The moment you decide to leave your small cozy hometown in order to embark on a life-changing journey in the big city, you are faced with numerous obstacles. In addition to leaving your friends and family behind and getting to start all over again, accommodation is a major problem that hinders a comfortable lifestyle in Beirut.
To some, finding a place to dwell is effortless. And by some, I’m talking here about girls who are welcomed with girls-only dorms surrounding universities everywhere. Again, a single stroll along the streets of Beirut introduces you to several options to pick from, only if you identify as female of course.
Taking my own university as a striking example, the Faculty of Information II located in Sed Al-Baouchrie has nearly 4 girls-only dorms surrounding it; Nour Centers, St. Takla, Rose Dorms, New Jdeideh dorms and the relatively close dorms at Fanar owned by the Antonine nuns. So, I did what every person would do. I picked up the phone and called the dorm owner of the above picture (number masked due to obvious reasons). After seconds of being tormented by the owner’s “Tallegni Ya Abdo” dialing tone, he finally picked up.
Abou Taklah, the renowned dorms guru in Jdeide answered my question concerning girls-only dorms. “Girls are the weaker element in this entire equation. Because they are dependent on us men, we try to offer them a place to sleep, eat and study for affordable prices. The fees at my dorms range from $180 to $220 a month depending if the girl wants a single-bed room or a double-bed one.” When asked about which girls get picked to live in the not-so-spacious apartments, Abou Taklah giggled and insisted that girls willing to pay are welcome at his dorms, disregarding the fact that there are truly dangerous and life-threatening people out there.
Despite them being everywhere, girls-only dorms aren’t sugar, spice and everything nice. Mira Saidy, a student from Zahlé has changed 4 dorms in two semesters. “Dorms are tragic. We are thrown together in tight rooms where sometimes up to six girls share a single bathroom! My plates got broken, my food was eaten from our shared fridge, the Internet rarely works, everyone is allowed to enter which permit some of my then dorm mates to have their boyfriends over all the time which made me feel uncomfortable.”
Hind Yaghi from Akkar, another “dorm-hopper” explains how the scariest part of switching between dorms is trying to live with 30-year-old women who try to control you especially when you’re the youngest and newest dorm member.
Love, robbery and more: dorm fiasco manifests
In order to know more about what happens, I sat down with Rita Moukarzel (alias) to know more about women wonderland. Note that despite the authenticity of what Rita shared, her case is personal and not to be generalized.
“This dorm is your second. Why did you leave your first and tell me more about the issues you have encountered.” I asked Rita. “Back then, in 2014, I was in a committed relationship with my boyfriend, Karim. My roommate turned out to be a lesbian who had this huge crush on me. She disliked Karim and used to tell me that he was just an illusion. She would also pit other flatmates against me just so she has me all for herself. She used to watch me sleep all night sometimes, and even take pictures of me.” Rita said remembering everything all at once.
“What about the other girls there?” I asked curiously. “One of them robbed me. She stole two of my solid-gold rings, and when I told the owners of the dorm, they said that it’s not their problem at all and I should have been more careful.” Rita replied.
“Tell me more about your neighbors there. The area, the neighborhood… Were they at least friendly?” I asked trying to look at the half-full of all of this. “Not at all! A pervert living next door tried to attack us. He also threw his garbage bags on our door step! And when we threatened to sue him, the dorm owners did not have our back because he was politically covered.” Rita claimed.
“Last question. What was the turning point that drove you to leave where you used to live once and for all?” I asked. “Another girl turned out to be a lesbian. She used to have her girlfriend over all the time deluding us they’re ‘best friends’. They ate my food, used my beauty products… etc. I had to put my foot down and get out of there as soon as possible.” Rita concluded.
Blue dorms, bluer atmosphere
Guy dorms are not any different. While trying to find myself a dorm last year, I saw the tragic conditions some guys live in. In Jdeideh and Fanar, dorms come in the form of shared apartments where two to three guys live in every room of the house. Some dorms house up to twelve guys from different nationalities and backgrounds. Coexistence aside, any misunderstanding between these people living under the same roof causes major trouble.
The dorm life, despite it sounding all appealing and fun to everyone who still did not move out, is challenging to say the least. Students who were dependant on their parents are asked to do everything on their own all of a sudden prior to the start of their first semester. Moving out is a big responsibility. It is not about partying, decorating your own room or constantly having fun as movies portray it. Visualize this: you are thrown into a jungle all of a sudden, and asked to survive with little to zero damage. Good luck.