Depending on how familiar you are with your host country and its language(s), finding accommodations abroad might seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. The University of Tokyo, for instance, offers three categories of housing to its international students: university-funded dorms, private (for-profit) dorms, and private apartments. All of these categories can be explored in both Japanese and English. I applied for housing while I was still in Canada. Hence, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to explore each option in person. I entered a university-funded dorm mainly because they received a significant amount of positive reviews online. The other options weren’t reviewed as extensively.
Dorm life at the University of Tokyo is dramatically different from that of the University of Toronto. Unlike many of U of T’s collegiate residences, rooms here feature individual kitchenettes and washrooms. There is no dining hall. This sort of self-sufficiency makes the rooms feel more like miniature apartments (13m2)— by Japanese real estate standards, they are apartments.
My dorm is significantly less social than what I am accustomed to at Trinity College. The absence of communal spaces, like dining halls and washrooms, makes interaction with other students unnecessary. There are no parties either. Student interaction is rare. But it’s not as bad as it might sound. In a way it enriches my exchange experience, as a social person, by encouraging exploration. Social students have to travel outside the confines of the dorm, in order to find places where they can hang out. My time in Tokyo is limited; I would like to see as much as I can.
There is another way in which the University of Tokyo’s undergraduate dorms differ from those of U of T: they are all off-campus. At the University of Toronto, I was used to waking up an hour before class, and making it to lecture with plenty of time. Living here has made me appreciate the convenience of living on campus. But, on the bright side, living away from campus allows me to see two different parts of the city every day, the areas surrounding campus and my dorm, both of which are exciting neighbourhoods. Moreover, my train pass allows me to get on and off at any of the stops on the route to and from campus, which is great for checking out new locations. Thus, similar to its relatively anti-social attitude, the dorm’s distance from campus encourages me to explore different areas of Tokyo.
If you have any questions about dorms at the University of Tokyo, please comment below! I’ll conclude with a brief preview of what I’ll be writing about in the coming weeks. My Winter Break starts on December 24, at which time I’ll be taking a trip to a few cities in West Japan: Kyoto, Kobe, and, my second home, Hiroshima. I look forward to sharing my travel experiences here. In the meantime, good luck on finals! 期末試験頑張ろう！