Study abroad housing varies by location, program

By Marie Wilson

When students who are planning to study abroad attend their first meeting with the Study Abroad Office, housing is one of the topics that staff members always bring up.

“Your housing situation has a huge impact on life and what kind of experience you’re going to have,” said Sarah Gleisner, outreach coordinator for the study abroad office at the International Studies Building.

Three main options are available for study abroad housing: apartments, host families and university residence halls. The option students choose depends on the type of program they sign up for and what they hope to experience while abroad, Gleisner said.

“There is everything from the program sets up an apartment and places you with roommates, to one program in Valonia, Italy, where they put you in temporary housing for two weeks and you find your own apartment in Valonia,” Gleisner said.

Andrew Hawker, senior in LAS and peer adviser for the Study Abroad Office, studied in Melbourne, Australia, last semester where he lived in a single apartment. He said apartments and residential colleges were the only options available through his program.

Gleisner said many students who are studying abroad to improve their foreign language skills will want to live with a host family.

“Some programs are high immersion, where language learning is the real focus,” Gleisner said. “For those programs, you’ll want a family because a home stay gives you a different look into life in that country.”

Patricia Esquivel, senior in LAS and peer adviser for the Study Abroad Office, spent two semesters in other countries, first in Chile and then Mexico. She stayed with host families both times partially because she thought it would ease the transition into another culture.

“It was nice with the host family because I would sit down and have dinner with them and all the conversations and dialogue was a lot more intimate than with people you just met,” Esquivel said.

Emily Selen, senior in LAS, studied in Uppsala, Sweden, taking classes for her Scandinavian Studies major. She lived in a university housing corridor with 11 other students from various countries.

“I probably would have considered a family home stay (if it was available),” Selen said. “Because I was there to learn Swedish.”

Although housing is an important consideration when choosing a study abroad program, Gleisner said students usually base their choices on other aspects of the experience.

“Other factors play a bigger role like academics, classes, the general location,” Gleisner said. “But housing is something we mention to every student.”