Sarah´s story

I feel that I somehow fell through the grit. As an international student I was provided with housing through HOAS for a year and then asked to move out from that place and to another. I decided to move in with my boyfriend at the time. I had a part-time job and through living with my then boyfriend I received a KELA-card. However, despite my little income, I was not entitled to housing or student benefits because his income was too high. I paid my part of the rent from my savings and used my salary to contribute to food and utilities. There was no way I could have saved anything.

Some months after I had graduated, we broke up and I was looking for an apartment. Without any savings left and a minimal income it was very hard to find anyone who wanted to rent their apartment to me. So, I temporarily moved to a friend’s place and stayed on their couch for a month, then I stayed with another friend for 2 months, back to the first friend for a month, and then to yet another friend where I shared a room with their 6 year-old daughter.

Throughout the 6 months last year that I did not have a place to call home, I was struggling to find out where to turn to, how to navigate benefits and the relating bureaucracy. Thanks to the help of my friends and an improvement in my employment situation I improved my situation, so people wanted to rent their apartment to me. Unfortunately many aren’t afforded the same luck.

I feel like, as international students we were expected to either immediately find a job or partner to stay here, or to return to where we come from. So either you “succeed” and earn to stay, or you return. There is little to no wiggle room for struggling to gain a foothold here.