Once you’ve secured a place at your chosen university, you should look to arrange accommodation for the first year of your program. Along with arranging your visa, it’s an important step to ensure you’re all set for your arrival at a university abroad.
University accommodation for international students
In some cases, your visa application will require proof that you have accommodation already organized with your university. In this case, your university may take responsibility for your accommodation, confirming you will have accommodation to the relevant immigration authorities.
As a first year international student, some universities guarantee first year international students accommodation. However, you will still need to meet strict deadlines for confirming and paying a deposit to secure your place.
Living on campus
Staying in halls of residence on a campus can be a great way to get the most out of your university experience. Aside from the convenience of being near to teaching rooms, it encourages students to socialize together more often, and get involved with campus activities and groups.
Halls of residence can often come with meal plans as part of the cost. You may be entitled to breakfast and dinner, or even every meal, as part of the fee you pay for your room.
It’s important to note that campus accommodation can often have you living in a dorm room with other students, as is often the case with American universities. In the UK however, the majority of students have their own room but may share bathroom and kitchen facilities.
Off campus accommodation
Some universities don’t have one particular campus, so their student accommodation is spread across a town or city. Alternatively, an external company specializing in university accommodation may run options for multiple universities in a city. In these cases, you could find yourself living off-campus but still in bespoke student accommodation.
This arrangement is often similar to halls of residence on campus, but not connected to a campus. It will be located in a suitable area for students, with amenities and easy access to universities.
This accommodation can give you the chance to meet and live with students from other universities or different levels of study. If the university is not running the accommodation itself, it may endorse the company that is.
Renting for international students
Privately renting can present issues for international students, especially when trying to organize accommodation from outside the country.
A lack of understanding of a country’s legal process for renting, and not being present to view properties, can make it difficult to organize in your first year of study. It is also important to be aware of potential rental scams aimed at international students.
Your chosen university should be able to assist with recommending businesses or landlords who could help you find a suitable property, and any legal matters that may arise such as confirming your identity.
Before signing a rental agreement, ensure the business or landlord is credible and that the property you are renting is in a good area of town for students. This is usually easy to find out, as students often live in the same areas of a town or city.
Some university towns and cities have the opportunity for homestays. These can be organized through a university or through companies that specialize in this type of accommodation.
A homestay family provides you with a bedroom to stay in as well as the use of the communal areas of their house. It can give international students not only a home during their time studying, but a family to get to know and learn from. Depending on where you are studying, it can be a cheaper option too.
One of the big benefits of a homestay is learning about the local area and its customs from people who live there. It widens the opportunity for meeting locals, and not just other students. You may also benefit from the extra language practice you’d gain with your host family.