German first-year business student Eliwon (19) has been answering rooms every day for three months and finally found something in Prinsenland. One problem: He’s not the only candidate. He has 720 euros left for a small room somewhere in Rotterdam. “But I couldn’t find anything because of the money,” he sighs. This is why he sleeps during Eurekaweek and has always been a necessity in the rink.
During Eurekaweek, 75 students are housed in the ward at the Leonidas Hockey Club, where ice skating takes place in the winter. Each student has his own locker in the hall. Cloth booths are like luxury festival tents. Here there are clothes and bags on the floor. Room smelled like wet towels. At noon most guests are at Eurekaweek. There are only a dozen students who wanted to take things easy in the dorms.
The suite can accommodate four hundred students, but the permit provides space for two hundred students. The mixed dormitory has two different types of sleep that students can choose from: a small corridor with ten bunk beds where one bed costs €78 for four nights, or a closed area with two bunk beds for an additional €20.
As an international student, Eliwon has the extra difficulty finding a room.
“I was often told that the municipality does not allow students to live in the room, or that the owners only want Dutch students in the house. It also does not help me to be a boy.”
However, he is happy with the bunk bed, which he shares with another German student. He doesn’t mind sharing the shower and locker room at the hockey club. “You get used to it quickly, but that will also be because now Yorekawik, then there’s more of a holiday feeling.”
Eleon heard he could stay in the ward until early September, but he didn’t want to let him get that far. “Of course I would prefer to find a home, although I am glad the organization provides this option. Many international students feel pressure to find something as quickly as possible, but it is difficult.”
Cheaper than the hostel
First-year economics student Max (21) sees the suite primarily as a hostel. He sits on the bottom mattress of a bunk bed in his own bedroom. “You can stay cheaper in Erasmus Sport, but here you have more privacy and quieter.” Staying isn’t really an option for him. “I’d rather go home after Eurekaweek.”
This also applies to Simon, who grew up in Slootdorp, a town right next to Afsluitdijk. “During Eurekaweek, this is a nice place and cheaper than hostels, but I’d rather travel there for two and a half hours and come back than live here.” He had been looking for housing for four months. “Money is not the problem, my girlfriend and I are together looking for something for 1,500 euros.”
As long as necessary
Ruben van Goor of The Sleeping Agency prefers to accommodate students who cannot find accommodation for as long as necessary. The Breda-based company facilitates temporary reception sites for both large festivals and refugees. At first, we agreed with Leonidas that the students could stay here for a month. After that, many regular sports activities are resumed on the ground. But if the need arises, we will see if other things are possible.”
Van Gour spent months talking to the EUR, the municipality and the Eurekaweek board of directors about the project, without much success. “The shortage of rooms is of course a problem that has been going on for a long time and has not been resolved, because no one is to blame. EUR would like us to take care of the students for as long as possible, but at the same time they do not want to actively help. This is because they also want to convey the message that the students should that they first obtain housing before they come to Rotterdam to study.”
In their own words, Van Goor and his partner Derk de Groot do not get rich from the shelter. “Right now we are investing mainly. We see Eurekaweek and the period afterwards a test to see if we can alleviate the current housing shortage with this initiative. If it works, we want to start such projects in other cities and develop a more profitable model.”
Eliwon slept no worse due to lack of rooms. “You hear from the students that they wake up from zippers in the booths or from the heat in the wing, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m completely asleep and in the morning the air is still a little damp and very cold. I feel really fresh every morning.”
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