Trying to adjust – Life in a Taiwanese dorm


Sunday morning. I wake up, it’s still semi dark and I can hear someone tiptoeing below. My body feels heavy like if I slept really long. What time is it? I reach out for my clock and realize it is over 10 in the morning. What? I look around and see that all the other bunk beds are empty, and when I look down the three girls are down getting themselves ready for a new day. How is it possible that three girls can be in the same room and getting dressed and still make so little sound? They didn’t even whisper or bang their doors!

Home in Sweden people would frown at living this close to each other. Four students student living on 20 something square meters? Are you crazy?

I have lived with people before, most of them Swedish. Sometimes it was easy, other times harder.

  • A Swede is used to have private space.
  • A Swede is used to having the opportunity to make sounds, stamp around and make a mess without disturbing other people.
  • A Swede also take speaking loud on the phone and take listening to music for granted.

Living in a dorm like this with Swedish girls would have been a very loud experience, but living with this girls have been fine so far.

It is like my three dorm mates made a treaty about how to behave in here: from the start it has been quiet and very calm. When we talk we talk, but when not in a conversation everyone just shuts up and stick to whatever they are up to. I love this quietness, it makes it easy to live here. I feel that we respect each other with not disturbing. But even if I think this is exactly how it should be I find behaving in this way very hard.

The Swede in me is painfully aware of how many people that’s in the room. They are within my private space which means I feel like they are my responsible. Now and then I check what they are doing and how they appear to feel, and I want to make a never-ending stream of comments on everything they do. “Can I help you with that? / Wow that’s a nice dress! / Did you sleep well? / Where will you go now?”

To be able to live this way I cannot waste all my energy on keeping an eye on what everyone else it up to, I would get exhausted and would have to hide under my blanket a few hours everyday just to feel I can have my private place. So I’ll have to try stop watching what everyone is up to and focus on what I’m doing myself.

Another thing I hope to learn from this is to not make a mess with my clothes and belongings. The space is simply to small so I’ll have to fold, pile and organize everything carefully.

Not disturbing others and keeping good order – that’s two good things I’ll learn this year!


3 thoughts on “Trying to adjust – Life in a Taiwanese dorm

  1. I am an English student on an exchange in Sweden and find your blog bizarrely amusing- a friend of mine has put me in touch. I’m going through similar experiences but I am constantly concerned that I’m making too much noise living with a load of Swedes! Just want to say thanks for the updates it is helping me with my transition from culture to culture. Hope all goes well – send me an email if you have time

    • Hey Emma! How interesting! Well, I guess it’s a lot about individuals and not only cultural how much noise you make, but I can’t think about Swedes as being overly quiet. Are your Swedish friends students? And are they still living quietly on Friday nights? If yes on both I think they are quite unique!
      Culture shocks are not easy, but usually it gets a little easier over time. I suggest you take a look in this :
      Good luck with Sweden! (I’ll send you a email as well)

  2. Pingback: Photos from life in a Taiwanese dorm | Another Far Country

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