Life of a Delhi University student is not easy. Especially when it comes to sticking to the monthly budget. Most of them may not be earning yet, but the average DU student is certainly not content with just food, clothing and affordable lodging. Like the youth everywhere, they too share a taste for the good life. However, there are also those who prefer to save and spend judiciously.
"I usually get around Rs 3,000 per month as pocket money, says Saba Siddiqui, a final-year B.A. (Honours) Journalism student at the Kamla Nehru College whose major expenses include "traveling, eating out with friends, watching movies and paying phone bills."
Shopping, too, burns a sizeable hole in a student's pocket. Well-stocked marketplaces across the Capital, with shops selling clothes and fashion accessories, remain popular among youngsters studying in DU, who can't help loosening their purse strings at these places. "I usually spend Rs. 3,000-4,000 on clothes in a year. Lajpat Nagar is my favourite place for kurtas," says Saba.
Money spent on accommodation is a big drain on the resources of outstation students. Those who are lucky enough to be allotted rooms in college hostels manage to keep their expenses under check. “If you are living in a hostel, you should be able to manage with Rs 4,000-5,000 per month,” says Tsewang Gyalstan, a Hindu College ex-student. Biplab Burman, a Ramjas counterpart, agrees: “Because the hostel expenses were pretty low, I used to get along on Rs 4,000 a month, out of which Rs 1,200-1,300 went to the hostel and Rs 500 on stationery and acquiring study notes."
With social networking sites and chatting having emerged as a rage among the youth, a substantial chunk of money is spent on surfing the Net. Of the Rs. 7,000 that he receives from home every month, Parakram Hazarika, a final-year B.Com student at Ramjas, spends around Rs 250 a month on the Net, while his other major expenses are food and lodging (Rs. 2000), and phone bills (Rs. 400-500). "Searching for information related to studies means spending a good deal on the Internet. Overall, I used to spend Rs 500-600 surfing in a month," says Burman.
The wishlist of most DU students would be incomplete without the latest gadgets. Their current favourites are mobile phones, iPods, laptops and DVD players. “iPods are the in-thing these days," says Megha Latawa, a second year Statistics student at Hindu College, who also takes private tuitions to supplement her pocket money. Malavika Sharma, Journalism student at Kamla Nehru, adds that pen drives are gaining popularity at DU. And of course, a mobile phone is a must-have, as is evident from the fact that Saba purchased a Motorola Motorokr which had a fancy price tag of Rs 10,500.
While food, lodging and travel remain fixed elements in the average DU student’s expenditure, their choices with regard to gadgets and fashion have been increasing year after year. It remains to be seen what new elements make an appearance in the university this year.
(With inputs from Jayanta K Rath)