Your living situation while abroad will impact your overall experience. Depending on where you study abroad and the program you choose, your housing choices will most likely fall into three main housing options: Home Stay, Student Dorms, or Apartments.
Your living situation while abroad will impact your overall experience. Depending on where you study abroad and the program you choose, your housing choices will most likely fall into three main housing options:
- Home Stay
- Student Dorms
By living with a host family, you will fully immerse yourself in your host country’s culture. Returning students often report that the home stay experience was one of the best aspects from studying abroad. Some of the benefits to home stay include:
- Daily interaction with locals from your host country and host family
- Becoming a member of the family and building life-long bonds
- Experiencing first-hand the customs you will learn about in class
- Practice a foreign language with native speakers in their day-to-day lives
- Most home stays include all of your meals (see below)
You may be the first minority student housed by your host family. Don’t let this deter you from living with a host family. In many cases, your host family will be just as interested in your culture, as you will be in their culture. Even if you share cultural heritage with your host family, do not expect them to be just like you. Remember, being open-minded about every aspect of studying abroad will ensure that you gain the most from your experience.
A note on special diets
In many areas of the world certain dietary restrictions, such as being vegetarian or gluten-free, are not common. Not eating the food your host family prepares, even if for dietary reasons, may be considered rude. If, for cultural, religious or personal reasons you do not eat certain types of food contact your study abroad program administrator before you leave to ensure that a host family can accommodate you.
Student dorms are a good option abroad. Living in foreign dorms lets you interact with students from all over the world, not just students from your host country. The mutual exchange of ideas and cultural experiences can make dorm life an invaluable experience. Here are the general benefits of student dorms:
- Interact with students from all over the world
- Get more independence and responsibility than with a home stay
- There will be rules and regulations to follow, but you will be free to come and go as you please without having to consider a host family
- Usually meals are provided from campus cafeteria or you will have to get meals on your own
- You do your own laundry
One negative about dorm living: English tends to be the common language between international students. Because of this, you will be more likely to speak English and find fewer opportunities to practice speaking the host country’s language. Despite this, many students say that one of the main highlights of their study abroad experience was meeting new students from all over the globe in the student dorms.
Do you imagine yourself with total living independence when you go abroad? If so, living in an apartment with other students may be the right housing choice for you. Every aspect of living, from cooking to doing your own laundry, will be your own responsibility. In many popular destinations, there will be entire apartment complexes reserved for foreign students who come to study abroad. You will be exposed to diverse ideas and cultures of other students from all over the world. This will be an important part of your cross-cultural education.
If you are mature, looking for a unique living environment and seek independence, consider living in an apartment when you go abroad.
Note: Not all programs allow students to stay in apartments. Check with the study abroad program to determine if this option is available.