At the start of my second year in Moscow, I was at a bit of a crossroads. I still wanted to stay and experience more of the city, but I was tired of my far on the outskirts flat, couldn't stand my landlord, and had not really developed a strong social life. So I made a decision. I left my flat and began looking into hostels. I was tired of living alone and shuttered at the thought of signing a lease or dealing with a landlord, as I had never had a good experience with either, and I did not want to be roped into paying for one place for an entire year. I wanted to be free and make friends. I wanted my world to be open and active, not closed and restricted. Therefore, one day in late August(2016), I made a booking for a hostel near Тверская Улица (Tverskaya St.) called Vagabond. That was eight months ago. It is now late April of 2017. I have been living in Russian hostels ever since. This is what I have to say.
As expected, it was everything the flat wasn't. I had instantly leapt from a rather isolated environment, spending a majority of my time alone, to an unending and ever-present social atmosphere. At first, it was exactly what I needed. I was tired of the monotony of only my interior monologue keeping me company, and this new surrounding gave me the opportunity to interact with anyone whenever I wanted. So, of course, I indulged. Any time someone new wanted to check out part of the city or go out for a drink, I jumped at the chance. Even though I had done plenty of exploring and drinking on my own last year (often simultaneously), it was much more fun to share the experience with someone else.
To make a long story short, my objective, in so much as having a more social and exciting year, was achieved and then some. This was, without a doubt, the most eventful window of time in my entire life, eclipsing even my college years. I met more people that I ever thought I would in an entire lifetime and always had something to do every day. But that aside, I would be lying if I were to say that I enjoyed every aspect of this experience. When I started, as said, I was 100% ready to socialize with everybody. But one thing I didn't factor into the equation was that I was working a full time job, while nearly everyone else coming through the hostel was not. It was not too long until I started to feel regularly exhausted, now having doubled my already high caffeine intake in an attempt to squeeze the most out of every moment.
As time wore on, I began to realize that I desired just having a rest and a break more than anything else in the world, but in being often surrounded by people and sharing a 12-bed common room, my want was often impossible. Also, the 'get to know you' questions like, "What's your name? Where are you from? What are you here for? What about that election?" began to chip away at my last nerve like Chinese water torture. I can't really blame anyone for asking, though, seeing as I did the same when I first arrived, but after being asked the same thing several times every day for months, it was exhausting. The way I can describe the feeling is this: imagine college/university orientation reoccurring every few days on an endless repeat with new people every time.
But with all of this considered, if I was faced with the decision of living the hostel year again as it was or moving back into a flat like the previous year, I would choose the hostels every time. I may have spent a little extra time focusing on the negative aspects of it all because I am currently in the middle of the two most exhausting work weeks of the year and had to deal with a new loud and large group in the hostel that is collectively about as pleasant as the Bubonic Plague, so now isn't the happiest of times. But if I had to compare this year with last year, this year has been exponentially more fun and has been full of genuinely better experiences.
And now looking back, I spent so much of last year my myself just trying to kill time. This year, despite all the ups and downs, there was quite literally never a dull moment. I did so much more than I could ever have imagined. For example, I finally got around to seeing Lenin, I drank at night outside by the river and engaged in deep discussions, and I met so many fascinating people from all over the world. And I truly was free. I was not tied to a single flat, I did not have to deal with any landlord, and, since I paid by the day, I could leave any time I wanted. It was liberating to have that option even if I didn't use it.
Not to mention, I've developed some useful skills. Prior to this year, I had been a pretty light sleeper and slight noises could wake me up any time during the night. Now, after being surrounded by eleven, often snoring, people, I can sleep through anything. And I have no problem now being assertive whenever I have a problem or something is going wrong. Before, I would likely have remained silent, but now I've realized that doing so doesn't solve anything and usually just increases tension.
So, to sum it all up, I am happy with my choice overall to spend the year in hostels. However, I do think I need to find a quiet and antisocial hostel for a few days just to rest up and recouperate, so I can once again be my full self and enjoy the social atmosphere and influx of new people.