The Benefits of Living in a Hostel

See-ming Lee

Written by  June 5, 2015

The perks of living in a crowded 15-bed hostel room (besides the free WiFi).

The strange smells of dirty, worn-out clothes; waking up at 3:30 in the morning to at least five different people snoring and you've got zero idea as to which side of the room it's coming from; having one too many drinks and attempting to lift yourself up to the top bunk while trying your hardest not to wake your bunk mate on the bottom. This is the hostel life. 

I have stayed in many hostels before while travelling through Europe, but I have never considered long-term hostel life until now; and I love it. It's the best decision I have made for myself in a while. It has become so easy to learn my way around the city, to meet locals, and to meet people from all over the world. Sure, your own shower and a bed larger than the size of a surf board would be nice, but the connections you can make in a hostel are life-changing.

Sure, your own shower and a bed larger than a surf board would be nice, but the connections you can make in a hostel are life-changing.

Beginning in a hostel may not always be as smooth and an easy start as you wish it would. You may find yourself not wanting to introduce yourself or you may find that everyone seems to be already very close and you feel like you are outside looking in; that's okay. It's not easy to go somewhere alone and be your own advocate, but let me assure you that it is the best thing you can do for yourself. Making that one leap of faith and reaching out to just one person to say hello can change your trip in incredible ways.

Just introduce yourself. 

Take, for example, my first day in Sydney. I was four cups of coffee deep, it was 11 a.m., I was fresh off of a 26-hour flight and I wasn't able to check into my hostel bed (not that I would have been able to sleep). I sat in the common room yearning to explore Sydney, but too nervous to go alone. I was just about to leave the hostel on my own when I saw a young man behind me confidently putting a map away and walking out the door.  

I ran over.

"Where are you going? Can I follow you?" I asked.

And with a smile on his face, I made a new friend from Germany. We went all over the city, through the botanical gardens, the Opera House, into a wildlife sanctuary and aquarium, and down to Darling Harbour. Later that night, meeting even more people had never seemed easier to me. I was sitting on the rooftop having a nice big glass of goon, I had already made the initial step to meet one person and suddenly I felt like meeting others was now just the art of saying hello. Could it really be that simple? Yes, absolutely! 

Hostel life is great for meeting other wayfaring strangers like yourself. Generally, any hostel you go to will hold nightly events where the possibilities of meeting new friends are endless. Taking advantage of the events the hostel holds is the best way to take your city by storm. It is very important to make the most of your time and your surroundings while travelling, and to push yourself to leave your comfort zone.

Okay, so maybe the hostel showers have big clumps of hair in the drains, you're not entirely sure what the smell in your room is coming from, and maybe you never pictured yourself as the going-out-to-a-bar-every-night kind of person.

But I can promise you that you will not regret hostel living; it makes for a great transition into your new city and it all starts with a simple "hello."

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Elizabeth Tirkalas

Elizabeth had two dreams when she was a child; the first to travel the world, setting her feet on every continent she could, and the second, to be a writer, and perhaps join the circus along the way. Elizabeth is an Ashtanga Certified Yoga Instructor. She graduated with an undergraduate BA degree in History and English Literature from the University of Western Ontario and studied Humanitarian Aid Management in the Netherlands. A Canadian expat, Elizabeth blogs about her life working abroad in Australia.

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