Dormitory Microcosms: Behind the Doors of MacGillavrylaan

By Gesa Müller

— Do you remember your first thoughts when seeing your new room at AUC? According to a Facebook survey conducted in December 2019, most students found themselves standing in an aesthetically questionable empty space with dirty white walls and orange floor. In fact, 44% of AUC students reported being shocked by the orange flooring, and 29% reported that their room was “a mess”. Most respondents, 92% to be exact, reported the need for their room to be cozy and homey. Another 47% said it was important for their home to reflect their personality. But how do you turn a 26 square meter shoebox into a place that feels like home? A couple of students opened their doors and shared inspiration, tips, and more.


Erika Mier y Teran Yamamoto, first-year Social Science student, was forced to replace the flooring from the previous tenant due to mould issues. She also got the walls repainted – “it was like a fresh start and I knew I wanted to make something out of it,” Erika says. She wanted to mimic her parents’ house – rather minimalistic, light, and filled with plants. . 

Andras Kiss-Küntler, second-year Humanities student, moved into a two-person apartment and did not only change flooring but the entire room division. Andras and his roommate, Ayoub Samadi, created two single rooms by moving the wall that separated the entrance area from the kitchen. This isn’t the only DIY-project featured in Andras’ room; He constructed his bed and bookshelf out of pallets and crates and also recently built a hanging rail for his clothes. “My room is very natural I would say. I have a lot of plants and a lot of wood,” he says.

Creating a home in the dorms

Iris Smit, third-year Science student, opened her home to share how she created an apartment with many vintage treasures and about 40 plants. Iris had a second go at her interior design when she moved rooms after her first year at AUC. “In my first year, I wanted to do the minimalist thing, where you have white walls, a nice floor, you put some plants, and everything is white and clean, and it will look good, right? Well, it didn’t. It wasn’t homey,” she says. She decided to prioritize cosiness for her next room, with warm colours and many details. “I really just wanted to make it homey and cosy, because it’s Science Park, and it’s windy and cold, and you’re in uni”, says Iris. She adds, “I want people to feel like home.”

Iris’ room is a great example of a space that was created using mainly second-hand furniture and decoration. “It’s a lot cheaper, and also more environmentally friendly,” Iris says. Andras recommends RataPlan for furniture, a second-hand shop with several locations in Amsterdam. “People who have struggled finding a job can work there – they reuse and recycle furniture and then they sell it kind of cheap. So everybody wins,” says Andras. 

Rooms full of memories

Emilie Tesch, a second-year Social Sciences student, also decided to buy everything second-hand. “It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. It is definitely more work than going to IKEA once,” Emilie says. Her room is a vibrant, colourful space that she says she would describe as eclectic. “I wouldn’t want to have one theme in my room; I just like looking at different corners,” she says. Like Erika, Emilie got a lot of inspiration from her parents’ house – her mum is an interior designer and passed on her passion for art and aesthetics.

 Emilie can tell you a story behind every piece of artwork on the wall – “It’s just a lot of memories in one room,” she says. That’s why the gallery wall above her couch is one of her favourite things about her room – as well as the cloud photographs opposite her bed. She says, “It’s by a photographer that takes pictures of the sky above Kurdish cities that have been bombed to reflect on the unresponsiveness of the media on that part of the world. And I thought that was such a beautiful thing.”

Florence Springer, third-year Humanities student, is running out of space for more posters on her wall. “I like having something everywhere to look at – It’s things that remind me of either people I like, or art that I like, I like to have as much art as possible,” she says. She also shares her room with the turtles Shelly and Shelton and the bearded dragons Smoke and Gizzard. “They are good roommates,” she says. Despite living with them for a year she is still getting used to the grasshoppers that her bearded dragons eat alive. “It’s a bit trippy, I’m always so scared they are gonna escape in my room…,” she adds, laughing.

Scandinavian cosiness

It is difficult to talk about student interior design without mentioning a very popular Scandinavian company. According to the online survey, 38% of AUC students got most of their furniture from IKEA, and another 42% complemented second-hand pieces with IKEA furniture. Amelie Kahl, first-year Social Science student, was inspired by IKEA’s organization of small spaces and created a modern, yet homey space. “I wanted more of an apartment feeling, rather than a dorm room feeling, and I think that’s kind of what I made happen,” she says.

Looking at rooms after people have settled in, it is hard to imagine that all these spaces once looked the same. While the number of complaints indicates that DUWO has to work on improving the dorms, students responding to the Facebook questionnaire also expressed their gratitude: “I think we are very lucky to be able to live in the dorms compared to other students that have to look for a place, pay much more and possibly travel quite far to get to uni,” says Goda Skiotyté, second-year Social Science student. After all, starting with a blank canvas allows every student to create a unique place that feels like home.

Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was written, edited, and fact-checked by students of the journalism course. Some content may have been altered by The Herring’s editors for clarity and style.

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