Life at the hostel can be both riveting and boring. Now in the heart of winter, life is dreary. Clouds aside, the guests have been coming in few and far between. It seems illogical. The fewer the guests the more time you have for yourself, right? Where this logic is true, I find you quickly run out of things to do; and you find yourself pacing around, looking at the same old walls… day after day. You quickly fall into a rut of laziness and monotony.
In a typical work day you find yourself waking up in the morning: the bathrooms still need to be cleaned, the rooms still need to be swept, and sun forbid you’d be able to go one day with the guests washing/drying their own dishes! With only a couple people, it’s hard to motivate yourself to carry out the work with the same professional vigor that once came so easily in the heart of summer. But you mustn’t cut corners. You still dust the beds that need no dusting, sweep the floors that don’t need sweeping, and clean the toilet bowls that have no stains. When you are done your mind feels tired even though you haven’t thought. You slowly put away the cleaning supplies and make your way to the common room and promptly fall into the couch, getting enveloped by the cushions and blankets as you settle in to watch another five hours of Netflix (Yes, Hungary has just got Netflix, for better or worse).
Like I said, life has become dreary at the hostel; same day, same routine, same walls. What could we do to escape? Because clearly something had to be done. Being the genius that I am, I formulated a two pronged approach. The first step was to reconnect with myself. I went about this by re-immersing myself in the topics that interested me. I created a schedule for myself, setting aside time each day for guitar, exercise, writing, and reading (Yes- Star Wars books count!); and at least twice a week for physics, math, and German (ok, so the last one isn’t coming along so great; but it’s the trying that counts, right?). I rededicated myself to trying to improve my knowledge. So far it has only been two weeks, and where I haven’t strictly adhered to the schedule, I like to think I have made progress. I have read three books, wrote some short stories, watched a couple of online physics lessons, and haven’t studied a lick of math. If anything, at least I have watched less Netflix.
The second part involves connecting with people. Even in the summer it is a weird sight to walk into our common room and see 18 out of 20 people on their phones, perusing Facebook or checking their emails. We are in a world now where we have constant access to the internet and at times it seems like nonverbal communication has taken over. I never want to be the old man who doesn’t know how to use technology; but still, I can’t believe I am wrong in thinking that physically talking to people is not overrated. So to counteract all of us sitting around the hostel and not talking, I have made a concerted effort to engage everyone more, whether it has been through playing card games or simply just taking time to make sure everyone’s day is going well. Once again conversations started to occupy the hostel, and just like that the spell was broken (well, partly broken. It’s a powerful curse, and takes constant effort to fight off).
This has also led to the one good thing about having fewer guests. You start to become more of a family. Instead of having 100 faces you might only see a couple times over a week, you start to see the same couple of people every day. We started to cook dinner together, walk around the city, and of course go out to concerts and bars. It was nice. We became friends, some guests even abandoning their travels for a while or coming back on the holidays. And in a country where you can’t speak the language and don’t know too many people, it’s nice to have formed a home away from homes. So where as the hostel might be lacking a summer time liveliness; it more than makes up for it in terms of coziness, which is more than fine by me. As always,