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【Tenant's Interview】My story of living in Philippines, even my English wasn’t good

BORDERLESS HOUSE is a multinational sharehouse where young people from all over the world can live under one roof and interact with people from diverse backgrounds.
In addition to providing a space to practice English and Japanese, BORDERLESS HOUSE also allows for strong friendships and lifelong memories to be formed!
With residents from all over the world gathered in one space, there tend to be many people with different senses of humor and lifestyles.

Therefore, we will begin a new project called "Borderelss Residents," where we will be sharing the stories of individuals who have experienced personal growth and change due to their encounters at BORDERLESS HOUSE.

Our first interviewee is Mr. Satis Kiyota who moved to Tokyo as a new graduate and stayed with BORDERLESS HOUSE for two and a half years. After graduating from a foreign-affiliated company, he then immigrated to the Philippines.

Employed in Tokyo. BORDERLESS HOUSE supported me from the very beginning to the end of my time in Tokyo.

→First, please introduce yourself.

My name is Kiyota. When I was living at BORDERLESS HOUSE my nickname was Satis. My hometown is Fukuoa, and in college I majored in physics. One of my main hobbies is scuba diving, and I am usually described as having a straight-forward and real personality.

I moved to Tokyo as a new college graduate and started living at BORDERLESS HOUSE.

After living in BORDERLESS HOUSE for about two and a half years, I retired from my job in Tokyo and moved out so that I could go to the Philippines.


→What was your job here in Tokyo?
I was in charge of management consulting at a foreign company.

After graduation, I vaguely knew that I wanted to go to Tokyo, but with my background in science-based manufacturing, it was likely that I would be locally employed, outside of Tokyo. However, by looking into other careers and industries, I was lucky enough to get a job offer from a foreign-affiliated consultant in Tokyo.

ーWhy did you decide to live in BORDERLESS HOUSE after graduating?
My primary goal was to study English.
Because I was working for a foreign-owned company, I knew that I was likely to use English at work.

English was not my strong point in junior or high school so in order to study English as much as possible I thought "I should live together with foreigners," and searched for a sharehouse.

ーYou moved into a sharehouse to learn English, so how did it actually go? Were you able to practice and use English?
To be honest, I didn’t actually use that much English in the first year (lol).
My company also didn’t use English as much as I had thought, and the residents at the sharehouse where I first moved in, Myogadani (which has been renamed now to Ikebukuro Higashi house), was full of foreigners that were good at Japanese (lol).

Especially one of the foreign residents, Sean, was really good at Japanese, and actually ended up teaching me kanji. Looking back, I’m really grateful for my first sharehouse experience at Myogadani. I next moved to Omori house because I thought “I’m already used to sharehouse life, so why don’t I just try living with a larger number of people?” Once I moved to Omori, I felt that I was able to learn more English than before

ーCertainly, there are individuals who become very good at Japanese as well… Why do you say that your first experience at Ikebukuro Higashi house was so great?

The number of people living at the house was smaller, and so the community was already strong when I moved in, making it a natural transition and easy for me to fit in.
When I moved in, I felt that everyone was very kind and easygoing so there was no need for me to be nervous.
Sean would often bring friends over to make food at the house, which was really fun.
Also, to some extent I was able to have conversations in Japanese, and not being confident in my English, there were many people who met me half-way with my language ability, so I was glad that any fear of living together disappeared.

ーHow was your experience at Omori house? Why do you feel that you were able to learn English there?
There were 29 residents at Omori house so the people were always changing, making for new and refreshing experiences every day.
Many of the residents had never been to Japan, and so I feel that my English just improved naturally.
But if anything, I found myself realizing that “Even if I cannot speak English perfectly, I can still manage to communicate!” which I think was a really great shift in thinking.

I think communication wasn’t just about language

ーWhat do you mean by “Even if I can’t speak English perfectly, I can still manage!”

Even if you don’t understand the words, you can read facial expressions, gestures, and the mood in order to understand what is being conveyed.
There are many moments when I relied on this concept and as my English trailed off, I thought “Well, even without saying the rest, they’ll somehow understand, right?”
Whenever I spoke English, I felt I could get by with the same spirit as the Japanese comedian Degawa (lol). Thanks to these experiences, I began to clearly imagine how I would be able to live overseas.

Despite different religions, cultures and diets, we all shared similar likes and dislikes.

ーI see! Certainly, it is a common story from residents that they are able to gain confidence! What other impressions did you get from living with BORDERLESS?
Being friends with many working people living in the house, I was able to learn a lot about a variety of industries and broaden my horizons.

Also, with both foreigners and Japanese tenants living together, I thought “Shockingly, everyone is able to come together as one!”

Of course, there were different religions, cultures, and diets, but to all, the fun things were fun, the bad things were bad, and I’m glad to have lived together; I realized there are few obstacles to communication.

Sharehouse in the Philippines. While traveling I thought I would make a living doing web production.

ーWhy did you leave BORDERLESS HOUSE?
I was planning on quitting my job, and starting thinking about what I wanted to do afterwards.
So why not try going abroad?
I resigned from my company of two-and-a-half years and left BORDERLESS HOUSE to go abroad.

ーWhy did you leave the company and decide to go abroad?

I thought “I’m not really cut out for office work.”
I really disliked the feeling that I didn’t have the authority to be dealing with other people’s problems.
I met various people at BORDERLESS HOUSE and was interested in many different countries, so I decided to go backpacking overseas.
However, I didn’t want to limit my experience because of finances, so I intended to make money while traveling.

ーHow did you intend to make money?
Through web production.
I found a sharehouse in Cebu, Philippines where you can learn programming.
After living and studying there, I planned to travel the world!

ーt’s so interesting that there is a sharehouse dedicated to learning programming! How was that experience?

The house was run by a Japanese person and the residents were all Japanese, so I didn’t have any problems even while living abroad for the first time.
But in the middle of my time there I realized, “Oh, I’m not cut out for web production either” (lol).
So, I stopped learning programming.
As I was already comfortable living in the Philippines, and although I still planned to travel the world, I lived there for about a year.

ーWhy did you find living in the Philippines so great? What did you do with your year there?
The number one reason was that I was in an environment where it was easy for me to live.
The Japanese community there was great.
We didn’t interfere with each other, but when it was time to have fun, we were all able to come together for a really good time!
Also, I was able to continue working on my English!
Even though my English was weird, everyone was really kind and I was able to get through daily life comfortably.
It was the same environment as my sharehouse life, what I would refer to as the spirit of Omori house (lol). It was a country in which I could get by with the spirit of “Unexpectedly, somehow it will all work out.”
Since I had stopped studying web production, I was able to spend my time relaxing while helping out with housemates’ work and going sightseeing.

ーDid you go to any other countries during your time in the Philippines?

Yes, I went to a few different countries. I mainly went to places with direct flights from the Philippines such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Macau, China and Indonesia, all which had unique and new things to offer.
Even when visiting neighboring countries, it was interesting to see how different the atmosphere and culture was.
When I lived in BORDERLESS HOUSE, I often sympathized with the thought that “Oh, we are all the same,” but after personally experiencing life abroad, I realized it was more like, “We are similar, but different.”
I was really excited to see the spread of things that are unthinkable in Japan.

ーThat’s so wonderful! Do you think you will return to the Philippines after the end of the coronavirus?
I want to go to Cebu to have fun and play. Because it is basically my second home (lol).But, I think it would also be fun to experience the culture of a different country which I haven’t yet visited.So I want to challenge myself in a new country such as Europe, Africa, and North and South America. I want to try going to countries like North Korea. Either way, I’m really just interested in experiencing the differences between cultures in different countries.

In regards to personal change, I feel that the world has become closer.

ーThat’s so great! I definitely want to hear more from the world-traveller Satis. Lastly, what is the “change” that you may have had while living in BORDERLESS HOUSE?

In simple words, it is that the world has become closer.

“I’m going overseas” has become a natural decision and choice for me.

Like I said at the beginning, when I was in middle and high school, English was a super weak point for me.

Before moving into BORDERLESS, the thought of going abroad had never even crossed my mind.

However, living in a sharehouse with foreigners and internationally-minded people has helped me come to terms with and visualize the unknown world overseas.

ーI think that’s really wonderful! Finally, please give some words to our readers!
First, definitely try out a room-viewing.
I personally went to a room-viewing consultation and received a lot of suggestions from the staff which greatly strengthened my decision to go with a sharehouse.
Even with a room-viewing, if you are still undecided, just try moving in anyways!
The initial costs are low and the contract period is short, just one month. Also since you can always move to a different house, the risk is low.
If you move in, you’ll be in the capital city, and I can guarantee that it will be interesting!

ーBecause the world became closer, this time I feel that Satis had the spirit to want to actively take a step into the world. Thank you so much for your wonderful story!

Editor’s Note

Despite not being confident speaking English, Satis was able to overcome this obstacle and jump head first into environments with the attitude that “It will all work out somehow.” After having now taken a step into the world, it was a story which allowed all the excitement to be re-experienced. Encounters with other people are certain to bring about wonderful personal changes. BORDERLESS HOUSE has many unique residents from all over the world. Would you like to experience a change?


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