Student Village is a separate residential district on Minsk’s city map
Just six years ago, there was a vacant plot on the outskirts of the city. However, the proximity to the Belarusian State Medical University and the underground has created a different landscape entirely. Seven beautiful high-rise buildings have now appeared; the complex has been named ‘The Student Village’.
It took several years for the brand-new hostels to be surrounded by shops and shopping centres. A sports complex was built and, not so long ago, a nursery opened in one of the annexes, attracting babies not only from student families but also from the neighbouring residential district of Brilevichi. A hotel, a clinic, consumer services, underground car parks and a cultural-and-entertainment centre will soon open in the youth city. The local infrastructure is planned to rival some European university campuses.
All non-resident students are eager to come to the Village — being attracted by its new houses which have nothing at all in common with the old dormitory style accommodation. Every student wants to live here but registration is not easy. University deans distribute places, with those enjoying privileges and demonstrating perfect results being admitted first.
A sixth year student — Olga Sasimovich — will soon be sent to her first job and will have to leave her cozy ‘village’ room. “I have four years of experience of living in corridor type hostels. There is nothing to compare to it. Two years ago, I moved here. Many of my friends’ apartments are worse than our ‘village’ room. We all enjoy similar conditions: a common entrance hall for the block, two rooms — for two and three, a separate bathroom and a well equipped kitchen,” she explained.
Settling in at number ten with a bag of potatoes
Last year, hostel #10 of the Medical University (widely known as ‘desyatka’) was recognised as the best Minsk student dormitory. I can personally confirm it deserves the title. On opening the front door, one enters a spacious hall with sofas and a TV set. A canteen is to the left of the entrance, of course, it doesn’t offer home cooking but wholesome good food nonetheless.
A utility area is on the ground floor. Students appreciate using its ten washing machines and five dryers — which are offered for free (they simply need to take their own washing powder). In order not to clutter their rooms, future doctors take their belongings (that they don’t need daily) to a storage room, while jars of jam and bags of potatoes can be kept in a vegetable warehouse. A health centre is located on the hostel’s ground floor; recently, a vaccination against influenza was offered there.
Creativity is in favor at the Student Village
Drama, art photo club and singing…
The hallways of the Student Village dormitories resemble a contemporary art gallery — featuring photos and paintings on the walls and intricate installations in the corridors. Creativity here is highly appreciated. Craft clubs work on the 12th floor which also houses a showroom. On visiting it, I was amazed to see a true folk museum — showcasing luxurious flowers from beads, straw dolls and fashionable leather handbags. All of them were made by students, for whom the hostel is a ‘home from home’ for several years of their studies.
While looking for my companion Olga in the hostel, I came across an interesting place: the relaxation room — with a samovar and a TV set. Here, students usually receive guests: parents or friends — also using this room for celebrating their birthdays and other holidays.
The gym was later presented proudly by Olga. It is equipped with everything necessary for training: barbells, and dumbbells and so on. She says that the gym is full each evening: girls come here for aerobics, fitness and cheerleading.
“We are soon to open a ballroom dance studio,” says the hostel’s head — Zoya Gilko. “A professional dancer will work with our students; this will involve payment. Meanwhile, a variety of activities including film screenings — which the hostel’s student council organise — make life richer and more interesting; they are free.”
Nobody forgets studies here either, with each floor offering rooms for preparation. During study sessions, they are the most popular places; some students even need to bring their own chairs in order to have a seat!
Cheap and worthwhile
I learnt it is possible to be thrown out of this ‘student paradise’. “This doesn’t happen often — usually because of discipline problems — which are common amongst young men,” explains the Head of the hostel’s student council — Dmitry Karunin. “Some people consider that the rules don’t apply to them. Our demands are simple: don’t break the rules, tidy up your rooms and pay on time. It costs around Br216,000 (780 Russian Roubles) to stay in the hostel for a month.
Recalling and recording
An unusual themed event was timed for the Student Day at one of the Minsk campus’s hostels. A student council of hostel #4 decided to create a whole treasury of students’ memories. Young people were able to share their ‘exploits’ in the hand-written Diary of a Student, also sharing their attitudes to student life. As it turned out, this ‘memory book’ aroused great interest among youth. Some young people shared their memories on the brightest moments of their student life. Memories were recorded manually, without using the usual gadgets.
At the end of the day, the hostel received its own ‘repository’ of student memories, in addition to a bright poster and a video devoted to the Student Day. The event is planned to be held annually and involve all hostels of the campus.
ON THE TOP
Fun in town
The Students’ Village has an interesting page in its history: the youth town transformed into a hostel for foreign fans during the World Hockey Championship in May 2014. “Guests appreciated our hostels,” admits the First Deputy Head of Moskovsky District’s Administration — Tatiana Kolyadko. “They thought that student accommodation wouldn’t provide much comfort. However, everything proved to be appreciated, our guest book is full of rave reviews.”
It’s quite probable that the Olympic fairytale will come again to Minsk’s South-Western district. In 2019, the city will host another grand sports forum: The European Youth Olympic Festival. Students will be happy to welcome foreign guests in their ‘home’.
By Kristina Khilko