Snoring in the sleep-in

Usva is offering over 100 KEI students a place to sleep during their introduction week. It’s great, as long as you don’t mind snoring neighbours and cold showers.

It’s 3.40 a.m. and KEI-week students are swaying uncertainly on their walk home. Quite a few may be on their way to the Usva, the Groningen student cultural centre, because this week is the student sleep-in.

It’s surprisingly quiet. There’s no one in front of the Usva building, no music, and the usual turmoil you get when about 5,000 young people are partying in the city centre seems to have stopped at Albertus Magnus.

Inside, a small group of KEI-week volunteers welcome the newcomers. Only as I approach the room do whispered conversations and the sound of water cascading from the showers disrupt the silence.

Sleeping bag

In the dorm on the right a small group of students sits in front of a chaotic pil of sleeping bags, pillows and camping mats and discuss the events of this night. At the back two girls wave.

Esperanza van Keulen (17) and Jantine Timmerman (17), both from Zwolle, are here for the third night in a row. ‘It’s very nice here and you meet lots of new people’, says Jantine. ‘But’, Esperanza interrupts, ‘because we have to be up at 1 p.m. it is really hard to stay out late.’

Her fellow KEI students do not seem to mind too little sleep. The room is not even half full. ‘You know, the first night everybody was asleep by about 2 a.m., but now it’s 4 a.m. and there’s almost nobody here.’

Cold showers

What’s it like sleeping here? ‘In the morning the water in the showers is cold’, says Jantine. ‘Esperanza was lucky, but I had to have a cold shower. There’s often a queue and we don’t know where to dry all the wet towels.’

‘Guys who snore are really annoying’, Esperanza adds. ‘And we only have six sockets in this room. You can imagine we are always fighting over them. But we still like it here.’

Jari Hoekstra (19) hears the complaints from the girls and adds: ‘It’s too crowded in here’. With his hands he demonstrates to me that he only has the width of his camping mat to sleep on. He shrugs: ‘I’ve slept in worse places and the Usva is close to the centre and you hear great stories about KEI week.’