Since the start of my study abroad program in Tokyo I have been staying in an extremely diverse student housing dormitory. We have students staying in the dorm from all different Universities, nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds and it has created an extremely fun living environment. Many of us have gotten to know each other by doing a variety of activities together ranging from cooking to watching movies or just hanging out in one of the shared spaces in the building. One of my favorite things I have done in Japan has been watching the Fifa World Cup with people passionately rooting for their country to win. Living in a diverse dormitory can be just as educational as it is exciting.
Studying in Tokyo has taught me so much about Japanese culture, which I plan to revisit again in a future post, but today I want to highlight things I have learned about other cultures while living in my dorm. For example, while watching American football I discovered that a Dutch dorm resident had actually played American football in the Netherlands while growing up. This prompted a Japanese resident to bring up his time playing Rugby while growing up in Kenya, which led to an interesting conversation about the different experiences they had playing these two sports. Other memorable conversations I have had with residents include the time I spoke with someone from Australia who told me about the large Palestinian population in her hometown, which as a Palestinian I found very interesting. Another time I stayed up till 6 in the morning watching a highly anticipated UFC event with a resident from Switzerland who I had previously never spoken to. While we watched the fights he told me about some of his favorite Swiss dishes and I learned that Switzerland is split into four areas that all speak one of Switzerland’s four national languages.
In addition to talking about their respective countries/cultures, people often like to talk about the hobbies they are passionate about. The dorm is full of incredibly talented people. One of the residents living on the same floor as me is so good at cooking she did it on a tv show. Someone else I know can play the guitar beautifully and has a great voice to match. In my experience people are more than willing to teach you about their hobbies which has led to me picking up on things I always wanted to try. One of my friends was kind enough to teach me how to fish. Another friend of mine who is very experienced in photography has taught me so much about taking good pictures and using cameras and it has led to me buying a camera of my own! The pictures attached to this post were taken with my new camera.
Generally Tokyo is quite lacking in diversity when compared to the major cities we have in the United States. Despite this, the dorm as a beacon of diversity makes up for it. The feeling of learning so many things from so many different people is only rivaled by the feeling of teaching everyone about my culture and my hobbies. I hope my blog posts can offer you a similar experience.