To dorm or not to dorm?

Hey guys,

I did a search already and couldn’t find an answer.

I’ll be on academic exchange for a semseter at Chengchi University this fall…if my freakin’ package will ever come. I can choose to stay at the dorm or find my own place. Can anyone tell me what the dorm conditions are like? Is the building built with A/C and heating? I am hearing horror stories regarding the extreme humid heat and damp coldness…heard it’s worst than our Canadian winters. I guess I’ll be bringing a winter jacket.

If the dorms suck, are there rental places around and how much they are?



If it is short term I would go for the dorm and avoid all the possible landlord and deposit problems. You are lucky to have the choice - foreign students at NTNU/Shi-Da are not entitled to stay in the dorms.

i don’t know about dorms in taiwan, but from my 3 years in a dorm at Michigan State, i would say-go for the dorms.

i had more fun and met more people than i ever would have in an apartment.

some great times i will never forget. well, i remember most of them, some i can not recall for other reasons. good times, fun times.

what a blast. it’s a wonder i ever got a degree. guess you have the balance the fun on the weekends with the study during the week.

give the dorm life a chance. as a college student, it was one of the best parts of the experience.


It really depends on what kind of dorm you are offered. Well, more specifically, what kind of room. If you are offered a single, I would go for it. It will be very cheap and private. The drawbacks will be, proabably, relatively dirty shared boathrooms (public schools in Taiwan don’t have janitorial staff. This is usually the students job) with squat toilets, dorm rules, and also a curfew. Of course, it really depends on the university. The one I stayed at was pretty nice, I couldn’t complain, but then again, I had my own room on a coed floor (it was a summer camp, you won’t have girls on your floor.) The other kind of rooms are the shared rooms which puts about 6 people in a rather small room. No privacy at all. The beds will also be wooden planks and a bed roll, so if you have a bad back, haha good luck.

Anyway, dorms are super cheap and getting an apartment in Taipei is very expensive. Those are the tradeoffs. Frredom and comfort vs. money. You make the choice. John Moss has a point though, if you go the dorm route, you will meet more people, make more friends, and probably have much more fun (espcecially with all of that lose cash in your pocket.)

Thanks for the advice guys. Greatly appreciated. I’ll be doing graduate studies so I doubt I’ll be partying as much as my undergrad years.

I was hoping someone here would know about the conditions at Chengchi. If you do, please leave a post!

Been reading some of the old posts and man…I’m nerrrvous.

huh ? I was told the dorm behind MTC was especially for foreigners, I’ve seen foreigners go in and out that dorm all the time. Have you checked recently ?

I’m at Zhengda, and while I don’t live in the dorms, I know people who do. The dorms are pretty basic, noisy and dirty. I’ve heard that you are doing well if you’re not sick a lot of the time. My husband got the sickest he’s been in his life living at the dorms at Zhengda. On the other hand my classmate likes it in the dorms, because he meets lots of people, but he always has a cold. Some dorms have aircon, some don’t. None have heating.

Graduate dorms are supposed to be better. I’m not sure how much better tho. A lot will depend on who you’re sharing with.

I saw the Zheng Da dorms about 9 years ago and they were shocking. The dorms at Fudan in Shanghai were much better.

I lived in the foreign student dorms in Fu Jia University for my first month in Taiwan. What a horror show. They chained the doors shut from outside. At the age of 30 I found myself having to climb a rope in through a second floor bathroom window if I’d stayed out after midnight. The place was fuill of Indonesian lads chatting and copying eacth others’ homework while puffing kreteks and dumping the butts in the vast flows of rubbish that accumulated everywhere. I kept wondering what would happen if there was a fire. Fortunately I never found out.

There was also some geek of an airforce office assigned to keep an eye on the Indo lads. He was very polite and very agreeable, but a complete wanker. He’d pull them up on what they were wearing, etc. Mercifully he sensed my absolute disdain and I never had to deal with him.


you could move in with Sylvee from Poland, she is going to study at Chengchi too, if I recall correctly… :wink:

Go pitch a tent in the hills, or check out the dorms at the buddhist center above the university.

Seriously, I can imagine the dorms would make you sick if they weren’t kept very clean (which of course they won’t be in Taiwan). It’s pretty humid in the uni area. Grunge and mold develop quickly. But then again, the air is about the best you’ll get in Taipei so stay outside a lot.

BTW, how much are the dorms?

I stayed in the Graduate dorms at NTU for one semester last year, and it was horrendous. The building probably hadn’t been cleaned since it was built. Mould grew faster than you could clean it and every time you entered the room you’re hit with its sour stench.

This was supposedly the better dorms at NTU where it’s 2 per room with a bathroom shared with the adjoining room. The bathroom was a disaster as well… moulding walls and ceiling, no ventilation so the steam just gets trapped in it… sustaining the mould.

You get the picture… it’s just mould mould mould…
It’s also noisy with people slamming doors or doing the laundry at frikkin 3am.

I stayed at the NCCU dorms for three months in the begining of this year before I moved in with my girlfriend. You can find pictures of the dorm here: … 149722499/ Here’s what I wrote in my travel report for my school:

This is one of the major decisions you have to make, to stay on campus or not. First, a disclaimer: At the end of the semester our corridor was evacuated for renovations. This could result in that you’re placed in the other dorms that are worse, the PhD dorms that are better (single room, bathroom shared with only one person), or maybe even the new “foreigner building” that is rumored to be finished already. Check this with Alison when you’re admitted. What I write below is based on my experience this semester and may be partly obsolete at the time you read it.

You share dorm room with another person, in my case a German guy. They placed all exchange students together at the end of a corridor. Only one guy who had specifically requested it to polish his Chinese ended up with a Taiwanese guy. The rooms are something like 12 square meters and very gray. You sleep in bunk beds and the furniture is made completely out of metal. The feeling of prison is overwhelming before you’ve added your own spice to the room with some nice Asian posters from Ximen. Even though the guys, as opposed to the girls, actually can bring a person of the opposite sex into the room even though it’s not allowed, this is not the kind of place you bring a nice lady. The rooms are infested with mosquitoes and you will get some form of mould in the room sooner or later. You share toilets and showers with the rest of the corridor. The dorms are located on top of a mountain, to this day no one knows why. There is a bus that goes up and down but after 23 and during weekends you’ll have to walk. This will make you very sweaty and pissed of. This also makes the trip to the city even longer. Zheng Da is located about 45 minutes from the city.

Still, I ended up living in the dorms for three months until I met my wonderful girlfriend and moved to the city. Why? There are some really good things about the dorms. They are free = more money for partying and shopping. They have free killer Internet access (but be beware of the 5gig per day upload limit). They have cheap and very fresh laundry machines and dryers (keeps the mould away). They have top modern air conditioning. There is very cheap and good food in the basement. There are pool tables and table tennis tables in the basement. If you like basketball, like me, the 10 courts outside the dorms are a pretty nice bonus. The air, even though it’s twice as humid as in the city, is not nearly as polluted as the air in the city. And last but not least there’s a great community feeling. You end up doing a lot of things together. The doors are always open, just knock and you have someone to talk to. I really miss this now that I’ve moved out.

This view is based on the boys’ dorms. The girls live in dorms that are way fresher and they’re also situated next to the College of Commerce and not on the mountain.

I used to live in the hills in Muzha at about the same elevation as the men’s dorm. You need to run a de-humidifier all the time to keep the mold away or at least run the aircon a couple hours whether it is hot or not. I lost half my books to mold in the first week before I figured it out.

Wow. Thanks for the tremendous input everyone, especially EddieG for providing all the specifics about the school. I hope my room will have minimal mould…

Hey EddieG, what was the program you did in Jan?

Mucha Man, the dorms are free for international exchange students…which was my only incentive to go since the plane ticket there will equal the amount of rent I need to pay in Toronto. It all balances out in the end (sorta).

So with this ridiculous humidity, how do you prevent your clothes from getting damp and stinky?

You need either open windows and plenty of sunshine (ultra-violet) to kill the spores, or a dehumidifier and an air purifier, again to kill the spores. There was someone on Forumosa a while back trying to sell Ecoquest air purifiers…

I live in a rooftop shack in Taibei City. It is very hot and humid. I have to change shirts several times a day and wash them straight away before the “yoghurt” factor sets in. I also have to wash down my sweaty torso with cold water and a flannel several times a day. Ceiling fans, standard fans and a natural draught (open windows and doors - watch out for those sudden rainstorms) all help make it halfways bearable. (See Can you stand the heat in Taiwan?)

I have hung around National Taiwan University campus a bit and one thing reminded me of mainland China - the smell of the toilets. The dormitories sound terrible - inferior to those in mainland China. My experience of the latter was in Beijing. I also visited student dorms in other places e.g. Jinan (in Shandong), Nanjing and Shanghai. They were all nicer than what has been described above.

Japanese people seem to have a habit of slamming doors. I guess it is because they come from a sliding-door culture and are therefore pooly versed in hinge-door etiquette. They also tend to drag their feet noisily along the ground when they walk. Taiwan was occupied by Japan for 50 years so it’s not surprising that some Japanese influence, both good and bad, is found in Taiwanese culture.

I did the IMBA (three courses) and added one course from the IMTS program. Which one will you be in? There were two guys from McMasters in the exchange program last semester.

You buy de-humidifiers (plastic boxes with silica pellets) and place them a little here and there. You leave the aircon on at all times. You wash the clothes as soon as they are sweaty.


i definetly wont live in a dorm :noway:

It all very much depends on what sort of standard of living you have been used to (if for example you’ve just graduated from scummy student living anyway) and how much you can put up with for free rent. Don’t forget the Taiwanese students you may end up living amongst are inured to noise from an early age and can sleep through a level of background noise which would necessitate flunitrazepam for someone not used to it.

Those boxes of silica gel are no substitute for a dehumidifier, which extract tens of litres of water from the air every day.

And yet we were asked to keep it down even we were just pre-partying!

And they also extract tens of bills from the wallet in comparison. We’re talking about one semester in the dorms.