While most of us were waking up in a comfortable bed, international students were discretly and kindly asked to leave one of the “emergency housing” residences on 10 October. for students who had had no luck at finding a permanent residence.
Esdoornflat was a furnished building used as a backup sheltering option for the thousands of students that found themselves quite literally homeless, as it happens at the beginning of every academic year in Groningen. It opened in August to receive early incomers in search of a permanent allocation. Unfortunately, not everyone got lucky. It is well known how difficult it is every year for international students to find a place in a city where an important percentage of rooms available are advertised as “Dutch only” or “Only German girls allowed”. Roeland Kreeft, Housing Manager of SSH, mentioned that everyone ‘left quietly’ before 10 am, with their suitcases packed and an uncertain evening. The official statement announced that every student who had left so far arranged an accommodation. We contacted Roeland Kreeft to have further details on what exactly happened.
He explained briefly that due to 2018’s radical shortage of housing for incoming students, the University of Groningen reached out to SSH, the student accommodation service, to open a temporary space for a duration of two months. All parties involved in the process of this temporary accommodation were aware of the deadline, as the building was opened because it was currently empty, due to the current renovations it is going through.
Mr. Kreeft explained that as far as he knows, seven students were, at the moment of leaving the building unsure of their future stay. Some others did find temporary accommodation with friends from their educational institutions and others.
It’s really not nice to come back to a place that doesn’t feel like home every night for so long
Alba, an Erasmus student from Madrid, has been looking for an accommodation in Groningen since August. She is now staying in someone’s living room as luck hasn’t been on her side. She understandably was not joyful when we asked how the experience had been so far. ‘I simply cannot understand how it can be so difficult to find student housing in a city with not one, but two universities with thousands of incoming international students. My parents are really frustrated, because the bills for Airbnbs, temporary places are piling up, and it’s really not nice to come back to a place that doesn’t feel like home every night for so long.’
She is now staying in a friend’s living room, which does make it cozier in a way than just staying a hostel, but gives her no privacy. ‘I was pretty excited about coming to The Netherlands, but this is just wrong. I feel discriminated just because I am not Dutch or German. I’m just here for one semester, and all of this time is already gone.’