Living in Tokyo for opportunities and personal growth (with video)Tue, Mar 21, 2017
Convenience, self-reliance and friendship at WISH
Waseda University is dedicated to maximizing the academic and social experiences for students from all corners of Japan and around the world, encouraging them to become global leaders who meet the needs of society today. The Waseda International Student House (WISH) serves as its newest base for providing such a dynamic environment, where students learn to be compassionate and understanding of others as they live and learn together under the same roof. Francis Therese Calalang, a Waseda student in the EDESSA Program*, speaks about what living at WISH has been like.
*EDESSA is one of Waseda’s many programs which allows Japanese and international students to study together and obtain a Bachelor’s degree entirely in English. Read more about EDESSA here.
Aspiring to work in marketing or public relations, Francis Therese Calalang is a friendly and highly motivated student who demonstrates Waseda’s pioneering spirit. She is part of the 2017 TEDxWasedaU Organizing Team, which she decided to join after having been a TED speaker in 2016, and has also recently joined Waseda’s boxing club. Outside of Waseda, she currently works with Slush Tokyo, one of the largest start-up and technology event organizers in Japan originating from Finland, for their 2017 event. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and hiking. She says one of her most memorable trips in Japan was to Mount Fuji, which can be spotted from the kitchen at WISH.
Calalang, who is originally from the Philippines with experience living in multiple Asian cities, has lived in Japan for 5 years and attended a Japanese elementary school. She remembers hearing about the University even back then. “When I was searching for Japanese universities that offered courses in English, Waseda was one of the few universities that came up. It also has the largest number of international students in Japan, and growing up with an international background, this was really important. Another reason why I decided to attend Waseda is because of its location in Tokyo. I thought there would be more opportunities in the city for future internships and traveling.”
She puts her experience living at WISH this way: “Living here is quite interesting because it has more of a Japanese-living style than I expected. As a student coming from overseas, WISH has made the transition to university easier and getting guidance for local government procedures definitely helped. Initially, I thought living in a big city would be slightly stressful, but I actually don’t feel that way because the area where WISH is located is very family-friendly and peaceful.”
Calalang also points out its convenience and proximity to a lot of amenities. “For us who live in WISH, we get a wide range of eateries to choose from, two grocery stores, and the convenience of 100-yen and discount stores in the neighborhood which sell everything you need. The Nakano Central Park nearby is one of my favorite things since they usually have an event going on every week. When the weather is nice, my friends and I like to get takeout from one of the restaurants and have a picnic there.”
Aside from its convenience and safety, students learn to become self-reliant and creative problem solvers at WISH. “I learned how to cook and how to save space here. I actually didn’t cook a lot before I came to WISH. I sometimes had to call home to ask how to make certain dishes, but other than that, it was mainly trial and error with help from the internet. Also, since we have limited space, you learn how to work with what you have to fit everything you own and purchase. The two things that worked for me were those 100 yen vacuum compression bags and this tension bar that I hung by the window for laundry.”
Ultimately, however, the best parts of living at WISH are experiencing firsthand and fostering friendships with Waseda’s diverse community. Such experiences become an excellent opportunity for learning as well as personal growth. “I have been lucky to have great Japanese suitemates who are laidback and open to talk without any formalities. The majority of my close friends are international students who also live here. Living together with them is nice because we get to see each other almost every day. They turn my living room into a study space when exam season rolls in, and after all the hard work, finding them asleep on my living room floor in the morning is sometimes hilarious.”
One of Calalang’s interests includes sharing her experience of living in Japan from an international perspective through her blog. Waseda University’s Office of Information and Public Relations asked her to create a video introducing the Waseda Campus and WISH, which is available below.
Opened in 2014 and home to approximately 900 Japanese and international students, the Waseda International Student House (WISH) is a special dormitory located within our Nakano International Community Plaza, less than 10 minutes by train from the University’s main campus. WISH provides Social Intelligence (SI) Programs, weekly workshops which are designed to hone communication and interpersonal skills. Furthermore, the Resident Assistants (RAs), senior student volunteers who live in the dormitory, help ensure a safe and comfortable dormitory life for WISH residents.