From Tokyo to Spain! A UNINEST JAPAN resident's award-winning design skills take her to Europe!
From studying abroad, to backpacking, to studying foreign languages, to graduation, to job hunting... University student life is an exciting time overflowing with opportunity and abundant in adventure. However, to embark upon new and enriching experiences, it's critical that students put their ambitious ideas into action, take chances, and be mindful of the power of timing.
This interview highlights our driven and talented resident Miho, an architectural design student. While living at UNINEST JAPAN, Miho was presented with the chance to have a unique trip abroad. Check out the story of her overseas travels below!
【 Background: A Global Architecture Design Competition open to all UNINEST Residents 】
UNINEST JAPAN manages international student dormitories where Japanese students and students from outside of Japan live, study, and grow together.
Not only do we hope that our students enjoy their time spent living in our facilities, but we also aim to provide culturally diverse experiences that inspire our students to broaden their perspectives.
For example, UNINEST, via connecting its student dormitories worldwide, hosted a global architecture design competition!
"THE STUDY SPACES OF TOMORROW DESIGN CHALLENGE
Winners are invited to join an exclusive design workshop abroad!"
【Design Challenge Overview】
Competition participants were prompted to design a "bedroom of the future" with a focus on the well-being and happiness of its occupants. Original bedroom designs inspired by cutting-edge technology, nature, mixed color palettes, and a variety of other creative themes were submitted by dormitory residents from around the world. In the end, ten talented entrants were invited to join an exclusive design workshop held in Spain!
【 Meet Miho! With a little encouragement, she entered the competition. 】
One of the ten talented competition winners was UNINEST JAPAN's very own MIHO!
UNINEST：Hey there, Miho! We know you're a studious architecture student, but can you let us know a little bit more about why you entered this particular competition?
MIHO：I actually saw a flyer about it posted inside HAKUSAN HOUSE. Initially, I had just thought, "Whoa... That sounds pretty amazing!" Afterward, Jessica and the other staff members encouraged me to apply by saying, "These kinds of opportunities are far and few between!" Shortly after sending in my design, I was totally surprised when I received an email titled, "Congratulations!"
UNINEST：We can imagine it must've been a really exciting moment for you! Again, congratulations!
MIHO：I honestly didn't think I'd be a winner!
UNINEST：So, the topic for the 2019 competition was "bedroom design". What was your personal approach to this topic?
MIHO：My "bedroom design" focused on three main features. A room with plenty of privacy, storage space, and natural light in the morning.
Miho's Design: A large window to light up the entire room, a bed equipped with an electrical socket (convenient for late night laptop studies), and drawers installed under the bed for maximum storage!
UNINEST：It looks like a really comfortable space to unwind and recharge in!
MIHO：I think storage is really important for students. In studying architecture myself, I own a lot of tools to create design models. After I bring these models home from my campus, I need a place to store them. I've organized my room to maximize the storage capability of all spaces. One thing I would change about my room's current design... It would be great if the walls could be used to hang clothing!
UNINEST：Gotcha! It sounds like your design could easily draw inspiration from your life as a student. So, now you've won the competition. Next stop... Spain!
MIHO：Yes! One of my friends was actually studying in Spain at the time. I thought I'd fly out a bit early to go and spend some time with them. However, when my luggage was going through inspection, it got stuck at the airport!
UNINEST：You're kidding me! Oh no!
MIHO：I only had a small backpack with me. So, I was pretty much empty-handed!
UNINEST：That must've been so overwhelming!
MIHO：Yeah, it honestly was! Lol... But when I finally landed in Spain and met my friend, I felt relieved. We went sightseeing in Sitges, a coastal town famous for its ocean views. A lot of the buildings were white, and the overall atmosphere was really beautiful.
The summery seaside of Sitges!
The sunny streets of Spain!
MIHO：Europe is different from Japan in that it feels like the architectural style is leftover from history. It's as if the style has been preserved from a much earlier time. No matter where I stopped to take a photo, all of the scenery was really interesting for me.
One of Spain's most legendary landmarks, the Sagrada Familia! It was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi.
MIHO：I had the chance to see the Sagrada Familia! It's such an incredibly detailed structure! I'd never seen a design so intricate in my life, and I became really curious about how it was originally constructed and what materials it was made from.
【 From scenery to studies! Miho's itinerary leads her to the design workshop. 】
UNINEST：So, after enjoying some of Spain's sightseeing essentials with your friend, next came the much anticipated design workshop! If you don't mind, could you share with us your full itinerary?
MIHO：Sure! Here's what I did, day by day.
MIHO's 2019 Architecture Adventure in Spain
UNINEST：The other workshop participants were all residents from other UNINEST dormitories around the world, right?
MIHO：Yeah, from England to Egypt, the other students were from all over! Even though we had never met, after doing some warmup activities to get to know each other, we could all hangout easily.
The workshop participants exploring Spain via the subway.
MIHO：As I mentioned in my itinerary, we were asked to give a presentation about the designs we made for the competition. However, the materials I prepared for this were saved on a USB that was stored in my suitcase...
UNINEST：In your suitcase! So... it was stuck back in Japan?
MIHO：Yeah... Sadly, I wasn't able to give my presentation. Lol... But seeing the designs of the other participants was really great. Everyone had strong presentation skills. I was impressed by how clearly they could express their thoughts and opinions.
UNINEST：Ah, that must've felt quite different from the atmosphere of university in Japan. By the way, speaking of your lost suitcase, didn't it have all of your clothes and daily essentials packed? What did you do?
MIHO：Yeah, I only had the clothes on my back! Luckily, the other workshop participants were a huge help. They bought toiletries for me, and they even lent me their own clothing. I was really grateful for all their help.
MIHO：I have a lot of great memories from my time spent in Spain. Enjoying a meal on a rooftop and dining at a fancy restaurant were both fun experiences for me. At night, the cities in Spain were so lively and filled with music. I could witness many things different from life in Japan.
Ready for dinner! The flavors used in Spanish cuisine are stronger than those found in Japanese cooking.
One of the UNINEST dormitories Miho toured. The bedrooms are equipped with excellent storage space (left), and the dorm's lounge provides a bright and open space for residents to chill in (right).
Bedroom designs sketched by Miho and her peers. On to the presentation!
UNINEST：So, to conclude the workshop you were given the challenge to design a bedroom as a group. How did you and the other students work together to combine your design ideas?
MIHO：Well, we were all assigned different areas of bedroom to direct, like the bed or study desk. I oversaw the room's lighting design with one other boy. We took into consideration things like what color of lighting to use, where to install lights, and how many lights to include.
UNINEST：What sorts of design concepts did the students from other countries share?
MIHO：Hmmm... Even though we were all from different places, our objective was to create a space focused on "well-being". So, our thinking was actually quite similar. For example many of us thought to include lots of storage space, big windows for natural lighting, and plants.
UNINEST：That's pretty interesting! Although different in nationality, you could say your ideas were "beyond borders".
MIHO：Yeah, definitely! Even some of our individual "dream" bedroom designs submitted for the competition had similarities.
A student selfie snapshot. Thank you for all inspiration!
UNINEST：So, the time has come to present the final design! At long last, you could finally take the presenter's mic!
MIHO：Yeah! I was so nervous to give the presentation in English! I literally had no knowledge of architectural terminology. I think I could have enjoyed it more if I had stronger English language abilities. So, I felt that I have to actively study English after returning to Japan. My university courses don't put much emphasis on English, so I want to push myself to study independently.
UNINEST：It sounds like you could get a lot of inspiration in Spain! We're really glad to hear that you could enjoy your time there!
【 A firsthand review of UNINEST JAPAN! Miho shares her story of choosing to live with us. 】
UNINEST：As we've mentioned, you're studying architecture design. So, would you be so kind as to lend your expertise and give us a review of your home at UNINEST JAPAN, HAKUSAN HOUSE?
MIHO：Oh! Haha, well, if you must insist!
Architecture Design Major Miho reviews HAKUSAN HOUSE!
MIHO：I'm really satisfied with design of the bed areas in the Share Nest (6-person room). The layout makes maximal storage use of all available space. The pull-out desk surface built into the closet is also clever and super convenient!
MIHO：The tables, chairs, and sofas throughout the building are clean and stylish. Some of my friends have commented that the common areas look like cafes!
MIHO：I also really love the cinema room! My friend and I actually had a Star Wars marathon in there. We watched the entire series, back-to-back.
UNINEST：It sounds like you make great use of all the amenities at HAKUSAN HOUSE. That's happy news for us!
MIHO：To add, the staff are also kind, friendly, and easy to talk to. I actually moved from Fukuoka prefecture to attend school here in Tokyo. When I was searching online for a place to stay, I decided upon HAKUSAN HOUSE before touring the building.
UNINEST：That's a big move across the country! Even with the pictures and videos we have available online, it can be a little difficult to fully imagine the living situation here at UNINEST JAPAN, huh?
MIHO：Yeah, I think so. So, before I moved in, I called HAKUSAN HOUSE many times to ask about my room's furnishings. Does the room have a bed? What other furniture is included? The staff always took my calls and answered all my questions. It was really helpful when preparing to move.
UNINEST：We're happy to hear that! Our staff members truly love talking to students. On a final note, we have one more question! Could you share with us what aspect of UNINEST JAPAN you think best encompasses the idea of "well-being".
MIHO：Hmm... Well, I think UNINEST JAPAN is a great fit for any Japanese student who is thinking of studying abroad, because you can experience native English on a daily basis while living in Tokyo. Co-living with non-Japanese students, it sometimes feels as if I'm not in Japan. So, I think this characteristic is focused on "well-being". Before living at HAKUSAN HOUSE, I had no opportunities to interact with people from other countries. Now, not only have I had the chance to practice using English, but I've made a lot of great international friends and learned about their cultures. It's been really fun for me!
UNINEST：Hearing that makes us smile! So, through the many experiences we've chatted about today, have you found a new goal moving forward?
MIHO：When I was talking to some of my foreign friends, I was telling them how I'd like to live and work in countries all around the world. Even though I'm not totally clear on what I may do in the future, a big goal of mine is to definitely use English more and more in my daily life.
UNINEST：That's awesome! With that motivation, we are certain that you'll have many more unique experiences and opportunities to meet a diversity people. All of us here at UNINEST JAPAN are excited to see where life's adventure takes you next, Miho!