A little over a week ago I moved out of the university accommodation to live in a house instead. I don’t know about other student exchange programs, so I can’t talk too broadly about the issue but I just wasn’t happy in the Seminar House. There are some strict rules and they’re hard to avoid. Either way, I thought it might be some good information for any future KGU exchange students that pass by my blog who are still deciding on their housing preferences.
There are a few reasons why I didn’t like Seminar House 4 very much. There are a lot of rules, I know I’m only 19 years old but I still want some freedom. If I was okay with being treated like a child I would have chosen to live with a Host Family. It’s probably better that I condense some of my least favourite rules into a list:
You cannot drink alcohol in the Seminar House, at all.
You have to be quiet after 10pm.
You cannot have any guests after 10pm.
If you have guests they cannot come up to your room.
Your guests cannot come into the kitchen.
You cannot have a T.V. in your room.
You cannot wear shoes inside, you have to leave all your shoes in the shoe-racks.
Depending on your circumstances you might have a different opinion about these rules. Before I came to Japan I hadn’t been living with my parents for about a year so I really enjoyed being able to basically do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. There are some other things I didn’t like about the Seminar House(IV), they aren’t rules but I want to write them anyway because they’re still worth knowing:
You have to share a room with somebody else, unless you want to pay almost double the cost.
You have to press a button on the shower to keep it running, water automatically stops flowing every 30 seconds.
The water in the showers isn’t as hot between 10am and 4pm.
The kitchen, your pantry and the fridge are pretty far away from each other. It’s tedious even to make coffee.
You have to keep all your toiletries in your room, also tedious if you’re forgetful.
People are everywhere, sometimes you can’t get a minute to yourself. Drama is bad too.
As for the last point, it’s great being able to hang out with your friends whenever you want but not everyone in the dorms is necessarily going to be your friend. I like time to myself, I like to be able to make my coffee alone and I usually like to eat my breakfast alone. It’s my time to think. You won’t really be given that option in the Seminar House, you can do it if you want to but you’ll seem rude. Word also travels pretty far and fast in the Seminar House, it’s unavoidable if you have 100 students living in the same place but it gets annoying when you have to filter almost everything you say incase somebody overhears your conversation.
If you’re a full-exchange student and you aren’t paying for the dorm accommodation, or the accommodation is subsidised, it’s tolerable. I could probably stand it if I was paying 0¥ for a semester rather than 200000¥. Renting in Hirakata isn’t as hard or as expensive as some people will try to tell you it is. Most of the accommodation I’ve heard about ranges between 20000¥ and 40000¥ a month, I’m paying 25000¥ which easily works out to be half the Seminar House fees once utilities are included. So to my verdict: if you have to pay for the Seminar House find a way out. I was lucky enough to be friends with somebody who was looking for a roommate from the first week on but if you ask around you should be able to find somewhere else too live without too much difficulty.