Foto: Greta Pundzaite/Global

Imagine yourself graduating on college, getting diploma and opportunity for going on Erasmus+ program in country that you have always wanted to visit. Just when you start to feel like the happiest person on the planet, problems start to appear out of nowhere. You are madly searching, but you can`t find a right accommodation for yourself.

You try to find a flat in Facebook groups, but instead of landlords contacting you, some sick man is sending you sexual offers. You keep searching, but as you are far away, things are getting really slow and difficult. This is the problem which Erasmus+ student Dilyana Alexandrova Trpcheva was facing. The problem of finding a proper accommodation is the greatest for students on Erasmus+ program, but sometimes students on Erasmus face it too. Especially, those who are late with applications and the ones who don`t want to be in student dorms. 

How to get a place in student dorm?

Martin Vaclavik, a Faculty of Transport student, is in a minority of the Erasmus crew who say that finding accommodation for them was really easy. “After application, there was a Google link to form for applying the dorms, so I filled that in and have chosen Cvjetno naselje dorm, where I was accommodated later,” says Martin. “The applications go by the principle ‘first come-first serve”, so some of the people, who applied for Cvjetno naselje or Stjepan Radić dorm, were lastly accommodated at Ante Starčević dorm”. So basically, if you don`t mind sharing a room and you are applying on time and right away, there shouldn’t be problem in getting a place in student dorm. 

Davorin Višnjić/PIXSELL

But what if you are late with the applying? Tomasz Sakowicz, a student who faced this problem said: “I wanted to live in a dorm but I’m PhD student on traineeship and our recruitment process was finishing at the beginning of March and that was too late to get a dorm place. Searching for a flat took me about one week, but I found it 1 day before my arrival to Zagreb.” So, while finding a flat for Tomasz was a plan B, for Hana Wulf, an Austrian student, it was the only option. She says: “I didn’t want to live in a dorm.” Sharing a room with a few people isn’t easy for everybody. She was also bothered by a thought: “All of the student dorms I know have terrible kitchens and sometimes even bathrooms.” 

Finding a flat

Dilyana and the most of the students who were searching for a flat in Zagreb say that they have found it on the Internet. For her it was difficult to find accommodation because she “was far away from Zagreb and most of the landlords didn`t get her serious”. Also, they are not very happy knowing the fact that Erasmus students want to rent apartment for just a short period, mostly for one semester. Matea Kladarić, the president of Erasmus Student Network, says that ESN Zagreb offers help to students with this kind of problem. “We have a data base with contacts of landlords who don`t have a problem in renting a flat to Erasmus students who are going to stay here just for a few months.” 

The biggest problems about finding accommodation

Based on information from ESN, Erasmus students also confront problems regarding communication with landlords because they often don’t speak English or any of other foreign languages. Further, they are oftentimes misguided that Erasmus students have high grants so they set up higher prices for renting a flat to a foreigner. There were also some cases of scam where students have found accommodation in some kind of Facebook group and were required to make a down payment. When they have paid it and come to take over a flat, they have realised that there is no accommodation waiting for them. 

Flat vs. student dorm: like and dislike

“It’s a matter of how students are used to live,” says Martin. “Living in a flat is more comfortable, but then you’re missing a nice atmosphere and the magic of student life”. It is a matter of taste, but also a matter of financial possibility. Living in a flat does offer comfort, but still requires paying a much higher rent. Hanna thinks it is a bit expensive, but compared to her flat in Vienna, it is cheap. Nayeem Aryan Khan also claims that renting prices are average and says he is “quite satisfied with his costs”. So, it seems that having your own comfort and room isn ́t so unattainable for Erasmus students in Zagreb. 

Davorin Visnjic/PIXSELL

Ayoub Ouarid, a French student, says that living in a student’s dorm had some advantages like “perfect location near tram station, menza and gym”. He would have preferred if he has stayed in single bedroom, but having his best friend there wasn’t too bad. “At least it was easy to kick him out sometimes”, jokes Ayoub. And it is not all about having comfort in flats every time, some of the students have roommates that are not so quiet and tidy. 

There is a big possibility that you are going to have problems in finding accommodation just like Erasmus+ student Dilyana Alexandrova Trpcheva, but that doesn`t mean it is going to ruin your whole experience of Erasmus program. She did find an apartment at Trešnjevka eventually and even got the job. After all, there’s nobody who lived in the street while being on Erasmus. So, if you are not willing to stay in a dorm, roll your sleeves up. Maybe finding a flat isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it’s not impossible either. 

Author: Klaudia Jurgan