As of May 2017, about 540 international students including short-term students from partner universities were studying at Ritsumeikan University’s Osaka Ibaraki Campus. Prior to the opening of an international dormitory next April, the International Center rented some apartments in Ibaraki City to accommodate English-speaking international students and short-term students. Among these is an apartment that two international students share with a Japanese student.
Muhammad Anggada Putra Prabowo (University of Indonesia), Nhuthep Piriyapong (Thammasat University), and Katsuya Mizuguchi (4th-year student, College of Business Administration) live in the apartment, which has three bedrooms and a kitchen/dining room.
None of them have had roommates before, let alone those from different countries. However, they became very good friends soon after starting their life at the apartment.
Katsuya experienced short-term study in Australia during high school and in New Zealand in the first year at university before studying for eight months at The University of Alberta, which is renowned for its multiculturalism. He did this not only to improve his English, but also to gain exposure to different perspectives. Through his overseas experiences, he found that language itself is not so important, and people can communicate through shared interests such as music, regardless of nationality. “I learned the importance of friends and being a person of principle wherever I am,” Katsuya added.
Just after he returned from Canada, the International Center on his campus proposed that he live in a university-rented apartment with international students. For Katsuya, who is a member of the Tutors for International Students Assembly (TISA), this was a great opportunity both to maintain his English proficiency and get used to life in Japan again. In living with Muhammad and Nhuthep, Katsuya tried to show them the everyday side of Japan, rather than to provide them with special experiences.
For Muhammad and Nhuthep, Katsuya was more than just a roommate; he was also like a mentor and a brother. Nhuthep said, “Looking back, staying here for four months, time flies so fast. From the very first moment of setting foot here, I was quite hesitant, I thought I would be homesick, but now it’s the opposite - I am totally unprepared to leave. What I will miss most about this place are the bonds and friendships I have gained during my experiences here, coming back to my apartment to sit, chat, have a drink, hold an international cooking session and play guitar with my roommates... all the good times.”
Although they have their own rooms, they say they spend most of the time in the dining room studying, chatting, or playing the guitar together, which is their common interest. The short-term students are leaving Japan soon and say that they will miss their life here very much.