If you are applying for an exchange period in South Korea you’ll be wondering if applying also for the university dorm or if it’s better looking for a flat by yourself. Almost all the Korean university offers dorms to students with really low prices. I stayed in Ewha’s dorm for four months and I paid the same amount of staying in a dorm in London for 4 weeks. Therefore the price is really convenient. So if you want to know something more about living in a dorm in South Korea you’re reading the right article.
Of course, I lived just in Ewha’s dorm but thanks to my friends I collected information about other dorms as well. So without further due let’s start!
- The rooms: Usually dorms offer both double rooms or single rooms, but the majority are double rooms. There are also dorms where the rooms are shared between four people. The rooms are provided with: a bed, a huge desk, a wardrobe, a chair, a shelf and a trash bin for personal use. Also, there is a private refrigerator in every room so you can keep some snacks or beverages in your room. Therefore you’re going to find all the basic necessities in the room. I had problems with the wardrobe since it was really small but that’s just because I have has many clothes as a department store so if you don’t pack too many stuff you’re going to be fine, trust me.
- Bed-sheets and duvet: you don’t have to bring bed sheets or a duvet since the university offers you one just for 2$, that’s really convenient since you can save luggage space for more clothes or other stuff. I have to be completely honest after using their bed-sheets for 1 week I decided to purchase new ones since they weren’t warm enough but at least when I arrived I didn’t have problems on doing house shopping.
- The bathrooms: I remember that when I checked the dorm facilities one of my priority was checking the bathroom since it’s a crucial point of the house. Unfortunately, not all rooms have their private bathroom, therefore, you have to share it with the students that live on your floor. I was lucky enough to have an en-suite double room, therefore, I was sharing the bathroom just with my roommate. But the funny things is that Korean bathrooms are really different from the one I was used to. First of all, there is no shower stall the shower is attached in the mirror on top of the sink, that means that every time you’re going to take a shower you’re going to splash water everywhere, so I suggest you keep your toiletters in the room if you don’t want watery make-up and wasted creams (hurtful experiences). Also, you cannot put toilet paper in the toilet so you should purchase a bin for the bathroom. If you keep flushing toilet paper, in the end, you’re going to clog the toilet, and you really do not want it, trust me. If you have common bathrooms you’re going to have the coolest shower ever. Since Korean showers have a small changing room before it so you don’t have to walk around the dorm just with your towel, this reminds me of a lot of embarrassing scenes. Also, the cleaning differs from the type of bathrooms: if you have an en-suite bathroom you are responsible for cleaning it while common bathrooms are cleaned by the cleaners.
- Kitchen: eating is one of the most important things in the world, so you need to be prepared for it. Every floor usually has one kitchen but there are no stoves or ovens. The kitchens have a microwave, a kettle, a toaster and a water dispenser and a sink of course (that offers you warm and cold water). Therefore If you were thinking about baking a cake or making pasta sorry to ruin your dreams. With this stuff, you’re going to prepare instant noodles and toast for the rest of your stay. But don’t discourage yourself there are some fully equipped kitchens in the basement where you can prepare your yummy recipe (well at Ewha). Other dorms have canteens that offer super cheap food. I remember that during that semester I was craving for some handmade food so much but at the same time I didn’t want to purchase pots and all that stuff just for 4 months, and I was also feeling lazy every time that’s why I was always eating out or instant meals.
- Heating facilities: All kinds of heating systems are forbidden, therefore you can’t use your personal hairdryer, any kind of electrical blanket and of course electrical stove. Koreans are obsessed by the idea of fires, therefore to prevent them, they forbid numerous elements. If you need a hairdryer you can ask the main office they are going to lend you one (I cannot tell the quality since I don’t use it for my hair). The same goes for the vacuum.
- TV rooms and computer rooms: If you want to watch TV or use the computer there are specialized rooms for that. Sometimes you can also invite some friends over to watch a movie. These rooms can be booked in advance, moreover, you need to inform the central office if you’re having friends over.
- Guests: since we were talking about inviting friends over is important understanding if other people are admitted in the dorm. Ewha, for example, doesn’t allow people from the outside to enter the dorm’s rooms. They are pretty strict about it, once I wanted to show my room to a friend and the day after I received a warning from the main office saying: “People outside Ewha’s university are not allowed in the dorm”. I felt kind of frustrated after receiving that warning since I just showed her my room for 5 minutes, but to be honest I broke the rules so it’s my fault. But don’t worry you can invite your friends over in the main rooms/ TV rooms. Also, males cannot enter into females rooms and vice versa, since Korea is pretty conservative, and also Ewha is an all-girl university, the few male foreign students have strict rules. So if your partner is visiting he/she cannot stay in your room, for no reasons. Other universities like SNU (Seoul National University), for example, allow guests to enter in the rooms but from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM therefore also SNU doesn’t allow sleeping guests. But since the university is bigger than Ewha the controls are less strict. I entered in the dorm once to visit a friend after 10:00 PM but she didn’t receive any warnings.
- Curfew: Numerous universities have a 10:00 pm Curfew during the weekdays and 11:00 on weekends. Ewha has different curfew based on the different dorms: International students’ dorm doesn’t have a curfew (that’s perfect if you want to have fun during the weekends) while Korean students’ dorm has a normal curfew, and they check everyday.
- Shoes and Umbrellas: As many of you may know Asian people must remove their shoes before entering a home, therefore at the room entrance there is a small step where you can take off your shoes, therefore at the entrance, there is also a small cabinet where you can place the shoes. You must always remove your shoes otherwise the room will be dirtier and the wooden floors will be damage. In the same shoe rack, there is also a small part where you should palace your umbrella. But before putting it there you need to leave it open in the main entrance to remove all the water, and then finishing drying it in the rack. For me, it was a mental breakdown since in Italy leaving the umbrella open in a house/room is considered bad luck. But I got used to it anyway since it was the rule.
- Laundry: every dorm has a laundry room where there are different washing machines and dryers. These machines are not for free, every program cost 0.50$, therefore, they are very cheap. You can do laundry every hour but you need to wait for your turn since there are just a limited amount of it. The only problem is that there is no drying rack therefore if you need it you need to purchase it ( and I have to say that the one that I bought was soooooooooo expensive). Anyway, the washing machines have all the different programs, therefore, you’ll have no problem washing also silk or wool clothing.
Here are all the needed information about living in a dorm in south Korea, if you have any other suggestions please leave a comment. I wanted to add some photos but I don’t have any good ones.
Salut my dearest