Study Abroad Housing: Alumni Share Benefits of Homestays, Apartments & Residence Halls

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IES Abroad
May 21, 2018
Binary Hub Building

While your days may be filled with classes, trips, and exploring your host city when you study abroad, it’s nice to know that you’ll come back to comfortable housing each evening. Hear from some of the IES Abroad Ambassadors, recent alumni who volunteer to share advice and answer questions about their study abroad experience, how their study abroad housing became their homes.

Homestays: Living with Local Residents

 “I stayed with a young family with two kids in elementary school, and it was the best way I could have lived in Madrid. We always had dinner together and would share about how our days went, and I felt like I was a part of the family. The homestay experience is one that I consider to be integral to my study abroad experience as it helped me not just improve my language and cultural fluency, but it also helped me enjoy the semester I was there to the fullest extent!”
– Esther K. (IES Abroad Madrid – Language & Area Studies, Spring 2017 | Williams College)

“I lived in homestays in both Buenos Aires and Santiago. I feel my Spanish wouldn't have improved as much without the homestay which required me to speak 95% of the time in Spanish (5% is a little Spanish dictionary). Also, having your food prepared for you is so nice, and it also was a way of understanding your homestay’s culture, their socio-economic class, their education, and other non-physical attributes. You feel a sense of comfort and home while abroad, which sounds overrated now, but when you're away for a while, it becomes the most important thing.
– Robrenisha W. (IES Abroad Multi-Location - Emerging Economies: Buenos Aires & Santiago, Fall 2017 | Barnard College), pictured below left

“I wanted to experience life in a Spanish home, and to have the opportunity to build a close relationship with the family I stayed with. The day before the Cruces festival in Granada, my host mom dug around in her closet and pulled out her daughter's flamenco dress from her teens. She made my roommate and I try it on, then fussed over us, had us spin, and took photos, encouraging us to wear it to the festival the next day. It was so special to share something that was clearly so close to her heart.
– Georgia T. (IES Abroad Granada – Study in Granada, Spring 2017 | Occidental College), pictured below right

A photo of Georgia Tucker dancing during her homestay
A photo of Robrenisha Williams smiling and sitting in front of the house with her new friend during her homestay


Apartments: Independent Living with Other Students

“I lived at Chapter Kings Cross in London with other IES Abroad students. The benefits were that we all got close and had somewhere to bond, and there was a lot of great stuff to do around King's Cross. Also, King's Cross is a great transportation hub so it's easy to get around London. [I enjoyed] cooking dinners in the communal kitchen with other students, it's a lot easier to figure out cooking in a foreign country when you have friends cooking with you.
– Connor M. (IES Abroad London – Study London, Fall 2017 | Santa Clara University)

“I stayed in a shared apartment with four roommates. It was a good set up because it was a chance to live with fellow students. I lived with three Germans and one fellow international student from Armenia, who also knew German, so I had the chance to really practice my German, which was nice. One of my favorite memories was some of the events that our housing tutors put on. We had occasional events, such as hiking in the Black Forest and all-you-can-eat breakfasts. It definitely provided a good opportunity to meet new people in the apartment complex.”
– Claire Y. (IES Abroad Freiburg – Language & Area Studies, Spring 2017 | Seton Hall University)

“What I enjoyed most about my housing situation was that the friends I made the first week of my program happened to live on the same floor as me. A couple of the times when we were planning trips, they would come to my room to do it. We also shared the same kitchen space, since we lived on the same floor, so it was always cool running into them throughout the day. It made it more convenient living so close to each other.”
– Raychel J. (IES Abroad London - Study London, Spring 2017 | Penn State University)

Vienna apartment

Residence Halls: University Housing with Local & International Students

“I stayed in the Nanzan University female dormitory, Yamazato Kōryū Kaikan. While it was called a dormitory, each room was like a separate apartment. I had my own room and shared a kitchen and bathroom with two other roommates: one other international student and one Japanese student. Having a Japanese roommate really forced me to use my Japanese. Many students became very close with their roommates and did a lot of activities with them. In the first floor of the dormitory, there was a small lounge space with games and a big table. There were social events held for the dormitory students, and I often ate dinner or studied with my friends in that room.”
– Maya B. (IES Abroad Nagoya Summer – Language & Culture, Summer 2017 | University of Pittsburgh)

“I lived in student housing on campus with eight other students in the flat, which I thought was a lot of people at the time, but little did I know that these were going to be my best friends for the next three months! My room was smaller than what I am used to, but it encouraged me to get out of the room more often and hang out in the kitchen lounge, which was where I spent the majority of my time when I wasn't traveling. My favorite memory would definitely have to be Thanksgiving dinner. Even though Londoners don't celebrate Thanksgiving, my flat mates and I were all able to throw a Thanksgiving potluck [for our friends].”
– Megan N. (IES Abroad London Direct Enrollment – Queen Mary, University of London, Fall 2017 | University of Rochester)

“The sweet sound of the Italian language drifts down the corridor – of my dormitory, I mean! I stayed in Collegio di Milano, a residence hall for university students of all levels, both from Italy and from abroad (mostly around Europe). I was constantly surrounded by Italian, so I could always practice my language skills. It was an opportunity to make Italian friends and see how Italian students live, as opposed to staying in an apartment with other Americans. My dorm also had a cafeteria, a library, and a gym – all areas I definitely used and appreciated.”
– Lindsay H. (IES Abroad Milan – Italy Today, Fall 2016 | Emory University)


Check out Lindsay's video tour of her residence hall, Collegio di Milano:

Want to learn more first-hand accounts of study abroad housing? Contact an IES Abroad Ambassador.

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