Dorm Life

My Room soaking up the morning sun, with Katie and her new Sweater
My Room soaking up the morning sun, with Katie and her new Sweater

What I take for granted in the background of my day to day life may perhaps be of interest to you, especially to those who lived with me at Wood Lane last year, and painted the horror stories of the ‘Soviet Accommodation’. So here you go: a full tour to Dorm life a-la Moscow.

To begin we have to state that my course mates and I have ended up in the most central, but therefore also the oldest and most basic of the accommodation blocks. From the outside, as we noted when we looked at the prospectus, it is a basic soviet block, showing clear signs of age and a lack of architectural inspiration. The legacy of this lack of this inspiration continues to this day, as the walls tend to be painted egg-shell white or matt baby blue, and all decoration apart from informative posters seem to be banned.

To enter this building you must first pass the turn style, past the dorm guard and the watchful eyes of our dorm cat, Steve*. The two of them keep vigilant watch over the communal entrance hall which leads to the administrative offices, the laundry rooms and gym and the ping pong table.

Dark Showers (actually the men's showers, which smell damp and grim in comparison to ours...)
Dark Showers (actually the men’s showers, which smell damp and grim in comparison to ours…)

There are five floors in the building, which are only accessible by broad, concrete stairs, as the lift is not working (and has not worked for several years it seems). In this way they insure that we also improve our health- apparently we foreign UCL lot needed to improve it a lot (or we failed to tell them we wanted less of a walk), and we have been put on the top floor. This usually results in a fair amount of moaning every time we return to the dorm, but has also helped me to maintain my new, higher, daily step goal.

Dorm rooms are double rooms with two beds, a refrigerator, some shelves, two desks and a wardrobe, separated by substantial walls and a nice wooden door. The long corridors lead to kitchens, a shower room, a wash room, and gender toilets at each end, meaning that if you are unlucky, you get to walk all the way to the other end to get to your gender’s shower room. These have three cubicles and ample changing/ parading around room, depending on your level of modesty.

Kitchens are furnished with a microwave (with a grill), and eight hot plates, four sinks. Very basic, this has resulted in a craving for all things baked- cookies, cakes, pizza, quiche, pasta bake, nachos, quesadillas, lasagne, roasted veg…. brownies…

Panorama of the kitchen without an oven (jdklajflaksjd!)
Panorama of the kitchen without an oven (jdklajflaksjd!)

Cleaning duty of communal spaces is limited to the kitchen surfaces and rotates by room, so that everyone does it about once every week and a half. Staff members help by sweeping the floors and mopping, although I have yet to be convinced that that has any effect whatsoever. Yesterday we chose to buy a mop for our room just to get it thoroughly clean in lieu of a vacuum, and mopped it three times in succession before we were pleased with the standard of cleanliness, and the water didn’t turn the murky black of dirt…

In general though, one can state that the dorms, while in no way luxurious (and, lets be honest they still have to face the test of the winter), are liveable, and in no way like a prison. Well- except for the security guard on the door, the issuance of fresh bed linen once a week, the ‘isolation ward’ for the ill, and the very creepy tannoy announcements which generally starts “Attention all inmates residents…”

Proof that we actually have bathroom cubicles- not living life 'Sochi-style'
Proof that we actually have bathroom cubicles- not living life ‘Sochi-style’

In general, although everything is basic, and living in close proximity takes getting used to, the cleanliness is acceptable, and they have tried to address other concerns, such as providing ‘study rooms’ and a gym, though I have refrained from using them so far. Once we added some personal touches to our rooms, they felt much more welcoming, and I think we are all living fairly contently.

*NB. I have no idea if the cat is actually called Steve or has any name at all- it is however clear that it lives here, and is regularly fed; although it has been missing for about 5 days now…

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