Hiyoshi International Dormitory opened in 2017 and is made up of 4-room units that house two Japanese and two international students each. The dorm also includes shared kitchens and other communal spaces that provide plenty of opportunities for residents to get to know each other.
Nana Kurisu (First-Year Student, Faculty of Science and Engineering, from Fukuoka Prefecture)
Carson Heideman (Keio International Program, from the United States)
Takeharu Imai (Third-Year Student, Faculty of Policy Management, from Hyogo Prefecture)
Tsunashima SST International Dormitory opened in 2018 inside of Tsunashima Sustainable Smart Town as an integrated part of the community development happening in the area. The dorm features both private rooms and communal spaces.
From third from right:
Ririko Honda (Second-Year Student, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Law, from Shizuoka Prefecture)
Deborah Gabriela Gisler (Short-term International Student, from Switzerland)
Hironori Kitano (Second-Year Student, Faculty of Business and Commerce, from Osaka)
Kitano: I’m from Osaka and didn’t know anyone here, so I thought it could be lonely living by myself in Tokyo, which is what led me to look into the student dormitories on the Keio website. A dorm seemed like the best way to get used to living in Tokyo.
Honda: I felt the same way. I’m from Shizuoka, and I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of suddenly living alone, either. I was concerned about security, too.
Kurisu: I was also worried about security and thought it would be safer to stay in a dorm.
Honda: A friend of mine who lives alone told me that they had had some trouble with door-to-door salespeople. But here, there is a front desk and access control, so we don’t have to worry about those kinds of things.
Kurisu: Keio has several dorms in different locations, but since I am studying at the Faculty of Science and Technology, I thought that a dorm in Hiyoshi would be the most convenient. When I came to take a tour of the building and saw international students walking down the hallway, I thought it could be an excellent opportunity for me to get a global perspective among such a diverse group of people.
Deborah: This is my first time living abroad, so I had no idea what to expect, but living in the dorm has helped me adjust quickly, and I’ve made a lot of friends, too. I chose the Tsunashima SST International Dormitory because I was interested in its sustainability initiatives. I wanted to see what it was like living in a next-generation smart city in a dorm powered by solar energy.
Imai: I thought it would be easier to make friends if I lived in a dorm, and luckily, it was. [laughs] About half of the students in the Hiyoshi International Dormitory are international students. I'm really glad I chose the dorm because I’ve become friends with students from all over the world, not just other Japanese students.
Kitano: When I heard the word dormitory, I imagined somewhere old and traditional, but the building is new, and everyone has their own room, which makes it very comfortable. But there are also shared spaces like the kitchen, dining area, and common rooms, so you never feel lonely.
Carson: At the Hiyoshi International Dormitory, two international students share one housing unit with two Japanese students. Everyone has their own room but shares a communal living room and bathroom, so you have space to hang out while still maintaining your privacy. There’s also a large public bath in the dorm, which I quite like.
Imai: Some international students are a bit shy about going to the public bath at first, but once they get used to it, everyone seems to really like it.
Kurisu: I’ve struck up a conversation or two with international students in the bath myself. [laughs]
Honda: I like spending time in the kitchen because no matter when you go, there’s always someone to talk to. It can be hard to talk to international students, and joining an international student group can be quite a commitment. But living in the dormitory provides casual opportunities to interact with international students on a daily basis.
Deborah: There is a supermarket right in front of the dormitory, which makes shopping easy. And if you ever have trouble buying what you need, it's great being able to ask other residents for help. That kind of support is especially helpful because it can be hard to find things like laundry detergent just by looking at the packaging.
Imai: In every dormitory, there is a resident assistant (RA) who helps international students with their student experience at Keio. I’m actually an RA myself. When new residents move in, we plan supermarket outings and welcome parties and try to create a welcoming environment where students feel comfortable coming to us with their problems.
Kurisu: RAs plan events year-round, like barbeques and day trips to places like Okutama in the mountains just outside of Tokyo. And these events are great for Japanese students, too! This is my first time living on my own, so I felt a little insecure at first, but these events helped me make friends who I can talk to if I ever need anything.
Kitano: It’s reassuring to have a resident manager and a resident mother, too. They treat us like their own children, so we can always depend on them if we get sick or have any problems.
Kurisu: It’s also great to be able to study on campus without having to worry about catching the last train home, and the Hiyoshi International Dormitory has a great study space, too. It gets you in the mood to study when you see other students working there ahead of term paper deadlines and exams.
Honda: It’s also a great place to talk about wording and phrasing for English-language assignments. We often stumble onto the topic of nationality and culture, but the more you live with people from different backgrounds, the more you come to notice their individual personalities and quirks more than national or cultural differences. I feel like I’m able to interact with fellow residents on a one-to-one basis, regardless of their background. An international student dormitory is one place where you can experience living in a truly borderless environment.
Students living in international dormitories have the opportunity to lead a fulfilling student life and deepen their understanding of different cultures while improving their communication skills. We're sure that the things they’ve learned and the people they’ve met here will continue to expand their horizons long after they’ve left university.
Building and expanding international student dormitories is just one way Keio University is addressing the need to educate globally competent individuals.
*All affiliations, years, and titles are current as of the time of their respective publication.