5 Reasons Why You Should Stay at a Hostel
Hey HKC family!
I’ve been in Korea for a little over two weeks so far. My first six days were spent at a hostel in Itaewon called IS@K. Now that I’ve moved into an apartment closer to school, I reflect upon the time spent at the hostel with a longing to return. For anyone planning to travel to Seoul as a student or young adult, I would highly recommend staying at a hostel. Here are my reasons why:
What is a hostel?
Hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available.
I was having a hard time choosing a restaurant for my birthday last week when one of my friends gave some great advice. “It’s not important what you eat, what’s important is who you eat with.” In the same way, people can really make the difference between an okay experience and an amazing one. I dormed with a group of cousins from the US who were backpacking throughout Asia. Some older guests there were in Seoul for business. There was a Korean girl from Jeju and another guy here studying Korean like me. Aside from those people, the majority were girls from Israel and US that came to Seoul on their own because of their love for Korean music and culture.
Every morning I would walk out of my dorm and into the common room. It was filled with people chatting, munching on toast, and getting ready for the day. It was very relaxed, basically family style. Every evening was a similar scene. One of the girls there was from Israel, but could cook amazing Korean food from scratch. Everytime she cooked, anyone in the common room got to partake in the meal. The Korean owner was very hospitable, usually on the property and available to help the guests. The guys that worked there were usually very friendly and helpful. Girls at the hostel loved them and couldn’t get enough of their cute English accents.
3. The Roof
Each hostel usually has an outdoor common area. For us, it was the roof. My rooftop memories include helping friends hang laundry while learning how to say ridiculous swear words in their language, sitting and chatting about future ambitions with other international guests, and the occasional trip to the roof alone at night when nobody was there to gaze at the Seoul city lights and reflect on life in solidarity.
4. Meeting Hostelers
I was usually out during the day meeting with my own friends, but once in a while I would join the hostel regulars in a trip to Hongdae or just down the street to a cafe. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I don’t regret it at all. There I was walking down a sidewalk with a flock of girls from Israel and the US. I felt so out of place, but exactly where I should be at the same time. This is what building cross-cultural ties looks like. Stepping out of my comfort zone, and getting to know people who are different from me. Whether it was in Hongdae watching live music or at a cafe down the road, we would spend a lot of time chatting. During that time, I learned about them as people and with each person I talked to their country changed from a shape on a map to a face and a story that I could connect to.
This is probably one of the most straightforward reasons. Hostels are cheap. They’re designed for youth and travellers on a budget. The total cost of my six night stay was about $120. That could probably fetch you one night at a modest hotel in Seoul.
If you ever have accommodation questions, feel free to ask!