News - May 14, 2020

Dinner for sixteen

Luuk Zegers

How is the corona crisis affecting life in student houses? Three students talk about it.

photo Sven Menschel

text Luuk Zegers

Marijn van der Meer

BSc student of Environmental Sciences

‘There are 21 of us living in Duivendaal. Four of our housemates have gone home to their parents, and the rest are in Wageningen. Due to the corona crisis, we’ve got to know each other better. Your housemates’ little habits become more noticeable. The way a person comes into a room, and the way they eat their breakfast. You are all cooped up together more.

We keep the atmosphere nice by keeping up “normal” activities. Before the corona crisis we had a party at the house roughly once a month, and now we sometimes throw a thematic party just for ourselves. Last week, the theme was Singapore, because one of our housemates had been there on an exchange. The time before that, it was “gender swap”: the women had to come as men, and the men as women. Last week we even organized a graduation ceremony for a housemate. His parents attended on Skype. In that way, we try to maintain a nice atmosphere and celebrate an important moment like that.

The corona crisis is making us get to know each other better

Some housemates study in their rooms, while others like to use the living room like a library. I prefer to work in the living room too, because you have some contact with other people. But if I want to be on my own for a while, I go and sit in my room. Everyone needs a bit of time to themselves sometimes. We have always had dinner together. We used to ask who was in for dinner on our WhatsApp group, but that’s not necessary anymore. We just assume there will always be 15 or 16 people at the table. That’s quite a job, so you need two people to go shopping. The division of tasks goes very easily: everyone knows when it’s their turn to go shopping. Nowadays we have one long shopping list, and everyone adds what they need. That way not everyone has to go to the supermarket. There is hand gel by the door, so you can disinfect your hands as soon as you come home.

We do exercises out of doors together three times a week. We do fitness training to music. We are a household, but outside we still maintain social distancing. We don’t want to worry our neighbours.’

Ellen Willigers

BSc student of Business and Consumer Sciences

‘I’ve been living in a Ceres house on the Lawickse Allee for more than a year and a half now. We are a mixed house with four men and three women. One of our housemates is at her parents’ house, writing her thesis. During the exam week I was at my parents’ sometimes, because the Wi-Fi isn’t too good in Wageningen. But when I’m at my parents’ I can’t meet my friends from here. That’s why it’s really chill to be in Wageningen.

We have a living room and a very large garden. That is really lovely in the summer. We study in our own rooms, or sometimes in the garden. The living room is the place where you can have a natter. It isn’t chill if someone sits there studying, so we keep things separate. It’s not a rule, it’s just the way it goes.

We have agreed on a number of corona rules. Everyone is at home most of the time. People who have a boyfriend or a girlfriend can visit them. And you can arrange to meet friends for a walk. Normally I would eat with my year club every Monday, at home on Tuesday, with friends on Wednesday and Thursday, and on Friday some housemates went home to their parents’. Suddenly now, we eat together every evening, even at the weekend – which is really fun.

don’t get the feeling we have really got to know each other better. We did a lot together even before the corona crisis. Now there is actually nothing to do, so we are not suddenly getting to know each other better. Except in terms of living together, but in that respect we knew each other already.’

Livia Franssen

BSc student of Environmental Sciences

‘I live with five others at Droevendaal. Half of my housemates are international students: an Italian, a Catalan and an American. They have stayed in Wageningen, which made it a lot more attractive for me and the other two Dutch housemates to stay here too. We’ve got a big garden, good company, and a studying routine.

It is weird, from one day to the next, to find yourself sharing a space with the same group of people for an unspecified period of time. At first, we were talking about the corona crisis so much that we started using a “corona counter”, to make us talk about other things as well. But now we’ve forgotten to keep the score for a couple of weeks. If we don’t have another good subject to talk about, we watch a film.

There is friction sometimes, for example when we discuss when the shopping should be done, who gets to go where, or how close we are allowed to get to our friends. Tricky, because who really knows what’s the right thing to do? Luckily you can go outside if you don’t want to see your housemates for a while.

But precisely now, in a time when all the routine and structure has disappeared from our lives, and our busy uni lives are all happening on our laptops, making a breakfast smoothie with a housemate at eight thirty in the morning, or sitting in the kitchen in your pyjamas till three o’clock in the morning are not bad ways of getting through these endless days. And if anyone isn’t feeling too good, you are here for each other. I think this situation brings housemates closer together.’