Residents Voices

Residents Voices

Dorm Life is a Treasure of Lifetime

Name: Tori Honma, 3rd year student of College of Liberal Arts, ICU (at the time of interview)
Admission: September, 2013
High School: Houston High School, Tennessee, US
Dormitory: Third Women's Dormitory
Major: Education


Learned how to communicate and convince people around you

I applied for the dormitory because I felt uneasy about living alone. On hearing that ICU dormitory is a place where Japanese and foreign students of different cultural backgrounds live together, I instantly thought "I'll never get such a chance if I miss this one!" I chose the Third Women's Dormitory because it put emphasis on cultural events which sounded very interesting, and also because the dorm fee was lower than the other dorms.

There are two particular aspects that I feel I developed through my life in the Third Women's Dormitory. There are various roles assumed by students in the dormitory, and one that I experienced was the leader of the environmental committee, overseeing matters such as sorting of garbage. I suppose many people have failed to properly sort garbage because they didn't know how or because they just didn't bother. The most difficult periods of the year are in June when closing the dormitory for summer vacation and in September when foreign students unfamiliar with the Japanese way of sorting garbage arrive. We created large colorful posters describing garbage separation in both English and Japanese, explained in detail how to sort garbage showing actual examples at dorm meetings, and also exhibited photos of garbage that was sorted in a wrong way to call for attention. We patiently kept on supporting the residents until everyone got used to the right way. It was arduous work, but I learned a lot from it. I found that just a little ingenuity could make a big difference when seeking cooperation from others and that showing your own strong determination can help obtain support from those around you. So it was not just about sorting garbage, but rather, it taught me how to communicate and convince people around you. It was a valuable experience for learning what kind of attitude, words and context are effective in making a point clear without causing misunderstanding.

What I learned as dorm representative: perspective to operate an organization

Another experience that helped me grow significantly was undertaking the role of dorm representative. At first, I thought that the dorm representative was a leadership role acting as the representative of the dormitory, but in fact, it consisted of countless troublesome work such as requesting repair of dormitory equipment, taking sick students to the hospital, and other daily miscellaneous tasks. At times, I wondered why I had to spend so much of my precious student life doing these chores. Gradually, however, I became to realize that those miscellaneous chores were indispensable in operating an organization like our dormitory. There are various students living in the dormitory with diverse cultural backgrounds and customs. Naturally, what they expect of a dorm is also diverse. My role as the representative was to secure a basis on which everyone could share a safe and sound living environment and live a comfortable life.

When operating an organization, you have to see it in that each individual member of the organization is doing all right, while at the same time maintain a perspective to manage the organization as a whole. If a problem arises, you must first think about what impact the problem would have on the dorm in responding to the problem. At ICU dorms, the boarding students voluntarily operate the dormitory, so the students have sufficient discussions to make decisions on the budget to buy necessary equipment and how to operate the dorm. One person may think that "this is not the right way to deal with the matter," while another may say "this is appropriate." When deciding on a matter, I grew to be able to view the matter from the perspective of managing an organization as a dorm representative, taking into consideration what results the decision may lead to in the long run, rather than just thinking right or wrong for the moment. I feel that this was a great achievement for me.

35 different stories woven together in the dorm

If I was given a chance to enter the university once more, I want to live in the Third Women's Dormitory again. I can never talk enough about my memories of the Third Women's Dormitory. I think the things I experienced in just an ordinary day in the dorm will turn into memories of life after I graduate. Living in a dorm, you get to know people you would never become involved with in your routine classes and club activities, that is, people with entirely different tastes and ideas than you have. I encountered many people who made me think "I never thought of that!" or "wow, this person is really interesting." Moreover, you will become part of a community bound with strong ties, even after you graduate. You get much closer to other alumni just by mentioning "Oh, I lived in a dorm, too!" The Third Women's Dorm holds an alumni reunion once every other year. Alumni of a wide range of generations, from those in their 70's to those who have just graduated, gather from around the globe to meet at the dorm, renew old friendship, and share their precious memories, which I think proves how special and heartwarming our dorm is.

If there are 35 boarding students in a dorm, that means, there are 35 different and unique sets of experiences and growth. My experience is only one of them. Special experiences are awaiting you at the dorm. Please give it a consideration to apply!

Ties that will stay for life beyond generations

Name: Shiho Hatanaka, 3rd year student of College of Liberal Arts, ICU (at the time of interview)
Admission: September, 2013
High school: Cresskill Public Schools, New Jersey, US
Dormitory: Second Women's Dormitory (closed in the end of March 2016)
Major: Media, Communication and Culture


Being dorm representative made me grow as a person

My home was far from ICU, so I had to either live alone or enter a dorm in order to attend ICU. I was anxious about the idea of living alone in Japan because I had spent much of my life abroad. Meanwhile, the dorm fee was quite reasonable and the fact that it was located on campus was attractive for me, so I applied to live in the dorm.

Too bad, the Second Women's Dormitory, in which I lived, has closed down at the end of March 2016, but the 3 years I spent in the dorm allowed me to grow up as a person through various experiences that I would never have had if I had chosen to live alone or at home.

I think that what you gain through life in a dorm depends on how much you get involved in the operation of the dormitory. I served as the chair of the dorm meeting* for one term (6 months) and as the dorm representative for two terms. Particularly, it was difficult to fulfill the responsibilities of a dorm representative, including handling of various problems that arise in the dorm, directing the cabinet members who undertake the operation of the dorm, and sometimes giving warnings to boarding students while avoiding any emotional complications.
*Dorm meeting: Held once a month to decide on operational policies and confirm consensus of the dorm.

The most valuable thing that I gained through dorm life is the capability to operate an organization. The important things in operating the dorm as a representative are to act to make the dorm a better place, and be ready to take on the role of a nasty person, if necessary, and tell your friends "you shouldn't do that."

Whenever I noticed dirty plates or any other mess left, I tried to wash and clean them by myself. Those students who saw me doing such chores alone started to voluntarily clean the dorm and warn other boarding students who didn't do their duties. The second and third year students assume the central role in the operation of the dorm, so there are times when you have to give a warning to a fourth year student, a senior to you. Everyone wanted to avoid giving a candid advice to their seniors, and it was hard for me, too at the beginning, but I realized that the representative must think and act for the best of the whole dormitory. Ever since, I was able to clearly state whatever necessary to whoever it was.

The ties of the Second Women's Dormitory

The best memory of my dorm life is the last alumni reunion held before the Second Women's Dormitory was closed. A great number of alumni gathered for this occasion. We all got to talk with many of them and gained advice for life. Although it was the first time for me to meet many of them, we quickly got acquainted and shared a good time, as if we had known each other for a long time. This made me realize anew how strong and deep the ties built through dorm life are.

Dorm life is not just full of joy, needless to say, it also has its hardships, too. But when you move out of the dorm in the end, all you can recall are good memories. I truly felt that I loved this dormitory. If I had a chance to enter a university once more, I'm sure I will apply to live in a dorm again. The dormitory is a place where you can really grow and at the same time, build a truly strong connection for life, like that of a family, with people who have diverse perception and values.

I encourage you all to apply for a dorm. I'm sure you will be able to spend a fulfilling student life and enrich your future.

Finding a new identity through dorm life

Name: Shota Kurebayashi, 3rd year student, College of Liberal Arts, ICU (at the time of interview)
Admission: September, 2013
High school: The Beacon School, Manhattan, New York City, US
Dormitory: Second Men's Dormitory (at the time of interview)
Major: International Relations (major), Environmental Studies (minor)


Warmth and ties like a family

I decided to apply for the dorm because an old friend of mine who had entered ICU before I did recommended me to live in a dorm. I could have chosen to live at my grandparents' house in Tokyo and commute to the university from there, but my friend strongly recommended that I enter a dorm if I was going to study at ICU. I read introductory articles of each dorm and decided to enter the Second Men's Dormitory, attracted by the family-like warmth, long history and above all, a photo of the boarding students smiling from the bottom of their hearts.

Having lived in the Second Men's Dormitory until it closed in the end of June 2015, I strongly felt that dorms had a warm atmosphere much like that of a family. The best memory in my two years of dorm life is the last night before our dorm closed down. Each and every member of the dorm got together and talked with one another throughout the night. Everyone poured out their hearts, their true feelings about the dorm and dorm mates, which is something they would be too shy to do at normal times. Many of us gave way to tears filled with thousands of thoughts about the 60-year history of the Second Men's Dormitory coming to an end and separating with dorm mates who were a big family. We all thought back over the joy we experienced together and re-acknowledged how lucky we are to have built such strong ties like that of a family.

Growth achieved through dorm life

There are two main aspects in which I have grown through dorm life.

One is that I am no longer afraid of speaking in front of people. I can now convey my thoughts with purpose and confidence. Until I entered the dorm, I was not good at talking in front of people and avoided it whenever I could. But in the dorm, we were all obliged to participate in the monthly dorm meeting where all members discussed how to operate the dorm, which meant that I had to express my own opinion in front of others. Eventually, I became more involved and assumed various roles including the dorm president, which provided me with opportunities to make requests and give directions to my dorm mates and coordinate with other dorms on various matters as well. In time, I found that I had got so used to speaking to people. Since ICU is a small university, you get a lot of chances to have a dialogue with faculty and friends during classes, which also helped. But the kinds of dialogue we have in the dorm are directly related to everyday life, with deep implications on the quality of our lives, so we have to really think hard to get the right message through to the audience.

The other aspect of growth is that I now try to communicate my opinion to others based on respect for values and views that are different from mine. In the dormitory, where about 30 young men live under one roof, you see and converse almost every day with people with a character and habits that are perhaps the opposite to yours, whom you may never make friends with if you hadn't lived in the dorm. At first, not knowing how to get along with people who have different values and habits from mine, I could not even ask my roommate to clean the room when it was messy.

However, as we exchanged opinions and values with each other in the dorm, I came to appreciate that there are diverse ways of thinking and realized that my habits and views are not always right. Through this experience, I learned to accept others' opinions, ask why they think that way, and communicate my own opinion as necessary. I think that the richly diverse environment characteristic to ICU dormitories gave me opportunities to encounter new values, widen perspectives, and reflect on my way of thinking.

Experience it for your own

I recommend you to apply for a dorm. You will quickly make your first friend in university, meet seniors whom you can really respect, and in a year, find yourself welcoming new comers. Dorm mates are so close with each other that you can share anything with them, at times they will even shed tears for you like a family. You will learn to respect other people's values and thinking different from yours, organize people and take leadership, and communicate your thoughts with confidence in front of a number of people. Through dorm life, you will find a new person in yourself and grow to see the world in a different way. Of course, dorm life is not just made up of fun, you will have your hardships, too. But I think that stepping out of your comfort zone and living with people who have diverse characters and different ways of thinking is the best way to open up your mind to widen your values and perspective.

For me, the dorm offered abundant opportunities to grow. I hope that new comers to the dorm will find something meaningful in dorm life, like myself.