Big city to small town: a stark contrast for students like Niato and Maple

By Marta Jantzi

Sitting under the stars with a blanket around her shoulders, friends at each side, is just one of the frequent pastimes for Yu Nagi Niato at Hesston.

Niato huddles up with her mother and friend in front of Rainbow Bridge for a picture. Photo courtesy of Yu Nagi Naito.

“There are only a few street lights so I can watch a bunch of stars at night,” Niato said. “Tokyo is called “not sleeping town” so, there are many lights of the house, company, and streetlights. Therefore, I could not see many stars.”

With Hesston’s population of 3,782, it would be pretty difficult to spot on any map. Naito, and Sean Maple, both freshmen, are not used to that little town feeling. 

Maple is from Adelaide, Australia, in the center of South Australia. He decided to come to Hesston College to play baseball and study business. Adelaide has a population of over 1.3 million, which is quite a contrast to the population in Hesston.

“My favorite part about living in a big city is that I was always close to my mates,” Maple said. “I could walk anywhere to get anything and I knew the place like the back of my hand.”

On a typical Saturday, Maple would find himself at Hahndorf Hill, a winery and vineyard he would frequent with his family. He visited parks, picnicked with his friends, and played lots of baseball and AFL football. But Maple has found there are many perks to living in Hesston, too.

Maple poses for a picture in front of the scenery of Hahndorf Hill. Photo courtesy of Sean Maple.

“Now living in a small town I feel like I understand myself better, this being my image as a person and what I desire most in life,” Maple said.

The teeming metropolis of Tokyo; with its bustling streets, and constant bright lights, is an even starker contrast to Maple’s hometown of Adelaide. So to say Niato had a huge transition when moving to Hesston, KS is an understatement.

To Niato, one of the biggest transitions she had to get used to were the differences in the forms of transportation. There had not been a need to learn how to drive, because she would rely on public transportation.

“I could go to the convenience store within three minutes from my home, and if I ride on the train just one station, there are many clothes shops or restaurants,” Niato said.

Niato is on the volleyball team. She loves the togetherness of the women, and how well everyone gets along. Not only does she spend lots of time with her teammates, but you will frequently hear Niato and her friends giggling through the hallways.

“I really appreciate my friends,” Niato said.

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