I have lived in a dorm both at Yonsei University and at the University of Notre Dame. I went to Notre Dame as an exchange student last fall. After experiencing dorm life at both universities, I was able to observe some similarities and differences between them.
First, regarding Yonsei’s dormitories, it is mandatory for first year students to live on campus. As first year students, we have to move to Yonsei International Campus located in Songdo, Incheon. In the Songdo campus, there are buildings labeled from A to G with 12 different houses. Each house has a different theme and goals. For example, Underwood House has the motif of pioneering spirit and sharing. On the other hand, University of Notre Dame requires first, second, and third year students to live on campus. It has 31 residence halls on campus and each dorm has a different atmosphere and traditions. For example, Pangborn hall is a small sized girls’ dorm with valkyrie as a mascot.
When comparing the structure of the dorms, there are some similarities and differences. Both have a person who is in charge of the whole dorm called a “residential master” in Yonsei and “rector” in Notre Dame. However, in Yonsei, the residential master is usually a professor, while in Notre Dame the rector’s only job is to take care of the residence hall students. Also, there are residential assistants in both schools. They are usually sophomore, junior or senior students who take care of students from their own sections. In both schools, students get to live with at least one roommate during their first year. Roommates are randomly chosen for first year students at both Yonsei and Notre Dame, but Notre Dame students can freely choose their own roommates and rooms starting from their second year.
Since Yonsei International Campus is a residential college, it provides more diverse activities and educational programs for students. For example, there are special lectures by guest speakers or practical lectures such as learning how to make PowerPoint presentations, design and coding. Also, there are special performances by singers, bands and more. There are 60 residential college programs each semester, like learning a foreign language, reading and discussion, and community volunteer services. These activities are for students to participate and earn points in order to fulfill the requirement for the Residential College (RC) course. Furthermore, since Yonsei is a Christian school, there are religious activities held by Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) and more activities held at the Christine Chapel on campus. In terms of activities that provide a chance to interact with other dorms, there is the RC olympics where houses play against other houses. Some special characteristics of residential college are that students can build friendships in their freshman year and spend a lot of time with their peers. It is also a chance for them to build leadership.
Dorms at the University of Notre Dame try hard to provide a home-like environment. Therefore, the activities are more relaxing and designed to build community. They hold events where students can chill out by watching movies and grabbing meals together. Also, hall councils are held every week to provide information about what is happening on campus that week and to discuss dorm events. Since University of Notre Dame is a Catholic university, there are numerous religious activities. Each residence hall has its own chapel and mass is held every Sunday. Furthermore, Notre Dame also has activities between resident halls, such as intramural sports similar to Yonsei’s RC olympics. Lastly, each residence hall holds formal and informal parties at least two times a year. It is very fun to spend time with friends and share our houses’ own theme and traditions.
Personally, during my time at Yonsei, I mostly spent time with my own friends studying and eating together. In Notre Dame, I spent a lot of time with my dorm friends that I met through the dorm activities and I got to know all the people in my section and floor. I feel that Notre Dame is more caring and I am closer to more people who live in the same dorm.