No sharing hotel rooms with six students to a room this year. No being tucked away in a bungalow park in Hoenderloo either. The new batch of international students lives in a peaceful, green residential neighbourhood in Bennekom, in a former nursing home for the elderly. And they are loving it.
The students live in rooms which used to serve various purposes, from a nurse station to a pool room or a hairdresser's. In the communal area ping pong has replaced bingo. The former common room has been turned into a spacious kitchen, with nearly thirty metres of kitchen counters and a kitchen island with twenty cookers. There are about 5 white plastic tables and chairs, well below the room's maximum capacity. Around mealtimes the students assemble in the common room to eat and socialize together.
'It's a very homely place to live', says Cecilia Zagaria from Italy. 'We are already growing some basil in the kitchen and who knows, maybe we'll start keeping some chickens out on our downstairs neighbours' roof.' Chinese student Jin Wentao is enjoying the homely atmosphere too. 'My neighbours are good fun, it's nice to live with people from different countries, to cook and eat with them. The area around Beringhem is very pleasant, so living here feels good.'
The students have even found their own local pub. 'We often go to the pub in Bennekom, the one with the red flags and the orange gnomes outside,' says Russian student Farhad Rakhmatov. 'You can get a beer for one euro there,' explains Tom Banks.
There are some disadvantages. Jin Wentao has to cycle a long way to building 307 at the Dreijen where she has classes. Sylvia does not have a bicycle yet which makes getting to the Forum quite tricky. But moving elsewhere? No, for the time being they would not consider it. 'I would like to keep living here for the next six years, for my bachelors and my masters,' says the satisfied Farhad. 'I feel safe because elderly people live nearby. If there are thieves in the area the seniors will call the police.' Suzanne Overbeek
Quote: 'On the top floor there is a room with a sign saying 'library'. When I went in there turned out to be student living there too'
Quote: The view and the area around Beringhem are very pleasant, so living here feels good.'
Quote: . 'I feel safe because elderly people live nearby. If there are thieves in the area the seniors will call the police.'
Quote: It's all so new and well maintained; I had no idea that it was previously occupied by seniors.'