– Privacy? We don’t have it here
Many international students share bunk beds with a stranger. – We have not received many complaints, Sammen answers.
Hannah Grevsmühl and Cécile Gros didn’t know each other before arriving in Norway.
But they ended up as roommates. They share a 17 square meter bachelor apartment at Fantoft.
– It would be nice to have kind of own space at some point, Grevsmühl says.
Applied for single rooms – got a shared room
When they applied for student housing, the students had an opportunity to prioritize three rooms. Grevsmühl and Gros wanted single rooms at Fantoft.
However, they weren’t surprised when they were placed in the shared room.
– I didn’t bother to apply for another student housing because I knew I wouldn’t get it, Grevsmühl says
– I read some stuff on the Internet about it. As an exchange student, you just get assigned rooms at Fantoft.
Gros also read a lot on the Internet before she arrived in Bergen. Thus, she had a premonition of what might happen:
– I applied for a single room but didn’t have any expectations. It wasn’t a surprise when I got denied a single room.
Read Sammen’s answer below
Two strangers on a bunk bed
Asked about which one thing that annoys her about the situation, Gros points at the bunk bed and starts laughing:
– Well, I just don’t get it! We are all adults, I just don’t get why we are living in that stuff.
– In Germany, you don’t have that in student housing at all, Grevsmühl adds.
– Also, I would have expected a shared room to have at least your own proper bed.
– And we also have just one desk for both of us, Gros continues
– Considering the price that we have to pay to be here, I would expect something better.
They pay 2.912 kroner per month each to stay in the shared room.
– If we want to study, we don’t stay here
The students express that the living situation impacts their over-all Erasmus experience.
As Gros says, when she got a message that she was going to live in a student accommodation with another student, she wanted to try, as she hadn’t done it before.
– But, well, I’m done now. I can go home, she concludes.
– Yes, it’s enough experiences, Hannah agrees and adds:
– I think if I had a single room I would like to maybe stay longer in Bergen. But now I’m ready to go home.
Asked how they take care of their personal space and what they do when they need to be alone, Hannah and Gros both start laughing.
– We don’t really have that here, Hannah answers and continues:
– There is not really anything we can do.
– I just try to go somewhere else, Gros says.
Some daily private things, like having video calls with relatives, are not big problems for them.
– We call people here, we can’t understand each other’s languages, Gros explains.
But sometimes the students wish to have a bit more privacy.
– I have a boyfriend and he also shares a room, so it has an impact on my personal life, Grevsmühl says and adds:
– I think that privacy is a big thing for our generation. And Norway is really not a country where you would expect shared rooms.
Increase in students causes challenges
Chairperson of the board at Sammen, Amalie Lunde, explains in an e-mail to Studvest that the need for shared rooms is caused by a combination of increasing numbers of international students who apply for housing – up 133 percent from 2006 to 2023 – and the fact that these students have a housing guarantee from Sammen when they come to Norway.
– This has created a challenge in two areas: Firstly, there is a gap between applicants in the autumn semester and the spring semester. This causes vacant rooms during the spring semester. Which again affects our economy, student welfare and especially the opportunity to build new student housing.
– Secondly, there will not be a lot of rooms left for Norwegian applicants if we did not use shared rooms.
– Why is it that it is the exchange and international students that have to share rooms?
– The reason for this is that they are staying for one semester, living in the student housing for 5-6 months. International students living for more than one semester and master students are offered single rooms/bachelor apartments.
– We also offer housing for international students in other locations. We try to meet the request, but we allocate according to availability if preferred options are not available.
– When does Sammen inform the students about their assigned housing variant?
– They get information about the solution before they apply, and when they are offered the room. The international students are informed by their institution that most single-semester students will be offered a shared room in the fall semester. This is also written on our webpages.
Not many complaints
Sammen started to offer shared rooms at Hatleberg and Fantoft TRE in 2017. Lunde writes that the general feedback from students is positive.
– Our experience is that the international students are in general happy with the solution. It is not very common to have housing guaranteed when you go on exchange.
– We have not received many complaints, and the solution gives us the opportunity to offer housing to other applicants.
Regarding Gros and Grevsmühls dissatisfaction with the furniture in the apartment, Lunde expresses understanding.
– It is not an ideal situation, but it is a necessary solution for us to be able to offer housing for the exchange students in the 5-6 months they live here.
Furthermore, she points out that the mattresses are very good, the desk should be big enough for two, and that there is study halls and large common areas at Hatleberg and Fantoft.
– Regarding the rent, we do in general our best in keeping the rent as low as possible. For the shared room, the rent is 60 percent of what the rent would be if it was not a shared one.