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Ran Daikoku of Osaka, Japan, is the only foreign exchange student attending Holyoke High School this year. — The Holyoke Enterprise | Johnson Publications

Japanese exchange student settles in to small-town life

They say that opposites attract, and that seems to be the case for Ran Daikoku, Holyoke High School’s lone foreign exchange student for the 2019-20 school year.

The 17-year-old has traveled halfway across the world to experience small-town life in Holyoke — population 2,300 — which is worlds apart from his home city of Osaka, Japan — population 2.69 million.

In addition to the vast, wide-open agriculture fields of Colorado, one difference Daikoku has noticed is the dry weather in Holyoke compared to Japan’s humid climate.

But his first impressions are favorable: “Everyone is very kind. It’s small but very comfortable,” he said.

Daikoku has settled in with host parents Austin and Jennifer Halligan. Meanwhile, his parents in Japan are probably missing their only child. His father works in a jewelry shop while his mother is a stay-at-home mom.

As part of the HHS junior class this year, Daikoku is most excited for his American history and physical education classes, and of course, making new friends. He’s already on the high school football team — a new sport for him — and he looks forward to playing basketball like he did in Japan.

He admits he’s gotten lost a few times while attempting to find multiple different classrooms in the school. In Japan, the students stay in one classroom for the entire day while the teachers switch from room to room.

When he’s not at school, Daikoku enjoys listening to pop music and reading old novels.

Holyoke Enterprise

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