Fear and fridges in Hostivař or student’s first impression

17. 12. 2011 Autor: Rubrika: English žádné komentáře

Kolej Hostivař – the dormitory that is specially reserved for the International students studying at Charles University. It has ‘home’ even in its name, but how is living in there in reality?

I don’t think I will ever forget the moment when I first walked into my new home for the next three months of university, Kolej Hostivař. First impressions were a little rocky: the graffiti covered entrance, the burly manner of the staff, the low to non-existent level of English. “But,” I thought, “I bet it’s lovely inside!” Oh boy.

Home sweet home

The first obstacle was the elevator. Not only did it not go to the ground or eighth floor (of course I live on the eighth), but a corpse would have felt claustrophobic in it. Next, as the elevator doors slid open, my comrades-in-arms and myself threw ourselves out its doors, bags and all, only to be hit by the formidable stench of the hallway carpet. Holding our breaths, we moved past the two fridges that we thought had been abandoned in the hallway next to a shopping trolley. It wasn’t until later we realised, they were meant for our use.

The rooms themselves were serviceable and we unceremoniously dumped our stuff on the beds before cautiously searching for the kitchen. We found it right around the corner, though we wished we hadn’t. A narrow desk-like counter that wobbled when you leaned on it, two hobs, one of which only works at about half heat and a sink with one working tap. Charming.

Another revelation in our epic accommodation adventure was when I discovered what the shopping trolley was for. There was nowhere to put our kitchen utensils and cutlery, so the very logical conclusion was that they should be put in the trolley. Next to the fridge. In the hallway.

However, my favourite part of the Hostivař experience was seeing the sellotaped sign that adorned the front of our fridge: “Lock the fridge, please!!! (Lots of homeless people steal the food.)” Rather than being horrified however, I mostly found this hilarious.

Security that doesn’t really secure anything

My other problems with Hostivař though are a bit more serious. While the dorm facilities are not exactly luxurious, they still get the job done and I comfort myself with the fact that this is Erasmus and it’s more about the experience than anything else. That said, in relation to the sign on the fridge, the security here is a bit worrying.

While the two security staff I have encountered here are nothing but friendly, I have only ever seen one security guard on at a time in the whole complex. Not only that, but anyone can walk in and out of the reception area and from there have an easy access to the block buildings. There is nothing to stop you: no key, code or swipe card on any of the doors. Several people have reported things missing from their rooms, from passports to laptops, but there’s no security camera footage either which could lead to the possible retrieval of stolen goods.

A possible solution to this could be either an increase in members of the security staff, or the placing of ISIC swipe machines on the block buildings, to stop anyone other than a student from gaining access. I also think several strategically placed cameras would not go amiss either.

Czechs’ language barrier

My final issue with Kolej Hostivař is not one of security, but with a rather vital piece of information that was used to promote the dorm to Erasmus and study abroad students – that all members of the staff are not only friendly, but are also fluent in English.

I understand that I’m on Erasmus in the Czech Republic, therefore, I should rightly pick up whatever Czech I can during my time here, but it’s difficult to remember this at times when standing on one foot and miming putting in a light bulb repeatedly to the confused face of the receptionist before you. A college dorm shouldn’t be advertised as catering towards international students when it’s near impossible for the students to speak with the staff! There is only so much Charades one can do, believe me, I’ve tried.

In conclusion, while I realise I have given Hostivař quite the bashing, I do enjoy staying here. But that is because of the wonderfully friendly people here and fun-loving atmosphere. I would recommend staying here for a semester, you meet so many great friends and have such a laugh, but it’s not for you if you want to avoid meeting just Erasmus students.

We are a bit cut off from the rest of the dorms and Charles University seems to want to keep all the International students together, which kind of entirely defeats the purpose of Erasmus in my eyes. Though fun and hilarious at times, it is very segregated here, and I wish I could have more opportunity to meet my fellow Charles University students!

Rachel Quirke

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