Study Abroad: Where Should I Live?

Happy belated Halloween, everyone!  Unfortunately, I had so much work this weekend that I could not enjoy the festivities, so I do not have an exciting Halloween-themed post to share.  Instead, I thought I would return to the subject of study abroad.  This time, I want to address the issue of where you will live when you study abroad.  When I studied abroad, I had three basic options for housing; I could stay with a local family, post up at a boarding house, or live in the school's residence hall.  I actually had a difficult time deciding where I wanted to stay because each option has its attractive points.

If I lived with a local family, I would have a chance to see how a real Korean family lived, and how a typical Korean college student would carry out his or her daily routine, including commute.  If I did this, and decided to avoid using English as much as possible, then my language-learning experience would be that much richer.   Also, and equally important, I would likely get homemade meals two or three times a day, which would help me save money on food and hopefully be very delicious!

If I decided to stay at a boarding house or hostel, I would have the opportunity to meet a variety of guests from around the world.  Perhaps we might spend time together exploring the city on weekends, and I feel that we definitely would have been able to learn a lot from each other.  There would also have been two meals provided per day, which, covered in the cost of boarding, would be helpful for my budget.

If I boarded at the school's residence hall, then I would get a chance to better know my classmates or even local students.  Further, I would be able to observe campus life in a foreign university, and could easily participate in events on/near campus.  I would also be able to use the laundry, dining, and exercise facilities.

As it happened, I actually had the experience of staying in a youth hostel as well as the school's residence hall.  When I arrived in Korea, I spent about a week and half travelling and meeting friends, and spent the night at at hostel in Seoul.  This option was exciting, because it offered me the freedom of being able to explore the city on my own, or with a fellow boarder.  However, it was also nice to settle down in the residence hall once classes started.   If I had any problems, I could contact my RA or program director easily, rather than having to more or less fend for myself.  

As with my time in the hostel, I also had a very positive experience living in the residence hall.  I enjoyed two meals a day in the cafeteria and felt very safe, as the security there was pretty high.  My roommate and I were placed in the same level of language class, and got to know each other pretty well over our time.  I also got to know well several other international students from places like Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, and Germany.  Looking back on my experience, I do not know which option I would choose if I studied abroad again.  I think it really depends on your budget, comfort level, and goals for your trip.  Think these over carefully before deciding, because your living situation can really define your experience away from home and country.  

Curious about where I stayed?  Here are some pictures of my residence hall! 


The view from our room!  


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