Imagine: you are an international student and your family is abroad. You live in a student housing complex without housemates. Who do you phone for medicines and shopping?
Alexandros manages to have a good time. "Maybe we'll have a concert with the neighbors at the gallery. I'm already practicing with my ukulele."

Imagine: you are an international student and your family is abroad. You live in a student housing complex without housemates. Who do you phone for medicines and shopping?

Lees in het Nederlands

Architecture student Alexandros lives in such a complex on the Michiel de Ruyterweg. He realised that his flat needed a way of communication for these times. Because what if you get sick? They already had a Facebook page. “But Facebook is a less private and our page is mostly used to ask someone to clear away their dirty rubbish bag,” says Alexandros.

He started a chat group on Discord, a popular platform among gamers and young people. He promoted it on the Facebook page and within one and a half days, there were 17 users. “We don’t actually game at all. We talk a lot about the news, but also about music and television series.”

The neighbours did not know each other. “I know just one person in the chat group in real life,” says Alexandros. “We don’t have much contact. Someone may organise a barbecue for their friends and will invite the neighbours, and we greet each other in the lift, but it doesn’t go deeper than that.”

‘We’re getting to know each other better’

This will now change. “I feel like we’re getting to know each other better. We talk about who we are and what we do in the chat group. I suddenly found someone whose study is directly related to my graduation project.”

There are millions of groups in which people talk to each other digitally. Just think about all the different fora, chat groups, Facebook groups and WhatsApp groups. Why would you start one with the neighbours? “It makes you feel safe. My family is abroad and they can’t drop by if something happens. These people live next door to me.”

“You can get lonely in these one person units,” says Alexandros, “and especially if we’re not allowed outside anymore. Some people can become emotionally unstable. Then this type of social contact is fine. I’m thinking about opening a voice channel so that we can talk to each other as well.”

Alexandros recommends that anyone living in a big complex set up a channel. “Discord is quite easy to use and is really not only for gamers. It’s really fun.”