How to register at City Hall? How to find your way around campus? And what to do when the light fails in the hallway? For those lucky international students living in the F-building, ask the two resident assistants: Maja Vaskovicova and Guillaume Corlay.

Getting started at a new university in an entirely new city is always difficult. It all starts at arrival. ‘The first problem students encounter is getting to the Stadswonen office at Goudsesingel and then getting to the F-building where they are moving in. Many taxi drivers don’t know where it is.’ Maja Vaskovicova knows all about it. She is one of the two resident assistants of the F-building, which houses over a hundred international students.

Together with Guillaume Corlay– van der Schaal, she helps the inhabitants with issues such as bureaucratic paperwork, finding their way around the campus, or setting up a bank account. Next to that, the resident assistants (RA) are responsible for the inventory and contact between students and Stadswonen, the housing corporation.

Maja is from Slovakia, 19 years old and a second year student of the IBCoM programme. Guillaume, who is half Dutch and half French, is also 19 years old and a second year IBA student. Both were F-building residents before they became RAs.

The RA takes care of it

Guillaume was very close to one of the previous RAs. ‘He inspired me to take over his legacy’, Guillaume smiles. So he applied for the job. Maja had several reasons to become RA. First of all, being an RA means she doesn’t have to pay the F-building rent of €550; you don’t get paid, but your housing is free. She also enjoys the atmosphere in the building and feels this job gives her a lot of experience in dealing with different people in many different situations.

In return, the RA has to be at the F-Building during his or her office hours, two hours a week. The rest of the time, they need to be on stand-by. So if one of the students forgets his keys and can’t get in in the middle of the night, he’ll call the RA. If the lighting in the hallway fails, the RA has to take care of it.

Above all, the RA helps the residents of the F-building in many ways to improve their stay in Rotterdam and to solve a whole range of different problems. Especially at the start of a new year, students need help. ‘For example, many people find it difficult to choose the mobile operator for their phone’, Maja says. The job requires twelve to fifteen hours a week on average.

New toilet system

Guillaume is full of ideas to implement in the F-building coming year. ‘I want to create a sense of community among the residents, make everyone feel at home, and improve logistic situations such as the borrowing system of the vacuum cleaners.’

Already, the RAs are working on the toilet and shower system. Guillaume: ‘My colleague and I decided to rearrange the toilets by allocating one to a group of three people. They can only access them with a key. This demand is still being processed since we need the authorization of the Erasmus University service desk.’

Living on campus

Being an RA means living on campus, just minutes away from all lecture rooms and the Sports Centre. Both RAs mention that living in a building filled with international students has other benefits. Guillaume: ‘I really appreciate living in an international community, and in our building we manage to create a bond between all residents.’

But there are also drawbacks. According to Guillaume the Albert Heijn is too far away. Maja mentions that students who prefer a quiet lifestyle might not fit into the F-building atmosphere.

However, the main advice of both RAs to international students is: come live in the F-building. Maja: ‘Other than that – be open-minded about the people you meet and have fun!’ IS