I studied at TU Delft and very much enjoyed living in a student house. The Krakeelhof on the Jacoba van Beierenlaan (JvB) was one of the first large student complexes in the Netherlands (built in 1966). Its many indestructible units had evocative names like Huize Boerenkool (the curly kale dish house) and De Zatte Aap (the drunken monkey). In its almost 60 year history, the JvB has housed about 10,000 students, including my housemates and me at Nix Boven Negen (nothing above nine).
Nix Boven Negen was the place where I met some of my best friends (including my two paranymps) and a mountain of acquaintances. It was the place where I learned how to study from my housemates, and where, when I was the oldest one on the premises, I taught the first years how to operate a washing machine. It is the place where I queued up for one of the two showers that we shared with 18 people after my housemate banged hard on the door so that I would be at a lecture on time, and where the older students set good examples. It was a mini society (that included cleaning fines) that prepared me for the real deal.
The lack of housemates is the real bad luck of this bad luck generation
A couple of weeks ago, on a sunny Ascension Day, the residents arranged an old housemates day. About 70 current and former residents aged between the ages of 18 and 50 got together to reminisce about the old days and create new memories. And while a lot has changed in Delft and at TU Delft, time seems to have stood still at the Nix Boven Negen. Of course some things have changed. There are nicknames that we would not use today, jokes that we would not tell today, and cheap cruelly treated chicken that we would not eat anymore. Time has not stood still and students move with the times. But the most important elements of house sharing have not changed. And it is those elements that students who live in studios or who are unable to find shared student housing miss. Unfortunately the housing market is so hot and studios are a lot more profitable than communal student housing. And unfortunately, despite good ideas this will not change in the short term. To me, the lack of housemates is the real bad luck of this bad luck generation (‘pechgeneratie’). You will earn back the money you borrowed, but your experiences and personal development in a student house are priceless and timeless.
Maybe I was just lucky and my student house had an exceptionally big impact on my life. But today, the day after the final exam results, I wish all future students – who went through secondary school in the time of Covid infections – just as much love, pain, dirt, fun and craziness with a great group of housemates.
PS – to whoever can organize this, let’s celebrate the 60 year anniversary of the Krakeelhof in style in 2026!
Birgit van Driel started working as a Policy Officer at Strategic Development in 2021. She returned to TU Delft where she started her studies back in 2006. She’s been affiliated to the Faculties of IDE (first year), AS (bachelor’s) and 3mE (PhD). After earning her PhD, she worked as a Strategy Consultant at Kearney and a Program Officer at NWO-AES.