College and dorm life are long-awaited chapters of our lives, and we’re looking forward to it as a time for freedom—unlimited parties, no uniforms or gadget confiscation, the freedom to talk, and the opportunity to live freely.
Living in a dorm is a perfect concept of independence in college, but unlike in the movies with fictional settings, it requires the opposite.
My Dorm Life: The Expensive and Not-So-Exciting Parts
Where it all started
I’m from the last batch of PUPCET 2018 (Polytechnic University of the Philippines College Entrance Test), and luckily, I passed the exam and scholarship application.
I needed to go back and forth due to the long queues of students and administrative office cutoffs during the enrollment process. I often take public transportation from Caloocan to Manila, and every commuter is familiar with the traffic patterns in these areas. My classes were mostly in evening shifts, that’s why I considered staying in a dormitory.
My parents and I tried to look for apartments and dormitories around the university’s area, and believe it or not, they decided to pay for a reservation and down payment—imagine the excitement and pressure I felt at that time—before the exam. They expect that bedspaces will no longer be available for accommodation soon after.
The initial payment for the first dormitory cost a total of P4,000. It cost more because it’s near the university’s main building and other establishments like laundry shops, church, etc. The multi-story dorm had smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and internet routers installed.
For the interiors, I shared a small room with my three roommates, we have two bunk beds and a fair-sized cabinet. We were spending more than the allotted budget for our necessities; we couldn’t carry out our laundries and we needed to adjust our shower time because there were eight to ten tenants apart from us.
The smoke alarms and internet connection were two things we didn’t notice right away. We couldn’t cook our food, which made us buy instant and unvarying dishes from cafeterias; we had to buy prepaid loads since the internet was shared by many. To top it all off, there’s a curfew and the dorm is on a flood-prone street. Eventually, these factors affected our study and money-saving habits.
I moved to an apartment-style dormitory with my roommates after the first semester. It is a three-story house with large rooms for bedspaces, three shower rooms, and a wide extent of laundry and kitchen area.
Even so, expenses are constant, from groceries to rental fees to daily essentials. Rest days become errands days.
Doing everything on my own is both exciting and challenging. There were chances when I couldn’t handle my time well, I would skip meals just to get hours of better sleep, far from what I had in our home, where my mother would always cook for me. I needed to make time for other things apart from studying; it felt like freedom but with homesickness on the side.
The second time around, I had to move out, and this time it was because of the pandemic. Online classes are being implemented and we had no choice but to leave and get our stuff out.
My dorm life, though short, is a bittersweet one from its beginning until the end.
Studying to earn a degree will never be easy. If you have the privilege of receiving an education and even have the opportunity to live away from home for college, make sure to get the most out of it while keeping up with reality.
Start searching early, consider your budget, and prioritize what you need to strive for the best results in your studies.