Shivering inside their coats Sunday afternoon, 11 Japanese exchange students took a short tour of the Kansas University campus, where they will spend the next month studying English and furthering their understanding of American culture.
"They've come here with a lot of information about the United States what they've learned from TV and movies," said Christa Hansen, special programs coordinator at KU's Applied English Center. "I hope they get an idea of what the real America is like. I want them to practice their English, share their culture and hopefully make some friends that last a lifetime."
The students from Kanagawa University in Hiratsuka, Japan, Lawrence's sister city arrived Saturday night after a nine-hour flight. They spent Sunday morning moving into residence halls, meeting roommates and taking brief naps.
Two AEC special program assistants, Suzanne Classen and Tracy Cohn, took the 11 students on a short tour of campus, pointing out buildings where they would attend classes, including American Society, Speaking and Listening, and Conversational English.
A few students repeated the buildings' names. Others conversed quietly in Japanese and laughed among each other as they walked along the campus' sidewalks and gazed at Lippincott and Fraser halls and Watson Library.
Atsushi Kurihara said he was looking forward to his time in Lawrence. Like many of the others, Kurihara is studying business management, but he said he planned to be an airline pilot in Japan.
"It's too cold here, much colder than in Japan, but the people are very kind," he said.
The students also will take cultural field trips, visiting museums and elementary schools. They'll get to see the KU-Oklahoma State men's basketball game on Saturday and will spend one weekend with a host family in Lawrence.
This is the 10th year of the study abroad program, Hansen said, adding that a group of KU students will study at Kanagawa University this summer.
Ayako Ide, a Kanagawa student who has been studying at KU since August, said it took her awhile to become accustomed to her new environment.
"I was really homesick for a while," Ide said. "I missed everything in Japan for a while food, friends, even my part-time job. But it's not so hard once you get used to it."
Ide said her time at KU has been fun, but she advised the new exchange students to diligently practice their English.
"Don't be with Japanese students all the time," she said. "Take time to make your English better."