When it comes to studying abroad, the accommodation you choose will end up having a big effect of your overall experience. This is the place you’ll be spending the majority of your time – when you aren’t in classes, exploring your city or traveling, of course. Most programs give you several different accommodation options, but if you haven’t studied abroad before, how are you supposed to know which would be right for you?
Luckily, we’ve been there – literally. Here’s the lowdown on each of the main accommodation options and the pros and cons of each.
But first, a few things to remember:
- Each person is different. What is best for someone else might not be best for you.
- You’ll likely experience great and not-so-great moments in your chosen accommodation regardless of which you choose, so keep an open mind going into your new home.
- Don’t overthink it! This doesn’t have to be a stressful choice. No matter what, you’re sure to have an incredible time.
Study Abroad Accommodations (+ Pros and Cons)
Arguably the most common type of accommodation that abroad students live in, a shared apartment is just that: an apartment in your home city that you’ll share with a few roommates. These may be other students in your program who you haven’t met, or if you choose, you can room with friends from your home university who are studying abroad in the same city and program as you.
Many of the old European apartments students stay in are quite beautiful, roomy, and fairly well maintained, as they have a constant flow of students who need to use the various facilities so they check everything often. You’ll have wifi, a full kitchen, a laundry machine and a balcony. You’ll likely become super close with your roommates, if you aren’t already. Plus, living on your own in an apartment in a major city is a great form of freedom.
You’ll probably be sharing a room, or at least a bathroom, with at least one other person. In some cases, there may only be one bathroom shared between 4-5 people. If you do have issues with your roommates it can put a damper on your experience. And of course, you’ll have neighbors who are likely families and working locals, so you’ll have to be mindful of the amount of noise you make.
Most study abroad programs offer you the option of staying with a local couple or family. You may be staying there alone, but most likely you’ll be staying there with another student; probably one you don’t know, unless you’re able to work it out with your program that you stay with a friend.
This is a great way to immediately integrate yourself into your new home city. Most host families are very laid-back. They’ll make you food, let you stay out as late as you want, and won’t force you to spend time with them. They help you around the city, usually you’ll end up feeling as if they’re your own family, get free meals and usually pretty good ones, help with language.
You might feel like you need to be more… You’ll likely be spending some time with your family, which can be a good thing for a bad thing depending on… Some families either don’t speak the language or don’t speak it well so communicating can have some hiccups.
Student residencies can be found in most major European cities, due to the fact that studying abroad is popular not only with American students but with other European students, as well as students across the globe.
You’ll be with tons of other students, many of whom you likely won’t know, and many of whom will be from other parts of the world. This means you’ll have an instant community of international friends who are likely all feeling just as open to their new environment as you are. The staff of the residency and other students living there will probably be able to give you tons of recommendations, advice and city tips, so you’ll likely be able to start your semester already feeling like a part of a community..? You have everything in one place, food daily?
Student residencies are similar to living in a dorm, and come with some of the same drawbacks. You won’t have quite as much privacy as some of the other options; you’ll likely have to share a bathroom.
Find your own housing
Most programs offer you the option to secure your own housing, if you choose. This can be anything you’d like: a room in a shared apartment, an apartment to yourself, or staying with friends or family if you’ve got them in the city.
Great if you’re independent, allows you to choose exactly where and how you want to live, can save money potentially, also can choose to plan it out with friends. Might end up rooming with locals and other international students
Might be more expensive actually depending on the city. Might be harder to make friends unless you’re staying with some. You’ll have to deal with it all yourself as you won’t have your program handling everything.