Asking international students: What is the charm of the Seibu lines? [Part II] What are the keys to a convenient life that you want to share with future residents?
Tokyo Business and Language College https://www.isi.ac.jp/tbl/
Students come from over 21 countries and territories across the world in order to study English, business, and different cultures together. The College also offers extensive business-academia cooperation and study programs. This international vocational school develops personnel that will make contributions in the global community in the future.
We're sharing our favorite spots!
——Where do you go for shopping on your days off?
Veronica: I go to a used-clothing store in Takadanobaba. I go to such stores because I don't think buying new clothes is good environmentally. Used clothes are cheap and environmentally friendly, so I recommend it.
Soniya: I recommend Mitsui Outlet Park Iruma. Many famous brands are found there. It's way cheaper than doing shopping in Ikebukuro. The place is a bit far away, but there are big discounts, so I recommend it.
Purevnyam: There is a Costco easily accessible from Irumashi station by bus or car, where I do shopping. In addition, there is a sports area for activities such as basketball within the Shakujii Park, and I do sports there when I have spare time. Anyone can use this area. There are also Japanese bars and karaoke places in front of the station, so there are many fun places.
Soniya: Since my school is located in Ikebukuro, I often go there. There is a Nepalese restaurant near Irumashi station as well. I frequent that place for the delicious curries and naan. In Sayama Berry Land, you can pick strawberries. It costs 2,300 yen to eat as much as you can for 30 minutes. (*Information is current as of January 2022.)
All: Wow! That's amazing!
——All-you-can-eat strawberries sounds luxurious!
Soniya: Blueberry picking is also available. Sayama City is very well known for green tea. Driving around tea fields in Sayama and the Inariyama Park is also recommended. In Hannō, you should definitely visit MOOMINVALLEY PARK.
Purevnyam: I haven't been there yet.
Soniya: You should go using the SEIBU 1Day Pass issued by the Seibu Railway! (laughter)
——What is there in Inariyama Park?
Soniya: I went to see cherry blossoms last spring.
——You went cherry blossom viewing! Where do you all go to appreciate cherry blossoms?
Soniya: There are many blossoming cherry trees in my neighborhood.
Zhao: There is a house with cherry trees that blossom beautifully in my neighborhood.
Veronica: The river in Shimo-Ochiai is lined with blossoming cherry trees.
Tuyet: It's not a park, but in front of my place are many cherry blossoms.
Purevnyam: I go to the Shakujii Park to see cherry blossoms.
——Was it in Japan that you all went cherry blossom viewing for the first time?
Soniya: My first cherry blossom viewing was in Japan. I love cherry blossoms.
Tuyet: Yes. It was very beautiful.
Purevnyam: Before I came to Japan, I went to see cherry blossoms while in Mongolia. I heard about cherry blossoms in Mongolia and went to see them, but there was only one tree. I drove about 500 km all the way to the tree. I want to tell everyone that there are very many cherry trees in Japan. (laughter)
Veronica: The Japanese embassy in Uruguay has a Japanese garden (within the premises) with cherry trees. The cherry trees in Uruguay blossom in September.
——How do you find the next place you want to go to?
Veronica: I do research online.
Soniya: I ask friends and the staff (of her workplace).
Tuyet: I ask friends for advice and search Google Maps.
Purevnyam: I check Japanese websites and social media as well.
Zhao: I use Chinese apps.
What problems did you have living in Japan? How did you solve them?
——Have you ever encountered a problem while living in Japan?
Tuyet: There are many.
Tuyet: It's such a hassle to sign up for the internet and a mobile phone, and they are expensive, too.
Soniya: And garbage sorting. (Note by the writer: The way that garbage is sorted into burnable, unburnable or recyclable garbage varies depending on the municipality where you live)
Tuyet: Exactly. It's difficult.
Veronica: In Uruguay, most businesses accept reservations online, where as in Japan, some accept only by phone. Speaking in Japanese over the phone is difficult.
Zhao: There aren't many smoking areas, so it's sometimes inconvenient if I can't find one.
Purevnyam: I went to a sports center during the summer holidays. But I didn't go to them from the Fall when school started. And then, the sports center contacted me demanding payment. When I asked the sports center as to why I had to pay even though I did not visit the facilities, they answered that the sign-up form that I signed at the beginning stated that I would continue to be billed unless I notified them that I had decided not to go any longer (i.e., to quit). In Mongolia, if I don't go, I don't have to pay. I didn't know that things were not done in this way in Japan.
——In what way do you solve your problems? Do you seek help from someone?
Soniya: I consult the teachers at the school, the staff at the place where I work, and my colleagues.
Veronica: I ask my Japanese friends for help.
——It's reassuring to have Japanese acquaintances and friends. Do you have reliable Japanese people around?
Purevnyam: I don't have any Japanese friends.
Tuyet: Likewise. I have Japanese acquaintances, but not friends my age.
Teacher: There aren't many events where you can meet new people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are Japanese students in the same class, so I hope you get along better with them.
——Do you have any advice to share with people coming to Japan to study?
Tuyet: You should be cautious when signing up with various services. You should thoroughly understand the details of contracts, such as cellphone services, before signing an agreement.
What I want to share with those coming to study. Easily accessible cities with parks are easy to live in!
——Do you have any advice to share with people coming to Japan to study?
Veronica: When I came to Japan, I chose a safe area that included natural environments. That said, it's convenient for a student to live in an area close to the school. You won't have much time because you'll study at school and work part-time, so a convenient location is better.
——I see. Living close to school is better for using your time efficiently. Does ease of commuting to school come first when choosing where to live?
Tuyet: Ease of commuting to school is the most important!
Sonia: Exactly. I prefer areas that are easily accessible, convenient, and dotted with natural environments such as parks.
——Come to think of it, you all chose areas with parks.
Zhao: There are many parks in Nerima as well.
Veronica: Around Shimo-Ochiai, too.
Purevnyam: I particularly recommend Shakujii Park, which is large.
Soniya: I think cities that have natural environments here and there are quieter than congested cities.
——It seems you should check for ease of commuting and/or going to school, as well as for parks, when you decide on which neighborhood you want to live! Thank you very much, everyone.