In F.Arthouse in the centre of Groningen, five study friends live together in great harmony. They’ve got in common that they all very much love art and they all follow the complete Fine Arts course at the Academie Minerva, the art academy of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. Besides that, they are also a very international group of housemates: they’ve come from miles and miles away to study in the greatest city that the Netherlands has to offer…. Groningen! We took a seat at their kitchen table, to see how they felt about living together and living in Groningen.
Where: Nieuwe Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat
Frank, 22 – Netherlands
Tori, 20 – England
Safira, 22 – Australia
Chris, 25 – Sweden
Claire, 21 – Luxembourg (unfortunately though, she couldn’t be there for the interview)
Camille, 20 – Lithuania (a former housemate, but still a regular visitor!)
How did you guys end up in the same house together?
Frank: “Ehm, I think it was Safira’s idea to live together...” Safira quickly corrects him: “No, I believe it was Tori’s idea. She was looking for a nicer place.” Tori nods: “True, I had a really annoying landlord and I thought it would be fun to live with friends. So we decided that it seemed nice to live together with the five of us.” Safira explains how they got this particular place: “It used to be a sorority house and the five girls that lived here all moved at once… so when we heard it was free, we took the chance straight away!” Tori: “However, during the KEI-week (the introduction week) they still ring the bell sometimes… Apparently some still think it’s a sorority house. That is kind of confusing, haha.”
Chris, I see you’re cooking… Do you always have dinner together?
Chris turns away from the stove: “Well, no not really. I think once a week or so.” Tori explains: “We don’t have a mandatory house evening, but we do enjoy cooking and having dinner together.” Safira starts to smile: “Well, we did just buy a barbeque, we should use that some time soon!” Tori: “Oh yeah, this week actually! We go out for dinner as well now and then; I love sushi! But it’s really expensive, so we can only do that once a month or so.”
Are you all in the same class?
Frank: “Yes, we are all in the same class and see each other a lot because of that. We don’t really need a mandatory house night.” Everyone starts laughing and nods in support. Tori: “Haha, true… After every seminar it’s the same story: See you later!”
Is there other things you do together?
Frank: “Well, we make films!”
You guys make films together? You don’t hear that very often…
Safira: “Haha, yeah… we recently made a surrealist film.” They already thought about the credits: “The name of our house is F.Arthouse, which is short for Fine Arts house (pun implied). So at the beginning of our film it should say: ‘F.Arthouse Films presents’.” Frank: “Exactly! Instead of Art-house productions, F.Arthouse productions.” Tori laughs: “Well, this is what you get with art students!” Safira: “True, and it is really nice that we can do it all together.”
What is it like during the holidays?
Tori: “Actually, no one is here during the holidays, because we all go visit our parents then. Safira goes to Indonesia (which is where her parents live), Chris goes to his parents, I go to England…” Frank looks a little sad: “Ehm… I’m here!!” Tori laughs: “Yes, that’s true, but even you visit your parents in the Netherlands sometimes.” She continues: “Most of us will go on exchange next year, but we’ll be subletting the rooms and all come back here after.”
Do you miss your families now and then?
Chris: “Well, my parents live in Germany nowadays and that’s only a 45 minute drive so that’s ok. The reason I came to Groningen, is because my parents moved to Germany. I really didn’t want to learn German and in Groningen it was possible to follow the course in English.” Safira’s parents live a little further away though: “My parents currently live in Indonesia, not in Australia anymore. That’s still pretty far away though, haha. I haven’t seen them since February, but they’ll be here next week. I’m really looking forward to that!”
Would you recommend international students to come to Groningen?
Safira reacts enthusiastically: “Oh yes, absolutely! I already recommended it to a couple of people who came over. It is a fantastic city, also for internationals!” Frank: “And for Dutch as well, haha! It is a true student city, the young atmosphere is great.”
What is it that makes your house so special you reckon?
Tori: “Well, we also give house parties sometimes actually! It is mostly our classmates who come by. They are ‘art-parties’, in that perspective, haha.” Safira sounds excited: “Yes! This year we changed the house into a haunted house. The hallway was full and we changed the kitchen into one big cobweb.” Frank: “Most ‘art-parties’ are thrown in our house really, because we live together.” Safira: “We also have a big garden where we can organise parties in.” Tori looks a little sceptical: “The garden is overgrown with weeds at the moment!” After further inspection, this turned out not to be very exaggerated: jungle trips are easy peasy compared to getting through this garden!
Does art play a very big role in your house?
They all look around the kitchen. Tori: “Well, we’ve painted the walls...” (FIY: the walls are white). Frank: “It was really bad at first, there was a penis drawn on the kitchen ceiling!” Chris: “But there’s definitely a lot of our own work hanging around the place. I think, what makes this place special is that we are a lot more creative than most houses. As Safira said, with house parties we tend to let loose! And most of the time, there are mainly art students.” Frank starts laughing: “Last, Safira’s boyfriend was here with all his friends. That was really funny, because they were all really manly football players, which was really the opposite of the art students visiting.” Safira starts laughing. Tori agrees with Frank: “That indeed was really funny. I don’t know what you should expect from art students, but I guess the stereotype is true sometimes. But in the end we all get along, we are open to anything!”