Hospiteren tips for International Students

10 July 2022

Part of the experience of moving and studying in one of the student cities in The Netherlands was the challenge that comes with finding accommodation to live in. In Groningen, while some opt for student housing organizations such as SSH or Xior, another option would be to go for student rooms spread out across the city. If you chose the latter, chances are you will come across the terms ‘hospiteren’, shortened to ‘hospi’, or ‘hospiteeravond’ (hospiteren evening) in Dutch, loosely translated to ‘group viewing’ in English, where all candidates interested in the room are invited to get acquainted with the current residents of the house.

Hospiteren is usually typical in Dutch houses with predominantly Dutch students, but some international houses may also have some type of hospiteren, to get to know their future roommates. While there is no specific structure of a hospi, meaning that each house and future housemates may arrange it differently, it is nice to be prepared and familiarize yourself with this unique Dutch student housing system. Some houses might arrange it in a semi-interview setting, where you will be invited and asked about your personality, hobbies, and typical weekly schedules. Another might be an evening with all the other candidates full of drinks and board games. 

 Below are some tips which might help you to feel and be more prepared for your upcoming hospi!

Be conscious of your social media presence

To be invited to a hospi, you usually start by replying to a housing advertisement presented on Facebook groups, either by messaging the user writing it or to send an email to them. As they will receive a flood of responses, it is important to take into account the first impression when reacting to the room. Try to come up with something original, like a funny opening line, that will help create a strong impression about you! A friend once made a compilation video to introduce herself to her future roommates which immediately caught their attention! Furthermore, there is a good chance that your (hopefully) future roommates will check on your social media to get a better impression of you. You need to be yourself, indeed, but it is nice to make sure that there are no embarrassing photos or info you don’t wish them to see to be on your social media. 

Good preperation

There will be questions to expect in a hospiteeravond, mostly in the interest to get to know you better and for the house to decide whether you will be a fit for the rest of the housemates. Where are you from? What study are you taking and why? Hobbies and or sports? Do you join any study or student associations? How often do you hang out? What can you really not tolerate? Are you down for some partying? Think about genuine answers to these questions, and share some funny or interesting personal stories if you have them. 

Funnily, sometimes the weirdest questions can also be asked, such as “what would you do with a thousand ping pong balls?” or “if you are a vegetable, what kind of vegetables will you be?” You might not be able to prepare yourself to answer this, but try to make the best of it! 

You are invited, now what?

You are invited for an evening, or often called hospiteeravond! Now what? Arrive on time, wear something comfortable and presentable, something that YOU would typically wear. Many hospis typically have timeslots as they may invite quite a lot of people, so it's important not to be too early or worse, too late. Join the fun! Take a drink if it's offered (and if you do drink though, but most Dutch, and sometimes international houses will do this). Participate in the games and observe and enjoy the atmosphere yourself. If it helps, while it is important for the house to get the vibes of the potential new housemates, it is also nice for you to see your future housemates in persona and think whether you will enjoy living together with them for at least the next year. 

This might be a slight challenge for introverts, but there is a difference between being shy and being distant. Try to come across as enthusiastic, and show people that you genuinely enjoy the time you share there. Make eye contact when talking or listening. Don’t forget to set your boundaries too, and be honest and critical if there is something you don’t agree with. Ask questions back to them, as it not only gives you better clarity of the housing situation and dynamics but also it comes across positively for your own impression. Also, it is preferred for you to come to a hospiteeravond alone, and not with your parents. 

What makes me different?

Hospiteren is inherently coming down to one point: how do you distinguish yourself from the other candidates? An average hospi usually invites quite a lot of students, and it might be hard to imagine how you can potentially be much different from every other student there. Some important questions to ask yourself are: What can I add to this house? Any cooking skills and special dishes you might want to share? Do you know the best student bars or clubs in the city? Maybe some musical instruments like the guitar or the ukulele? Maybe you like to draw and design and you have side businesses worth sharing? All of this can be a plus point when you are going to a hospiteeravond, provided that it is relevant to the house, and might help you get a lasting impression from the current housemates.

Think for yourself: what is an ideal housemate to have, what is the ideal housemate they expected? And are you fitting into that category? Hospiteren is also the time for you to imagine and see a glimpse of the personalities of the current housemates and see whether you yourself enjoy the dynamics of it. If the house enjoys partying quite a lot, do you enjoy it too? Do not try to be someone you are not just to get the room, you will end up being disappointed in the long run. 

Acceptance or rejection

Even after following all the tips, there might be a chance you are not chosen. From all the people invited to the hospi, they probably only need one to choose to be their new housemate. It is understandable that the supply is small, while the demand for rooms is huge. The first few times might not work in your favor and you might need to do it multiple times, also to familiarize yourself with the concept of hospiteren itself. 

Do not take the rejection too personally, and remember that a student house has its own requirements with regard to their new roommates, and choosing from such a large group will always remain mostly random. There are some factors leading to choosing roommates, and it is not strictly only your personality. A great tip would be to ask them the reason why you weren’t chosen. Their reason might help you to prepare better and know better what to expect on your next hospiteren. Remember: a new round means new opportunities and new chances. With that mindset, you will find your new student house before you know it, with roommates that truly feel like a match!

Hospiteren might sound scary and challenging, but it will for sure give you a new experience being a student in The Netherlands, help you gain new friends, and get social, on top of getting into a fun house as your second home! Good luck with your house search!