Things I learned after living in a hostel for 10 years.
For a young adult, starting hostel life is the first step into an independent life. Or so you think. Anyone at that age would welcome the thought of staying alone, given the freedom it offers. No one to question your late nights, parties, sneaking around the place, spending money(if you are earning). But the charm immediately fades away once you are done with that phase of your newly found freedom.
Reality kicks in, rather hard, after the first few weeks. When the food starts tasting abysmal and boring, when the exciting new roommates start getting at your nerve for everything, when you start randomly loosing stuff and when the bathroom is never free to answer nature’s call. Add to that the woes of doing your own laundry, cleaning your utensils and keeping your space clean (the last part was only for clean freaks like me, others don’t bother, you’ll survive).
After staying in hostels and PG’s for a good ten years, I have a good sense of the what have’s & what not’s. If you are beginner, don’t fret, you’ll learn in due course. But to make your journey easier, here are some pointers from your experienced didi.
1.Buy, don’t Beg.
This is one of the most important lessons you need to learn right from the start.
Always buy your own stuff, from your stationary to your toiletries, to even your own snacks(hide them away). Keep every item handy so you don’t have to rely on anyone else.
If you do end up borrowing, make sure to return the item as soon as possible. You don’t want any name tags attached to you right at the beginning.
2. Adjust but don’t compromise.
As Sima aunty from the Indian Matchmaking would say, you need to adjust and compromise a little in any relationship. Well, not here aunty. Adjustment, maybe, afterall co-existence is the key to a happy hostel life but never compromise on anything which will cause you trouble later. So the next time your lovely roommate decides to borrow your shoes or jewellery without asking, stop her.
Never let anyone take you for granted. Be their friend, discuss your worries, look for a solution together rather than fussing over it.
3. Beware of the thief.
Every hostel/PG has this infamous personality lurking around and chances are most of the inhabitants are even aware of the said personality but no one dare reveals. Stealing stuff is common in hostels and you need to be attentive. Anything can go missing, from your laundry drying outside, to your footwear, books, cosmetics, jewellery, even your underwear, the list is endless. And the thief is rather shameless.
I remember an instance, when I forgot to lock my cupboard(big mistake). It occurred to me only half-way through the day. I rushed back to the room, only to find the door open and my favourite pair of gold earrings gone. Next few hours went by searching down the whole place, complaining it to the warden and no one to blame. Mix it up with the horror of breaking the news to my parents. I was doomed.
4. Tackling the Fan-on/ Fan-off debate.
This particular skill will come in handy even after your hostel days are over, trust me. Partners are just like roommates sans the option of changing them at will.
If you are someone like me, getting cold at the slightest breeze is inevitable. Thus, comes the never-ending debate of whether the fan should be on or off(always off for me). Not an option when you’re co-inhabiting, so you talk it out, reach a middle ground. Fan can be on but not in full-speed. As for you, add two layers of blankets in 10 degree weather to survive. It’s doable and tackles the problem too.
5. Snacks to the rescue.
Unlike home, one doesn’t have the luxury of raiding the fridge when hunger pangs suddenly hit you out of nowhere. And it happens more often than you like. Stocking up on snacks is the only option. Anything out of a packet should suffice.
If you want to go that extra mile and whip something up. Maggi is your best friend. Not the most healthiest option but it’ll do.
So the next time you visit home, make sure to load up on those delicious home-made snacks, your only company on those long lonely nights of binge watching a 20-episode show.
6. Headphones are bae.
No one wants to hear your mother screaming out her lungs or your secret boyfriend/girlfriend sweet-talking in the middle of the night. We have headphones for that exact reason. Use it.
Also, it’s always wise to go out of the room when you sense a potential firework coming. Noone wants to indulge in your private affairs. Unless, you are that close to your roommates or they are your actual friends. Let’s keep it at bay.
Living in a hostel comes with it’s own challenges but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this experience. Be a responsible tenant, make sure you don’t bother anyone else while living there and everything else shall fall in place.
And, remember to “Be a Paying Guest, not a Pain as Guest”.
Let me know if you have anything else to add to my experience. Would love to hear your experiences and perspectives.