Homeless for Christmas

You might remember my first post on the Dutch student housing experience. I genuinely thought I’d seen it all when it comes to shared flats. A landlady stealing my running shorts from the drying rack in Vienna, an illegal lash extension studio on a top floor in Norway, slashing scorpions off my pillowcase in Costa Rica, you name it.

And then my Dutch flatmate texted me.

”Have you heard about the fire yet?”

Two weeks and endless emails later, I finally know where my poor flatmates and I stand: homeless for Christmas, and probably until the start of the next semester.

Most of all, three things have surprised me.

Firstly, the best investment a student can make is to get a proper insurance. A ridiculous monthly sum of 3 euros now provides me with a renovation and cleaning service: even my dirty climbing socks from underneath the bed will be restored to their past glory. I know, insurance sounds an awful lot like ’growing up’ or ’mortgage’, but it can truly come in handy.

Secondly, I’m way less affected by the loss of my room – smaller than your average walk-in closet – and my promising collection of national park-themed T-shirts than I thought. The most prominent feeling has, in fact, been shame: I didn’t clean before the incident, so the renovation company was faced with a windowsill decorated with beer bottles and dead herbs (for cooking, I swear), and environmental law treaties and stinky shoes sailing around the floor. What the smoke didn’t destroy, I can collect from a storage in Breda sometime next year. In fact, I feel lighter than ever, floating from couch to couch with my two pairs of jeans and the memoirs of Barack Obama.

I’m almost glad the kitchen was completely destroyed in the flames – maybe this time we will get a functioning stove and even a dishwasher. Dear Santa, can you hear me?

Finally, my faith in humanity has been restored. When I needed a roof over my head for a night or two, friends offered before I even dared to ask. The role of my buddy group’s tutor has transformed from shoving shots down her little kids’ throats to calling my insurance company like a true tiger mom. My co-workers collected their tips from a busy weekend and donated them to me, giving up their after-work mulled wines. I don’t know if this overwhelming generosity only surfaces around Christmas time, but it has nonetheless left me speechless.

I was forced to fill my holidays with solidarity instead of material delights, which I would recommend to anyone, preferably without the help of a house fire. Loving Christmas to you all!

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