Okay, this might be a longer post. We’re housed at Chung Ang University’s Blue Mir Hall, a giant dorm housing both internal and Korean students.
The first surprise arrvies immediately after entering: The dorm employs what is lovingly(?) refered to as a “hand vascular pattern recognition system”. When checking in, the blood vessels in your hand are recorded and associated with your student id. To enter the dorm, you have to enter your id and stick your hand in the contraption. It’s quite…different, especially for someone coming from Germany (Datenschutz!!11), but you get used to it pretty quickly.
Another thing that takes time to get used to are the strict and countless rules. The dorms are strictly separated by gender, and being seen on the wrong floor will result in immediate removal from the dorms. Furthermore, the dorm is closed between 1 and 5 am, meaning that nobody can enter or leave. Being absent over night without giving notice during the week is also punished (at least in theory…nobody seems to be quite sure how this system is supposed to work in practice).
There is a very detailed penalty point system in place with 20 points accumulated leading to an automatic expulsion. The list itself is incredibly detailed and quite fascinating, going from the obvious (no violence, littering, etc.) to the oddly specific (don’t raise pets, don’t post or distribute “illegal notices or handbills”). Many of these seem common sense, and seem like they were added because of past violations. There are also activites that can be performed to reduce penality points (like cleaning up), as well as commendable behavior that not only reduces penality points, but can also increase your grades (e.g. performing first aid or being “a person who set an example to others” – does being a bad example also count?). All in all, these lists take up three pages and are bound to raise a few eyebrows.
On each floor, there is a small lounge with an ironing board, and a fridge. Even the use of the fridge is highly regulated. You can’t just put your stuff in there, but first have to label every item with your name, room number, phone number, expiry date, and date of entry. Students are also strongly warned to not take other’s stuff, and the dorm makes sure to point out the CCTV cameras specifically monitoring the fridge. The manager made a point to clarify that it would be very easy to identify the fridge thiefs, who would then be expelled.
As a German, you would think that I’d be used to very extensive and detailed regulations, but even for me all of this was a lot to take in.
In general, the dorm is very neat and clean. There is a large common area to sit down, multi-purpose machines to scan, print, and copy documents, and even a blood pressure measurement machine. The dorm also includes a gym and a cafeteria that offers very affordable meals throughout the day (approx. 2 euros per meal, buying monthly meal plans is even cheaper).
The international breakfast. It’s pretty much the same every day with slight variations in the sandwich department
The rooms itself offer a lot of storage space and all have their own bathrooms, which is quite nice. Two exchange students share a room, the pairings are decided beforehand, seemingly based on nationality. One odd design choice is that there is no bathroom door, which is a bit awkward. There are doors for both the shower and the toilet, but no overall bathroom door, which takes some getting used to. Space is limited, so everything is designed to take up as little space as possible. So you better close the toilet door before sitting down since there is no way to close it after you’ve taken a seat.
All in all, it’s definitely an interesting experience.