By Yu Wu
Studying in the United States is a very exciting opportunity, but it can also be challenging. If you are living in an off-campus apartment during the semester, there’s a good chance you will be sharing a space with roommates.
Having roommates provides a great opportunity to network with other students. In turn, it can provide opportunities to branch out and explore different academic and social interests you may not have considered before. Before moving in, there are a few tips you should keep in mind to ensure a healthy and stress-free living environment.
Discussing expenses: Sharing a space with roommates means you will likely be sharing several costs of living, such as rent, utilities, food and other every day expenses. It’s important to have an early discussion with each person in the home to talk about how you will divide up living expenses in a fair manner. If you are living in an apartment, your landlord may be able to assist in evenly dividing up rent and utility expenses, which are often due at the end of each month. As for food, have a discussion about whether it makes sense to split the cost of groceries evenly or if each member of the home should purchase their own food.
If your apartment is unfurnished, you’ll also need to discuss sourcing furniture for your space. Furniture rental is an economical and hassle-free way to furnish your home. CORT, the leading provider of furniture rental in the U.S., furnishes thousands of student apartments with everything from beds and sofas to housewares and electronics.
Establishing relationships: It’s important to understand that each person in the home comes from a different background and has different lifestyles. If you are living with roommates who are also international students, they will likely have cultural norms that you are not familiar with. Within the first few weeks of living together, you will have a much better understanding of how your roommates live day-to-day. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to get a better understanding of the needs of each person in the home.
Setting schedules: Everyone will have a different schedule, and it’s important to respect the timing needs of each roommate. If you have classes in the morning and your roommates do not, it’s respectful to not make too much noise that could wake anybody else. Along the same lines, if you are going out or having friends over in the evenings, you may need to keep the noise level low if your roommates are sleeping or studying for their classes. This is why it’s important to discuss everyone’s schedules and do what’s necessary to accommodate your roommates’ needs.
Respecting personal space: While you may keep most of your personal items in your own bedroom, some of your belongings may stay in the common spaces in your home – such as the living room or kitchen. If you would like for your roommates to either ask permission to use these items, or not use them at all, explain this so they will understand. It’s likely they will also have belongings that are off-limits to others. By taking the time to understand the preferences of each person and respecting personal space, you will be taking steps towards creating the best possible living environment.
Studying abroad provides plenty of opportunities to meet new people and make life-long friends, many of which can be your roommates. You will likely be spending a lot of time together as you share a living space, so it’s important to respect each other and have open communication. Be sure to keep these tips in mind as you move into your new space!
Yu Wu is a native of Nanjing, China, and works with universities and education organizations at CORT Furniture Rental to help international students and scholars settle in faster when studying in the U.S.