【Tenant’s Interview】 Neighbors’ stories vol.1
It’s time to start a new series of tenant’s interview called 「Neighbors’ stories」.
With more than 2,000 rooms in over 40 different locations across Japan, over 10,000 people have experienced Social Apartment since we first opened. We believe that Social Apartment represents a new standard in what life in a shared property can look like and that living here can have a real impact on your life. People who lived with us experienced many things: laughing, crying, friendship, love, change, personal growth…
Through one-on-one interviews, 「Neighbors’ stories」 will introduce the stories of the people who call Social Apartment home. Let’s start our very first interview with Lee Farbstein (24) from New York, currently residing in World Neighbors Gokokuji.
SA: Hello Lee-san. First of all, can you tell us why you came to Japan?
Lee: You have to select at least one major language at the University in the United States, and I made the mistake to choose Spanish, which was immediately frustrating for me (laugh). I’m a big fan of Japanese culture, but also Anime and video games, so I decided to switch to a Japanese major instead and I didn’t regret it at all. I became very good friend with my teacher and I enjoyed studying Japanese so much. I had the chance to study for a short-term period in Japan. After graduating from College in the US, I decided to take the leap of faith and come back to Japan to start a new life.
SA: How did you hear about Social Apartment?
Lee: I used to live in an apartment all by myself in the Kasai area when I arrived in Japan in September 2014. While attending a language school, and because I wanted to learn more Japanese, I started working for an Izakaya (Japanese pub) every day after class. I started to level up my Japanese and finally was able to understand and talk with other staff members. After that, living alone started to feel very lonely and I started to hate it. I talked about it with my colleagues and they introduced me to your World Neighbors Gokokuji property. That’s how I met you guys!
SA: We have to thank that colleague who introduced you as well then! You immediately decided to move to our World Neighbors Gokokuji, was it any different than living all by yourself?
Lee: It was the best decision I ever made. I was able to talk to so many different people in Social Apartment, a complete different feeling than living alone. It feels so great to have some friends to talk to in the morning. I love talking to people, watching the morning shows on TV while eating breakfast with everybody, talking about news, music, movies, etc. Japanese people were also able to help me with my homework, right before leaving for school. In return, I was helping them with English.
SA: It seems you’re having fun in the morning there. Can you tell us what happened after your graduated from your language school?
Lee: After graduating, I was able to get a job teaching English to children. I was actually aiming at a more higher position where I could be able to acquire some leadership qualities so I decided to change job, and I’m now an English instructor for companies. I love talking to people more than anything, and I love meeting new people on the job. I can have so many fun talks at work now and I really feel satisfied with where I’m at.
SA: Indeed, it really looks like the perfect job for you if you love talking to people. How do you spend your time during your day off?
Lee: I usually spend most of my time with other tenants living at World Neighbors Gokokuji. We relax in the lounge, watch a movie, listen to music or cook together. There is always different members in the lounge, I never plan what I will do ahead of time. I just love relaxing there.
SA: Do you usually participate in the different events organized in the property?
Lee: Of course! There’s always fun events planned each year for the Valentine’s day or White day. There’s also some very high level events on Halloween and Christmas. I remember last time we all went together to the hot springs in Hakone, about 80 people. But the best memory I have here was for my Birthday last year. My birthday is on August 8th, the “Leaves Day” (葉っぱの日) in Japan (laugh). It has nothing to do with it but I got a Yukata (summer kimono) as a present from everybody, so I could wear it for the Fireworks festival happening on the same day. We all went together on that day. It’s one of the best memory I have in Japan.
SA: Nice! It seems that you care a lot about your friends there. By the way, what are your hobbies?
Lee: I just started a Youtube Channel with some of my friends at World Neighbors Gokokuji. We want to show all these cool and interesting places in Japan, but not the places that everyone knows about, the big famous places. We want to show the kind of hidden gems, the places that not everybody knows about. For example, we just made a video about Yanaka Ginza and Yushima, which is usually not a very famous location according to guide books. I want to introduce such places in the future.
SA: It’s great that you could do that with other tenants! It’s also great for Japanese members since they can study English while participating in your videos. We definitely look forward for your next video! As I talk to you, you seem very happy with your current lifestyle. Is there anything bothering you recently?
Lee: Yeah, actually I became quite lazy studying Japanese recently. I talk a lot with the other Japanese tenants, but don’t have much chance to practice my reading and writing skills together. I don’t have much time to study overall.
SA: What’s something that you cherish in your life?
Lee: “One day at a time”. That’s my motto. Don’t plan ahead and accept each day as they come by. Don’t think too much about the future. I never thought living in Japan for such a long time, yet, I might still be here after 5 years from now. One day at a time. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
SA: That’s a nice way of life you have found there. Do you sometimes have trouble communicating with other tenants?
Lee: I kind of felt a distance with other tenants when I first moved-in here. Now, I really feel close to everybody. I especially became good friends with all the people I had the chance to eat breakfast with. One day, I was eating breakfast with my friends and somebody told me “It really feels like home here, you are my family now!”. It made me so happy to hear that because that’s when I realized I was really fitting in.
SA: What is the most valuable thing for you at Social Apartment?
Lee: It’s the people, it’s the connection, absolutely. 200%. That is the most important thing. There is always something interesting, always something new, meeting new people, everyday is adventure.
SA: Whatever Nationality or age, whatever background, we feel that you were able to find a place that feels like a real family to you at Social Apartment. It’s a wonderful experience we much envy! Cherish the connections with people in life, have fun with the moment. Thank you very much for your time!
■ See Lee’s property – WORLD NEIGHBORS GOKOKUJI:
■ Discover Lee’s Youtube Channel here: