Friday, April 27, 2012

Accommodations for International Students: On Campus vs. Off Campus Student Housing

Are you a university student who is considering an opportunity to study abroad for a semester or full academic year?  Do you still have questions regarding the study abroad process, including questions about where you’ll stay when living and studying in a foreign country?  The decision to study abroad is an exciting one, but it also involves a lot of preparation.  First you need to decide on a university or exchange program in a country you’d like to visit, and you will also need to acquire all of the necessary travel documents required by the host country.  During this process you will need to ask a great deal of questions, but perhaps the most important of these is “what types of accommodations are available for international students?”  This is a question that is asked by thousands of international students each year—a question that needs to be considered carefully before making any final arrangements.  To help you get a clearer understanding of the residence situation in most study abroad programs, below we will provide the two general types of accommodations for international students, with a brief description of each type of housing arrangement.

Accommodations for International Students

The opportunity to study abroad can be an once-in-a-lifetime adventure.  Not only will you gain a fresh new educational perspective through your studies at a foreign high school or university, but you’ll also have the unique chance to learn a new culture, and all the customs, traditions and cuisine that make that culture so special.  You may even learn a new language in the process, but perhaps the best part of the excursion are the friends you will make along the way—friends that you may have never met if it weren’t for the study abroad program.  This includes friends you will meet in the course of your studies—peers and professors—and those you will meet as the result of the type of living arrangement you choose while staying in the country.

Depending on the type of study abroad program you choose, there are numerous potential accommodations for international students.  These can be broken down into two general categories:  on-campus accommodations for international students and off-campus accommodations for international students.

On-Campus Accommodations for International Students

Staying on campus during the course of your international study abroad experience has many advantages.  First of all, staying on campus will all but eliminate the need for regular transportation.  Everything you could possibly need will be within walking distance, saving you from the hassle of trying to get around in your new and unfamiliar surroundings.  You will also be very close to your classrooms (a bonus if you plan to take early morning or late night classes), as well as all the school amenities, including food services, libraries, the college book store and recreational and entertainment facilities.  Staying on-campus will allow you to enjoy the whole college experience—the pep rallies, sports competitions, etc.—and you will have an opportunity to live and make friends with local and other international students alike, forging friendships you’ll remember and cherish for a lifetime.

Off-Campus Accommodations for International Students

Staying off-campus also has plenty of advantages, especially if you are the type that enjoys his or her freedom, and you’d rather not be saddled with the rules and regulations that may often accompany an on-campus housing arrangement.  Although renting an apartment or townhouse may be more expensive than staying on-campus, it can be a great way to learn independent living skills, and will allow you to come and go as you please.  When not in classroom, you’ll be able to explore the city on your own terms and see the sights and attractions that are most important to you.  You may even be able to find a roommate with whom to share a flat, saving you both a lot of money in the long run.

As you can see, the decision between on-campus and off-campus accommodations for international students is a personal one, a decision that will ultimately depend on the facets of the study abroad experience that are most important to you.  Keep in mind though, if you are planning to study abroad in the next 12 months it would be wise to decide on your accommodations for international students soon, especially if you are considering an on-campus housing arrangement, as these spots tend to fill up very quickly. 

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