By Amber Roos
As students are often under a great amount of stress, would not every student want something fluffy to greet them every time they get back from class? For students at Amsterdam University College (AUC) this is possible as their landlord DUWO allows them to keep pets. But just because it is allowed, does not mean it is actually a good idea. What do AUC’s pet owners, as well as non-pet owners, think about this topic?
For some students the dorms can feel isolating at times, especially when living alone. Pets can be a good solution to that problem according to Romy Coers, a second-year Social Science major. “I didn’t want a single room, but I was too scared to start living with a stranger,” she says. “I don’t like living alone so my dog was the perfect solution.”
Although pets might be good for students’ mental health, some students do raise the question of whether it is ethical to keep a pet, especially dogs, in such a small dorm room. Coers herself said, “I would not recommend getting a dog at AUC except in very special cases,” stating that even when living on the ground floor it can be difficult having a dog run free – there are no gates in the courtyards, and there have been multiple cases of dogs running away. She only decided to keep her dog, Pleuntje, in her room because the dog is very old and does not need a lot of space.
Mikela Koressi, a second-year Science major, agrees that having a dog would be difficult in the dorms. But she also notes that there are lot of people at AUC who are willing to take care of a dog. Being one of them, Koressi decided to use a website for dog sitting instead of getting a dog herself. “Getting a dog is so much responsibility,” she says, “and dog sitting is getting a dog for five days and then it’s not yours anymore, basically just all the fun stuff.”
Other pets might be easier to keep in the dorms. Coers, who is the proud owner of not only a dog but also a hamster, would highly recommend hamsters or other small animals because they are much more low-maintenance.
Cats can also belong in the low-maintenance category, compared to dogs. Lourien Snoek, a first-year Social Science major, is just getting her cat, Nashi, used to the dorms. “I try to make her more comfortable to go outside here, and I leave the door open so she can just explore,” said Snoek. Her string mates do not seem to mind, even though her cat at one point jumped into someone’s fridge, and ate another person’s cactus. Nashi is also used to being inside often which puts little pressure on Snoek to take her outside.
In addition to some pets’ outdoor needs, Koressi argues the expenses involved in getting and having a pet are one of the first things students should be aware of when considering getting one. Especially considering most AUC students do not have a particularly high income they can fall back upon. Koressi also says it is important to consider “whether I’ll have to [rely on the] support of my parents if something happens.”
For many students, not only their financial situation is unpredictable, but their future overall. Hence the issue of whether they can bring their pet on their next adventure is also something to keep in mind. Coers believes it is easier for Dutch students to get a pet because they often have the option to move the pet to their parents’ house if necessary, for example when going abroad for a semester. This can be more difficult for international students to arrange.
All in all, there is a lot to consider when getting a pet in the dorms. It depends on the kind of pet, what sort of room, how much support one can get from people around, and many other things. It could be a great idea to buy a cute hamster – but you might want to opt out on bringing your St. Bernard dog to your 26m² dorm room.