Living as a student in a foreign country is one of the richest, intense, and horrifying experience that a young person goes through. For many, it’s the first time they leave home and travel across borders to foreign lands where an alien culture awaits them. Even for the ones who have traveled a lot, living alone away from home for such long periods is a challenge to say the least.
There are numerous aspects that add to the challenges of being away from home like finances, finding a new social group, a stable home and culture shock. Finances not only add an extra burden to students during college but also after it. Those students who will be starting college this year will also have to struggle with the year’s changes in the student loan industry which might burden them further and limit their abilities to manage their other expenditures like a proper accommodation; which plays such an important role in academic success.
Finding the right accommodation can be an enormous blessing while being very difficult to attain. These are some of the many usual problems that students in foreign countries face when looking for accommodation.
Lack of choice and freedom with university provided accommodation. Students would not mind living in university provided accommodations if they were not so limiting and expensive. On-campus accommodation is often highly controlled while being costlier than other off-campus options. Official college lodging comes with many rules and regulations regarding time and sharing.
There are also many limitations on which room students will get and on the visitors they can receive which also poses problems for some students who need a large working space or a big social group.
Finding a good private accommodation near campus which doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket or makes you feel like you are living in a refugee station camp is one of the biggest problems. Often the nearest to campus student accommodation, which have all the amenities needed are highly overpriced, as the people owning them have the opportunity to make good money due to the high demand.
The more affordable ones are either too shabby and not properly facilitated or too far. Usually, campus proximity locations, which are a walking distance away, will have a high price tag as they come with this convenience plus students can save that way on their daily commute.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all further locations are cheap as they might be near to other campuses which is what usually happens in big cities. However, if there are any more modest districts which are a 20 min bicycle or a 10-20 min train ride away then that might be a good option.
Housing away from the city center also has other perks like less traffic and noise pollution and more peace with fewer distractions. They may also, depending on the city, have cheaper options for laundry, eating out, entertainment and shopping.
Finding people who can make suitable housemates. Many foreign students, due to lack of finances, and often lack of connections in the country that they are studying in, have to find housemates to share rooms and houses with. However, it’s a difficult task to find people who can match your lifestyle needs, have similar tendencies and treat the shared space in a respectful and responsible manner.
This process of finding suitable housemates is daunting for many students and requires much trial and error. It’s hard to know if the new housemate you chose will keep the things clean and tidy, will be honest with your personal belongings and not eat all your food.
Most students will have stories of really bad housemates that they had to deal with by moving out because of countless reasons. Being late on rent, cleanliness problems and making too much noise are some things that cannot be compromised at all. There is also trust and respect from both sides towards each other involved in the equation, which cannot be determined by a meeting or two.
Most of the times students are under a lot of pressure from their academic responsibilities, financial limitations and social life that leaves them with little time to actually spend it in looking for the right housemate.
Trust and discrimination issues from local landlords. Locals in many countries with a noticeable international student population like Australia, Malaysia, and some others can be discriminating towards some particular races. From personal experience as a student in Malaysia for 4 years, there was racism seen towards black people, especially when it came to renting out private accommodations. Some legal contracts even stated openly that they did not rent to black people.
While it’s understood that landlords can have trust issues with foreign people staying in their houses, racism is unacceptable. Racist attitudes towards students can be very detrimental as they can result in feelings of shame, isolation, and humiliation. It should be forbidden in such countries that earn a large revenue through international students, to allow such behavior from its citizens.
While there are no surefire ways to simply stop these problems from being faced by students; governments, universities, the local communities and other students can help each other overcome this by helping new students in finding accommodation that’s perfect for them and by being considerate of their circumstances.