In addition to securing housing for the school year, some international students have the added burden of finding a place to stay during breaks.
All college houses are open during fall and Thanksgiving breaks, but only the high-rise apartments and Sansom Place are open during winter break.
While some international students decide to make the long trip home, others choose to stay on campus or with student hosts.
College junior Max He, who is from China, said he usually travels around the United States during the time off. He sometimes lends his Harnwell College House room to fellow international students, who reside in college houses that are not open during breaks.
“I don’t think Penn really helps them find places,” He said.
In its annual Winter Housing Project, the Assembly for International Students recruits volunteers who are willing to host international students over winter break or will lend their high-rise rooms. The student group has also planned a social gathering on Dec. 9 for students who are staying on campus in the high rises, Sansom Place or in off-campus residences during the break.
There are only a few housing options specifically tailored to international students in Penn’s housing system.
Some students decide to apply to residential programs, such as the East Asian and the International Residential Programs in Harnwell, He said.
Others choose to live in the International House, which accommodates over 350 American and international students, at 37th and Chestnut streets.
However, the building, which houses Penn and Drexel University students, as well as non-students, has garnered mixed reviews.
College and Wharton senior Veena Raju called it a “huge ripoff” and “unfair to international students who don’t know any better.”
Raju, who lived there despite being a domestic student, listed complaints such as communal bathrooms, unresponsive staff members and lack of wireless internet.
Wharton senior Caleb Bradham, however, enjoys living in International House because of the “cultural exchange” it provides.
“I get to meet a lot of different people from all over the world,” he said. “The facilities aren’t that great, but the community is nice.”
Overall, many international students do not see housing as a big source of concern.
Engineering freshman Zhiyi Zhang, who plans to travel home to China over winter break, summed up his sentiment toward Penn’s housing: “I think it will be fine.”
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