As college students, most of us have experienced what it is like to live with roommates. We have had our fair share of arguments and nights out on the town together, but initially we all have doubts about living with a complete stranger. When you add studying abroad to the formula, it’s a whole new equation. Living with international roommates can be eye opening, but also overwhelming, because of language and cultural barriers. I learned quite a lot from living with roommates from Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the USA while studying abroad in England. Here are just a few tips I have to offer from my own experience:
- Host country: My roommate experience was a bit different from others who studied abroad, since I was living with all international students rather than British students. My advice would be to live in a dorm with your host country’s students in order to learn their culture if you do not have a housing preference. It also makes it easier to meet other host country students and do things outside of class.
- All in the same boat: You and your roommates are going through the same thing in terms of living with someone new and foreign. If you are living with all international students you can relate to being far away from home, eating different foods, and learning in a different environment. It’s important to be there for one another since making these adjustments are hard.
- Avoid stereotyping: It is important to keep an open and positive mindset about studying abroad and having new roommates. We may hear negative things in the media about different countries and automatically assume the worst about our new roommates. It is best to not jump to conclusions by crafting an image of what they look like, how they dress, or how they will act, because that will affect your first impression of them. Give one another a chance and take this opportunity to learn about each other’s culture.
- Cultural barriers: I’m not going to lie, the cultural barrier is real. Effective communication with people from different cultures is challenging, however, you can apply those lessons in the work force. Do not take things too personal. So remember, communication is key; it will make your life and your roommates’ lives a lot easier!