Interview: Melissa (Social Residence Shakujii Koen)

I knew before I came, but I love Japan so much!

Working Holiday Interview #2
Among the 6,500 Oakhouse residents, about half of them are from outside Japan, and many of them have come to Japan on working holiday visas.

We have conducted interviews with many of these residents who have come to Japan to live out their dreams.

Our 2nd working holiday interview is with Melissa, who lives at Social Residence Shakujii Koen. How is her life in Japan? We asked her about her interests and what brought her here.

Thank you for talking with us! First, can you introduce yourself?
I'm Melissa, I'm from France. I came to Japan about a month ago.

Oh, so you just got here!
How is Japan so far?

This isn't just my first time in Japan, but it's also my first time in Asia, so everyday is so new and exciting.

I love to travel so I've been to many different cities, and everywhere I go Japanese people are so helpful.

How many countries have you been to?
Mostly Europe. I've been to Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Australia...
Oh, and I was in the UK before this!

What job were you doing?
Before coming to Japan I taught English in the UK.

I know that sounds strange, for a French person to go teach English in England, but I taught students from other countries who came to England to study.

I had people from all over the world in my class, it was very interesting.
Before I was a teacher, I was a bartender.

What work have you been doing in Japan?
Right now I'm still looking. I've done a few interviews and now I'm just waiting for answers. I hope it's good news!

I thought that since I was an English teacher before I could do that kind of thing, but it's hard to find something that's similar to what I was doing.

Most of the jobs are just conversation school or assistant, which is different than what I'm looking for.

So it's been a challenge, but I'm hoping to hear back soon!

It can be hard to find a job as a foreigner...
What made you want to come to Japan?

Back when I was living in America and the UK, I made lots of friends from Japan, so I started to get interested in Japan.

I'd never been to Asia before, so I thought that was a good reason to come now.

I've lived and traveled in many different countries, so I was so excited to come to Japan.
Then I found out about the working holiday program, and I decided to come.

How did you hear about the working holiday program?
A friend of mine had been to Australia and Colombia on working holiday, so I'd know of it from before.

I'm so lucky to be from a country with working holiday agreements. I have so many friends who've done it, so I thought I'd like to try it one day too.

That's good that you had friends who had experience!
Was it difficult to get the visa?

It was really easy, I just looked on the Japanese embassy website in France. I clicked on the 'visa' section and saw the words 'working holiday'.

In regards to documents, it's nothing too complicated, quite simple really.
I needed a copy of my passport, health check report, personal information, that kind of thing.

The hardest part was thinking of exactly what I wanted to do in Japan, because you have to give them a plan. That was hard.

Then you just have to have enough savings. You need about 4,500 Euro, which I think is like 500,000 yen? It's a lot!
So I worked, and saved, and I also sold my car.

I thought, well I don't need a car in Japan on a working holiday, so that decision was easy!

I don't regret selling it, or else I wouldn't have been able to come to Japan.

You wanted to come to Japan so bad you sold your car!
What do you think of Japan!

I knew before I came, but I love Japan so much!
I'd heard so many good things from my Japanese friends and people who'd been here before, so I never doubted I'd love it, and I was right.

As time goes on I see some things that maybe aren't that great, but every country has its good points and bad points so I'm not too worried.
The people are nice, the towns are safe, everything is convenient.
Right now the safety is my favorite part.

How did you find out about Oakhouse?
Randomly, actually. I just searched online for rooms in Japan, and I kept seeing 'share house'.
I also heard from my friends' experiences, and French Youtubers, and they talked about share houses, so it was perfect for me.

There are lots of share house companies in Japan, but Oakhouse seemed the most convenient. They got back to me really quickly and they were really friendly.

The most convenient part about Oakhouse is that there aren't too many annoying conditions. You can move out whenever you want as long as you give one month notice, it's close to the center of Tokyo, you can see pictures of the house and rooms online, and I thought it looked nice.

I could also pay several months in advance, and I guess there are 1- and 2-year contracts which may be a little cheaper in the long run.

Plus, when you come from another country, you want furniture, right? And the room already had everything.

Here there's a closet, and a mattress, so all I really needed was the bedding.

When you look at other rentals often there's no furniture.

I might want to move to a different house later, closer to work or something, and if you're like me and just have a suitcase that's an easy option.

There are lots of places to shop near Shakujii-Koen station, and the supermarket's a 7-minute walk away, so that's convenient.

Do you know how many Japanese and foreigners are living here?
I don't know for sure but I'd say it's about half and half. It's a good balance.

I heard you had a Halloween party here the other day! How was it?

I left early, but it was a lot of fun! Everyone in the house is so social.

There are some people who come home late from work and I don't see them but everyone is very friendly.

We dressed up, took pictures, danced... so much fun!

Interviewer: Eileen
From Shanghai, been in Japan for 4 years.
Speaks Japanese, English, and Chinese.
Loves to talk.

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