Where are we?
“We are literally on the edge of the city. Over there is the countryside, there is nothing. For anything I have to cycle 15 minutes. This building is from the 70’s and originally for old people. It is here, but that these people ended their life here is even more depressing. When I moved, the room smelled musty, as if it had been left alone for ages. Ever since, I buy incense at Xenos against the smell.
“I always take the stairs instead of the lift because sometimes when you’re in the door is not opening. Lately on the bottom floor there was raw sewage leaking that made the complete building smell. When they were trying to fix the pipelines, the drilling started 7 o’clock in the morning for days.”
How did you end up here?
“I live here since the end of Octobre. Before, I illegally subletted a room in Rotterdam. Although I found this room myself, I had to pay 350 euros administration fee. It was not until my housemate was complaining about the shitty wok in his DUWO care package that I heard of the latter. When it turned up one day I had bought everything already.
“It doesn’t feel like my own place but like I am just permitted to be here. Everyone is pretty much in their rooms. There is a common room at the end of the corridor which is pretty bare and liveless, like a class - or hospital waiting room, and without cooking plates. I cook on a single cooker in my room.”
Then why do you live here?
“There is a big divide between Dutch and international students. I don’t know any Dutch students that live here. Why would you since you can live in the centre of the city and pay 300 euros of rent? On Kamernet room vacancies include ‘no internationals’, ‘only Dutch speaking’ and ‘stop messaging us’, really rude. It isn’t just 1 or 2 but like 95 percent of people on that find it just a Dutch people-kinda-thing.
“To pay my rent, I work for a designer one day a week. I have applied for huursubsidie but you have to fill out a lot of forms that are in Dutch. And they take ages to reply.
“I have to move out in August as I am only allowed to stay one year. I am not really sure where to live afterwards. It is quite worrying: if I really don’t find something I have to pause my program and go home.”
What are these wires for?
“I am building a 3D printer that layers up a design from. It will be useful for master projects in which I need to build a lot of stuff. My master combines computers, technology and scientific research to find creative solutions.
“For one course we had to make a useless product confusing people. Two other students and I wanted to use sound recognition in a situation when it would not make sense, like in the morning, when your partner is laying next to you and you want to get up quietly. We made an alarm clock that you have to shout at to silence it. It records your shout and plays it 10 minutes later as another alarm.
“It is a bit strange: the program is a really positive experience. It is just the other side of university that is not very good. I am sure if I find it hard, there must be students that find it even worse.”