This is the latest in an ongoing contributor series by Stephanie Brown. You can read the first part here. Check back next issue for the next chapter of The Long Commute.
So where should you live while traveling abroad, dorms or a house? Like most things in life and travel, there are benefits and drawbacks to both.
I looked into renting a house, but, unless you find people who are just looking for a roommate, it’s hard when you’re only around for a semester. In a house it’s easier to feel like you’re actually in a different country. There’s more independence and you can get away from campus, so you really feel like you are living in another country where the homes are unique. The cubicles they call dorms don’t offer much character—they’re all pretty similar no matter where you go.
In Italy, I lived in a flat with five other girls and loved it. I loved commuting to class walking through the streets of downtown Florence. That said, we were studying in the heart of Florence and I was only there for a month. Being in a small town is a different experience.
Hatfield is surprisingly similar to Nanaimo in terms of layout, so I don’t think walking down Bishops Rise has quite the same effect. As much as I would like to be living in a quaint little English house instead of the dorms, living on campus was the smart decision. In many cases everything is included and they are cheaper. When you come to a new country completely alone, it is nice to be right next to the bus you take to class the next day. With everything available to you as a student so close, you can focus more on planning small trips and making new friends. If the university was in downtown London, I wouldn’t want to stay on campus, but outside of a major city, living on campus is the way to do it.
No matter where you live, you will meet many new friends. Living in dorms I have met people from all over the world rather than just locals. It was convenient not to have to make as many plans moving into the dorms as I would have in a house. But either way, it’s just nice to have a bed when the sun goes down in your foreign land.