Living in a multicultural community, and study aboard in the UK
Taiga has lived at HAKUSAN HOUSE since around the time its doors first opened. With his bright disposition and sense of adventure, it only makes sense that the next step for Taiga - who fully embraces our "Beyond Books and Borders" vision - would be to head abroad for study in the UK. We took the opportunity to ask about his first encounter with UNINEST and life with us thereafter ahead of his big departure.
【Taiga meets UNINEST】
UNINEST：Hey Taiga! Thanks for making time amid your busy packing schedule!
TAIGA：Not at all! Let's do this!
UNINEST：Great! Can you tell us about where you're from and the university you're attending?
TAIGA：I'm from Ibaraki Prefecture, a rural place surrounded by mountains and the ocean. And I'm a junior (3rd year) at Toyo University, studying in the Department of International Culture and Communication Studies, Faculty of Letters!
UNINEST：International Culture and Communication! That's exactly what life here at UNINEST is!
UNINEST：How did you come across UNINEST?
TAIGA：When I first came to Tokyo, I was living alone in a rented apartment, but it was cramped and I wondered about trying a share house. So when I happened to pass by HAKUSAN HOUSE as a sophomore (2nd year), I headed inside to take a look and was met by the friendly staff who casually asked if I'd like a tour. I did a house viewing and was keen to try living there!
UNINEST：So nice to hear! What is it you liked so much?
TAIGA：From the get go, I wanted to learn English as part of day-to-day life, so the idea of being able to live in an environment similar to studying abroad was great! Then there's the large kitted-out communal spaces that you don't get when living alone; the lounge where students from various countries gather to talk and study, the cinema room, and above all, the rooftop was awesome! I moved in just after returning from a backpacking trip, and I was excited to think that I could use real life English on a daily basis instead of textbooks!
UNINEST：When you started living here, there we more than one hundred residents and just a few of them Japanese, right?!
TAIGA：Totally! Literally like studying abroad. Mornings in my 6-person share apartment, I'd wake up hearing a mix of French and English, wondering and slightly confused as to whether I was in Japan or not.
【Highlights of living in a multicultural community】
UNINEST：So how was it living at a UNINEST student residence for one year?
TAIGA：First up, I think my English ability has improved massively! In the beginning, when I was cooking dinner together with six Americans in the kitchen, I couldn't really catch anything they were saying. In an environment where people chat away while cooking, real life English felt difficult, completely different from the listening classes at uni. But now I can take it all in and express whatever I want to say.
UNINEST：Amazing! Using English as part of daily life might be tough at first, but the motivation to learn among friends is big!
TAIGA：Also, I've come to understand various perspectives while living amid such diversity. In an environment where students from many different countries, schools, and grades come together, each person has a vision of or is searching for their own unique future. In making lots of friends outside Toyo University, it was really inspiring to be around so many ways of thinking, different paths and possibilities for the future - there were a lot of chances to rethink my situation!
Going for dinner and hanging out together, you realise how unique individual people are. It's only natural. So while at first I was quietly wondering what other people thought, I began interacting with these people and expanding my circle of friends. I grew in confidence and started to accept differences in a natural way!
UNINEST：Now, when new students move in, it's you that has become the centre of our ever expanding community. Thank you for creating such an awesome environment here at UNINEST, where we consider community a top priority!
【On being an RA (Resident Assistant)】
UNINEST：How did you find working as an RA, supporting the day-to-day life of student residents together with the main staff?
TAIGA：It was a really great experience because I'd never had the chance to work in a job using both English and Japanese as a student! Even better, the commute was just 30 seconds!! Of course, it is a job and there is discipline to learned, but it's an environment where you are entrusted with various tasks and your ideas are also welcomed.
Event planning and management was a key experience for me. I learned a lot about how to realise projects from start to finish, and how to cater to a multicultural student community. It felt so fulfilled when these events were a big success!
【Why study in the UK？】
UNINEST：How come you decided to study in the UK after living at HAKUSAN HOUSE for a year?
TAIGA：Hmm... I feel I've begun to find my path. I'd always been interested in living abroad, but couldn't understand English at all. That's why I wanted to study overseas. However, while living here at UNINEST, I realised that I actually picked up English. So then I wondered, "Why is it I'm going to study abroad? What's the next step?" I figured that I can further expand on the experiences I've had here living in a multicultural community, but this time in Europe. Since working as an RA, I've also developed an interest in learning more about the business world, so after hearing of a good university in the UK, I decided on that. Moreover, I have a lot of friends in Europe that I met here at HAKUSAN HOUSE, so I'm going to travel around and see them. It's brilliant having friends wherever you go!
【A message from one of UNINEST's veterans!】
UNINEST：Last up, do you have a message for the students who read this article?
TAIGA：In Japan, people tend to study overseas in the US, Australia, Canada, etc. first and foremost because they want to learn English. However, what I now realise is that it would be good (for Japanese) to consider "studying abroad" right here in Tokyo, one day at a time, as of today! Then when they do actually head overseas, it's the challenge of a next step.
UNINEST："One day at a time, as of today" is a really nice way of putting it! For student life, and beyond. Here at UNINEST we'll do our best to create an ever better environment so we can better support students like you who are looking to take the next step!
Thanks so much for today! We can't wait to see how you get on in the UK!
TAIGA：Not at all, thank you! And don't worry, I'll be sure to report back!
UNINEST & TAIGA：Hugs!
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