Life in the Intenational House
Foreign students entering NUFS have two official choices of where to live. The first is a set of apartments called Proxy Friends Nissin. They are about five minute by foot from the university campus, and cost ¥30000 rent per month, not including utilities and internet. They have few rules and regulations, about the same as any normal apartment complex. The other choice, the one I chose, is the International House, otherwise known as I-House.
I-House is a set of dorms adjacent to the campus. It has a square layout, with a nakaniwa (central open garden) in the middle. It has two stories (boys on bottom, girls on top, generally speaking). There are 3 or 4 kitchens and two common rooms for each floor, as well as a game room, computer room, laundry room, and small library on the first floor and a tatami room on the second floor.
The rooms are fairly spacious, all things considered. The come with a bed (with bedding supplies, including a futon, which can be rented), a desk with a light, a set of shelves, a fridge, a closet, and a bathroom with a bath/shower and toilet.
The building is maintained by our kanrinin (landlady), Yuuko, although we like to call her Okaasan (literally, “mom” in Japanese), since she takes care of us so well. We also have three RAs: Koko, Yayoi, and Jun. Jun is the only guy RA, and he’s quite fun to talk to. Especially stories of his part-time job at 7-11!
There are many advantages to living at I-House. The utilities are all taken care of, as well as internet (which is slow, but doable), and the rent is ¥24000. If you have a problem, Okaasan will be able to help you out. There is never a shortage of people to talk to, as many of them hang out in the common rooms almost perpetually. It’s close to the campus, as well as the main grocery store (Aoki Super), video rental store (Geo), bus to the subway (Itaka Ryoukuchi), and many restaurants (including the Italian restaurant Sizeria and many sushi places).
There are some costs to living here, though. Everyone takes turns cleaning the kitchens and taking out the trash (known as gomi-touban, or “cleaning duties”), which I personally don’t mind, but it tends to make other people lazy and they won’t clean their dishes and expect you to. There is a “curfew,” although it’s not as strict as it sounds—the door is simply locked at 11 PM; if you want to come back afterwards, you can call someone to let you in. There are also quiet hours after 11, but that’s just common sense.
Overall, I think I made a good choice in coming to I-House. I might have preferred a homestay, but given my options, I’m happy with what I’ve got.