Houseboat, concert hall, camper

Guess where I live?

With the housing situation growing even more dire this year, these students were not too picky when putting a roof over their heads. They ended up landing rooms in a garden house, a concert venue, a houseboat, a camper van, and a tent.
Text by Yelena Kilina / Photos by Karlijn Ringnalda
22 September om 10:17 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 September 2021
om 16:36 uur.
September 22 at 10:17 AM.
Last modified on September 22, 2021
at 16:36 PM.


Ronald Goor (r.) medicine, Utrecht

Ronald Goor had been looking for a room for three months, when he finally decided that camping in a tent is still better than being homeless. When he asked his grandparents if he could borrow their tent, they weren’t surprised at all. ‘They actually thought to offer me the tent the day before themselves’, says the medical student from Utrecht. That’s how he ended up at a campsite in the Stadspark with almost twenty other students. 

He enjoys the place a lot. ‘It feels like we’re in a student house, but we just live a little farther away from each other.’ Every evening, they get together and sit around the picnic table and every morning Ronald takes the time to start his day nicely. ‘This morning, I was sitting in this chair with a cup of coffee in my hand and watching the sun come up behind the trees. If this is the student life, I don’t hate it.’

Even though sleeping in a tent feels like a holiday for now, Ronald knows that it will end on November 1; the campsite closes in winter. ‘I don’t know how it will feel when it’s cold and rainy and when the people around me start leaving, so I am still checking Facebook and all the platforms for student housing.’


Emilia Gediga Germany, psychology

Emilia Gediga had never slept in such a massive camper van before. Until she moved to Groningen last week. Seven meters long and loaded with all the amenities, it can accommodate four people. But the psychology student has it all to herself, thanks to her neighbour, who not only lent her the camper, but also drove it in from their hometown in Germany, which is three hundred kilometers away. ‘The thing is that I can drive a car, but this motorhome is so heavy, I’d need to upgrade my driving licence.’ 

Now that she is a half-hour bike ride away from her campus – the campsite is located outside Groningen – she usually follows her lectures online. But that still feels too temporary and lonely, she says. ‘Most people here are a bit older than me and, in general, it feels like I am not a part of the city, so I hope I will find a place in Groningen soon.’


Gekko Ioancio Romania and Hungary, medicine

Desperate to find a room, Gekko Ioancio applied to so many adverts with the same message, that when he was invited to a viewing, the medical student had completely forgotten what accommodation it was for. ‘When I came here and it turned out to be a houseboat, my first reaction was, wow, it’s such a cool place, and so spacious, too.’

Even though Gekko was surprised, he didn’t hesitate to take the room where he would be so close to nature. ‘In Romania, I used to live in a house next to the forest, so when I wake up here and hear the ducks splashing around, it gives me a very comfy feeling.’

Although the boathouse is surrounded by ducks and hedgehogs, it is still conveniently located in one of the city harbours, so Gekko doesn’t feel like moving anytime soon. ‘I am just way too happy here to feel the need to.’


Paul Racaru (r.) Romania, game design

Romanian student Paul Racaru loves making electronic and underground music, but he never expected to start his student life under the roof of the iconic concert venue Vera. ‘It’s inspirational and I feel like there’s a lot to learn, art-wise.’ 

Paul didn’t pick the place himself, though: unable to find a room since April, he had no other option than to turn to a couchsurfing initiative set up by Shelter Our Students (SOS). He got his lucky ticket when Vera offered him and several other students accommodation in the same place where visiting artists are normally housed.

Even though the game design student at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences can only sleep at Vera as long as there are no shows, it won him some time to find something more permanent. He managed to find a new place, but he can only stay there for two months. So the house hunt is still on for him.

Garden house

Janet Mguni Czech Republic, art history

For Janet Mguni, it was exceptionally easy to find a place to live in Groningen. The art history student from the Czech Republic started looking for a room back in May when ‘there were so many options available’ and managed to secure one right away. ‘The previous tenant put the advert on Facebook three or four times because he couldn’t find anyone who wanted to stay here.’

‘Here’ is a little wooden cabin in a garden full of lush plants and singing birds. Even though it’s by no means large, the place has everything one might need, including a built-in kitchen and shower. Janet did have to be creative to use every available centimetre: ‘You can’t really fit a sofa in here, that’s why I bought this little low table, so I can sit on the carpet as I used to do when I was studying in Japan.’ But Janet especially likes the skylight and the loft-style concrete wall. ‘Everybody is always surprised when they come here, they say, it is so different from other student places.’

Even though Janet has to occasionally chase away the bees and spiders, she is happy with her garden house. ‘I have it to myself and it is calm and beautiful here.’