Songdo Dorms: “Ghost Town”
June 18, 2020 by Chan Kim
The Pros and Cons of Spending Weekends in Songdo
One of the most distinctive features of Yonsei University is that the freshmen spend their first year of school in Songdo. It is mandatory for all first years to complete Residential College (RC) activities. For most students, this marks the first time they live without their parents and learn to live an independent life. When I asked my friends about their opinions of dormitory life, they said it was enjoyable. The main reason they found was that students can easily meet new friends and spend a lot of time with them. Some also said they like the idea of living outside of their homes, away from their parents’ surveillance. Despite these positive aspects, the majority of students who live in Seoul or near Songdo go home once their classes are finished for the week. In fact, Songdo dorms are so empty during the weekend that some international students said the Songdo campus reminds them of a “ghost town.” Why is it the case, then, that so many students go home during the weekend?
I asked a few of my friends to provide their two cents on why the dorms are so empty during the weekend.
Many answered that they chose to leave to see their parents. Although some did not want to make the long trip to and fro, their parents insisted they come back for a short few days to spend some time together around the house. It’s quite understandable that parents would miss their child’s company. The day that their child moves out permanently is bound to arrive in the near future, and parents still need some time to adjust to an emptier house. It may be harsh for them to suddenly accept their children’s absence.
Students also wanted to save money and time spent on errands. Spending a day in the dorms can be quite costly, as eating in the cafeteria costs around 4000 won per meal. It’s even more expensive to order delivery food. There are also other factors that contribute to this decision such as laundry, which is frustrating to deal with and requires a self-laundry service fee that adds up. Going back and forth from dorm rooms to the laundry room is a tiring process. Moreover, there is always the possibility of losing something. It is not hard to see an abandoned sock in the middle of the hallway that students must have dropped on their laundry trips. Going home will help them save pocket money and the effort of doing chores alone.
The final reason students opted to go home was that spending free time in Songdo is lonely and boring. Those who spent their weekend in Songdo were mostly international students or people who lived more than a couple hours away and had to book KTX tickets. When I asked how their weekends were, the usual responses were “peaceful” or “boring”. A large portion of their daily schedule involved surfing the web or doing extra studying during the weekend.
Based on these interviews, we can see that both pros and cons exist in regards to spending weekends on campus. The biggest factor for leaving seems to be that there is not much to do in Songdo for students during their free time. Contrary to the energetic weekdays, the weekends are much more quiet. Classes are held from Mondays to Fridays, which is when students have assignments and studying to do. On the weekends, however, there is not much to do besides studying. The wonders of nearby entertainment facilities like Campus Town or Triple Street tend to wear off when students get used to it after a while. Most would simply prefer to stay indoors instead of walking all the way. Many places are also closed during the weekends, which only adds to the complaints.
All things considered, there is no big incentive for students to stay. However, the fact that the campus is in a somewhat inconvenient location is not necessarily a bad thing. When I wanted to have some time to myself, staying at Songdo was a great choice. I could stay in my room all day with no one interfering with the peace and quiet. It was also nice to walk around the spacious campus for fresh air. Not only did my weekend stays provide me with a time for introspection and relaxation, it also made me feel a sense of independence.
Although the atmosphere in Songdo is the opposite during the weekdays and the weekends, it’s fun to experience both the exciting and busy days of the weekdays as well as the tranquils ones on the weekends.