When you move to another city, especially for studies, one of the major questions is the choice of accommodation. For students there are a few options, like renting a flat or a room in a shared flat, or a room in dormitory. And as a person who has spent all her conscious life with parents and never lived alone before, I can claim that the best choice is the last one.
Warning: the following text is highly subjective and is based on one particular example (so any other experiences and thoughts are welcomed).
Absolutely! Because sometimes the conditions are much better even than in a hotel. First of all, there is a rule that each person should have a separate room or a certain amount of space within a flat. For me it was really surprising, because in Ukraine each person never has a separate room and no one cares about the size of a room and the possible amount of people living there. Usually 3 or 4 students live together in one quite small room.
„It really feels like a big community where each member contributes to the general well-being in their own special way“
So here I have more than enough space. Moreover, if you happen to get a double apartment (i.e. a mini-version of a flat with two rooms) you will also have a cute small personal kitchen, not to mention your own bathroom. The latter ‘ingredients’ were a surprise for me as well. In my country, usually there is one kitchen on a floor shared between many students. Sometimes even bathrooms have to be shared between around 8 people or more. So anything could be better than that. Moreover, here in my dormitory you also have a shared kitchen on each floor which usually is free and ready for use. And it is, of course, cheaper to live in a dormitory than in a flat. For example, if a one-room flat would cost you around 300€ per month in Erlangen, the price for one room in a dormitory could start from 150€ per month (in my case it’s about 230€).
Okay, but it’s noisy, isn’t it?
It depends on what you consider to be noisy. For example, back at my home I had ‘nice’ neighbors upstairs with two small kids. And almost every evening around 9 p.m. these ‘little angels’ were running all over their place, screaming and banging different things against the wall at the same time. So hardly anyone could excel them. If to be honest, the only noise I hear are damped voices of people occasionally passing through the corridor or my neighbors listening to music. But these sounds are not constant or regular, so they are absolutely bearable. In fact, sometimes it can be even boring to live in my dormitory, because every person politely goes to his/her own room and spends his/her evenings rather quietly there.
Ha-ha, you said it’s boring. Do you still think a dormitory is the best choice?
Yes, because my dormitory has its own charm and charisma and I have a bunch of reasons for that:
- let’s start with a simple observation – each floor has its own color. I mean the doors of the lift and number of each floor are painted in different colors and there’s some special thrill in that. Even if you are tired after studies or have had a bad day, these little interior details make you smile every time you see them;
- every two weeks there is a special party for all residents, the so-called Barabend. During this party you have a chance to have a drink, a small talk or play either traditional card or board games or even video games. But you have to know a bit of German for that 😉
a dormitory teaches you to think out of the box. It can be either a hole in an anti-mosquito net curtain that allows you to measure temperature outside freely or to see whether it’s raining. Or it can be a new way of using an empty bottle or jam jar as a vase, money box or flower-bed.
- you get your personal mailbox and a doorbell with your name written on it near the entrance. I know that it might be insignificant, but it feels as if this was my own flat with all the little details that usually denote that something belongs to you or that you are important here;
- if your dormitory is on the outskirts of Erlangen you get a chance to enjoy fresh air and calm walks in the forest. Also it looks fantastically beautiful in any season of the year, because most of the trees are coniferous;
- if you have a problem with your bike, you don’t have to transport it to the repair service. There are always people who can help you and who have special instruments for that. Even if your tire goes flat, they have everything to change it, including a new (though actually used) one;
- the following situation could happen anywhere, but the highest probability level for it is in a dormitory: you find something you really want to buy somewhere on Facebook, in a group like “FAU Erlangen: Suche/Biete”. So you start communicating with the seller. Even though your German is awful, you manage to use your poor knowledge and arrange a meeting. In the end, it turns out that this person lives three floors above and speaks Russian (which is much easier for me to speak);
- and, finally, you often will be greeted by cute advertisements written on a blackboard and inviting to celebrate some
event together. And, for example, such an Advent calendar is much better than the one with little chocolates in paper windows that you open every day, because you can have a whole mini-party every day and get to know more people or make new friends.
On the whole, I think that in a dormitory all residents are more equal than in a house with rented flats. All of them are students and most of them don’t know each other. All of them have similar problems and joys. For example, you have to go into the basement each week, if you want to wash your clothes. And you have to be lucky to find a free spot for your bike in a parking lot. But you can also knock on somebody else’s door, ask for a hand and, probably, everyone would open their door and try to help you. So it really feels like a big community where each member contributes to the general well-being in their own special way.