Selasa, 18 April 2017

[Exchange Student Life] - Dormitory Life

Chuncheon city, is the capital of Gangwon province, South Korea.

When I was about to write my address in Korean, I would wrote it as Gangwon-do (Do to point the province), Chuncheon-si (Si means City) in Kangwon Daehak-gil, Gil means road, Hyoja-dong (Dong means street). This is where my university, Kangwon National University located at. In Korea, if you want to write a mailing address it has to be started with the largest area, in this case, write the province first, the city next, the road name after that, then the street. It is different with the way I write my mailing address in Indonesia, which is started by the street name.

We called our university with Kangdae, as a short version of Kangwon Daehakyo which means Kangwon University. If it is translated to English, name of this university will be Kangwon National University - not just Kangwon University. If the university name is translated to English, the 'National' can be used to figure if the university belongs to the government or a private organization. You can see, because the university name is slightly simpler for Korean, the Koreans have to memorize of at least do a wee bit of research to find out to whom the school is belong to.

That statue, Kangdae pride!



The entitlemet of 'National' name of the university means that the university belongs to the government, Korean government to be exact. My roommate, Sekyung, said that it also means that almost everything in the university is subsidized by the government, even the green tea latte which sold in Cafe Mountain (cafe inside the campus). That almost explains why, you can get 3000 won of green tea latte if you buy it inside the campus, where it will cost you like around 6000 won if you get the green tea latte outside campus. Almost everything you buy inside the campus (at least my campus) will be cheaper than everything you buy outside. Okay, set aside the green tea latte because some students probably classified green tea latte as a tertiary needs. But foods, yes a real foods, like bibimbap, ramyeon, katsu, jjajangmyeong, or jjampong, you could have it for around 2500 won - 4000 won in on-campus cafetaria. It was almost impossible to get food that cheap outside the campus. That was why, sometimes in the cafetaria I met some people who were too old, and a little bit too shabby to be a university student, came to eat at the cafetaria. They were probably people who lived nearby the area who were unfortunately poor. Yes, there were poor people in Korea too. A lot of them. 

3500 won of ddakgalbi dosot
As for dormitory, Kangwon-dae has several dormitories, on and off campus. Off-campus dormitory means a dormitory that located outside of the campus. Although it is located outside the campus, off campus dormitories were not too far from the university's rear gate, it took like 20 minutes walk from off campus dormitories to the class. The off campus dormitories usually assigned for the Master or PhD students. Master and PhD students, especially for Science programs, who were usually spent most of their time in laboratories. These students were usually incredibly busy, thus, often times, they went out from the laboratories after midnight. Along with this routines, it will be hard for them to live in dormitory which has curfew at 1 am. Almost all of the on-campus dormitories has a curfew time at 1am. The off campus dormitories have more complete facilities inside the room that allowed them to have a more independent life, like they have kitchen, private bathroom, and a balcony sometimes. The room was shared for 2 people. 

Private bathroom in BTL dormitory
I could say that there were more on-campus dormitories instead of off-campus dormitories. As the opposite of off-campus dormitory, on-campus dormitory means dormitory that located inside the area of the school. The undergraduate students, as the majority of the school member, consequently need more room to be provided.  It is also a mandatory for Korean students in their first year, to live in the dormitory. For the sophomores, juniors, or even the seniors, if they can live in the dormitory, it can be seen like a privilege. When they move from freshman to sophomore, they suppose to give the rooms for the new students. Sometimes, there are left-over rooms which the school can give it to sophomore, junior or senior students who meet several requirements, for instances, they gotta keep their grades excellent, they have to have an outstanding achievement, or they have to be very dilligent to do their volunteering program. My roommate said, you are so lucky if you can live in the dormitory on your 2nd, 3rd and even 4th year. Oh yeah, as for the freshman, they suppose to do volunteering program as a requirement to live in the dormitory as well. The dormitory fees is relatively cheaper than a one-room, or other accomodation which owned by the people around the campus. It is paid before the new semester begins, and you can choose if you want to join the cafetaria or not.

Before you register for your dormitory, you will be required to pass a medical check up proof for the dormitory. Since my Korean was so limited at that time, Kim Daeun accompanied me to the nearest health center that located about 30 minutes walk from my campus.The health center staffs already familiar with the med-check proof which was required by dormitory, so my med-check was going smooth. The physician knew a little bit english, moreover, they only did a CT-Scan for my lungs, measured my weight and my height, and that's all. Ah yes, when you take your access card for your room from the office, you also need to deposit 10,000 won, that can be taken when the semester ended.


Way to BTL Girls Dormitory

There is a rule that has to be obeyed by all students who live in dormitory. There was a point system for students, that, will be deducted if they break the rules, and will be added if they do something that can be said extraordinary for the dormitory. The rules that mentioned were mostly about littering, breaking the curfew, doing some vandalism - for this, the total point that will be deducted is varies around -1 until -3. The biggest deduction was if you caught up stealing something, your point will be deducted by -8, which means you gotta pack up and look for other accomodation outside. On the other side, what I said about additional point if you do something extraordinary for example is when you found an emergency case - like fire - and you notify the dormitory office as soon as possible. You will get +3 points for this. Of course, this case is rare. So if you can maintain your point at zero, you did a good job.

BTL Cafetaria from outside

There were more than one cafetarias in the campus. Usually, it located side to side with the on-campus dormitory. When I was there, the students supposed to pay like 600.000-800.000 won for an entire semester meals. I thought because I have a lot of food restriction, like I can't eat pork, I'm not fond of kimchi, I did not join the cafetaria. Moreover, the distance between my class and the cafetaria was quite far, and I didn't think that I would went back, hiked the mountain to my dormitory cafetaria for a lunch, and went back to my class which usually around 15 minutes by walk away.  I can just buy a meal in the canteen around me instead.

BTL Dormitory, uphill


I live in BTL dormitory. There are Boy's BTL and also Girl's BTL. Don't ask me what does the BTL mean because I don't have any idea either. It is said, that BTLs were the newest, and the nicest dormitory in Kangdae. I could see clearly why is that. The building were obviously looking new, with a modern-minimalist design, compared to other dormitories like Nanjiwon, Yejiwon or Gukjiwon. As for girls' dormitory, only BTL and Yejiwon dormitory that assigned for 2 people in one room. And BTL, is the only on-campus dormitory that facilitated by a private bathroom and shared microwave on the Common Room. It is one room for 4 people for the rest of them. I lived in the 13th floor, second floor from the highest. It was located right exact the left wing. It has 4 elevators that never stop operating. We use card for the access of entering the gate and our own room. The shared facilities were located in the first and second floor, like laundry room, study room, gym, and communal room where you can heat your food in the microwave, watching TV or just merely getting some drinks from the vending machine. 


BTL entrance

Once a month, there was a room-checking by the floor captains. Yes, we have a captain in every floor. They check if our room was clean enough, including the bathroom and also hairs on the floor. I remember before the room checking, here would be a mountain size of garbage in the garbage truck that placed in front of dormitory. Hours before the room checking, me and Sekyung would clean the room and clean as possible. At least it was important for Sekyung since she said she wanted to live in dormitory again when she's in sophomore, thus, she gotta get a nice mark for this room-checking. Yeah, at least I know that it wasn't only us who did the cleaning thing just hours - or even minutes- before room checking. At that occasion, sometimes we had to fill some form or questionnaire for dormitory improvement in the future. When the rooms were being checked, we had to go out from our room and allowed to go back after the room checking was finished. At the time it was ended, usually the students would go call delivery service (usually chicken) to be eaten in the room, shared with roommate after the tiring cleaning time. 

what to order after room checking

Before the semester begin, there was an welcoming party for the students who lived in dormitory. I didn't know if it was a mandatory or not to come, but I came with Moe and my fellow Indonesia friend, Umi. It was really fun, we watched a fascinating art performances by the students or even by the cafetaria employees.

Baekryong Art Festival - Orientation Performance

During the summer holiday, most of students went home. Before the holiday was coming, the doritory officials sent us a form if we want to stay in the dormitory during summer holiday. Because I had no intention to go back to Indonesia for summer, of course I said yes, I'll stay. I didn't know if it was normal or not, the dormitory told us if we stay during summer, they will re-locate us to another dormitory since a National Ballet Contest will be held in Kangdae for around a week. On the other side, I thought, the effectivity will be another reason that pretty make sense. 

Yejiwon dormitory
So I moved to Yejiwon, second floor, during summer. My korean roommate went home, so I lived with my fellow Indonesian friend, Festina. Of course, nothing can beat our nice room in BTL, but I thought Yejiwon was quite comfortable too. Yejiwon is located beside the school forest so the summer bugs noise was very loud. Since our room was located near by an empty corner, as the back side for the next dormitory, sometimes I could smell the cigarette smoke. A lot of students use that empty space to smoke, probably because the place was quite hidden. In Indonesia, I know that people smokes in a group, but here, they were smoking individually. I think it is a good culture. I never see smoking as a good habit, and gladly, in Korea, the students has that common sense, a common sense not to smoke in a public space. Anyway, the Yejiwon room's style was so Korean. Indeed it was small, but nice and cozy. The AC was working greatly in summer, it was crucial, since summer in Chuncheon was terribly sweltering. There wasn't a bathroom inside the room so I used communal bathroom. 

My cozy desk in Yejiwon
 When summer holiday ended, I moved back to my beloved BTL.


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