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Life in a Hostel

This article is for you if you have experienced hostel life. It's also for those curious about hostel life, especially those currently living there. "Hostel and mess" are two phrases close to every hosteler's heart. These are significant aspects of life, as hostels change us positively and negatively. All the years spent in that building and at the dining table, eating, joking, and wasting time, make that place incredibly memorable for us. Let's stroll down memory lane again and relive those nostalgic moments.


A hostel is not just a place; it's an experience that stays with us for a lifetime. We create a temporary home in that building, built on a solid foundation of fun and laughter. Hostelers engage in various activities, such as doorbell pranks, festive celebrations, writing assignments for each other, and playing pranks to the fullest. However, hostel life is not just about fun. It imparts valuable life lessons and unforgettable experiences. 


Hostel friendships are unique in their own way. At times, you become very close to your roommates and hostel friends, while at other times, you may have no one to talk to. Sometimes, friends become engrossed in their own lives, and you may not see each other for weeks. Then there are those lazy days when you sleep, eat, and wander! Each person in the hostel has their own story, some choose to share it with no regrets, while others try to keep it hidden from the world. Knowing your roommate's or hostel friend's past is a privilege, as it signifies trust. Trusting someone with your story brings a unique sense of happiness. Hostel life also teaches us whom to trust and to what extent. Living with hundreds of people, especially strangers, sharing a room, and adapting to an entirely different city are not easy tasks, but these experiences prepare us for the real and challenging world ahead, leaving us with both good and bad memories.


It begs the question, what does mess food give us? Lessons or memories? Mess food tests our resilience. Surviving on food that we might not even consider at home can be challenging, but hostelers do it- or, should we say, have to do it? There are two types of people in the mess: those who eat quickly because they dislike the food and those who eat extremely slowly for the same reason.


Interestingly, both of them have the opposite reaction when they encounter their favorite food. Mess coffees are a unique kind of mess in themselves; one can never identify the brand of the hostel coffee. This experience inevitably changes our perception of home-cooked food. While our health in the hostel might not be a source of pride, our appreciation for good food reaches a whole new level for the rest of our lives.


But how are things back at our home-sweet-home?

Returning home always evokes mixed feelings. Even if hostelers miss their family while in the hostel, and the family misses the hosteler not being around, both the family and the hosteler adjust to new routines. The family adapts, with new items in your room, and your table no longer belongs solely to you. You might struggle to find a place for your clothes, toothbrush, and shoes. It's not that there's no place for you at home once you've been to the hostel, but things do change. Expectations from both sides often differ. No one is necessarily wrong or right; it's just that the family views their son or daughter as they were and expects things to remain unchanged. Everyone wants to pick up where they left off, but that's not always possible. 


Hostelers constantly oscillate between the familiarity of home and the freedom of the hostel. I deliberately avoided using the word "comfort" because, after a point, one can get comfortable in any situation, even if it's uncomfortable. Sometimes, the family eagerly awaits their child, and the child takes a different path; both are right in their way. Coming back home from the hostel requires adjustment, both for the family and the hosteler, and it's okay to have some differences, even with family. After eating in the mess, life sometimes becomes a mess. But that's okay; sometimes, all you need is a paper towel or patience so that things can settle down.

Hostel life and the mess teach us about what lies ahead. They make us realize, "You're on Your Own, Kid." But they also provide us with weapons like friends, family, and a version 2.0 of ourselves.


Hostelers often worry about the mess menu, but sometimes, all we need to do is understand whether our life is in a mess or there is just some mess in our life. (This was not about the mess.)

-Tatvika Marathe


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