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Tenant's Interview ▏Living in a Share House while Experiencing Working Holiday in Kyoto

From this interview with one of our tenants at Borderless House, we would like to show you a little about what made them choose Borderless House and what life living at a multi-cultural sharehouse has been like for them!

It is a great way to get a feel for the environment at our sharehouses! 

Interview with Tarek from Canada, who came to Kyoto on a Working Holiday visa, and spent 6 months at Borderless House Kuramaguchi

  •  - How did you find BORDERLESS HOUSE? Also, why did you choose to stay at Borderless House?

I found Borderless House through Reddit. There was a “Moving to japan” subreddit and it gives a lot of information about Japan, and there was a list of “Foreigner friendly housing options” for people that are looking for a short-term stay in japan.

And I chose Borderless House because I saw all the profiles of different people and different nationalities and what they're doing in japan. It seemed like a very welcoming place with a lot of live interaction with both Japanese and foreigners, where I could get an immediate sense of community in Japan. Since I wouldn't have had one otherwise if I moved in by myself into my own apartment. And having to form my own social circle talking to strangers.

  • - Did you have any concerns or worries before coming? How did you solve them?

Initially, getting the visa. Since when I was applying, it was during the end of the pandemic. So, I had a concern about having a company sponsor me to come here. And then the second biggest was definitely the accommodation. Knowing how difficult it is to get accommodation as a foreigner in a country where you're not really established.

Borderless House did really help a lot because I was the most worried about just being alone in a country where you don't understand anything with the language barriers. Such as the Borderless House staff would gather events to meet new people. My housemates have been very helpful as well. They would make a phone call for you, and go to the ward office with you. So those difficulties were solved due to my own research as well as the support of my housemates and the staff here.

  • - When you applied for the share house and the other process, did you think everything went smoothly?

It was surprisingly fast. I mean I just put in the form and then 10 minutes later. The staff from Borderless House contacted me on skype and he was: do you have time for a call right now we talked and my accommodation was settled. The process went smoothly.

During the Skype call, everything was very easy to understand. Everything was given to you straight up as you were talking about it. Nothing was really unclear about the process and it was kind of easy that you could just pay with your credit card, you don't have to worry about being in the country to actually get the accommodation, which is kind of a big barrier.

For a lot of people where you need a Japanese address or to be in the country to actually rent something. And it was much easier online. You got everything in like 30 minutes and then you just signed up if you feel comfortable with the property.

Living with 13 people - It might seem daunting at first, but there's lots of room for new experiences.

  • - How did you like your stay at BORDERLESS HOUSE KYOTO-KURAMAGUCHI?

At first, I was kind of worried to be living with 13 other people. I'm kind of a solitary person for the most part, but I grew to like it pretty quickly.

I noticed that every night, there was something going on there. It was either just someone to drink with or a small party or an event. It might seem daunting at first, but there's lots of room for new experiences. And you really want to put yourself in the position as if you were in your normal day-to-day life.

Because if I live alone after I go home, I would just watch TV, play video games, go to sleep, and then it'll be the next day, whereas you don’t like that option of comfort, which is a bit of a downside, but it also forces you out of your comfort zone and gets you to do more things.

  • - What do you like the most about living in a share house/ living with others?

It's definitely the parties. Such as welcome parties, bye-bye parties. It is just the sense of community at the end of the night.

They're always different conversations going on. You're talking to different people, meeting new people. There's no single one that stands out but just the memory of the “Sense of community”, when we would all come together and just be like one, big international family.

The share house life is much better than I expected

  • - Do you have your own private time even living in a share house?

Yeah, sure, in my private time, what I usually like to do is go to the river close to the share house. So I'll just put on my headphones, take a walk and then grab a coffee at a nice cafe nearby in the neighborhood.

I enjoy walking over to the river, using my camera, or just sitting there for a couple of hours, just watching the river.

  • - Have you ever lived in this kind of environment before? Is everything the same as you imagined?

No, the only other people I would ever live with were my parents. This is my first time living with this amount of people and like, strangers,

It was much closer than I imagined because I pictured myself to be a bit more standoffish. But it was nicer because you always hear horror stories about living with others, but I feel like I got very lucky with my housemates. They are very considerate and always very kind to each other. So it's much better than I expected.

Learn Japanese! - it's like having seven free Japanese tutors around in the house

  • - How good is your Japanese? How do you communicate with your housemates?

Not very good. (Laugh) Most of my housemates speak a basic level of English. And the worst-case scenario is just emoting in sign language, you mix English and Japanese. It's all about really trying and just trying to get the message across. It's a lot of sign language and guesswork, but you get the message across to people.

  • - How did living with Japanese people help you learn Japanese?

I did two weeks at a language school, but I did not like actually doing the process of like going every week, just because I felt like that was a bit too much commitment. But the immersion and like seeing how the words are used in more of a colloquial context, like a day-to-day context.

I wouldn't be able to speak Japanese in a very proper way, but I learn a lot, like the day-to-day conversation, slang, and useful phrases. There are daily expressions for you to do and do every day. So just by talking you pick up on them and what they're saying in the context and then you internalize it that way. And then if you're seeing it wrong, you get corrected right away.

So it's like having seven free Japanese tutors just moving around.

  • - We know that you also make a lot of friends from different share houses of BORDERLESS HOUSE!

Yeah, Borderless House is a bit interconnected, for example, every once in a while, some tenants would come down from Tokyo Borderless House. Also, there are events like the sports days or Momiji.

You have your own community, but you also have a little bit of an extended community.
Events pop up to have the opportunity to meet other people, from outside your house. And interact with them as like, you have your new family here and then you have your extended family inverse of Japan.

Could you give some advice for those who are planning to move to Japan from overseas?

Learn Japanese first! And, just keep your mind open and don't shut things off because you think that they're not going to be for you or that scary. Just take the chance, because not making a decision is in itself a decision.

So, go for it to your best and just keep trying.

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