Can you imagine?

In an open letter, one frustrated resident of SSH housing is convinced that their academic performance has suffered due to their living conditions. ‘I wake up in the night sometimes and burst into tears because I literally cannot do anything to improve my situation.’

Dear SSH,

When I came to Groningen in August, full of joy and high expectations, I thought this would be the best semester of my life. I never thought the fairy tale would turn into a nightmare, thanks to you.

Can you imagine what it’s like to discover that your new ’home’ is neither warm nor welcoming? Perhaps that’s expecting too much, but at least a place that was clean would have been enough.

Can you imagine what it’s like to arrive home from the university only to face a disgusting kitchen every single day? It’s ‘our’ responsibility to keep our environment clean of course, but other 20-something Erasmus students – who mostly just party party party here – do not take kitchen duty seriously.

‘Other student houses are even worse’
When I asked my RA about it, he simply said, ’I am satisfied with the current condition of the kitchen, you should be happy. Others haven’t stolen your stuff from the kitchen yet. And you know what? Other student houses are even worse.’

In addition to the unwashed dishes that are left there for months, the majority of the ovens are out of order, the common room is disgusting, there’s a rat in the corridor, the driers don’t work, there’s no ventilation and no heating at night in the rooms, and people smoke inside the building. Welcome to SSH student housing!

Do you think I am somehow rich as hell and can afford going to a restaurant every day rather than cooking in the gross kitchen? Do you think it’s my hobby to clean up after others in the free time that I have left after my other university projects?

What I think is that after paying the rent (which is not at all low), my expectation of staying in a liveable environment is not too high.

You probably can’t imagine how much energy it consumes, and how difficult it can be, to live in a different country and adapt to cultural differences while succeeding in the academic field, especially given such circumstances.

SSH, this is not at all what I thought my stay would be like. I wake up in the night sometimes and burst into tears because I literally cannot do anything to improve my situation.

‘Put yourself in my shoes’
People may think that the student house shouldn’t determine the enjoyment of my stay in Groningen and that I should succeed at the academic projects regardless of where I live. My personal advice to these people, and SSH, is to put yourself in my shoes.

You try living through the same situation, and then you will see that this kind of ’home’ is able to ruin a student’s whole life. Of course, it is very easy for people to recommend that I just break the contract and forego my deposit. But I don’t really think this would be a fair situation.

Meanwhile, nothing has changed after talking to everyone in the house, including the RA. I had hoped that turning to you, dear SSH, just might help. Yet after explaining all my problems, concerns and hopelessness, you simply advise me to negotiate with others and feel free to clean the mess of others myself. Thanks a lot.

Bad management of the student house, absolute ignorance of the problems and a general air of disrespect have left me feeling trapped in this situation. I have decided to choose for my health instead of your bullying, so I am quitting this nightmare. Bye bye, SSH!

All the best,

One of many dissatisfied students

This opinion was submitted by a student who wished to remain anonymous.

How satisfied are most students with SSH housing? Read the UK’s in-depth article about SSH’s first year in Groningen here: One year with SSH.