Surviving hostels and enjoying life
Save money, learn to cook and live on missed calls
— Photo: M. Vedhan
Fun time: Students watching television at a hostel.
It is that time of the year when you have joined a prestigious college away from home and moved into a hostel. You must be experiencing mixed feelings — excitement, contentment, and the longing for home, hometown, family and friends.
While this is perfectly normal, you should realise that your mother’s cooking is not all that you will be missing, your parents’ bank account will also be further away.
Some common-sense tips could help you save some money, ensure that you aren’t broke at the end of the month and make hostel life a lot easier.
If food is not provided for, you should learn to cook, or else eating out will be very expensive.
If conditions permit, install a microwave oven instead of a gas cylinder.
Washing one’s clothes can be one of the easiest ways of saving money in a hostel. “I did not like it at first but now it is fine,” says Moses, who has come down to India all the way from Tanzania.
“Giving it to the laundromat or even a dhobiwallah can end up rather expensive.”
Nostalgic feelings are bound to arise, at least in the first few months, but the phone can be a rather expensive method to keep in touch with long-distance friends and family. “We live on missed calls,” says Pallavi Channa, who hails from Delhi, but now lives in the hostel of Sri Ramachandra Medical College in Chennai.
The internet could be a better option. In fact, some websites, such as indyarocks.com allow you to send messages via the internet to your friend’s mobile phone.
If internet facility is not available in hostel, do not waste money on internet centres. Just hop on to some place where there are computers with free wi-fi. Several libraries and coffee shops provide the service. If you have a laptop, you may be able to find wi-fi hotspots to get connected as well.
Some college hostels are quite far away from civilisation. Others do not allow personal transport vehicles. While landing in the hostel, study the public transportation routes in and around the town. Varun Gandhi, an ECE student staying in a hostel, says “At first, I found travelling by bus really irritating, but now I travel only by bus. It works out to be much more cost-effective.”
Students should make sure that they fill in the student concession forms when travelling by train or air. Most colleges have railway concession forms with them. Student discount forms for flights can be downloaded for most major Indian airlines from www.jetwaysindia.com/
If your hostel town’s climate is hot and dry, and coolers or air-conditioners are not installed, there are other cheaper ways of keeping yourself cool.
The walls can be sprinkled with water. Curtains and the floor can also be wet, if the local climate is not too humid. Here, the water absorbs the heat and the room becomes cool.
If time permits, join an evening job to earn some extra cash. “I give Maths tutorials to school students. It is a way to use my knowledge and pick up some money,” says Haridas, an M.Phil Mathematics student.
Surely, hostel life is a time when one learns many life skills and interpersonal relationships.
But it does not have to be too much of a burden on the wallet.
Careful planning and prudent decisions can save a fortune in what many call the best years of their lives.
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