Japan's Yuta Kikuchi says going to college in the United States has helped change him and made him a more confident person in everyday life. Speaking to the Daily Cal, Kikuchi, who studied at UC Berkeley, says his teammates played an important role in his transformation, “I couldn’t say ‘How are you?’ to my classmates because I was afraid to say that and of my pronunciation.
I didn’t have any confidence in my pronunciation. I don’t think they cared too much because I am Japanese, but I was caring about it too much. I was afraid.. My teammates were important for me to break through. They talked to me every time and even if I couldn’t understand, they looked at me and thought that I couldn’t understand, so they would speak again or use easier words for me.
I realized that last year, I’m not trying to escape from the fear. I should talk with more people and get through it to adjust to the culture and the differences”. Cal director of men’s tennis Peter Wright.
Wright commented, "He embarked on a journey of improving his English, and one of the ways he did that was instead of watching TV, or as some people do in watching cartoons, he started watching TED Talks in English. I thought this was incredibly bright for him to do.
My case really was that Yuta’s intelligence is a permanent condition. His lack of English is a temporary condition. Other students might not have been as good a fit as he is. He wanted the challenge. He relished the challenge.
He studies so hard, he works so hard, and not every young person is that way. Some are looking for the shortcut, some are looking for the easy path. He was looking for the path that was going to have the greatest benefit for him in terms of having a successful tennis career and in terms of having a successful career in business after he’s done playing tennis”.
Kikuchi, who is ranked No. 1128 in the ATP rankings, says his advice for young people would be to keep trying to improve yourself. "Try something or change something because it is very important for improving yourself.
Even if I was struggling or I had difficulties towards everything around me, this was the great challenge for me to improve myself. I met so many people who were different from Japanese people, identity wise and culture wise.
It’s great to have big change sometimes. Go. Just go there and change it”.