February 9, 2018
The 19 participants under the "Japanese Initiative for the future of Syrian Refugees" who arrived in Japan in August 2017 have been dispatched to 11 universities all over Japan and are currently enjoying student life while studying in their respective specializing fields and striving to learn Japanese.
Apart from the participants who have entered university dormitories, one of the first things the participants encountered in their everyday lives was visiting local real estate agents and searching for residences. Their experiences ranged from those who had trouble choosing from more than 20 properties introduced by the real estate agents, to those who had difficulty finding a property they liked and needed to visit multiple agents. Some of the participants were surprised at the fine detail of Japanese housing contracts when listening to the explanations of the important items by real estate brokers when signing the contracts.
Happy time at Home
Two participants who live in shared housing have had a particularly unique experience. Their shared house is owned by a female manager who lives there and can accommodate three residents; the toilet and bath are shared but each resident has a private room. Currently, only the two participants are residing there, and the female manager is like a mother figure making dinner for them every day. Because she cannot speak English, the participants must use their newly learned Japanese to communicate, so their Japanese is improving by the day. Also, when the participants call their families in Syria every evening, they chat together with interpretation by participants, thereby the exchange is very friendly as a family.
The 19 participants have settled down in their new homes and are creating a comfortable space like home in Syria. Japan is now experiencing the mid-winter climate. When one thinks of Syria, one imagines the climate to be dry, sunny and very hot, however it has the same seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter as Japan, and the participants say that the Japanese winter is no colder than Syria's. All 19 participants are engaging in their busy student lives while sensing the changing seasons of Japan.