If you are moving into a student dormitory and you have no clue what goes down there, this blog may give you some idea of the interesting world of shared living. While most of us have the experience of living with other people thanks to our family homes, living with strangers, that too from different backgrounds, is a different ballgame altogether. Here, I share with you the best, the not so great and some downright painful things about living in student dorms.
While travelling to a new country means you will be meeting people from different cultures, living in a dorm ensures you interact with them and learn how big and beautiful this world is. This can be an interesting experience of learning and appreciating things we have in common.
It is easier to get stuck in the bubble of your university friends and that’s where good relations with your flatmates can really pay off. Cooking and spending time with them allow you to interact with people who are not studying the same subject as you and most likely have more diverse background than your class.
There would be at least one (most likely more than one) flatmate who speaks German. This presents you with a great opportunity to practise your language skills from the comfort of your home, quite literally. The routine talk in your dorm would ensure you know enough to hold a conversation in the streets.
The best part about living in the dorm is that your get to split the bills for TV fee, kitchen supplies and other communal expenses. Who doesn’t want to pay only one-fifth of the total cost of the toilet papers.
If you are lucky to have decent human beings as flatmates who believe in sharing, moving into a dorm means you don’t have to buy a whole new set of kitchenware because there are already five frying pans and 23 spoons waiting to be used.
Different hygiene standards
Hair in the shower, overflowing trash cans and toilet seat tragedies are small (disgusting) battles you have to fight everyday. We all are brought up in different social context and this means we all have a slightly different understanding of cleanliness.
In apartments, where flatmates don’t get along very well, there are situations where people try to teach each other a lesson by not doing their assigned tasks because one of them is irresponsible. Leaving the dishes uncleaned, letting the garbage pile and not purchasing the shared supplies only intensify the crisis.
Smell of the food
While some of us have our mouth watering when we smell Indian curry or Nigerian fried fish, those not accustomed to diverse cuisines find it difficult to cope with the strong aromas. So, adjusting to the cooking of your flatmates could be a task in its own.
Taste in music
Pop music may be very popular but not everyone likes it; same is the case with heavy metal. But if your flatmate decides to blare their One Direction anthem through their room, there’s really not much you can do rather than singing along.
The WhatsApp group
Unlike old times, today you are connected with your flatmates even when you are not in the dorm. Thanks to smartphone apps, someone will confront you about not cleaning the toilets properly right away – with a text and a photo.
Long messages in group chats, post-it notes on the fridge and unclean dishes in the sink are typical passive aggressive moves that will be part of the dorm life drama.
In some dorms, the washing machines and dryers are located far away from the rooms, making it impossible to do laundry when needed. So you either own 13 pairs of socks or you keep wearing the two until the stink is unbearable.
As simple as it may appear, not everyone understands the concept of keeping the windows shut when the radiator is on. This means there will be several occasions when your apartment would freeze you to the bone.
In your already crowded dorm, you will meet many strangers in the first few weeks of moving in. Don’t worry; they are the partners of your flatmates and virtually live here. So get on with it and be friends with them because you will be seeing them often.
Keeping the apartment clean is everyone’s responsibility and you usually have a meticulously designed cleaning schedule but there’s always one person who refuses to clean the kitchen because they don’t cook that often or someone who is lazy and only does their tasks five days later.