Attracted to Japanese culture, and Japanese polite, discipline and ordered atmosphere, a young warrior started her adventure a long way from Vietnam to Japan.

B Trang came to Japan and studied at an international school in 2014. Now, she is a student of Waseda University, studying at the School of Social Sciences. Today, let us take a look at this young Vietnamese girl’s university life in Tokyo and see how she enjoys and relishes this remarkable ride.

Morning in Dormitory

The dormitory that B is living named WISH, the Waseda International Student House. There, about 800 Waseda students, including Japanese students and international students from all over the world, living together; inside WISH, there are extraordinary facilities such as music room, fitness room, community lounge, Japanese-style bathrooms on the second floor. Student living areas are located from the 3rd to 11th floor, and there is a community kitchen on each floor for students to cook and interact with others. It only costs 53,000 JPY per month for the dormitory fee.

B. Trang (Photographer). (2019). Salad Breakfast [Photograph]. Own work

B’s day often starts from 7:30 a.m. “I am trying my best to wake up early,” she laughed. The first period of Waseda University starts at 9:00 a.m., and she usually has the first period on her school schedule; it takes about 40 minutes from the dormitory where B is living to the university. Every morning she prepares a light breakfast for herself at the community kitchen, things like salad, cereal, and yogurt that she usually bought from the convenience store.

After finishing her Japanese class in the morning, she often goes to Building 7 in the Waseda campus, where people go buy lunch (In Japanese: Bentou) every day. There are various choices and each lunch box only costs 480 JPY, comparing to restaurants, lunch you can get in school is indeed cheaper.

There is also a cafeteria in Waseda University, and when B goes there, she said that she often gets the beef bowl with eggs because she loves meat and eggs a lot. Sometimes she goes to restaurants near the campus as well. For example, a small hamburger steak restaurant near the university is where she goes since it is cheap and can make you full. “I always like to find that kind of nice places, but I try to keep my expense less than 1000 JPY when I go out for lunch. Luckily, the restaurants near the school are not that expensive. And if I have time, I will also make my own Bentou the day before,” B said.

During a long day at school, you might feel overwhelmed, tired or constantly stress, therefore, B thought it was very important to eat healthily and learn how to take care of herself. Balancing time for studying, working on projects, socializing while maintaining good eating habits is no easy task, but she believes that it could be done. At the same time, she loves to spend her lunchtime with her classmates, while at night, she enjoys more with her dormitory friends. “It’s the food that bonds people here.” – She claimed cheerfully.

After class

Free time: Assignments, circles
“If I have no classes in the afternoon, I will usually stay at school, doing assignments and working on projects for the volunteering circle I have joined in Waseda. The main goal of this circle is to raise funds for the Vietnamese students in Vietnam. What I do are mostly translation and event planning for each project,” she continued.

B. Trang (Photographer). (2019). Nakano station [Photograph]. Own work

Not only enriching her school life by joining school circles, B also tries an internship for gaining more work experience. She works at a media company and her job is to write articles and to do marketing research. Her working hour ends around 8:00 p.m., and she will head back to WISH and prepare her own dinner in the community kitchen.

Dinner in Wish

B said that she normally cooks Vietnamese food because they are simple and you only need the fish sauce. But she likes to have variations on her food as well, and she is critical of what she bought.

“I cook every day. Cooking indeed costs less money; I normally spend 200 to 300 JPY for each meal’s food materials. Also, I like the Japanese supermarket a lot since you can have so many discounts there.

If you visit the supermarket in Japan, you can find out that during the night, the staff will start to put the discount stickers on meat, seafood, and other various food. Sometimes they put on the Hangaku stickers, meaning half price in Japanese, and it turns out to be extremely cheap to buy that food.

Not only study, but also relax and explore in Japan

After dinner, B will go back to her room. One of her relaxing moments is to watch talk shows and comedy. Also, she is a big fan of art; she works on her drawing on the phone and will put them on social media. There, she expresses her life, feelings, and thoughts through her own creative drawings. In addition, she likes to go work-out in the excellent fitness room and go to a relaxing bath in the big Japanese-style bathroom that WISH provides.
“I get bored really fast, so I often find new things to entertain me,” she said with a smile, and she talks about how she spends her life in Japan in the weekend. Just like the mention above, B enjoys art a lot, so she usually goes to Roppongi, Tokyo for art exhibitions, experiencing some of the uplifting moments of this city with her friends.

B. Trang (Creator). (2019). Ramune [Digital File]. Own work
B. Trang (Photographer). (2019). Nakano Broadway [Photograph]. Own work

Talking about her monthly expenses, she said that in fact, she has got a full scholarship when she came to Waseda University. It is a scholarship that she applied when she was still in the international school in Japan. The scholarship covers her four-year-tuition, and she gets about 113,000 JPY per month additionally, so she mainly uses it to cover the dormitory fee.  About her personal spending, she spends around 100,000 per month mostly on food, transportation, entertainment and so on. “The internship which I am doing right now is a paid-intern, so it is still affordable for me to live in Japan,” she said.

B. Trang (Photographer). (2019). Friends [Photograph]. Own work

Her feeling about Japan

“I think Japan is an interesting place and I am optimistic about life here. I have been well aware of the social issues in Vietnam, as well as countries like Japan has to face. With my knowledge, skills, and network developing by studying in Waseda, I deeply feel that the more I stay, there are more I can do in this country. I feel like I want to be here at a while and if possible, I would like to contribute back to Japan by social contribution.”

B. Trang (Photographer). (2019). My circle activity [Photograph]. Own work

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” The phrase from the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, reflects this young Vietnamese girl’s attitude towards her life in Japan. She is full of passion and love towards every challenge she faces here and enjoys them; combining her artistic spirits, she shows who she is through her works. She feels and embraces every single moment in her life, and her journey is not yet ended. She will keep on going with grace, and courage, to find out her dream and to achieve it.

B. Trang (Creator). (2019). Bear [Digital File]. Own work

B’s works: