Friday, April 27, 2012

Accommodations for International Students: The Pros and Cons of the Various Options for Student Residence

Are you one of thousands of high school and/or university students planning to study abroad during the upcoming school year?  Have you decided yet where you will stay during the course of your study abroad program?  Studying abroad is a dream shared by a countless number of young adults, and the types of available accommodations for international students will usually depend on a number of factors, including the type of program in which you enroll, the country and/or university at which you plan to study, available transportation and, of course, price.  It can be a difficult decision to make, and in most cases it is a decision that needs to be made quickly, so as to guarantee you reserve a residence that’s right for you. To help you get started, below we have compiled a short list of the potential accommodations for international students, along with some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of residence.

Accommodations for International Students:  The Pros and Cons of Residence Halls and Student Apartments

Once you have decided on a country you would like to visit and located an appropriate study abroad program, the next thing you will need to decide is where you will stay while participating in the program.  This can be a painstaking process, but once you understand the pros and cons of each of your options, you will invariably find it much easier to make an informed decision that best suits your interests and personality.  Two of the potential accommodations for international students, along with some of the advantages and disadvantages of each, are listed below:

Accommodations for international Students:  Residence Hall 

A residence hall, also called a dormitory or dorm in some countries, is an on-campus student housing option that is very popular among individuals studying abroad.  Typically, a residence hall is located on or close to school grounds and features a few large common rooms and dozens of smaller rooms known as living quarters.  Students will usually share a small room with one or more students—rooms that contain just enough space for beds, a desk and various closets or cabinets where both you and your roommate can store your clothes and a few belongings.  The larger common rooms in a residence hall can include a large gathering room with sofas, chairs and games, a place where you and other students can socialize, recreate or simply watch television together; a kitchen area, a laundry room; and a quiet area, where you can study, either alone or with others.

The advantages of living in a residence hall are many, beginning with the proximity to classrooms and other school amenities.  You will be able to walk to your classes, participate in college functions, watch games, and eat meals in the school cafeteria.  Living in a residence hall will allow you to take in the whole college experience and make lasting friendships you will never forget.  However, there are a couple of disadvantages you may not have considered.  Your privacy may be limited in this type of living arrangement, and because there are several rules you must follow, a residence hall may not provide the freedom and independence you seek.  Additionally, because this type of arrangement is so very popular, spots may be limited, so you will need to act quickly to ensure the university has room to accommodate you.

Accommodations for International Students:  Renting an Apartment or Flat

Living in an off-campus apartment or flat, either alone or with one or more roommates, is also one of the more popular accommodations for international students—one with several advantages.  First of all, there are no rules to follow when living in an apartment, so if the feeling of independence and the freedom to create your own schedule (outside of your studies) appeals to you, this may be the perfect residential option.  However, before you sign on the dotted line, consider some of the potential drawbacks to this type of arrangement:

·         Price.  Residing in an apartment or flat can quickly get expensive, especially when you consider meals and other expenses.
·         Transportation.  How will you get to your classes?  Is there reliable public transportation?  These questions must be considered before deciding to rent a flat or apartment.
·         Friends.  Unlike living in a residence hall, where you will be surrounded by like-minded students, living alone in a flat—in a country in which you are not familiar or totally comfortable—may get lonely.

While there are other possible accommodations for international students, including staying with a host family, the advantages and drawbacks of the options listed above should give you a fairly clear picture of what you can expect. 

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