You must have a lot of memories from your school and college days that you look back to from time to time. But if you lived in a hostel, we’re pretty sure not all of those are fond memories (shudder!). We don’t mean to scare all of you newbies headed to college hostel life... actually, to be honest, we do intend to scare you... be afraid, be very afraid, and heed the advice in this article, or else!
Often, the first thing that happens when you move to a hostel is a bunch of older people showing up, mostly late at night, and bully you into doing tasks that may be funny for them, but quite an ordeal for you. Fear not! Taser gun to the rescue! Although we strictly advise against violence, some threatening and some tools to help you defend yourself might help put bullies in their place. You can buy one online quite easily, although before you do that, check the reviews, the voltage and the legality of the device. Not all tasers available online are non-lethal – you want to scare them, not fry them.
We all know that one person who transcends reality the moment they start talking on the phone. They don’t care how loud they are, whether the topic they are yapping about makes you cringe, and certainly they don’t care about anyone else’s privacy or private space. With your luck, this person will be your roommate! how do you save your sanity? You buy a cell phone signal jammer of course! Some might claim a range of 100 metres or more, but you just want a pocket one that claims 2-5 metre ranges. Make sure to not get caught though, or else you will never hear the end of it – literally!
Survive that food
There are going to be days when hostel food looks (and tastes) like nothing short of nuclear waste. Although most students develop cast iron stomachs after a while, your stomach has only ever felt the love of your mother’s cooking, never the hate of a frustrated mess chef! You’re going to need to install food ordering apps such as Swiggy or Foodpanda. If only there was an app to teleport mummy’s food to you!
Protect your valuables
Theft is wrong, but not everybody cares. And hostelmates don’t understand the concept of personal belongings. From clothes to gadgets, everything is fair game if it’s left lying around. Remember, nothing ever gets stolen in a hostel, merely “borrowed”. Most of us are still waiting for this so called borrowed stuff to be returned, and for some of us college was many years ago! Besides, there’s no way of telling who took what.. Or is there? A wireless camera is a bit heavy on the pocket, but it will give you (and others) a guarantee that nothing can be stolen from your room, ever again. The accompanying app will let you keep an eye on your room even when you’re away. Just make sure you have a way of securing the camera, or the first thing to go will be that!
Mute the world
If the jammer option didn’t work for you, you probably have roommates who talk loudly and incessantly, phone or no phone. Or if you are really unlucky, the room next to you plays music at full volume right when you want to study. Before you reach for the taser, you can do away with the distraction by getting noise cancelling headphones! You need to strike the right balance between budget and effectiveness, and we recommend the Brainwavz Delta, or it’s slightly cheaper cousin, the Brainwavz Omega
Dodge that powercut
Powercuts are a part of hostel life, and some of us may be rich enough to afford colleges where even the hostels have inverters and generators, however, our guess is most of you won’t be those luck few. You’re going to need lights, no matter what, because you need to see to do almost anything that people do in hostels (What? We did say almost!). Cooling can also be a serious requirement, because it’s often impossible to think straight when you’re literally being fried in your own sweat... Get a powerbank and some USB lights and fans, and you will thank us for as long as you live. Just remember to make sure the powerbank itself is regularly charged.
Solve them IOUs
Hostel mates are super chatty and attentive and fun to talk to, until the bill arrives. Then suddenly everyone’s busy tying their shoelaces, examining the menu, staring off into space, and counting the amount of lines on the striped tablecloth! If you find yourself picking up the tab more often than you’d like to, which you will, you need to get apps such as Splitwise or Mypoolin. These apps help keep tabs of who owes who how much money, and there’s no convenient forgetting about the amounts anymore. Some of us would have paid off our student loans a few years earlier had we had these apps in our time.
Track that invader
Be prepared to learn some interesting new smells in hostels. How does someone smell when they haven’t showered in two weeks? What do socks used consecutively for a month smell like? You will find out... Get a UV light, so that you can check for human “influences” in your room and all over your stuff. Unless you’re the one who doesn’t bathe or change clothes...
Need to dry a shirt quickly? Turn the trusty microwave into a dryer. You will need to use the lowest power setting, and take it out, shake it a bit and turn it inside out about every 30 seconds or so. And remember no metal, no elastic and no synthetic fabrics. No mirror in the hostel? Use your laptop webcam to shave. Starving at midnight after the kitchen is locked? Get some instant noodles and cook it on your clothes iron (figure out a safe stand for it and call yourself jugaad king henceforth), and behold! Your new cooktop!
Fool the warden
Sometimes, a strict warden can be a bigger roadblock to your weekend plans than hail and hellfire. Rather than taking that as a disappointment, take it as a challenge. Download a voice modification app and pretend to be, well, someone who is authorized to speak to the warden. Of course, be ready for a thrashing later!
More often than not, in your hostel life you might encounter people who are quite significant contributors to...err... air pollution, even if you make it clear that you have a problem with that. Rather than getting into an endless debate with someone who has already decided to kill themselves slowly, you need to get yourself a portable air purifier. And, of course, rely on one of mankind’s most technologically advanced architectural innovations to breathe – Windows, not the Microsoft kind.
Visualise your dream hostel
With smartphones hitting the market with integrated support for Augmented Reality, we can’t really say that AR is still far away. And what better (and less expensive) way to live in a hostel of your dreams? Although you might still have to develop the necessary software that would change the walls, the ceiling, the fans and pretty much everything around you to make an AR environment, it would still be worth it. For some of you, it might be the only way to stay sane, and prevent you from questioning the very purpose of your life, and planning on running away to the Himalayas for some serenity.
Save some money
We do realise that we have recommended a bunch of expensive ways to survive hostel life to you. And being former hostelites ourselves, we know the perennial state of being broke quite well. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back there too. There are a number of financial planning apps that integrate with your phone’s SMS application to detect any transaction that generates a text message to your number. It then categorises these expenses and generates reports to show you exactly where you are overspending and where you can save more. Even if you do not transact online or via card much, you still have the option to enter your spending manually. Do it at the end of the day and see those savings magically pile up! A few of the easy ones are Walnut, Mint and Monefy.
Despite all we’ve said, hostel life isn’t all bad, and some of the best memories and best friends you will ever have await you in your hostel. Just follow the tips we’ve given you and you will live through your first year. It’s all down hill after that! Plus, never fear when you have tech by your side. If there’s a problem you think we missed solving, remember to write in and tell us.
This article was first published in July 2016 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit's articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit's previous issues here.