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Taking laundry into his own hands

Instead of using the laundry machines on campus, for example, he spends his time scrubbing and wringing out his clothes – including his socks.

With increasing tuition fees, it’s no secret that a university education comes at a high price. For international students, the costs are even higher.
Xiang Li, a student in the one-year Bachelor of Journalism program, is spending nearly $30,000 to study at King’s. Both the cost of the program and moving from China has forced Li to be creative when it comes to saving money. Instead of using the laundry machines on campus, for example, he spends his time scrubbing and wringing out his clothes – including his socks.
“It costs money and once I want to save money, I have to wash it by myself,” says Li. “It’s very inconvenient, but I have to do that.”
For most people, hand washing is reserved for delicates, but for Li, it’s his end of the day routine.
“No one really wants to wash their jeans by hand. I mean, it’s kind of a handful, but I have to,” says Li.

Xiang Li washes his clothes in the tub (Photo: Michelle Pressé)

While he admits that $1.25 per load isn’t expensive, he says it adds up over time and he would rather spend time than money.
At King’s, it costs $3.50 to wash and dry one load of laundry. If a student does one load of laundry each week, between September and April they would spend $77.50. While this may not seem like a lot, for someone paying international student fees, every penny counts.
Li also says it’s common in China to hand wash everything, including bed sheets, which he hangs in his closet to dry. He says drying his sheets takes days, causing some uncomfortable sleeps. But to him, if it costs nothing, it’s worth it.
One of his floormates, Takaichi Kogata, is also an international student. He says the custom is not shared between their home countries.
“I hate to say this, but if you do this in Japan, you will be bullied, I’m sure,” laughs Kogata.
After dealing with playful jokes from his other floormates, Kogata’s statement doesn’t cause Li to hesitate with a comeback.
“That’s why I didn’t go to Japan to study. At least Canadians are generous enough to let me do my laundry by myself. It’s a free country.”
Despite finding it odd, Kogata applauds Li’s innovative way of saving money and admires the culture difference.
“If it’s a Chinese culture, I respect that,” says Kogata. “I’m very impressed with that. Marvelous.”
 
Li has recently moved off campus and into a home with free laundry service. 

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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