Femke van Splunter, a pedagogy student at the University of Groningen, was inspired to act after seeing the structural issues facing international students in the Groningen housing market.
Translation by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Ukrant, the student housing situation for Internationals in Groningen has reached such a point that Splunter, who is Dutch, has opened her own agency to help internationals stand a better chance of finding a property.
Splunter says she was inspired to open International Student Housing Groningen (ISHG) after seeing the disparity in treatment that she received as a Dutch student when trying to find housing versus how foreign students were treated. After having to find a new apartment on short notice, she went viewed a studio and signed a contract a few days later with an international who had been searching for months, and an idea was born.
The fact that the likelihood of finding a room in the city relies on effectively paying a Dutch assistant underscores the need for Splunter’s enterprising and helpful services. Now, she acts on behalf of international students by scouring the various room listings and responding to any posts that fall within a normal student budget. She also attends viewings with prospective tenants in order to provide vital Dutch-speaking assistance.
Communicating through WhatsApp and trying to be as informal and friendly as possible are the service hallmarks of ISHG, though they naturally come at a price. With good grace, she notes that charging a fee for her services is effectively adding even more money to the costs that an international student will have to pay. But she sees the fact that her service has grown exponentially in popularity as evidence of the discrimination that international students face. Splunter hopes that this will be “just a temporary gig” and that the disparity in finding houses easily (for internationals) will decline over time.
Photo source: Serge Technau/Wikipedia