By Eva Lotta Č.P.
— Prior to a student’s first year at Amsterdam University College (AUC), choosing a room means simply seeing the size, number and price. One doesn’t know where it is or what it looks like, but for shared rooms there is another uncertainty: who is the roommate? In some cases, the pairing creates an instant friendship while in general, the end of the first year is eagerly anticipated when students can choose to live alone, with friends, or simply in a room with a different layout. A questionnaire conducted in an AUC Facebook group revealed that students moved from shared to single rooms, due to the layout of DUWO’s buildings that prevented successful cohabitation.
“Living together in the student residences means that your time at AUC will become a true intercultural and social learning experience”, says AUC’s website, and 77.4% of the fifty survey participants still think that having roommates is an integral part of student life. Yet after a semester or two, the “excellent and diverse” experience can become overwhelming no matter where you reside. 71.4% of students want to or have already moved at the end of their first year, 81.5% of whom moved from a shared room to a single. The reasons differ from situation to situation, but the recurring problems seem to be cleanliness, conflicting lifestyles and room layout. “I went home for the summer break, came home after two months to discover he managed to leave literal chunks of food on the counter and unclean dishes, among which were bowls with milk leftovers in them,” one student mentioned in the survey.
Another frequently encountered problem is that of having your own space within which you choose what and when to do, whether it’s eating, studying, listening to music, socializing and especially dating. “Everything around boyfriends and intimacy was horrible. We both did our best to accommodate each other but it’s hard to maintain an adult relationship when you can’t have personal space”, another student commented. Many pointed out that the worst thing about having a roommate was walking in on sex, or the lack of privacy to do so.
Judi Kleine-Brockhoff, a first-year Social Sciences major intentionally chose a double room because she wanted to live with someone. “I had never lived on my own before and thought that I would be more inclined to be lonely if I lived in a single. I liked the idea of coming home to someone and having dinner together and sharing a communal space.” Kleine-Brockhoff and her roommate share not only household items but food as well, alternating between paying. “I love the dorms because it makes hanging out with your friends so easy and you’re quick to become a family (…) However, it can become suffocating to always be in Science Park.” Despite the positive experience, even Judi decided to move next year because it’s easier for her to establish a sense of home if she gets to decide over the whole space.
It isn’t only the lack of personal space that makes living in Science Park difficult – it is also due to the rooms with no separation that leave students overwhelmed with interaction, when university life can be stressful enough on its own. Many thought that having roommates would be fine, if it wasn’t for the layout DUWO’s buildings provide, with one person sleeping in the kitchen while the other gets a room, or simply sharing one open space. “It’s just 24/7 contact with a person that you don’t really know to begin with and might be totally incompatible with – even if both parties try to be as respectful as possible,” a student noted. Living on your own means not having to invade someone’s privacy or have them invade yours, worry about cleaning other people’s mess or controlling their social lives.
With a single room, it seems that students can have the best of both worlds – they can maintain close relationships with friends they see around Science Park and Oost, as well as avoid unnecessary roommate tensions and have control over their space. If you are not ready to mingle, get a single.
Photo Credits: Amsterdam Science Park; https://www.amsterdamsciencepark.nl/location-facilities/accommodation/living/
Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.