Living Spaces: Home Away from Home

Ashley Carrasco-Hernandez headshot
Ashley Carrasco-Hernandez
December 2, 2023

Every place has different housing, the most common ones are homestay or living in the residence hall. So, when it came towards choosing my housing option for this Fall semester, I just had to choose between those two options, it was difficult because you have the option of a more authentic feel of your new home country if you did a homestay and meals included, while in the residence it wouldn’t be as much, but I had more privacy. Although sometimes I wish I did homestay, I don’t regret my decision to be in the dorms. My living situation was in a single room with a shared kitchenette in a residence dorm hall offers a unique set of advantages and disadvantages, shaping the overall experience of individuals in a university setting. Here is a range of some Pros and Cons from my experience of living in the dorms.


  1. Privacy: This is one of the main things I thought of when going abroad, I wanted to have a space where I felt secure and comfortable, a place where I can disconnect myself from the outside. Which is why having a single room and a private bathroom provided a significant level of privacy, my own space to study, relax, and unwind in the comfort of my own room. 
  2. Personal space: Another thing that I had in mind was the personal space in how living in a single room allows me decorate and organize the space according to my preference. Although I didn’t buy much decoration or decorate as much as I would in my university back home since I didn’t want to bring it all back with me. But it helped create a comfortable and personalized environment.
  3. Convenience: I think the private bathroom is what really got me to choose this option. In that a private bathroom reduces the hassle of sharing facilities with other residence, which was so nice comparing it to back home when we would have to share our bathroom with the whole floor. Just having that convenience of using the bathroom whenever I wanted without having to wait for others was the best, however, when it comes to showering the water after 5-6 minutes would start getting cold.
  4. Flexibility: With a shared kitchenette, I had the flexibility of preparing my own meals according to my own schedule and dietary preference which was so handy at the beginning when I wasn’t adjusted to the food times and would get hungry at my home time. But it could also foster a sense of independence in managing your cooking and meal planning, and with your budget in saving money than going out every day. 


  1. Limited social interaction: Living alone in a single room might lead to a lack of social interaction compared to shared accommodations. It can sometimes feel isolated and lonely, especially if you're in a new country where you're trying to establish connections. But at the same time it could be the other way around, my roommate and best friend, we would have lunch together and had endless amount of memories in our shared kitchen.
  2. Potential for isolation: While privacy is a benefit, it can also lead to isolation. You might miss out on the communal living experience and opportunities to make friends or engage in group activities within the residence hall. 
  3. Responsibility for chores: This was the thing I think everyone hates doing which is chores. Sometimes my room would express what I was feeling that day or week, since I was responsible for cleaning and maintaining the shared space on your own. This additional responsibility might be overwhelming, especially if you have a busy schedule. Which was something that in a way would stress me and my roommate in how our kitchen would get so messy and dirty, we would dread doing our dishes. It just little things that add up and sometimes stressed us, but we miss that messy kitchen.
  4. Limited cultural immersion: Living alone might limit your exposure to different cultures and perspectives. You may not have the same opportunities for cultural exchange and learning that often come with shared living arrangements. My experience in the dorm is completely different from someone who lived in a homestay although sometimes I wonder what my experience would have been like. 

Whether or not living in a dorm with a common kitchenette and a single room is advantageous ultimately relies on your preferences for privacy, social contact, financial restraints, and the level of independence you want while studying abroad.

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Ashley Carrasco-Hernandez headshot

Ashley Carrasco-Hernandez

Hola! I am Ashley Carrasco-Hernandez. I am a first-generation student studying at the University of Redlands. I enjoy painting, watching movies (Fav Movie: Corpse Bride), going to the beach, stargazing, sleeping, and trying new foods!

2023 Fall
Home University:
University of Redlands
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