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A guide to surviving dorm life in Japan
Private housing or renting an apartment in Japan, especially in cities, is costly but worry not as other options are on the table, one of which is living at a dormitory ドーミトリー.
If you have experienced communal living back in your home country, while there are differences when you live in one in Japan, you will still manage to get by. It can be overwhelming as Japanese building are structured in a way that all spaces are very much maximized. The usual sizes of apartments or as the locals call them mansion マンシン is slightly small compared to let’s say American apartments. But nevertheless you will be amazed at how by interior, all the spaces and areas are maximized. So you don’t have to worry about efficiency and furnishings. For me, Japan is the main origin of the context of Minimalism. Suffice to say that everything you need is available to you within reach anytime.
Japanese Dormitories for Foreign Students
In Japan, dorms are not necessarily inside the school campus, but are usually nearby and only two or three stations away. If you’re an international student, remember to consider the distance between your campus and prospect dorm when searching for one. Also, most universities in Japan have reserved rooms and spaces for their international students, however limited only, and rents are usually lower.
There are school dorms exclusive for their own students; however, most dormitories in Japan house students both local and international from different universities. Chances are you will stumble upon strangers from time to time at the elevator, cafeteria or lobby lounge; and share a room with Vietnamese, Chinese or Russian roommates. Living with other nationalities can be a challenge because of cultural differences, and an opportunity, as well, because of the unique cultural exchange experience. If you happen to be sharing a room with a Japanese local, maintain a good relationship and learn as much from each other about language, culture, among others.
Dormitory Do’s and Dont’s
Remember that dormitories have House Rules you have to comply. Take note of the recycling and garbage waste segregation, as most dormitories are very particular with this one. Familiarize yourself with the policies in place to avoid getting into hot waters with your dorm manager or caretaker. Remember that you are sharing a place with many people, and it is important to respect their rights, too. Avoid loud music and watch your noise, especially on holy hours. It is important to take note that the Japanese people are very sensitive when it comes to noise. In standard japanese neighborhood, it is never acceptable to be boisterous around the vicinity. As much as possible, avoid loud noises, yelling or screaming during the night.
You are sharing a room with someone else, so make sure to keep things tidy, your clothes and stuff organized, and it would be helpful if you discuss with your roommates the cleaning responsibility and set expectations early on to avoid bickering later on. If your roommates refuse to cooperate and you can’t come up with a compromise, make sure to discuss issues like this with the right people, like the dorm manager, and not with neighboring rooms. You don’t necessary need to be friends with them, as most of you are probably annoyed by each other from time to time, but just make sure to maintain a good and discrete relationship.
Keep in mind that most residents of dormitories are divided between Japanese and non-Japanese, so be conscious about the language. Be patient as many are struggling about their English fluency, and you must also try to communicate with them in japanese even if your japanese isn’t perfect.
Indeed, a dormitory is a place not only to live but to learn and grow, as well. If you are still planning to study and live in Japan, keep these in mind, and may you find your new space for your home-sweet-dorm.