If you know me you know I’m the biggest advocate for staying in hostels whilst travelling. They’re cheap, usually in a prime location and best of all a great way to meet fellow travellers. For a few days…
Living in a hostel long-term however, is a completely different ball game. All of those slightly annoying things that you can cope with for a few days during a short trip suddenly become the bane of your existence. People rustling plastic bags at 6am, snoring that shakes the walls or hearing your bunk mates alarm go off for the 75th time in one morning while they sleep peacefully through it. The worst thing, although I’m sure it’s not a common hostel theme, has to be people (different people ALL the time) burping obnoxiously loud without saying excuse me. Oh my god. Disgusting.
Trying to work a full time job in this environment has been a challenge to say the least. As an introvert (an extremely tired-all-the-time one at that) who loves spending 90% of my time alone in a quiet place, I’ve had to adjust to being surrounded by people and noise 24/7. And absolute looneys shouting outside/ constant police sirens which I can hear throughout the night. It’s hard to concentrate at work when I’ve had 3 seconds of sleep the night before.
I haven’t had a single minute of privacy in the hostel since I got here four weeks ago. Even if I’m going to the bathroom or cooking a meal there’s a queue of people waiting to go after me. Stress. Add to this the fact my belongings are mysteriously disappearing. Nothing valuable but it’s still pretty annoying. I didn’t think locking up things like toiletries and clothing would be necessary but unfortunately some people like to take anything they can get to save themselves a few dollars.
One of the good things about constantly being surrounded by people though is how much more grateful I am to be by myself. Whether that’s sitting in a quiet cafe reading a book or going for a walk through the park, the simplest things make me so happy now. And as much as I crave privacy, living in a hostel is a good way to avoid feeling lonely. Last year in Toronto I had my own place but after the first week I constantly felt alone and depressed. I guess it’s healthier to have a balance of the two.
I also occasionally get really nice roommates (people are in and out every night) that I bond with quickly and get to hang out with at weekends. That makes it all kind of worth it. Like last Sunday, when this lovely girl from Japan introduced herself to me. She barely understood English but she was super friendly. When I asked what her plans were for the day she listed everything she had for breakfast which I found amusing. I invited her to lunch and we had a walk to fishermans wharf to see the seals that live there.
I didn’t really get to spend much more time with her as I was working the rest of the week. But when she left she gave me a little gift of some cookies and some fancy miso soup on which she had written English cooking instructions over Japanese writing. She also gave me this note which made me want to cry because it was so bloody cute.
Ok, maybe she thought my name was Glory all this time but isn’t that the sweetest thing? Suddenly all of the stresses of living here became worth it just for that one moment. It reminded me to stay focused on the good things and it totally cheered me up today.
So even though there will no doubt be more stressful times in this dorm room, I’m happy to know there will also be more very special moments that I’ll remember forever.