These cramped Moscow dorms provide a rare glimpse into college life in Russia

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.

In 2014, photographer and reporter Pascal Dumont documented a dozen dormitories at various schools in Moscow, Russia for The Moscow Times.

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.

Pascal Dumont

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.

Pascal Dumont

Ndlovu worries that water leaks from the ceiling could potentially cause an electrical fire at any moment.

Pascal Dumont

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.

Pascal Dumont

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.

Pascal Dumont

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.

Pascal Dumont

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!'

Pascal Dumont

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.'

Pascal Dumont

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.'

Pascal Dumont

Common communal chores at the dormitories include washing windows, floors, walls, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Pascal Dumont

Notes in the bathrooms warn residents to keep it clean and tidy.

Pascal Dumont

Not all dormitories are equipped with washing machines. Most students wash their clothes by hand.

Pascal Dumont

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.

Pascal Dumont

To enter a dorm in Russia, you need to be accompanied by a resident, provide your passport, and register your entry and exit.

Pascal Dumont

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.'

Pascal Dumont

The entrance of the Moscow State Academic Art Institute's dormitory.

Pascal Dumont

There, 24-year-old Zalkar Toktogulov from Kyrgyzstan, who studies painting, trains in the gym.

Pascal Dumont

'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.'

Pascal Dumont

Inese Manguse, 24, plays guitar in her shared room.

Pascal Dumont

'No smoking' signs are futile in Russian dorms. Students actively seek places where they can smoke in peace.

Pascal Dumont

'The 12th floor is the best for smoking,' says Manguse, who just arrived from Latvia.

Pascal Dumont

Here, students at the Moscow Art Institute smoke in the hallways.

Pascal Dumont

Dumont reflects on the dorm life of these students: 'Every obshaga (dorm) is home to its unique culture and set of rules, but residents all face the same challenge: make a home within a limited space and with limited resources.'

Pascal Dumont

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