In the US at schools like Purdue University, dormitory accessories such as pool tables, student lounges with 47-inch flatscreens, private bathrooms, kitchenettes, and music practice rooms can be the norm for some students.
The catch is that those dorms can cost up to $US14,000 a year to live in.
There, he found students living with bedbugs and roaches, underneath leaky ceilings. Obshagas, the Russian word for dorms, are not any of these students’ first choice for living accommodations — but due to what Dumont calls “astronomical” rent in the city, many students are left without a choice.
(Captions by Sarah Jacobs and Pascal Dumont)
Kudakwashe Ndlova, a 25-year-old student attending Lomonosov Moscow University of Fine Chemical Technology, shares this obshaga with one other student from Russia.
Ndlovu, who attends the university on a scholarship, pays $10 a month for his room. 'It's cheap, that's for sure,' he told Dumont.
Ndlovu worries that water leaks from the ceiling could potentially cause an electrical fire at any moment.
Nigerian students Christopher Onoja (top), 22, and Issac Ismaila (bottom), 24, both came to Russia on a scholarship. 'Honestly, I don't like anything about this place because the rooms are full of roaches and bedbugs. We renovated -- the lighting, the wallpaper, everything -- but it was a mess when we arrived,' Onoja said.
Issac Ismaila, a student from Nigeria, stands between the two stoves of the floor's communal kitchen. It's commonplace for entire floors to share kitchens.
Dinara Vafina, a 26-year-old music student at the Moscow State Pedagogical University, told Dumont, 'I don't have a problem living with roommates but I would like to get my own place someday.' According to Dumont, rooms shared between three to four people are generally around $50 a month per person if the students are not on scholarship.
Yang Zhao, a 25-year-old student from Beijing, tried to find an apartment when coming to Moscow for school, but she encountered what Dumont calls 'xenophobic landlords.' Zhao described her experience: 'I made phone calls for two months and when someone would hear my accent and discover I was Chinese, they would say nyet!'
Just like in any dormitory, Dumont notes that Russian university students 'will tell you that dorm life is replete with formal and informal rules that everyone must learn to live by.'
Elena Gasyukova, a 24-year-old student at the Higher School of Economics, reads a sign in the elevator that says, 'The general cleaning days are on Saturday and Sunday.'
Common communal chores at the dormitories include washing windows, floors, walls, kitchens, and bathrooms.
Security at the dorms is tight. Guards generally lock the doors at 11 p.m. and reopen them again at 5 a.m. While it is possible to be let in past curfew, students said this was not a guarantee.
To enter a dorm in Russia, you need to be accompanied by a resident, provide your passport, and register your entry and exit.
According to Elena, attendants check in on students every night at 9 p.m. 'They ask how you are, if your flat is dirty, they tell you what to clean,' she said. 'If (the attendant) doesn't see me for a while, she will make note of it and report it to my parents.'
'Life here is good,' he told Dumont. 'I go to the gym almost everyday to stay in shape, but I'm not a professional boxer.'
'No smoking' signs are futile in Russian dorms. Students actively seek places where they can smoke in peace.
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