Compiling the nitty-gritty details about the Kitazono Women’s Dormitory was a bit of a challenge during my pre-departure process. In order to help out potential, future study abroad students, here are some aspects of the dorm-life I hadn’t realized until I was a part of it.
1. Dormitory Hours
The Kitazono Women’s Dormitory is closed from 11:00pm-6:30am which means that residents are not permitted to enter or leave the dorm during this time; this is a typical safety rule in a Japanese female dorm. Temple University provides this information in their “Housing Information” document, however, it is easy to gloss over the statement. When considering whether or not you would like to live in the dorms, it is important to think about how you plan to spend your time. Independent housing might suit your study abroad experience more if you are planning to spend more nights out than not. Additionally, getting locked out is not the end of the world, either; internet cafes and cheap hotels are a common alternative if you stay out late.
2. Waste Organization
The United States and Japan organize their trash in very different ways. The dorm has a large area for mass disposal located at the back of the building and the dumpsters are separated into seven categories. The first is for general waste (trash that is suitable for compost), the second and third are meant for non-burnable items, the fourth area is where newspapers and magazines are to be discarded, the fifth area is for cans, bottles, and plastic bottles (there are separate bins for bottle caps and labels), the sixth area is for paper bags and battery disposal, and the seventh area is where cardboard is placed.
3. Personal A/C and Heating Unit
Central heating and air conditioning is not widely utilized domestically in Japan. That being noted, it is no surprise that the heating and air conditioning provided at the Kitazono Women’s Dormitory is via personal unit. The unit is located by the balcony door and directions on how to use it are only available in Japanese. You will be able to ask your R.A. how to operate the unit or you can translate on your own. The great thing about having your own personal unit is that you are able to control the temperature in your room, but this luxury comes with a catch. If left on for an extended period of time frequently, and when the heat is turned up past that 22 degrees Celsius, it is highly likely that you will be sent an additional bill to make up for what the building was charged. The best way to not have your unit running 24/7 is to remember to turn it off before you leave and to leave often. Japan has so many places worth seeing, which will result in less time in your room and less time to leave your personal A/C and heating unit running.
The Kitazono Women’s Dormitory supplies bedding. The bedding includes a fitted bed sheet, a duvet, a comforter, and one pillow. Every two weeks the dorm provides a clean set of sheets so residents do not have to wash their bedding. A printed notice will be given to residents when they have reached the two week point and residents will go to their RA to retrieve their set of sheets.
5. Furniture and Personal Decor
In each room there is a bedroom area, a kitchenette, and a personal bathroom. The bedroom part of the room has a bed, wardrobe, five drawers, three shelves, a desk, and desk chair. There is plenty of room for clothes, backpacks, and other personal items. The bathroom is small, but efficient with a toilet, sink, and a shower/tub. The kitchenette is where the fridge, sink, and counter reside. The kitchenette does not have a stove, but the dormitory provides residents with a set of western utensils, a spatula, a ladle, a knife, plates, one mug, a pot, a frying pan, and a hot plate. Also by the door is a closet area for shoes. The furniture in the room cannot be rearranged (with the exception of the fridge and desk chair) and the walls are not command-strip compatible. It is highly advised that residents refrain from hanging up posters with tape or anything that could mar the wall (as there is a fee that accompanies any damage made to the room).
Like most study abroad programs, Temple University’s study abroad program does not include a meal plan. This has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it is a nudge for study abroad students to go out and experience food that is unique to the culture in which they are studying, but on the other hand having a set meal plan is easy and something that is usually paid in advance. Japan has an onslaught of conbini (convince stores) that are a rather inexpensive way to get a meal when a restaurant seems too expensive; however, if a trip to the conbini is too much of a trip, the Kitazono Women’s Dormitory has a cafeteria that serves three meals a day. There is a bulletin board right in front of the elevators on the first floor that has a menu for English-speaking residents pinned to it and there is a display of what food will be served outside of the cafeteria.