“Frankly, I don’t care all that much,” says Bas, a 21-year-old med school student. “I often use the communal showers. I also go to saunas, where you don’t wear an awful lot, either. All that matters when taking a shower is that you’re clean afterwards. I prefer working out in the morning, before my lectures, and this way I can ensure that I don’t smell of BO for the rest of the day. I do try to be somewhat discreet, so as not to embarrass others. For instance, I do not walk around the changing room butt naked. I think it’s mostly overseas students who opt for the shower cubicles. Most Dutch people are probably too down to earth to care.”

Are you OK using communal shower? Image credit: Tessa Hofland

Rows in front of the cubicles

Italian exchange student Chiara, 24, who is taking a Master’s degree in Sociology of Culture, Media and the Arts, says that does not apply to her. “I tend to work out in the evening, and it gets pretty crowded here then. The gym will be packed, and so will the showers. There’s always a queue for the shower cubicles, but I never join that queue. If I have to wait for a cubicle to become available, I will simply use the communal showers, stark naked and everything. If there’s a cubicle available, though, I will take it. I like that you can hang up your towel there so that you can keep it ready to hand.”

'I highly value my privacy'

20-year-old Paula, an International Business Administration student, absolutely refuses to take showers in public, where people can see her naked body. “I don’t like it, so I will always opt for a cubicle. I highly value my privacy.”

For his part, Alexander, 24, who is taking a Master’s degree in Management, has found the perfect solution. He always takes his showers at home. “I live near Oostplein, which is really close to here. I generally work out after my seminars, so I can afford to wait until I get home.”

Natural History Museum Rotterdam

Who uses the showers more: men or women?

It is clear to receptionist Ali who are the biggest users of the showers: men. “It’s pretty obvious when it’s your job to lock the building at night and inspect all the rooms. I’ve noticed the male showers smell considerably worse than the women’s. I’m not sure why that is. I guess it helps that women spray on a lot of deodorant.”