Maria Morozova (from Russia) is a graduate student at the Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod. She came to Kobe on the Japan Culture-Education Center’s Young Researcher Fellowship Program, where she studied at Kobe Gakuin University for four months. She has since returned to Russia, where she has continued studying for her master’s degree.
Why did you decide to do homestay?
My university recommended homestay. My school couldn’t offer me a dorm room, so homestay seemed like the best option.
How did you find a homestay family?
At first I was in talks with someone from the university, but later they introduced me to a company called Homestay in Japan, and I found a homestay family. After I explained foods I didn’t like or couldn’t eat, and about my hobbies, I received my host family information and an invoice. All of the communication was conducted online.
Maria with her host family
How did you handle the payment from overseas?
I had to make the first payment in advance, but after that I paid monthly. For the first payment, I could have paid through a bank in Russia, but I would have had to pay an overseas remittance fee. Luckily for me, I knew a Japanese person living in Russia, so I paid him in rubles, and he paid for me in Japanese yen.
How much does homestay cost per month?
It cost around 100,000 yen per month. That includes breakfast and dinner, and internet use was free. I could also use the kitchen and the tea pot, etc. to make my lunches.
Did you live in a single room?
Yes. My room had a closet, clothing storage cases, and a small refrigerator just for me to use. I also had all the other things I might need, like a bed, table, air conditioner, and drying rack. I never watched it, but there was a TV, too.
What was it like living with Japanese people? Would you recommend homestay to your friends?
My Japanese family was really happy when I invited friends over to the house. They also let my boyfriend stay over at their home when he came to visit me from Russia.
There weren’t many rules at the house, but I was asked to come home by evening. There were many times when I didn’t follow that rule, though (laughs). I also contacted them when I was out later, but my host family was extremely kind, and they always came to pick me up at the station.
My host mother and father also helped me out a lot. For example, they helped me get my residence card, set up my bank account, apply for a SIM card, and lent me a hand when anything happened during my time there.
Your homestay experience really helped you since coming to Japan, it seems.
It did! If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend homestay. It may seem more expensive than student dorms, but I think there’s a lot you can experience compared to living alone on study abroad. You can experience everyday life for people in Kobe, and get to know some of the customs, as well as gain a deeper knowledge of Japanese culture. Of course, your Japanese will improve, too. After dinner, my host family and I would get closer watching TV while talking about the news or cultural differences.
Eating out together
Thank you for your time, Maria!
Next up, we’ll be interviewing Bogdan. How would you like to hear about a student’s experience living alone?