued here’ and that ‘everyone accepts everyone’ in the US

As for what she loves most about American culture, she said it’s the fact that ‘uniqueness is valued here.’

She added that ‘everyone accepts everyone’ in the US and that ‘there’s less pressure to feel like you have to change your identity to fit in.’

‘As I grew up in Japan, I feel like I turned into little bit of a pushover and a people-pleaser in a sense, since I thought that was the way to fit in society,’ she told DailyMail.com.

‘But in the US, it’s obviously not the same at all and people love unique people unless they are unpleasant. 

She added that 'there's less pressure to feel like you have to change your identity to fit in' and that she feels 'freer to show who she really is' here since there's 'less social pressure to fit in'

She added that 'there's less pressure to feel like you have to change your identity to fit in' and that she feels 'freer to show who she really is' here since there's 'less social pressure to fit in'

She added that ‘there’s less pressure to feel like you have to change your identity to fit in’ and that she feels ‘freer to show who she really is’ here since there’s ‘less social pressure to fit in’ 

‘I love seeing how everyone accepts everyone as who they are and there’s less social pressure to feel like we have to change our identities to “fit in” like I felt in my home country.

‘I feel freer to show who I really am. I express more of what I feel, and I show more excitement even over a tiny thing that might not seem exciting to a lot of people. 

‘Here I don’t feel as judged for whatever I’m doing and people seem happy for me when I’m happy.

‘Since Japanese society values conformity, it makes sense that people might feel uncomfortable seeing people who are “extra” in public.’

While Yumeka insisted that she doesn’t think either culture is better than the other, she said the American ways ‘suit her personality and values’ more. 

‘I value freedom a lot in my life and I hate it when I’m told what to do or how I’m suppose to act,’ she explained.

‘I feel less of that in the US. In fact, I feel more encouraged to be different. I did change how I act since I came here – it’s not that I changed who I am but I’m becoming more confident in showing who I really am.’

After relocating to the States, the student began documenting her journey on TikTok – where she detailed many of the things that made the two places so contrasting.

She soon became a viral TikTok star, gaining more than 182,000 followers – many of whom were just as surprised as she was over the differences.

On the video streaming platform, she said one of the main things that she noticed was how much more friendly and social Americans were to one another than the people in Japan. 

After relocating, the student began documenting her journey on TikTok - where she detailed many of the things that made the two places so contrasting, like the 'hugging culture'

After relocating, the student began documenting her journey on TikTok - where she detailed many of the things that made the two places so contrasting, like the 'hugging culture'

After relocating, the student began documenting her journey on TikTok - where she detailed many of the things that made the two places so contrasting, like the 'hugging culture'

After relocating, the student began documenting her journey on TikTok - where she detailed many of the things that made the two places so contrasting, like the 'hugging culture'

After relocating, the student began documenting her journey on TikTok – where she detailed many of the things that made the two places so contrasting, like the ‘hugging culture’ 

She soon became a viral TikTok star, gaining more than 182,000 followers - many of whom were just as surprised as she was over the differences

She soon became a viral TikTok star, gaining more than 182,000 followers - many of whom were just as surprised as she was over the differences

 She soon became a viral TikTok star, gaining more than 182,000 followers – many of whom were just as surprised as she was over the differences

According to Yumeka, one of the first things that she noticed was how much more friendly and social Americans were to one another

According to Yumeka, one of the first things that she noticed was how much more friendly and social Americans were to one another

She explained that 'small talk isn't a thing in Japan,' so after relocating to the States, she had to get used to having conversations with strangers

She explained that 'small talk isn't a thing in Japan,' so after relocating to the States, she had to get used to having conversations with strangers

According to Yumeka, Americans are much more friendly to one another. She said ‘small talk isn’t a thing in Japan,’ so she had to get used to having conversations with strangers

In one TikTok video, the student showcased her first American flight, and she said she was so 'nervous' about having to converse with the passenger next to her

In one TikTok video, the student showcased her first American flight, and she said she was so 'nervous' about having to converse with the passenger next to her

In one TikTok video, the student showcased her first American flight, and she said she was so ‘nervous’ about having to converse with the passenger next to her

But after they started chatting, she soon realized that being social wasn't so bad after all. She said: 'Now we're friends. I'm so glad I talked with her. I want to get better at small talk'

But after they started chatting, she soon realized that being social wasn't so bad after all. She said: 'Now we're friends. I'm so glad I talked with her. I want to get better at small talk'

But after they started chatting, she soon realized that being social wasn’t so bad after all. She said: ‘Now we’re friends. I’m so glad I talked with her. I want to get better at small talk’

She explained that ‘small talk isn’t a thing there,’ so after relocating to America, she had to get used to having conversations with strangers.

In one video, the student showcased her first US flight, and she said she was so ‘nervous’ about having to converse with the passenger next to her.

But after they started chatting, she soon realized that being social wasn’t so bad after all.

Another thing that quickly caught Yumeka's eye was how often people in the US embrace one another - something that happens very little in Japan

Another thing that quickly caught Yumeka's eye was how often people in the US embrace one another - something that happens very little in Japan

Another thing that quickly caught Yumeka’s eye was how often people in the US embrace one another – something that happens very little in Japan

‘Now we’re friends, she is the best. I’m so glad I talked with her. I want to get better at small talk,’ she said.

Another major difference between the two countries that Yumeka noticed was the way that younger people speak to adults. 

She explained that in Japanese, there is a ‘formal’ and ‘casual’ way to talk, and that you must always speak in the ‘formal’ version to your elders.

‘I love English because we talk to anyone in any age the same way,’ she told her followers.

‘For me, it’s crazy that I can be friends with people who are older than me quite easily when I speak English. It’s definitely not the same when speaking in Japanese.’

A third thing that quickly caught Yumeka’s eye was how often people in the US embrace one another – something that happens very little in Japan.

‘I adopted the hugging culture since I came here. In Japan, we barely hug,’ she dished in a different TikTok.

‘I never questioned it when I was living there. But now here in America, I’m hugging quite often, and I love it. 

‘It’s so fascinating to me that each society has its norm and you never really question it until you go outside of your hometown. I’ve got to go more places to learn new stuff, this is so fun.’ 

She also dished on how different dating is in the two countries, explaining, 'We don¿t really have a "talking stage" in Japan'

She also dished on how different dating is in the two countries, explaining, 'We don¿t really have a "talking stage" in Japan'

She also dished on how different dating is in the two countries, explaining, ‘We don’t really have a “talking stage” in Japan’

Some of the other things that Yumeka has highlighted in her videos includes the amount of trash that she has noticed sitting around and the excess size of portions in the States.

In another video, she also dished on how different dating is in the two countries – something she experienced first hand.

She detailed a time when  a guy she met on a dating app invited her over to his house to meet his family after they ‘hung out like five times.’

But afterwards, he told her he just wanted to be friends – something she said would have never happened back home in Japan.

‘We don’t really have a “talking stage” in Japan,’ she revealed. ‘I was freaking out because in Japan, this doesn’t happen that much.

‘If you do this in Japan, it’s like you’re marrying that person or you’re in a real serious relationship with that person.’

When it comes to what she misses most about home, Yumeka told DailyMail.com that she often longs for the ‘food’ and the easy ‘transportation.’

‘Public transport in Japan is really punctual and clean and that’s something that I took for granted before I came to the US,’ she stated. 

‘For food, it is difficult to find both affordable and authentic Japanese restaurants in the US so I eat cheaper things instead.

‘Or I cook, but since I’m not the best cook at all it is not the same as my mom’s cooking. I can’t wait to eat a lot of good food once I’m back in Japan.’

After living here for half a year, Yumeka said she has fully embraced the American lifestyle and feels like she is finally living her ‘best life.’

‘One of the reasons I’m so happy in this country is because I feel freer,’ she gushed on TikTok. ‘Especially regarding freedom of speech. 

After living here for half a year, Yumeka, who has now gained more than 182,000 followers, admitted that she has already seen a major change in the way she acts and looks

After living here for half a year, Yumeka, who has now gained more than 182,000 followers, admitted that she has already seen a major change in the way she acts and looks

After living here for half a year, Yumeka, who has now gained more than 182,000 followers, admitted that she has already seen a major change in the way she acts and looks

In the end, she said she has fully embraced the American lifestyle and feels like she is finally living her 'best life'

In the end, she said she has fully embraced the American lifestyle and feels like she is finally living her 'best life'

In the end, she said she has fully embraced the American lifestyle and feels like she is finally living her ‘best life’

‘I feel like in Japan, we have a lot of taboos. We don’t talk about mental health issues, we don’t talk about body image issues, we don’t talk about politics that much. 

‘I love talking about everything, it’s so fun. If I talk about everything I feel in Japan, I’m called the “loud one” and “too opinionated.” Like a “weirdo” and stuff. 

‘But here in America it’s normal. I feel like I can do anything here. I vibe here, I love it.’

She told DailyMail.com that she hopes to one day live and work here full time, and that she’s excited to turn her new social media stardom into something more. 

She concluded: ‘I’m still thinking about what I want to do in the future and haven’t really figured any solid plans for it yet but I will keep creating content online.

‘I love sharing my experiences and telling my story as well as editing videos, and I see a lot of potential in social media platforms too.

‘It’s an industry where a lot of unexpected happens and as much as it makes me feel anxious it also excites me.

‘I have so many things I don’t know about being a content creator yet, but I will try my best and hopefully, I will be able to be one that inspire some people.’

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