Studying abroad? Know your housing options

Although some study abroad programs have a set housing arrangement, some programs offer students a choice of housing. These options may include a homestay, dormitory or student apartment.  How do you choose the right option for you?

You should carefully consider your study abroad goals before making a housing choice. There are pros and cons to every option.  Note that standards of living vary by country.

Juliet Casinelli, summer 2016, Havana, Cuba, with her homestay family.

Homestay/ Living with a Family

 This is a good option if your goal is to increase your language proficiency and/ or experience the local culture in an informal setting. Living with a family will provide insights you would be unlikely to obtain in other housing options.

 Accept differences between your host family and your family at home with an open mind. There will be an adjustment period, but try to get involved in their lives and to contribute to the household.

 A small gift for your family is nice gesture. Ideas: US calendars, chocolate, small toys for the children (not too noisy).

 Check with your family before giving out their phone number, address, or inviting guests over.

 If you smoke, check with the family regarding rules for smoking in the house. If you are a non-smoker be aware that in some countries, there are more people who smoke.

 Use electricity and hot water conservatively. Utility costs are much more expensive abroad.

 Communicate your travel plans with your host family, especially if you are going to miss meals.

 If you have concerns about your host family, talk to your on-site resident director.

 Residence Halls/Student Apartments

 Students who are used to having the freedom to come and go as they please, stay up as late as they’d like, and have guests at all hours may prefer student apartments or dormitories.

 Accept differences between you and your roommates with an open mind.

 If you smoke, discuss rules for smoking with your roommates. Non-smokers should be aware that more people smoke abroad than in the US.

 Consider establishing rules for overnight visitors, cleaning, etc., before it becomes an issue.

 Be considerate of others and communicate respectfully when differences occur.

When deciding on housing, students should assess and prioritize factors like commitment to cultural immersion, importance of meeting the local community versus importance of meeting other students, as well as their dedication to the language, No matter what decisions are made,

When will you study abroad?  For more information about study abroad options, scholarships and the study abroad process, please contact or visit us at the Office of International Affairs in Falk Hall, lower level.