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Views from abroad: Where’s all my money?

Veronica Wernicke, Assistant Opinion Editor

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When you are abroad, you can easily find yourself spending money aimlessly (a la my friend who likes to drink) or on tedious things you did not think about before arriving – we will get to that.

In this week’s edition of “Views From Abroad,” I will be discussing all the pointless things I have had to pay for during my semester.

The first two things are having to pay to do my laundry and paying to use the toilets at train stations. Now, you can blame all my previous years living at home and having laundry costs provided at my freshman dorm, Graham-Hewlett, but I was not ready nor aware that I would have to pay to do my laundry while abroad – thanks, study abroad department. The whole “paying for toilets” deal should not be an expected piece of prior knowledge because, let’s get real, no one should have to pay to use the bathroom, should they?

Back to my laundry debacle. I was not made aware I had to pay for laundry until the day I arrived and was handed the key to my flat. Now, that should definitely be something that is noted in the welcome packet so that I’m not totally taken aghast when I arrive, right? Some of you may think, “Oh, it’s just laundry, get over it,” but it’s not.

I would not be so irritated if it weren’t for the fact that the machines are subpar, and every time I wish to dry my clothes in the dryer, they still end up half-soaked even an hour later. The happy dryer and its evil company just keep taking my £1.20, which over the course of 12 weeks will add up. Now they have taken my money and I suffer in my unbearably hot room because I have had to crank up my heater just to dry my clothes instead of shoving more money into the machine in hopes that it might actually dry my clothes.

The only “good” thing about these washing machines is that they use a card instead of coins, so at least I don’t have to worry about always having physical money on me. But to that one good point, there are still more frustrating points.

To even get the card, you have to insert either £2, £10 or £20, in cash, to start with. After you get the initial card, you can only top up in increments of £5 – thankfully online. So, despite the washer and dryer needing only £3.60 each time, the company insists on making you add £5 each time you need more money.

In addition to the subpar machines, there are only four washers and four dryers for an entire flat complex which has at least 24 students in each section. Now, whose bright idea was it to only provide four machines?

Not only is – practically all – my money going towards laundry, but also using the bathroom at train stations. Yes, it is only 30 pence, but that adds up when you travel by train a lot, and there are no other bathrooms available unless you want to wander around to find a public one somewhere.

These costs are not limited to just trains stations, as one bonus is that some places have the audacity to charge for toilet paper. Toilet paper should be free, and while I sort of get the reasoning behind it because some people may abuse it, I still should not be punished for someone else’s lack of common sense and decency. Maybe none of this would be a problem if homelessness was not such an issue in bigger cities where all these train stations are located.

Let’s get our act together so we can stop having to pay for trivial things like going to the bathroom and toilet paper.

Instead of feeling like I have been spending my money on meaningful and memorable experiences and trips, it instead feels like I have spent all my money on useless things like laundry and using the bathroom. But I suppose that is just a part of growing up and learning that sometimes life is just plain confusing and irritating.

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Views from abroad: Where’s all my money?