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Top>Hakumon CHUO [2011 Winter Issue]>[Topics] Expanding international exchange through our universit y's first international dormitory Japanese students and foreign students live together Opened this March in Hino City

Hakumon CHUOIndex


Expanding international exchange through our university's first international dormitory
Japanese students and foreign students live together
Opened this March in Hino City

Chuo University's first international dormitory opened this March in the Tamadaira neighborhood of Hino City. The goal of the facility is to cultivate internationalism in Japanese students through communal living with foreign students. Each room houses 3 students: a Japanese student, a self-paying foreign student, and a foreign exchange student. Since the dormitory opened nearly 10 months ago, the scope of international communication has widened greatly.

Inhabited by 50 foreign students from 10 different countries

The international dormitory is located in UR Tamadaira-no-Mori Bldg. 244 (3-1-8 Tamadaira, Hino City), a 4-story building located 10 minutes by foot from Toyota Station on the JR Chuo Line. The dormitory contains a total of 64 rooms. A communal lifestyle is led by all students inhabiting the dormitory, including 50 foreign students from western countries and Asia.

Although all of the inhabitants have a private room, the kitchen, bath and restrooms are all shared. Also, shared space with a large television serves as a place for exchange. Dormitory fees are 60 thousand yen per month, not including food.

Shunsuke Kurokawa, a 1st year student in the Faculty of Law (graduate of Seibu Bunri Senior High School) forms one group with Sung-Yoon Hung, a self-paying foreign student from Korea who is a 1st year student in the Faculty of Commerce, and Julia Kristina Wirth, a foreign exchange student from Germany's University of Wurtzburg who is studying in the Faculty of Law. The three students live in adjacent private units and share a sink area.

Exterior of international dormitory

Shunsuke Kurosawa

Sung-Yoon (left) and Julia (right)

Acquiring language ability and an international perspective

"I started living at the international dormitory at the same time that I started university," says Shunsuke. "I felt peace of mind knowing that my friends from the dorm are studying at the same university, and I was able to get a smooth start to my life at university."

Although Shunsuke had always possessed an interest in international exchange, he decided to enter the international dormitory due to a desire to live alone and at the urging of his parents. "I was worried that I might initially feel a barrier between myself and the foreign students," he said. However, the foreigners were friendly and spoke Japanese well, and Shunsuke became less conscious of their different nationalities the more that they interacted.

"Even though the lifestyle at the international dormitory is communal, it is easy to make private time because everyone has their own room," explains Shunsuke. "When coming home late at night, it's reassuring to see my friends from the dorm in the shared space. As time passes, everyone helps each other to study foreign languages, and the atmosphere keeps improving."

The experience of living together with foreign students has also changed Shunsuke himself. "Actually, I now pay more attention to my own Japanese when I speak," he laughs. "The foreign students always listen intently to my Japanese, so I try to use Japanese correctly."

When communicating with foreign students in a communal lifestyle, it is readily apparent how everyone's language ability improves. Furthermore, Shunsuke has also naturally acquired an international perspective. "I want to get rid of my own stereotypes-almost like prejudices-of foreigners," he says.

Shunsuke is active in AIESEC Japan, a student group which arranges overseas internships in order to produce leaders who will take responsibility for international economic society. In that respect, life at the international dormitory has been useful for his extracurricular activities.

Self-paying foreign students and foreign exchange students

Sung-Yoon, a self-paying foreign student from Korea, arrived in Japan on March 11th, the same day that the Great East Japan Earthquake wrought unprecedented destruction. "The huge earthquake occurred only 1 hour after I had arrived in Japan," recalls Sung-Yoon. "I felt really alone and scared. However, I was reassured by the presence of Japanese students in the dormitory."

Sung-Yoon has experience living in a dormitory in Korea. "In Korea, there are 2 or 3 students in the same room," he explains. "It's nice that the dorm at Chuo has private rooms." At first, Sung-Yoon felt uneasy about the communal lifestyle and was worried whether he would be able to make friends with students from Japan and other countries. "Thankfully, I made friends much faster than I expected," he says happily. "We often go out together." He is enjoying his life at the international dormitory while studying economics.

During the first and second terms, there is a large turnover in students living at the dormitory. This creates the opportunity for new communication with new acquaintances. Julia, an exchange student from Germany, came to Japan on September 5th and lives at the international dormitory.

"I had wanted to live in Japan ever since I was a child," says Julia with a smile. "The international dorm houses students from many different countries, so I am never lonely and can make a lot of friends." True to her word, Julia plays a leading role in a group of multinational friends from Japan, Korea, China and Germany. "Julia is one person who makes it easy for everyone to get along," praises Shunsuke.

Deepening exchange through parties

At the international dormitory, shared space is effectively used to increase international exchange. Occasionally, outdoor parties are also planned. The students prepare food in a shared kitchen space which is fully equipped with rice cookers. Parties featuring French or Vietnamese cooking are held in the dormitory's garden with benches. A Halloween party was also held at the end of October.

Students from outside the international dormitory also come to visit. "It is very lively, and I have been introduced to even more new people through my friends," says Julia. Before her exchange study is completed at the end of next January, we are sure that Julia will engage in even more international exchange and make even more friends.

The share kitchen is fully equipped with rice cookers.

The sink area is shared by a group of 3 students.

Shower room.

(Student Reporter: Saki Watanabe (2nd year student in Faculty of Law)