Riko Mochizuki, a sophomore finance and economics major born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, came to Manhattan College two years ago with a dream of one day working on Wall Street.
Mochizuki decided to attend an American school because of a larger variety of majors compared to schools in Japan. “American schools teach you more practical skills and knowledge to prepare you for the real world,” she said. She dreams of one day working in investment banking, either in coverage, investor relations or fundraising.
“I love finance and economics more than anything else,” Mochizuki said. Client-based banking is Mochizuki’s interest and MC was a place where she could start taking steps toward reaching her goals.
The summer after her freshman year, Mochizuki successfully landed an internship on Wall Street, interning with a Brokerage Firm specializing in options and futures. “I learned a lot and loved it but it’s not what I want to do in the future,” she explained.
Mochizuki is more interested in working on an international stage in client-based banking. While Japanese companies are doing better because of their economic policies, “Japanese investors hate taking risks and investing in foreign companies and products,” she said.
She hopes that one day she will be able to connect domestic companies to these international companies, and help create a positive relationship between companies of two places she adores.
While Mochizuki’s home city of Tokyo is in some ways very similar to New York City, she believes Tokyo is more organized and easier to navigate via public transportation. The trains are never late, and in the event that they are, it would not be out of the ordinary for a passenger to be given a card that reimburses them for the fare if the train was, in fact, late. The weather in Tokyo can sometimes be a little bit more humid in the summer but the four seasons are exactly like New York City.
While Mochizuki loves the city where she grew up, New York is also a place where she feels right at home. Although she has traveled extensively, New York is the only place where she’s comfortable walking her speed.
“I walk fast even if I’m not in a hurry…people do this in Tokyo and New York…it’s very fast paced which I really like,” she said. New York is also very international and diverse, and Mochizuki enjoys meeting all different kinds of people. “The people are very driven and know why they’re in New York,” she added.
New York is extremely welcoming to people from different countries and just being in the city has really motivated Mochizuki. “I constantly see really successful people, one day I want to be like them and experience that…New York is not as showy as other places, more of a reflection of hard work,” she said.
Back home, a perfect day in Tokyo for Mochizuki would be spent in the neighborhood where she grew up. This region, bordered by Ebisu, Daikanyama and Hiroo, is a triangular area that is more westernized than other areas within the city. It is filled with shops and restaurants where “you can find everything you want and need,” according to Mochizuki.
Fall in Tokyo is the perfect season, with what Mochizuki believes to be “perfect weather.” On nice fall days, she enjoys spending time outside in either the parks around the city or open terrace cafes.
“Here people think sushi is real Japanese food, but sushi in Tokyo is very expensive and is not the same as sushi here,” Mochizuki said, reflecting on the food she misses from home. Sushi in Japan is rice with raw fish on top and is usually served on special occasions. A more typical meal in Japan includes a bowl of miso soup and side dishes such as pickled vegetables and baked fish, which is served at breakfast time.
For anyone traveling to Tokyo, a must-do when in the city according to Mochizuki includes visiting Bicqlo, a combined electronics and clothing store. Tokyo is famous for technology and quality and both stores are very affordable.
Another thing to do is visit a public bathroom, which Mochizuki calls “the best in the world.” The toilets in Japan play music, usually classical music, and some even have recordings that sound like running water. The small details in the bathrooms are what make them unique and worth seeing.
Taking a subway is also a very different experience in Japan than it is in New York City. The cars have more room, are always on time, and can take you anywhere in the city in a fraction of the time it would take via a different type of transportation.
With her entire family still in Japan, Mochizuki is the first to study abroad and also the first not majoring in medicine or law. “Everyone in my family is either a doctor or lawyer,” Mochizuki said.
Her family owns several clinics in Tokyo, and hoped that one day Mochizuki would take care of these clinics. Unfortunately, Mochizuki cannot stand the sight of blood and admits that she is not as good at math and science as her other family members. “My brother got into medical school and hopefully he’ll take care of everything,” she said.
Even though Mochizuki is very close with all of her family members, she is definitely the closest with her mother and uncle, talking with them at least once a week. Her mother and uncle have really influenced her and helped her “become who I am and how I am,” she said.
However, it is not always easy for her mother to have a daughter so far away. Mochizuki’s mother, Rie Mochizuki, deals with the challenge of having a daughter studying abroad by trying to keep in contact as much as she can, given the circumstances. One of the biggest challenges is contacting her daughter as frequently as she would like, which is made difficult by the thirteen hour time difference between Japan and the United States.
Using free apps that allow her mother to call or message her has helped alleviate some of the challenges of studying abroad. Mochizuki’s parents also keep in touch with a close network of their friends in NYC to make sure there is always someone to help their daughter out, such as their friends who are doctors or lawyers in the city.
While Mochizuki loves the city where she grew up, New York City has welcomed her with open arms, giving her opportunities she never would have had if she had not taken the leap and chosen a different path than the family members before her.