If you’re setting out on a study abroad adventure to the United States as an international student, you’re probably doing everything you can to prepare. Hopefully this includes finding a good roommate. At most schools, a guidance counselor or another representative of the school chooses a roommate for you if you’re living in the dorms and don’t already have one picked out. But if you decide to live off-campus, you have to find your own. A roommate can make or break your study abroad experience, so do plenty of searching before you commit to living with someone for the year.
Choosing a Nationality
The first thing to do is decide whether you want a roommate from America or from your home country. To make the transition to life in the U.S. easier, find a roommate from your home country. Contact the school to see if another student is in need of a roommate and get in touch. Or, ask around on social networks and among friends to see if they know of anyone else studying at the same school.
To get a deeper experience with U.S. culture, seek out an American roommate. An American roommate can help you learn more about the U.S. and can help improve your English-speaking skills. Someone who’s learned some of your native language makes living together a bit easier, as well.
Have Similar Interests
No matter where your roommate is from, make sure you have a pretty similar lifestyle before deciding to room together. Consider asking yourself these questions when looking for a roommate:
- Do you prefer spending time at home or going out?
- Are you comfortable with having someone else’s boyfriend/girlfriend over a lot?
- Do you clean often or only when absolutely necessary?
- Are you comfortable with alcohol or tobacco use?
- Do you prefer living with an introvert or an extrovert?
- Are you comfortable living with someone of the opposite sex?
Of course you won’t find someone who’s similar in every way, but finding a roommate who respects your boundaries and has a similar personality and living habits makes cohabitating easier.
Save Money by Splitting the Costs
It’s not fair for you to pay the rent or utilities on your own. Find a roommate who can reliably help pay for rent and utilities, as well as pay for her own groceries, toiletries or entertainment items. If possible, consult your roommate before deciding on an apartment – this way, you can both be sure you have an affordable place to live. It also wouldn’t hurt to look for a job before you move in – and make sure your roommate has one, too. For more information on how to budget your finances when studying in the U.S., download the ebook, Passport to American Education, by HCC Medical.
It’s challenging to find a roommate in your home country, let alone overseas. Be thorough when gathering information about potential roommates, and don’t decide on someone until you’re absolutely sure it’s a good fit. It’s hard to judge whether you’ll get along with someone before you meet them, but setting expectations and communicating early makes moving to the U.S. smoother and less stressful.