Maryanne Oloo, a 24 year old Kenyan, biomedical engineering student in Gießen was in search of a room. On checking the local dailies and the internet, she found one in a flat share. From her understanding or expectation, she thought all she had to do was call the owners or those already living there and declare her interest, maybe be invited to check out the room and finally sign the contract.
The reality was a huge difference from her expectations. According to her the whole experience was worse than going for the DSDS casting show and meeting Dieter Böhlen with his smack remarks. She had never been so embarrassed in her life. The questions were invasive, from being asked to talk about her Hobbies, her favourite food etc. Needless to say, she didn’t get the room even after all the trauma.
Apparently this isn’t something new. For most flat shares in Germany, the chance to have a room is usually very slim regardless of how intensive the “interview” is. In Gießen though a tiny town, the number of non German students in rising exponentially but most of these foreigners all have problems with finding accommodation as compared to the German students.
Not only do these foreign students face the old landlords/ladies who are reluctant to rent out their homes to them but also fellow students who refuse to allow foreigners to take up rooms in their flat shares. Most of the students claim they are afraid of having someone from a foreign country and culture living in their flat; some even complain that they have had bad experiences with foreigners.
Maryanne finally did get a room in another flat share but that was with help from one of the Tutors from the University. A new project named WG International Gießen which helped Maryanne and many others find rooms in the area, is going out to help sensitize the people in the area to be more open to renting rooms and homes to foreigners.
For the new foreign students, WGs who would like to contact the WG International Gießen, here’s their contact.
The best tip I’d give potential students in Germany is, send your room application to the Studentenwerk the same time you send in your application for study. If you miss admission then you don’t take up the room, if you get admitted then you already have a room.