All families want to know that their students will have a comfortable place to live, healthy meals, good friends, and someone to call if there is a problem. For all of these concerns, the student can talk with an adviser at the school’s international student services office or other staff members on campus to be sure they know how to to find what they need.
Most students will live either on campus in a dormitory or residence hall, or they will live off campus in a house or apartment.
- Living on campus offers students a safe place to live and study near their classes. Students will be able to meet friends and join in social activities in the building where they live. Staff members and tutors will be close to help students find the resources they need to help them settle into their new home.
- Living in a house or apartment off campus may save money compared to living on campus. But it is important to answer some important questions:
- How close is the house or apartment to campus?
- Can students walk to classes, or will they take a bus? Will they need a car?
- Do other students live nearby?
- Will they feel safe if they walk or ride home late at night?
- Will they be able to use the school’s resources and library easily?
Many students choose to live on campus at least for their first year and move off campus when they know the neighborhoods and transportation systems better.
Meals and Housekeeping
An American meal plan is usually included with campus housing. This may be called “all-inclusive” and covers three meals a day. At some schools weekend meals may be just brunch (a late breakfast that is combined with the mid-day meal) and dinner in the evening. Many schools offer meal plan options that are just two meals a day or ten meals a week.
Students can ask the international student service office how to find sample menus online to learn the kinds of food the school offers. Typically, there will be multiple choices at each meal. Breakfast might offer choices of hot foods, cereals, fruit and juices, yogurt, and breads. At lunch and dinner, students will be able to select hot entrees, salads and vegetables, soups, sandwiches, desserts, and fruit.
Students who live off campus may be able to buy meals on campus, but most will be doing their own cooking or eating at cafes and restaurants. Cooking means shopping for groceries and spending time planning and making meals–plus cleaning dishes.
Wherever they eat, international students are likely to miss foods from home. They will want to find a restaurant or cafe that offers familiar food. This can be more difficult if the college or university is in a small town or rural area. Students often find friends on campus from their home country and cook meals together.
In the U.S., students clean their own living space and care for their clothes. Some international students come from homes or cultures where cooking, cleaning, and laundry are not their responsibility. If students are not familiar with these tasks, the extra work can cause stress and take a lot of time. If they know how to do these jobs before they leave home, it will be easier for them when they are in the U.S.
Families worry about their student’s safety in the United States. How do you know whether a campus is a safe place?
Although you frequently hear about crime in the U.S., it is important to know that college and university campuses are among the safest places in the country. By law, colleges and universities must have safety plans to prevent and respond to emergencies. Most schools have their own police or security officers to prevent crime and protect students. Schools also work with community police to patrol the campus and the surrounding community.
International parents worry about guns in the United States. Most colleges and universities do not allow weapons on campus. To see the policy at the school your student is planning to attend, do a search on the school’s website for “weapon policy.”
Also see more information on campus safety here.
To find safety information about your student’s school, do a search on the campus website for “campus safety.”