Are your going to study or already studying in The Netherlands and looking for shared student housing? Then there is a high possibility you have to visit 'hospiteer'-evenings - a moment for you and the current residents to find out whether you will fit in. A home has to be a place where you feel comfortable, so a good connection with the other residents is important.
A hospiteer-evening can be quite nerve racking. It's a bit like a job interview; you have to talk about who you are and why you want to live in that particular house. Together with other candidates you will be screened by the current residents. This is scary, but you can do it. These tips will make it a little bit easier.
Finding ads about rooms to reply to is easy, right? There are websites like Kamernet, Facebook pages, communties... But wait: "No internationals"? That sucks... Sadly, it happens all the time: student houses explicitely mentioning they would rather not have an international student living with them. So what do you do in this situation? Reply anyway. Here are some tips to increase chances of being invited to a hospiteer-evening, even when the houses are not so keen on internationals.
Now on to the tips for the hospiteer-evenings themselves!
Of course it's a no go if you're too late. Do you think you will be late? Call the residents to let them know. Being too early isn't a really good idea either. Arrived at the place with time to spare? Take a walk around the block. Residents need to prepare the evening before the candidates arrive, eat dinner, or talk about previous candidates. The perfect time to arrive is exactly on the dot.
Of course you want to make an impression. You want to come across as the most friendly, fun, and spontaneous future roommate. Trying to hard to be enthousiastic or acting like you are too cool for school are never a good idea. It's the most cliche advice in the book, but don't pretend to be something you are not. Your potential roommates want to get to know you and you will only find the right house for you if you are completely authentic. Trust that by being yourself you will find the best match.
Yes, it's awkward, but by shaking hands with everyone you show you're a social person! Ask who the residents are to know who are your potential new housemates, but introduce yourself to everyone there. Start a small conversation with the current residents or the people sitting next to you. By showing interest in those around you and not just talking about yourself you will come across as interested and polite.
A hospiteer-evening is all about getting to know the place where you could be living during (the rest of) your studies. Of course the residents want to know who you are as a person. Prepare a short little introduction story about yourself, your study, hobbies, interests and fun facts about yourself. Having a quick list of topics in your head will make it easier to introduce yourself. Also prepare answers for common questions they could ask you, like what does your week look like, what can you add to the house, what do you do in your spare time or what do you find important in a house?
Asking questions is a good thing! It means you're serious about and interested in finding a good place to live. You might want to ask whether your potential roommates eat together, go out together and what they do during the weekend. You could also ask questions about the house, the landlord, common devices, extra costs, etc. Gathering information about a place can also make it easier for you to make a decision: do you want to live in a place without a washing machine?
You can put a lot of effort in trying to get chosen as the new roommate, but if you don't really like the house or the room, be honest about that. Not only to yourself, but also to the residents and other candidates who were actually enthusiastic. Have a critical view towards the house, the room and the residents and ask yourself if your could live here happily. If it's not your ideal place to live, let the residents know you are dropping out. It's totally okay to do so in a text, as long as you do so in a timely manner.
Don't stay longer than necessary. When the evening has come to its end thank the residents and say goodbye. Leaving in a timely manner makes sure you avoid being seen as slimy or pushy by the residents. You can ask when the night ends when you can expect the decision to be made and how they will let you know whether you've been chosen, but after that, get out.
Be patient. Imagine what it's like having to choose who gets to live with you from a group of total strangers. Residents of shared student housing have to do this all the time: they have to take a chance and choose just one person out of dozens applicants. Not being chosen doesn't mean they didn't like you, they just decided on someone else. If you felt like you had a good connection with the residents and didn't end up being chosen, you can ask them how you can improve. Be respectful and most importantly: keep going. In the end, finding housing is a numbers game. Don't lose hope!