Saturday, September 28, 2013

SNU Exchange - Finding accomodation!

Hello!!! Haven’t been on this blogging space in AGES… was busy with internship and pre-exchange stuff, but now that’s all settled and I've passed my first month in Seoul now! 

I'd just like to touch on one issue that was a major source of headache for this exchange.. and hope my recount will be useful for other future snu exchange students!

So, the logistical stuff for exchange has been a major headache, especially when it comes to accommodation. Well, so I applied to SNU thinking that the dormitory was cheap, but it turns out that the dorm rooms are HIGHLY HIGHLY oversubscribed, and hence rooms are not guaranteed for exchange students, which contradicts what I read online/heard from previous SNU exchange students. So yeah, DORMITORY ROOMS ARE NOT GUARANTEED FOR US EXCHANGE STUDENTS!! Take note. And I learnt it the hard way. Unfortunately, I did not get a spot in the dormitory and by the time they released the first round of results it was pretty late (around mid august) and I was about to leave for Japan already! Words can’t explain how anxious and worried I was, arriving in Seoul without an accommodation confirmed. Such a scary feeling.

Other than freak out, I had to have new plans. There are different types of off campus housing available, and these include rented apartments (that cost a bomb), hasukjibs, homestay, and goshiwons. Well, I wasn’t prepared to spend a bomb on housing, so I started researching about the cheapest option – goshiwons. I would liken them to private hostels, as these come in the form of a single, shoebox sized rooms with the basics such as desk, chair, wardrobe, fridge, and tv. It was originally intended for students to study in a restricted place for their university entrance exams, hence explains the simple layout.

Before unpacking

After a week heheh

This is how my room originally looked like when I first moved in. SUPER SMALL. once i pulled out the chair, theres NO more space to walk. Pardon the messiness, I had way too many belongings after a few shopping trips. But mine is the smallest room of the lot, and I did come across slightly bigger rooms in my search, but just slightly.

Some people think its claustrophic. I thought so too initially, but after sitting in it for a while, I actually felt that it was just the right size. Bigger rooms would mean more cleaning too haha.

So how do you start searching for a goshiwon? The most obvious would be the internet, and there’s quite a number of them listed on popular pages such as goshipages. That would be a good starting point. What I did was to find a list of goshiwons online near SNU, then email/post on their Q&A board to enquire about the availability of rooms. some of the popular ones include coco, bobo livingtel, castlefine, star residence, etc etc (note: popular does not equate to good).The catch is, if you can find them, others can too, and most of these places are usually left with limited/lousy rooms unless you reserve 10938019 days in advance. AND do not be fooled by the photos they post. It is often enlarged/distorted to make the room look bigger, or its probably outdated photos. Its better to view the rooms in person first before paying to get a feel of the surroundings, and of course the room itself. Also, many goshiwons are not listed or can only be searched in Korean. I came across quite a few more randomly while walking around on my search day, and took down their contact numbers. In fact, these random ones were usually better and cheaper than the prices quoted by those available online. No matter what, rooms are always available even if you reach Seoul late, so don’t rush into making a hasty decision.

Top Residence is the goshiwon that I decided upon after visiting all of them on my first round!

It was one of the cheapest of the lot at 260k won/month when my online enquiries all yielded at least 300k for a similar sized room, and the place was quite decent. It is just a 5 minutes’ walk away from the SNU station.

I like that they provide free rice/ramyun and generous side dishes. The ahjumma cooks kimchi/veg-loaded ramyun in a big pot sometimes!! I often see people eating a full meal here. Pity they’re all spicy L
It is completely full of tenants, so the place doesn’t feel scary although it is not very well lit. Of course, this can be a minus point too because the walls are not really soundproof, and I am always awoken by sounds of people getting ready in the morning L However, I think that the people here are more working class? So that is kinda sad as I rarely see people around by the time I’m awake. But I really liked the fact that the whole part of the building belongs to the goshiwon, including the first floor. This is apparently not the norm as the 1st/2nd floor usually belongs to some office/dodgy ktv place/restaurant. 

One major gripe about the place is that choppy lan connection and the lack of wifi L I was okay with the absence of wifi, but didn’t expect the internet connection to be so bad! It might be the fault of my laptop though, and it was my bad to not test it out before agreeing to the place. But well, this factor is too important to overlook, and I just shifted to another goshiwon called Living Castle and this is how my room looks like now!

I'm quite happy with this place for a few reasons:
1)Much bigger room! there is so much walking space now I can even dance around!
2)10k won cheaper!! heehee ahjumma at heart. they had really big studio rooms for a super cheap price too but I chose the cheapest room again.
3)Clean facilities! the goshiwon was recently renovated and just open in july. so i believe that nobody stayed in my room before! happiness. I didn't need to clean much and the kitchen/shower facilities are really clean too! 
4)Crazy fast wifi speed! source of all happiness
Of course, there are some cons as well, such as only being on the 3rd floor, and located further from the station... these are trade-offs i'm willing to accept. Hopefully all remains well and I won't have to shift again! :)


  1. Anonymous9:48 AM

    Hi there!

    Could i check with you, is Living Castle located near SNU? Is the soundproofing bad too? Would you have their contact number/ email that you could share pls? Sorry for the multiple qns.. going on klec exchange this coming fall and i didnt get into dorm as well haha. Thanks much! :)

    1. yes it is like a 5min walk from the snu station/shuttle bus stop. soundproofing is quite bad generally in all goshiwons, but most of the tenants are really quiet
      here you go!
      all the best :)

  2. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Thank you so much! Super worried about accommodation right now, but praying that everything works out in the end! Will also take your advice and survey the places first, instead of rushing into one immediately. Thank you again! :)


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