When I went to pick up my key to my new apartment, I asked the receptionist at the agency to look up some information about my soon-to-be new roommates. I was then informed that I’d be living with five people: Four guys and a girl. An American, a French, an Australian, a Brit and an Italian.
I was indifferent to their nationalities but was mostly grateful that at least one of my roommates would be female. My biggest fear was that I’d end up with some post-college ESL teaching party boys with their beer bongs and loud music. Or some “I heart Japan and it’s the best place in the World” weirdos, because those people’s obsessions with this country teeter on the fanatical level – It’s scary. I figured that if I had a female roommate, at least I’d have someone to roll my eyes at when life in the ghetto got too intense.
I was surprised upon arrival, however, to find that the Europeans, American and Australian had mysteriously vanished. Perhaps they had once upon a time resided there, or perhaps they never did at all and it was just a glitch in the computer, but all of the people gathered in the living room were from Asian countries.
There was the Chinese grad student. The Taiwanese pop singer, the two (recently unemployed) Thai boys and the two (“sometimes three”) Indians. Apparently, my five bedroom apartment is home to seven (sometimes eight) people. No one could tell me the Indians names, or what they did for a living. “They cook a lot,” was all I was told.
Although it’s a little crowded, and the apartment is a mess (more about that in a second) I’m pretty excited about the arrangement. I debated a lot with myself about moving into a ‘gaijin house’ (foreigner house) as they’re called, and I worried that I’d be distancing myself from Japanese culture even more than I already am. But I think that even if it’s not a ‘Japanese culture’ experience, it’s still a uniquely Japan experience. Plus I’m getting a chance to live with people whom I’d rarely have a chance to live with in the States, certainly not all under one roof. I’m really looking forward to getting to know all of them.
Already, the Taiwanese girl and I’ve become fast friends. We watched American Idol together (OMG I have satellite TV again!) and she braided my hair and told me that I was the first person she’d ever met with “real green eyes”. Ha ha.
The apartment set-up is bizarre, in that the living room is littered with the left-over belongings of past residents. Even though the Taiwanese girl has lived in this apartment for the past three years, she’s never bothered with throwing any of it out. So as a result, there are old suitcases, guidebooks, camping equipment, a soccer ball and a kite all collecting dust in piles in the living room. The worst is the bathroom, where the shelves are crowded with half-empty bottles of sunscreen and vitamins and tubes of toothpaste, all of which are glued in place with a thick layer of green mold and mildew.
What’s weirder still are the post-it notes and hand-written signs that are tacked up everywhere, some of which are so old the paper is yellowed and the hand-writing is barely visible. Some of the notes are written in Korean, some in German (one of them says “Don’t forget to lock the door!” and another lists instructions on how to work the remote control on the TV). The best are the EngRish post-it’s! One of them says: “Put toothpaste in your eye. You will wake up.”
I’ve decided to ration those ones out by only posting one per day. I’ll call it: “The Daily Dose of EngRish”. : )
There are even goodbye notes dated from two years ago, taped to the wall by people named ‘Axel’ and ‘Miles Davis’. “These were the best six months of my life! I will always remember you!”
I feel like I’m living in the graveyard of long-gone ESL teachers. Or else some sort of living, ‘fully-preserved’ museum tribute to 2006. It’s really, really bizarre.
I’ll post pictures soon.