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If you’re going to live in Kobe… Student Dorms! (Part One)

When you study abroad, you’re probably hoping to be surrounded by good people, find a nice place to live, and put together a comfortable study environment. We spoke with three international students in Kobe about the upsides and downsides of their study abroad housing.
What type of housing is right for you?

1. Study Dorms.

What comes to mind when you think of “student life”? Personally, I think back on hanging out with my next-door neighbor in my dorm, watching movies, and preparing for tests.
Ly Daneth (from Cambodia) studies in the Human Societies Department at the University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences, and she’s been living in a student dorm for two years. She gave us a tour of the dorm, and we asked her a little bit about dorm life.

Do you enjoy living in the dorm?

Yes, I’m enjoying it a lot. There’s a voluntary student event-planning group called RPG (Ryutopia Planning Group), and we have regular events for New Years, Christmas, etc. All students are welcome to join. If they contact an RPG member in advance, students who don’t live in the dorms can participate, too.

  During the interview

What made you choose to live in a dorm?

Because since coming to Kobe, I’ve felt that searching for an apartment is really difficult. This student dorm was built the year I came to Japan, so it’s brand new.

How do students receive permission to live in the dorms?

I applied in Cambodia and did an online interview.

What was the interview like?

It was my first interview for entrance to a dorm, so there were a lot of things I didn’t know, so I looked up how to write my application or the kinds of questions that might come up in an interview online. I was nervous, but I passed.

What’s unique about this student dorm?

I feel like this dorm is different from others. I think usually the image of a dorm is that it’s far away from the school and commuting is hard, but this dorm has the purpose of bringing together people who want to experience international exchange. For example, even Japanese students living in Kobe can interview and enter the dorm, if they want to have international exchange. I think it’s wonderful to be able to meet people from so many different countries.

It seems like you’re really enjoying life in the dorm. What kind of rules does the dorm have?

There aren’t any really strict rules, but we do have to come back by midnight. If we’re going to spend the night somewhere else, we have to announce it in advance. That’s probably true everywhere.
There are also rules about the bathroom. We have a one-person bathroom, so we decide on an order in which each person can use it, so that there’s no overlap. There are two shower rooms per unit, so if they’re open we’re free to use them anytime, but the bath has a time limit of one hour.

The one-person bath

What is each unit like?

All rooms in the dorm are one-person rooms. Each has furniture and its own refrigerator. It costs extra, but you can also rent futons and comforters. The kitchen, washroom, toilets, and shower rooms are all shared. The kitchen is equipped with a teapot and microwave. The internet is also free to use.

The kitchen

With all of that, how much does it cost per month?

Rent is 35,000 yen per month (including water, electricity, heating, and internet). 6 people live together in a unit, typically a mix of 3 Japanese students and 3 international students. Out of those six people, one will become the leader, who joins monthly leader meetings to report on things in their unit, and to share any announcements from the dorm head or administration with their unit. If you’re selected as leader, you can receive a subsidy, and your monthly dorm fees will be reduced by 10,000 yen. Some leaders volunteer for the position, and sometimes they’re selected by the administration.

Do you have plans to rent a room on your own in the future?

I don’t have any plans to rent an apartment. The dorm is close to school, and I can take my time in the morning, so I think it’s great. Plus, if I rent an apartment, my rent will be much higher than it is in the dorm.

Inside a student’s room

I think living in a dorm is really easy. Of course, I’m sure some people like living by themselves, but personally, I think that it’s really helpful to live in a dorm while you get used to life in Japan before you try living alone in a foreign country. Once you find a good part-time job, I think that could be a good time to move out.

Thank you so much, Ms. Daneth, for helping us understand more about life in the dorm and what you like about it!

Find out if there’s a dorm in your university of choice by asking a university representative!
See a list of schools in Kobe City

Next up, we’ll be asking Maria Morozova of Russia about her homestay experience!