【Tenant’s Interview】 Neighbors’ stories vol.2
It’s time for the second volume of our tenant’s interview series 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 this second interview with two friends, Anon and Virapol, both from Thailand, who came together to study at Waseda University in Tokyo. They are currently living in our CLUB COPPORA IKEBUKURO, our property located in Ikebukuro and offering private type apartment (bathroom, toilet and kitchen included in the room).
※Virapol on the left side, Anon on the right side.
SA: Anon, Virapol, thanks to both of you for accepting the interview today. Let’s start with the first question, could you tell us what really brings you to Tokyo? Why did you choose to come to Japan?
Anon: I came in Japan because I want to get my MBA here in Tokyo. Right now, I’m studying the MBA program at Waseda University, and I also wanted to learn Japanese as a third language for me.
Virapol: I also have the same reasons as Anon, we are both MBA students at Waseda University.
SA: Did you guys went to the same school back in Thailand?
Anon: No, we actually met each other through friends, like a month before we came in Japan.
Virapol: He studied in Hong Kong and I was a student in Thailand before. We actually never met before that.
SA: And why did you guys wanted to learn Japanese?
Anon: In Thailand, a lots of investors came from Japan and Thai people loves the Japanese culture, so I believed there was an opportunity. I want to bring new stuff from Japan to Thailand, or the other way around. So I think the language is very important. I speak Thai and English, but if I can also speak Japanese fluently, that would be very helpful.
Virapol: Yeah, I want to say the same thing again. The Japanese culture is very popular in Thailand. In my Language school there is a lot of Thai students. Knowing another language is always beneficial for a future career.
SA: How is it then?
Anon: To be honest, the school has been very though so far, so I haven’t got time yet to really focus on my Japanese. But, I hope that at least within 2 years I would be able to get the JLPT N2.
SA: Yes, N2 is a pretty good level if you want to find a job in Japan.
Anon: Yes, I heard that if you don’t have at least N2 in Japan, it’s very difficult to find a good job in a Japanese company. N2 is like the standard here.
SA: Awesome. Could you tell us a bit how did you hear about Social Apartment?
Anon: Actually my friend introduced me to it. He use to live with Social Apartment before and he really liked it. She told me that renting an apartment in Japan is pretty difficult, especially in Tokyo. You have to pay a key-money, have to be able to speak a little bit of Japanese, and not mentioning about the difficulty for a foreigner student to find a landlord who might accept him. Thus, you have to buy your own furniture, kitchenware, washing machine, etc. (Anon lives in a furnished apartment). I think this is a good choice to start off in Japan. I looked up online and everything looked so nice, and you guys really helped me a lot. So I think it’s a good thing to say that I’m happy here.
Virapol: Again, same for me (laugh). I didn’t know any Japanese when I arrived here, I actually tried to book few places before finding Social Apartment, but because I’m a student and can’t speak any Japanese, I got refused so many times. That’s when I found you guys and you saved me.
SA: Well thank you! And thanks to your friend too for introducing our company! So why you guys did picked Ikebukuro specifically?
Anon: We are actually studying in Waseda, and you guys actually have few property around there, but some of them don’t have a private bathroom like here. Here, I have my own bathroom, toilet and kitchen in my room. Ikebukuro is also very convenient to access Waseda.
SA: Yes, this kind of property really gives you the perfect balance between your privacy and enjoying the community here. So, what about living in Japan has been surprising to you? Is there anything you didn’t expect to experience?
Virapol: For me, it’s the convenience of this country! Like the transportation system. The metro and train system literally connects everywhere in the Tokyo City. I love this system in Japan.
Anon: Me, it’s actually the opposite. I know Japanese is famous for being convenient, but sometimes there are some things in Japan that are so not convenient. For example, opening a bank account or get a phone. It really surprised me, I thought everything here was supposed to be very efficient and easy, but actually not so much. That was a bit rough in the beginning to be honest.
SA: I agree. I think the Japanese sticks to formalities, they are not very flexible. You always need the right stamp, or the correct document, otherwise they won’t accept it.
Anon: Yes, and it’s so important here to have a bank account and a local phone number. But when I tried to open a bank account, they told me to get a phone number first. When I tried to get a phone number, they told me to get a bank account first… (Laugh).
SA: Did you experience anything good in Japan since you arrived?
Anon: Oh yes of course! I actually once dropped my money on the street near the apartment, and I only realized it after coming back home. When I came back, it was still there! If you do that in the States or in Thailand, it’s gone in 10 seconds. Here is was there for more than half an hour. I feel so safe here, I love it!
SA: How is actually living here in Social Apartment kind of affected your life?
Virapol: It’s very good! Half of the people living here are Japanese, and some of them let me practice Japanese while I teach them English. It’s a natural way to study and understand Japanese culture and manners.
Anon: And also, you have such a large common area, so we sometimes host parties here. It’s an ideal place to invite your friends over. You generally can’t find this kind of big lounge in a Japanese apartment in Tokyo, unless paying an insane amount of money. It’s the perfect place to socialize.
SA: What’s the latest party you had here?
Anon: We had a big Christmas party. About 20 people came. We actually have a LINE chat group (LINE is a famous Social Network app in Japan) within all the tenants here, and we actually arranged everything over this application.
SA: So all you guys communicate via this LINE application in this building?
Anon: Yeah, it’s very convenient. When somebody is moving-out, they just ask if someone wants some of their stuff they can’t take away and we can share it.
SA: Before you guys moved-in, was there anything that you were kind of worried about?
Anon: At first, I had this image that the common area was going to be too crowded all the time. I was also worried about losing stuff in the common area. But after being here for 3 months, I feel very safe, everyone respects each other.
Virapol: Everybody actually tries to share. You can always find snacks left for everyone on the table, after coming back from a trip for example. They always bring stuff for everyone to enjoy.
SA: Free food. Oh yeah! What do you think about living in the Ikebukuro area?
Virapol: It’s a very big area. It’s a little bit crowded in the morning but it’s so easy to go to school from here. Only 2 stations. You have so many train lines departing from here!
SA: Have you find any shop or restaurant you like around here?
Virapol: There are so many shops here it’s crazy. We actually discovered a lot of nice places on Tabelog (食べログ, a famous Japanese portal for restaurants in Japan). We found some very nice place for Yakiniku, Tsukemen, etc.
Anon: We pretty much explored all the famous restaurants around here (laugh).
SA: What kind of hobbies do you do during your free time?
Anon: I cook. I love cooking! Or go to the gym. Recently I’ve been cooking a lot of stuff from those short videos you can find on Facebook (Tasty, etc.). They are easy to cook, and generally use only simple ingredients that you can find anywhere. Also, I cook when I miss the food from my country. I always bring spices from Thailand. I actually never feel really bored since I came in Japan. There is so many things to explore outside.
Virapol: Most of my free time, I just love being in my room and fall asleep. And then when I wake up, he just finished cooking so I just get out to eat his food (laugh). To be serious, we actually spend a lot of our time doing our homework. We have so many reports to do for class before the end of the semester.
SA: Do you have any advice for anyone who’s thinking coming to Japan? What they should prepare, or what they should about doing?
Anon: Before you come to Japan, you better learn Japanese, at least the basics. We had an event at my school where an entrepreneur from the United States came and told us that you don’t really have to learn Japanese to do your life here. I disagree with that! I feel it’s an obligation. If you live here, you need to adapt and learn the language. If you want to be prepare, you need to learn Japanese. If you are thinking of staying for a long-term here, try to study the basics at least.
Virapol: I agree with him. Even if your level is very low at the beginning, your life will be a thousand time easier for any daily task.
SA: We agree too. That’s a really good advice. Thank you very much for taking your time to answer all of our questions. We wish you all the best for your school and future in Japan!
All the team at Social Apartment would like to wish good luck to both of them!
You too, if you would like to live a new social experience, contact us now!
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