Parties, flirting, and chores
Where would you like to live?
When you start living on your own as a student, one thing is certain: you have to be able to handle mess. Does your living situation have any impact on your experience as a student? Three students, all in different situations, talk about why theirs is best.
The co-ed house
Relaxing on the fire escape
The first thing you notice about the house is its bright red front door. Then there’s the pile of Swapfietsen lying around on the sidewalk out front. Fortunately, there’s a clear path to the door.
The front door swings wide open. Elias, international business student and house elder, smiles big and waves us in. ‘Welcome! I’m so glad you came to get a tour of our beautiful abode’, he yells hoarsely. ‘I’d advise you to keep your shoes on; you never know what’s on the floor here.
‘In the hallway is where we collect our bags of garbage’, says Elias. ‘Although people also work out here sometimes.’
‘They sure do’, says medical student Anne, descending the stairs in the company of law student Abel. ‘It’s a pigsty in here, and it smells like one, too.’
The name of the house would suggest that everyone in this chaos of a student house is actually single, but they’re not. The name is left over from when the house was founded three years ago, when everyone who lived there was indeed single, and everyone had a tendency to take people home after a night out. ‘Now, more than half the people who live here are in a relationship’, says Abel. ‘We might not be living up to the house’s name, but it’s still a good name.’
Elias, Abel, and Anne ascend the stairs to show us the first floor. Beer crates litter the steps, but other than that, it’s pretty neat.
Upstairs in the kitchen, econometrics student Julian and pharmaceutical student Ilse are preparing lunch. ‘This kitchen is so gross sometimes’, says Ilse
This kitchen is so gross sometimes
All the men in the house live on the first floor, with one exception: Jiske, who studies philosophy and artificial intelligence, who’s not overly fond of this arrangement. The girls and Julian live on the second floor. The first floor could use a few tips on cleaning from the second one. The men only recently set up a cleaning roster. ‘The bathroom looked like what you’d encounter at a petrol station. It was so gross’, says Anne. ‘But it’s much better now.’
Students Daan, Hidde, and Emmeke join everyone in the kitchen, ready to show us the second floor. ‘We’d show you our common room if we had one’, says Daan, a pre-master student of change management. ‘But we don’t, so we usually just hang out in the biggest bedrooms.’
They organise an annual house weekend and they want to reinstate the Christmas dinner. Every Tuesday, there’s a house get-together. It’s not mandatory, but ‘it would be nice if you’d at least want to attend’, says Emmeke.
In this house, the students spend Tuesday night hanging out on the couch or playing games, rather than going out and getting drunk like some other student houses do. However, the students are all members of different associations, which means they do plenty of that on other nights.
On the second floor is Bruun’s room. She studies built environment. Her room is decorated with plants and paintings. ‘We’re all very outspoken and different, but we all get along great’, says Bruun. People barely fight, she says. ‘Maybe about cleaning the house. But it’s never serious.’
In the meantime, the other residents of the house have made their way to the fire escape. Everyone is trying to make themselves heard over the others while they tend to a disposable grill. ‘Honestly, we’re like a bunch of kids sometimes’, says Jiske, grinning.
Flirting in your student flat
The building at the Oostersingel has six floors and a total of 275 rooms, accessed through a maze of hallways. At first glance, it looks more like a hospital than a student flat. There are no empty beer bottles lying around, no garbage bags or shopping trolleys. Once you get inside one of the studios, though, it becomes evident that students do actually live here.
‘Sorry about the mess’, says human geography and planning student Jildou Altenburg. After a friend tipped her off, she moved into the flat a year ago. She’s happy with her living situation: her friends are close by and she has all the facilities to herself. The rental requirements have changed since she moved in. ‘You have to apply, and you’re up against ninety others in a lottery system.’
The building houses a mix of internationals and Dutch students. Each studio has its own bathroom and kitchen, which has both its advantages and its drawbacks. You can also withdraw to your private space, but ‘you’re a little more isolated in your own room’, says Jildou. ‘If you don’t know anyone in your building, it’s like you have no roommates. You have to try really hard to get to know people around here.’
Fortunately, the other people who live on Jildou’s floor are nice. Some of them have become her friends, Like social work student Leon van Steenbergen. ‘Hey Leon, you home?’ Jildou shouts down the hallway.
‘Yo!’ Leon yells back from apartment 8-12.
Leon’s room also looks like a bomb went off: his messy double bed takes up almost the entire room. Piles of clothes obscure the floor and it’s clear he hasn’t studied at his desk in ages. A beer crate blocks the window.
You might have to work hard to get to know people, but it can lead to some fun stories. ‘My downstairs neighbour was yelling loudly out her window. I didn’t know her, and I yelled at her to shut up. She asked me if I could help her out with something, so I did’, says Leon, grinning.
The neighbour keeps complaining, which is really annoying
There are other ways to socialise: ‘I mainly talk to people in the laundry room or the bicycle shed’, says Leon.
Next to the laundry room is a study room. But Jildou says people mostly go there to drink. ‘It’s a soundproof room, which makes it perfect to throw parties in.’
They do need permission from Jan, the caretaker, who they can also turn to when things are amiss, like a loose toilet seat, or a window that refuses to close. ‘If we ask Jan if it’s okay to throw a party, he’s usually fine with it. As long as we clean up after ourselves’, says Jildou.
The flat also has a courtyard, a lovely little patch of grass among all the modern apartment buildings. People use it to throw parties; the students are allowed to use the courtyard until one o’clock in the morning. ‘But the neighbour keeps complaining, which is really annoying. The police break up parties all the time’, says Jildou. ‘Other people in the building call them when they want to sleep.’
Jildou thinks it’s particularly uncool. ‘Finally, we posted a message in the Facebook group telling people to come over and complain rather than call the police.’
She admits it can get noisy in the building. ‘I’ve been woken up by loud music or people yelling in the middle of the night. The other day two people were having a huge argument. The whole building can hear that stuff.’
Other than that, it’s a great place to live. ‘People flirt with each other a lot. There are quite a few cute guys around here’, says Jildou, blushing.
The Vindicat house
Drinking with the fishes
The common room at Huize De Overkant is fascinating. One wall is covered in framed shirts worn by pledges, while on the other one, the residents have painted fish and replaced their heads with pictures of new roommates. ‘Our house is like a fishbowl’, explains facility management student Floor Adriaansen (21). The eight girls in the house call themselves ‘the fish’, in a reference to the Visserstraat.
‘It feels like I’m living with seven friends’, says Floor. They do everything together: eating, drinking, being hungover, and studying They organise a bunch of activities, ranging from blind date dinners to weekends away with the whole house.
No one knows where De Overkant got its name from. A neighbour once told them it’s because there was a brothel across from the house, but someone else says it was a pub. There’s no doorbell: ‘It always breaks’, says Floor. Visitors have to knock.
There’s a house get-together every Tuesday night, and it’s mandatory, says Floor. ‘Even when you’re studying for an exam, you have to keep Tuesday nights free.’ All the girls get together for dinner and have drinks afterwards.
But before anyone can start drinking, the place has to be cleaned. The newest residents are stuck with the grossest jobs. ‘They have to clean up the towels and take out the trash’, says international business student Lotte Slagt (21).
They divide the rest of the household chores. It might sound like they clean the whole house from top to bottom, but unfortunately, that’s not true. ‘If you want to move out of your parents’ house, you’ll have to put up with a bit of a mess’, says Floor. ‘We don’t have any professional cleaners.’
The new residents have to take out the trash
The house elder makes sure everyone is done with their chores by six p.m. Anyone who fails to do so has to buy dessert or a glass of wine.
There are other rules in the house, too. ‘Anyone who forgets their house key has to shotgun a beer’, says Lotte. No one is allowed to use the stove or any electric appliances when they come home from a night out. This rule was instated when a resident died in a house fire twenty years ago.
Another rule: the washing machine is not to be used before 11 a.m. It’s a very noise machine and its use will bother anyone who happens to have a hangover. The girls also take each other into account when one or more of them have to study. ‘We use the small stereo rather than the big one with a lot of bass’, says Floor. ‘Just to make sure you can’t hear it through the whole house.’
But in spite of, or perhaps because of, all these rules, everyone agrees living in Huize De Overkant is amazing.
Anyone looking to move in has their work cut out for them. Interviewing for a room takes up an entire weekend, and new residents also have to suffer through a hazing session. Floor and Lotte say the hazing used to be much more intense than it is these days. Nowadays, they just embarrass the new residents by making them dress up and run around the city in a scavenger hunt.
Whenever a roommate leaves, the other girls throw her a goodbye dinner, where everyone dresses up as something that characterises the person leaving. The last girl to leave went through her fair share of guys during her final year, says Floor, laughing. ‘So we all dressed up as sluts.’