This post contains a description of reserving my apartment, and a breakdown of my apartment. Note that when I talk about floors (1st floor, 2nd floor, etc.), I mean European floors, which are 0-indexed.
Reserving my apartment was simple. An HR rep forwarded me a DUWO (short stay housing company) form which needed to be filled out at least three months in advance. Seriously, everything takes three months in Holland. After completing and returning the form, I received a confirmation letter via email. I showed up at the housing agency, paid my deposit and rent (they take cash), and received my keys. There is an indoor bike shed I can use when I buy my bicycle. The floor hallways are outside.
Security is physical key based. Everyone has a mailbox key. The second key is used to open the ground-level doors, your bike shed's door, your floor's door, and your room's door. There is also an emergency exit. While your key only opens your particular floor's door, the emergency exit doors aren't locked. I made the 13 floor journey to get photos from the 17th floor.
My apartment is a pretty standard studio apartment. The apartment came furnished...well, European furnished, as the coffee mug is a bit small. The heating is pretty bad, temperature stays at 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) during the day, at night it drops to 15 Celsius (59 Fahrenheit). According to the rental agreement my room can be searched at any point in time. I am not allowed to:
- have guests stay overnight (doubles aren't allowed to have more than two people stay overnight)
- add appliances (microwave, rice cooker are used as examples, no rigorous definition of appliance is given)
- drives nails anywhere
I wonder if you can get kicked out of the country for breaking your rental agreement?
The apartment consists of three rooms and an entrance. The entrance is pretty non-chalant, so I'll go over the rooms from worst to best.
The bathroom is horrible, and the German shelf-toilet will give me nightmares for years to come. With an American toilet, one's business goes into water, but no water covering means that the bathroom smells compared to an American one. There are other shortcomings, but there is something called "Too Much Information". Google information about German toilets if you are interested.
The shower gives out hot water, but the water pressure is awful (I played around with the values, but don't think I can adjust this from my apartment). There is no good de-humidifying method, so the mirror stays fogged up after a shower. The shower lip keeps the water near the shower, but the floor is curved away from the shower lip and the toilet sits in a depression - accidently spraying water over the shower lip means a pool forms near the toilet. This is easily the worst bathroom I've had. Possibly even worse than the shallow Goodale bathroom when it turned sketchy my sophomore year.
The bathroom is so awful I hope no one wants to come and visit me until I find a better apartment. (Everyone I've told still has a standing invitation, but I'll sweat bullets worrying about my bathroom)
The kitchen is a mixed bag. I don't have a microwave nor oven, and since I'm a rule-follower to the letter there will never be one in my apartment. The kitchen came with hot plates and a pot, so I'm pretty set on pasta. The fridge is okay, there isn't a freezer (no ice cream!) but it is bigger than a standard cube fridge.
The main room is huge. Seriously, I could host a party in here (not going to happen). There are two massive West facing windows, both keep my apartment hot at the end of a sunny day. The windows are semi-opaque from one meter off the ground to two meters off the ground so people walking by can only see your floor and ceiling. The bed is a bit too springy. This surprised me, as Dutch people are tall (average adult male height is 6') and taller people usually sleep on firm mattresses. Otherwise one's spine gets tangled up and you wake up with a sore lower back.
My room number is actually my street address. Rooms are odd-numbered from 3 to 749 over 17 floors. Roughly 400 people live in my building (more on Dutch apartment buildings later). The first number of a room doesn't correspond to the floor, my room is in the 100s but I live on the fourth floor. There are five washers and three dryers. For 400 people, 5 washers! The laundry machines are small, too: 1 American load == 1.5 European loads. Laundry is expensive at 2 euros per wash or dry, and will run about 6 euros (10 dollars) a week for me. The laundry machines suffer concurrency issues like nobody's business on the weekends. Poor engineering, not enough redundancy.
All and all, I'm pretty happy with my place. Large windows can compensate for a lot. Watching the sun set, I remind myself how important it is to take it all in. One day the sun will be gone (preferably at my hand), and it will no longer set in the west. Muahaha.