I arrived in Adelaide, Australia, at Backpack Oz’s hostel at the end of January and I left it only in December so you can see how much I loved living there! It was the first hostel I’ve ever gone in my life and I really enjoyed it, so much that actually each time I was traveling somewhere else in Australia in the meantime, I was still saying to myself: “After this roadtrip, I’m coming back home!”. But there are pros and cons to live in a hostel and I thought it could interest people if I shared my opinion about it.
Pros n°1: Meeting new people
What I loved about the hostel life was getting the chance to meet new people every day. That was on my goal’s list for 2018, and living in a hostel was really a helper to achieve that. I met people from all around the world who were traveling but also working in many different fields (construction, arts… and even metal music band!). Each person that I spoke too brought something new into my life and I’ll cherish it forever.
Pros n°2: Life in community
Life in community was my biggest fear starting the whole hostel life thing, as I’ve always loved silence. In my ex-flat in Paris, I used to never turn on TV, never put music, absolutely no sound. Even the tiniest sound was annoying me. So when I arrived in the hostel, I prepared my survival kit: eye and ears protections for the night and also a new attitude: be more tolerant towards other music genres that I don’t like.
Finally after 6 months there, I realized that I was never annoyed by the sound. I got use to the music all the time in the living room, which now I actually love. Each time the music stopped in fact, I found the place really sad, with no energy. But when it was noisy, with people speaking and the music loud, I loved it. The only place where I didn’t like it was in my room, when sometimes my roommates put some music on or were talking with someone over the phone. After 6 months, I’m also not using anymore earplugs or eyes protection and if someone is checking out really early in the morning I don’t even notice it like it was at the beginning. But I have to say that it’s possibly because my ear capacity decreased a lot because of all the nightclubs that I did xD
For the facilities (toilets, bathrooms, kitchen), I never had to complain because I’m very lucky that the hostel was really clean and most of the people were paying attention to it. We also had this joke running because Sam, the owner that I love, was often with a vacuum in his hands!
Pros n°3: Changing your perspective
It was a life changer for me to start this life and leave my 9-7 job in Paris. I realized that if I had stay there, and didn’t have the courage to embark in this adventure, I could have stay stuck there a long time. Although it is not a bad thing, it is just not what I want at this point in my life. I didn’t and I still don’t want (or know where!!) to settle. I realize now more than ever, after this big step to go live abroad alone, that this is time for me to live my dream and not stay stuck in the comfort zone.
By talking with people from other countries, I also realized how much similar (or not!) our everyday lifestyle could be and that makes me want to discover other cultures even more!
Pros n°4: Getting to be more tolerant
In my everyday life in France, I used to talk to people from almost the same background as me and/or doing almost the same job as I was doing. Since I started to live in a hostel, I got to see how my vision was not open enough. Even from the French people that I’ve met there. I had never talk to my life to someone doing construction or doing a nurse job and there are a lot of other examples. But from them I learned…a lot! Although before my narrow mind would have say like: Yay, not interested by this subject so why meeting people doing this job. When finally talking to them, I realized that people couldn’t be reduced to the job they are doing! And actually, I would have hated that people think that I was my job too! Because I am absolutely not! I also have met and become friends to people that I would have never gone to if I was in France, because I would have judged them. And now, I get to see how wrong my vision was. For all that I said, I acknowledge that living in a hostel have opened my vision. I get to be more tolerant now about the people that I don’t know even though I still remain a little bit distant at the beginning. I think I still have my Parisian mind to be suspicious to everything and everyone!
Pros n°5: Creating a family
Living with people for a long time especially under the same roof created special connections. As we were all living far from our loved ones, we needed to support and helped each other as much as we could. I think I never really got the word community before living in a hostel. There I felt like I had a family and my best friends with me all the time. Each time I had a doubt, a question, I could ask it to anyone and everyone will answer or try to. And when someone was feeling homesick or had a little moment of sadness, everyone was there to reassure that everything was going to be ok. Although it can be really challenging, especially when you are living on a big island at the opposite of the world (for Europeans especially).
Pros n°6: Improving English skills
Even if your English is not perfect, which is completely normal if you are not English native, you get to learn sooooo much in a hostel. I can’t say that all the new words or expressions that you learn are all pretty but it definitely helps you to be even more closer to the English way of life xD
Pros n°7: Improving pool skills
When you have a pool in your hostel, you definitely have an opportunity to become a pool expert if you work hard! Playing with other people is always a first step to meet new people.
Pros n°8: Having the time of your life
You get to live experiences that you will probably never live in your life afterwards (like dancing on a pool, oops not me), partying like hell every day of the week,….exception made if you want to live in a hostel all your life but you need to know (if you don’t see it soon enough) that it’s not really healthy for you! xD
Now let’s talk about the cons, because they are not only good sides when you are living the backpacker way, on the contrary to what your friends and family may think when they are living far from you. They don’t know the whole reality!
Cons n°1: Privacy
That’s a big challenge especially if you were leaving alone before traveling. I know that I didn’t appreciate much having to change clothes in a mixed dorm because I was afraid that people were watching me. Now I think I wouldn’t care anymore because at some point you don’t give a shit about what other people think of you. But I still decided in my next travel to keep sleeping in female dorms. And boys might think that it must be pretty clean over there but it is not believe me! (I confess that I was also a huge part of the mess xD). By the way, I always found strange that there was never only male dorms. What about gender equality?!
Cons n°2: Challenging your personal routine
If you are a conscious and nice human being, it’s also a big thing to anticipate everything that you will need. For example, if you are checking out at 5am, it is nicer and easier to do your luggage the previous night. Or if you are searching for your night clothes 1am when you’re drunk, it’s better to have them handy. You need to rethink all your personal routine, especially if you are not organized like me!
Cons n°3: Price
Although, it’s not expensive at all compared to a real hotel. It can become easily pricy, especially in Australia as the lifestyle (food, restaurants,…) are quite expensive.
Cons n°4: Encouraging you on a non-healthy lifestyle path
That was definitely one of my biggest problem there: how to eat healthy when you are surrounded with people eating Domino’s pizzas and McDonalds all the time? Because I wasn’t paying attention, I took a lot of weight. The alcohol was also a huge part of it as when you start living with English people, you are drinking way more than you usually are xD
Cons n°5: Everyone knows everything!
Don’t even try to keep your personal life private there and accept the fact that everyone knows everything and will make fun of it with you and others. At the beginning, I tried to hide my personal life (understand guys stories) and it never worked and was even worse with people knowing only part of the story. You may not act in Hollywood’s movies but hostel gossip magazines knows everything about you!
Don’t hesitate to check my other Australia stories!