Now, we are here as international students at Tokyo Tech in Tokyo, Japan! It’s fantastic! As an international student, the opportunity to mingle with fellow global citizens is akin to discovering hidden chapters of a novel. Embrace the chance to connect with people from diverse backgrounds; each interaction adds color to your own story. Here are some tips to seize the chance to know international souls.

Upon arrival in a foreign country for study or work, we face two new emotions and find ourselves at a crossroads marked by dual challenges. On one side, there exists an opportunity and an invaluable prospect to embrace new connections and cultures, socializing with people from diverse backgrounds globally, and to grow ourselves as an international person. Simultaneously, on the other side, we are grappling with homesickness—a natural inclination to reminisce about cherished memories, family, and friends.

We may choose to stay in our bed at home, scrolling through social media all the time, revisiting memories and inadvertently deepening the pangs of homesickness. Moreover, this new situation might prompt us to confine our connections to fellow countrypersons in an effort to alleviate the cultural shock and emotional gap we may be experiencing. While seeking solace in fellow countrypersons is a natural inclination, the allure of sticking solely to them for familiarity may inadvertently limit our exposure to the world around us, hindering the potential for personal and professional growth. We definitely need to connect with fellow nationals for support, however, as it’s equally crucial to break free from this comfort zone. Otherwise, we get no social and cultural benefits of being in Japan!

By summoning the courage to explore beyond our immediate circle, we open ourselves to the richness of global diversity. Therefore, instead of succumbing to homesickness, consider replacing it with a zest for exploration, embracing new connections, and expanding your social horizons to make the most of your international experience.

1. Build strong friendship with lab members

The lab to which we belong at the university serves as our academic haven, a second home where vibrant connections thrive. Regardless of the international makeup of your lab, prioritize building robust relationships with fellow members from the beginning. As graduate students, we have to spend long hours at labs doing research, and fostering strong connections with lab members enhances the sweetness of your lab experiences. Regularly hang out with lab members and creatively build friendly, happy, and close relations with them, especially with those who may be more reserved or shy! Beyond scientific discussions, plan diverse activities such as sports, cooking, walks, or mountain climbing to nurture a friendly and close-knit environment. Recognize birthdays and extend congratulatory gestures, as these connections may prove invaluable for your future research, activities, or career opportunities. In this collaborative space, genuine bonds elevate both the academic and social dimensions of our shared journey.

Photo 1: My lab members and I – eating lunch at Ookayama campus

2. Join to different activities at Tokyo Tech

Tokyo Tech provides diverse opportunities for students to connect and foster social bonds. Actively engage in these initiatives to expand your social network.

First, upon entering the university, consider reaching out to the Student Support Center ( – Tokyo Tech students only) to be included in their mailing list, which provides updates on various planned activities. You can also explore further details on their website (in Japanese).

Moreover, you can visit the “International Student Help Desk” conducted by the student staff, at Taki Plaza B1 Global Lounge during the lunch break, where student staff provide counseling on campus and personal life. One of the interesting activities by the Student Support Center is “Multilingual Language Chat” where you can freely chat with fellow students to have a vibrant international student life.

The second valuable center to explore is the “International Student Lounges” located at Ookayama (West Building 1) and Suzukakedai (G1-116). They offer a variety of enjoyable activities and encourage students to stay connected with them. Nihongo Space is one such activity they provide, allowing you to practice Japanese in an efficient, fun, and friendly manner. Further information about it can be found in ”Cody’s blog”.

Furthermore, you can diversify your experiences by joining activities organized by groups like TISA (Tokyo Tech International Student Association), Taki Plaza Gardeners, and SAGE (Student Association for Global Exchange). Refer to ”Mariam’s blog” for more information about these groups.

Lastly, consider becoming an ambassador at Tokyo Tech, creating lasting memories through the exchange of experiences with international fellows. Your engagement in these initiatives will undoubtedly enrich your academic and social journey at Tokyo Tech.

Photo 2: With Tokyo Tech 2023 ambassadors

3. Attend activities outside the university

While joining university-based groups is crucial for expanding your student networks, it proves insufficient when navigating life in Tokyo Area. Tokyo, a sprawling metropolis, holds a multitude of surprises for residents and visitors alike. You can explore and find numerous opportunities to connect with groups that help set you up with various activities such as visiting homes of Japanese families, sightseeing, artistic pursuits, etc. Don’t miss out while you’re in Tokyo Area! Kanagawa Systematized Goodwill Guide Club (KSGG), is one such voluntary sightseeing tour service I’ve attended in recent years. You can check out one of my experiences with this group in ”My blog”. You can connect with this group through Tokyo Tech’s International Student Exchange Division and receive updates on their activities. Furthermore, explore more groups on websites such as Tokyo Voluntary Action Center. Connecting with locals enhances your cultural and social experiences, allowing you to broaden your connections beyond your age and immediate surroundings.

Photo 3: A journey in Tokyo with KSGG guides.

4. Embrace dormitory life

Living in a dormitory presents a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in an international space. Dorms serve as a melting pot, bringing together individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Actively participate in various dormitory activities or initiate interactions in common spaces to forge connections with as many people as possible. This isn’t just about making friends; it’s a chance to expand your network for the future. Missing out on these opportunities now may lead to regrets later. Seize the chance to cultivate a global network and enrich your overall experience during your time in the dormitory.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the significance of language in Japan. The more proficient you become in Japanese, the broader and deeper your connections can extend. Proficiency in the language opens doors to numerous opportunities that remain undiscovered without this linguistic understanding. It enables you to engage with artists, designers, and well-known figures, facilitating meaningful conversations with local residents to enrich your cultural experiences in Japan. Investing time in mastering the Japanese language not only enhances your daily interactions but also unveils a multitude of hidden gems that contribute to a more immersive and rewarding experience during your time in the country. I hope you enjoy your stay in Japan and gain more international experiences and connections.