A Peek Inside China’s (Worst) Dormitories

The new semester has started. Thousands of freshmen have commenced their studies and moved into their new home for the years to come: college dorms. In the second week of September, China’s dormitories became a trending topic on   Sina Weibo. Students collectively posted pictures of their on-campus housing. One particular dorm in Guangzhou went viral as the worst dorm of China.

Most of China’s universities and colleges offer housing for students. Dormitories are an economical solution for students; their family homes are often far away from college, and they do not have the financial means to rent one of the much-demanded apartments in or around university areas. Apart from practical and economical reasons, parents often also want their children to live at university because of safety and sociological reasons, since dorms are believed to be a crucial place for students’ growth and development (Ding 2006). Higher education institutes also encourage students to live on-campus to incorporate them into the so-called “campus culture”, which makes it easier for universities to monitor and influence students’ development (Su 2012).

Dormitories have their own rules. Some do not allow boys to visit girl’s departments and vice versa, others require students to be in before 23:00 or earlier, meaning that a lot of a student’s life takes place within the dorm walls. There are different types of dorms: some have rooms for two persons, some hold four, six, or even ten people.

China’s dorms became a trending topic on Sina Weibo in the second week of September, as freshmen moved into their new on-campus homes and collectively posted pictures of what their dorms looked like. The ‘winner’ of the worst dorm was one particular dormitory in Guangzhou. The cramped dorm is meant for 14 people, and currently houses 12 students. Its main point of interest is its bathroom, that lacks any form of privacy. It has two squat toilets right next to each other, and two shower heads just thirty centimeters apart. “Ideal for lovebirds,” netizens mockingly say.





The Guangzhou pictures triggered other netizens to share their own pictures of their dorms. One netizen complained that the men’s dormitories had four standing and four squatting toilets, whilst the girls only had four squatting toilets.


Another netizen (comment link) said: “Although we have a 4-person dorm that’s very small without private facilities or a balcony, every dormitory has shortcomings, but as long as you make sure it is all neatly arranged, you can change it into a happy place where everyone feels at home.” The user posted the following pictures of her dorm:



Not all dorms are that organized, as one other netizen shows:


Another user might also rank as living in one of the worst dorms, and asks for help online:



Not all of China’s dorms are that uncomfortable, though. The girl’s dorm at Sichuan Agricultural University is equipped with TV, air-conditioning, elevator and mattresses. Not bad, especially compared to Guangzhou:



Ding Ping. 2006. “高校公寓区大学生思想政府工作初探.” Journal of Hebei University of Economics and Trade 6(2): 120-122.

Su Guozhu. 2012. “关于大学生宿舍文化建设的思想.” Journal of Quanzhou Normal University 30(3): 34-37.


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koetse.148x200About the Author: Manya Koetse is the editor of What’s on Weibo. She’s a Sinologist who splits her time between the Netherlands and China. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Literary Studies, Japanese & China Studies and completed her MPhil in Asian Studies. Contact: manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.[/box]

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