Of a life without whims, full of daily timetables and very little freedom
KATHMANDU, Jan 15: Going off to live in a hostel is stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. There’s very little privacy, with daily timetable set by someone else for you to follow and lots of rules and regulations to abide by.
For most of these students, it takes time to adjust to living away from home, especially for younger ones. Homesickness is an insurmountable problem, some get over it in time while some can’t deal with it.
Incidents of hostellers accusing their hostel in-charges of sexual harassment and rape have also been in the news; so there’s that occasional sense of insecurity.
Nayana Shrestha, 20, spent a year at the Sunbeam Hostel run by one of her schoolteachers from St. Mary’s High School. “It was me who insisted on living in the hostel. My mom, however, didn’t think it was a good idea. But I convinced her in the end and the experience was great,” she says.
“Privacy wasn’t my concern back then. I was in the 7th grade and we had 7 to 8 girls in the same room. Contrary to what most hostellers say, I liked the hostel food, and while others often skipped meals I wasn’t one of them,” she adds.
Sanket Shrestha, 18, however, doesn’t remember his hostel life being fun. This A-Level student from Rato Bangala School spent three years from grades 5 to 7 in the Budanilkantha School’s hostel.
“I didn’t want to but my parents had me live in the hostel. I was nervous and shy and I had difficulty in adjusting, especially with the hostel food since it was so different from the home food I was used to,” he says.
Sanket, in particular, didn’t like having to follow time schedules and sharing a room with even up to 14 students. He says, “Senior students had their dorms and teachers were lenient with them. Everything was moderated by those in charge and getting checked on regularly really bugged me.”
Day scholars usually get hooked on using Internet and computer at home but in the hostel where one is allocated a certain time period for many different things, one looks for distractions and ways to spend/utilize one’s time.
“You aren’t allowed to watch TV or use Internet all day. So you explore, read, write, draw. This makes you independent and more or less confident,” says Sanket.
Similarly, Sashreek Man Shrestha, 18, spent six years in the same hostel. He recalls trying to adjust in the first few months. According to him, it’s usually difficult at the junior level and one misses home the most during winter. But in the senior years, he had gelled well among his fellow hostel residents.
“We had a lot of extracurricular activities going on. So we never got bored, and the environment of the school is good. Looking back, I didn’t have problems adjusting to routine and people. It always gets easier with time,” he says.
With SLC exams preparations in mind, many schools make provisions for students to live in the hostel for a few months and follow a strict timetable focusing primarily on the exams.
Satyam Shrestha, 16, went back to living in the hostel at Glen Buds Secondary School in Lazimpat. Having spent a year at the hostel previously, Satyam had to share a dormitory with up to nine other students.
“We used to get tired of eating the same food (routined) every week. But other than that, the stay was fun,” he adds.
Pramila Amatya Gauchan, who is a residential teacher and the hostel in charge at Graded English Medium School (GEMS), looks after junior boys of 10-12 years and senior girls of age group 15-16.
Gauchan says, “There have been cases when young students get homesick and have a hard time trying to adjust to the new environment. But it’s only in the first few months. Usually, junior students take time to get along while senior students have their circle of friends; so they like staying with them.”
According to Gauchan, hostel life at GEMS comprises a lot of extracurricular activities, apart from specific timings to watch TV and using computer. So students bond through these activities.
“We have a homely environment and students follow the rules and regulations, so none of us have to scold or punish them. There are however a few students who give a hard time to their counterparts and we make it a point to check on them regularly,” she adds.
There are many hostels in Kathmandu for those who come to the city to study.
Dipa Rai, 20, is one of them. She’s been staying at the Nawa Jiwan Girls’ Hostel on Ratna Rajya Marg in Baneshwor for the last seven months. Originally from Dharan, Dipa shares her room with two other girls, and her only complaint is that her hostel owners have a strict rule to close the gates after 6pm.
“Sometimes, if you’re a little late, you’ve to call them up to get inside. And since they are very particular about it, we have to manage our schedules in such a way that we get to the hostel before six,” she says.