The entire process of applying to SNU, waiting for the acceptance letter, applying for dorm, then registering for classes can and will be extremely stressful. I remember being super stressed out about the logistics up until 3 weeks into the semester at SNU. With the hope of relieving some of that stress for you, I’m here retelling the story of what I’ve “suffered” through before enjoying my wonderful life as an exchange student at SNU.
Living in a foreign country can be very expensive. Asia is typically cheaper compared to elsewhere. South Korea is generally cheap, however, it can get pricey. The prices are very close to those at home. And since you’re in a different country, you will be spending quite a lot more compared to if you were at home. As a result, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead. And a big part of that budget is housing.
A one-room off campus can easily be found for around $700-$800 a month (you can find cheaper options). These one-rooms are pretty neat. You get your own little kitchen. You own private (wet) bathroom. [A wet bathroom is a bathroom where the shower head is connected to the sink next to the toilet and therefore the entire bathroom will get wet when you shower.] You get your own washer. No dryer though, because Koreans don’t usually use them. The cool thing about these one-rooms is that you’re not sharing it with anyone. So if you’re not too fond of having a roommate and have a little bit extra to spend, or if you did not get into dorms, then feel free to plan for these. But for the rest of us, let’s try to get into the dorms.
Dorms are great. Well, depending on which building you’re assigned to. Each building is different and I was very lucky to get accepted to Building 906. It’s a fairly new building where only 2 people are sharing one decently sized room with a private (and separate) bathroom and shower room. We also have a common kitchen on our floor, and a common laundry room with dryers! Building 906 is rather odd. The first two floors are co-ed, then the next 3 are males only, and the last 3 are females only. On the first two floors, some rooms are actually single rooms! But I’m not entirely sure how you can get those but yeah…
Anyways. Dorms are great, but not always. Dorm rules are very strict. You are not allowed to just bring in guests at any time. There are designated visiting hours and bringing guests outside of those hours will count as a violation. That would be anywhere from 6 to 10 points depending on how severely the violation was. Ten points and you’re out. There are also other rules as well and you’re expected to know them even though no one has told you about them before. For example, I got yellow carded one night while playing cards in the kitchen with my friends. Apparently, the kitchen is only for eating and cooking. Nothing else is allowed, and they will be counted as “misusing the common area”.
The plus side of dorm is that it’s dirt cheap. Building 906 is the most expensive one, and the price for my term was about $850 (with a $100 refund at the end). That means with dorm, you can stay for the whole semester at the price of one month if you were to stay off campus. So I think it worths the stress that you have to go through.
Dorm applications are opened fairly late and the results are not out until VERY late. The application is opened less than 2 months before departure. It’s basically an online form that you have to fill out via the school’s website. The form is tricky, make sure to follow the instructions that they sent to you through email. The one thing that you need to make sure to do is after you complete the application, hit Apply. Make sure that it registers and that it leads you to a confirmation page where you can print it out. Though it’s not first come first serve, as everyone receive a random number and they pick people that way. It’s a lottery. But I do recommend registering as soon as it opens. But if you somehow missed it, don’t worry too much, as I applied 2 days after the opening date and still got in compared to a friend who applied on the day it got opened. I clicked Apply when I first filled out the form but it never registered despite the page refreshing and didn’t know until 2 days later when my friend asked me about the confirmation page. So make sure you see that page before thinking that you’re done with the application.
After filling out the online form, you probably notice the chest X-ray and the vaccinations required. If you look at the timeline that they give you, you literally only have like 4 days to go get a chest X-ray and the shots done, and mail it to them. That’s where the stress kicks in. When I first saw that timeline, I was panicking and wasn’t sure whether or not I should just go get the X-ray and the shots done and send it to them beforehand despite not knowing whether or not I would be able to get into the dorms. Chest X-ray can be expensive, and international mailing isn’t cheap either. So I decided to wait it out after sending them an email asking if it would be okay to wait. And it turns out that they will give you time to complete your paperwork and payment AFTER the results are out. So wait until you know for sure that you got in before spending money on the paperwork. Another thing, even though it says that the chest X-ray is required, the PPD test or a blood test is sufficient if it’s difficult for you to get a chest X-ray.
The procedure and requirements for dorm are different from semester to semester. As a result, I’m not really able to give you the exact details on how to complete the application and such. However, the general process is basically the same. So if you ever need help and/or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me for help!