For an international student who lives far away from home, housing situation is a very important aspect of your study life and experience.Therefore, finding appropriate accommodation will be a must; you have to find a house or a room that meet your budget and preferences. Generally, there are many types of accommodation that you can choose when you study abroad. In the Netherlands you can choose whether you want to live in an International Student House or in the private accommodation.
Many of my Indonesian friends live in the private accommodation because it’s cheaper and it gives them room to create their own rules. Some of them rent a cheap house and share it with 3-4 Indonesian students while others prefer to live with an Indonesian PhD student’s family. From what I have heard from them, this private accommodation can be either a ‘hit’ or a ‘miss’. Some students are lucky to have house/roommates they get along well with. A good number however, found difficulties interacting with their house/roommates. Moreover, they have to pay extra bills for internet connection, electricity, etc.
For me, I prefer to live in the International Student House because I want to experience living in an international environment with other international students. Next to this, I would like to highlight some benefits of living in the International Student House based on my experience living in Groningen, the Netherlands.
Firstly, though the rent price for international student house is generally more expensive than for private accommodation, it includes all facilities that you need. I stayed at ISH Kornoeljestraat, one of the international student houses offered by the Housing Office, a special housing agency that offers furnished accommodation for university students in Groningen. The building is ten-floors high and it has two corridors on each floor. Each corridor has a common room, also a kitchen with cookers, refrigerators and freezers. There are several units with showers and toilets located in the corridors and washing machines and dryers are available in the basement of the building. The building is also equipped with wired internet connection. So the point is, without paying extra, you can have unlimited internet connection, gas, water, and electricity.
Secondly, when you live in the International Student House, you learn how to be an independent and responsible person. This is the time when you learn how to manage your life; since you don’t have your family with you, you have to clean your room, cook your own meals, wash your clothes, and do all the daily activities by yourself. In an International Student House, there are housing rules for all students. The main rule is, you have to be responsible in using all shared facilities such as toilet and kitchenware. The cleaning service will not clean your mess; it is your responsibility. Another rule is to do kitchen duty in order to keep the kitchen and common room clean.
Lastly, living in an International Student house can be a good option for those of you who want to gain international experience. It makes you able to be in contact with a lot of people from different countries. International Student House is a big house with a lot of international students. I found that many students who live there are very sociable that makes it easy to get to know each other and learn different cultures. Many activities e.g. international dinners, parties, events, etc. can make your stay very enriching and memorable. Besides this, you can always practice your English by communicating with other international students. If you live together with Indonesian students, you would keep talking in Bahasa.
In the Netherlands, housing is difficult to find without help, even for locals. Therefore, finding accommodation should be started before the study commences. If you want to live in one of the International Student Houses, it is advisable to apply far in advance if you wish to get your first choice for housing.
Photos in this article are provided by the author.