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Only a lucky few score singles in the high rises. And it is a struggle to coordinate rent, cable and utilities payments with roommates if you move off campus. But the challenges of living abroad are sometimes even more difficult to anticipate.

The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with several juniors who are abroad about the good, the bad and the unexpected aspects of housing outside the United States.

College junior Matt Rublin

Abroad in: Seville, Spain

Housing type: Homestay

“The interesting thing about many public universities in Spain is that there are no dormitories — many students live with their parents or rent a place with friends,” Rublin said. He and another Penn student in his program live in an apartment with a middle-aged couple that is paid a stipend to cook their meals. They have keys to the host couple’s apartment.

College junior Zack Schwartz

Abroad in: London, England

Housing type: Dormitory

Schwartz has a single room on a hall with mostly British students. He said the biggest difference between the Quad and dormitories at the University College London is that there are no Resident Advisors in London.

“Anything that would warrant getting written up in the Quad goes pretty much completely unpunished here,” he said. “As long as you aren’t disturbing other people … you can do just about whatever you want.”

Schwartz added that the policy has its pitfalls: One night early in the semester, the dormitory was evacuated because of a fire in one of the rooms. Afterward, “flyers were posted in each hallway that said ‘In regards to the fire alarm earlier, drunk cooking is never a good idea’,” he said.

College and Wharton junior Alexander Amstrup

Abroad in: Dakar, Senegal

Housing type: Homestay

Amstrup lives with a family of 13, ranging in age from 11 months to 65 years old, in a part of Dakar where the roads are unpaved. “The thing I love about my host family is that I can have a conversation with every single member,” he said.

However, living in a developing country means sacrificing some living amenities. Amstrup said that cockroaches tend to “take over” the kitchen at night, and he added that he was lucky enough to have running water last month while a water shortage in Dakar forced some of his classmates to take bucket showers.

College junior Erin Hayden

Abroad in: Cape Town, South Africa

Housing type: Dormitory

Hayden lives in an apartment — or “flat” — associated with the University of Capetown, although most South African UCT students live at home with their families. The building is located near the base of Table Mountain, in the suburbs of the city.

One problem she has faced while living abroad is that she has to refill her own electricity meter — a device which measures the amount of electricity she can use in her apartment.

“It’s not uncommon to put an egg on the stove, return fifteen minutes later to find it equally raw and realize the electricity meter has run out,” Hayden said.

She also noted that the city’s wind can create housing problems. Friends of hers left their balcony door open one day and a “particularly strong gust [of wind] blew in and slammed their glass balcony door closed so hard it shattered all across their flat.”

College junior Kira Simon

Abroad in: Melbourne, Australia

Housing type: Dormitory

Simon lives in a three-bedroom apartment with two Australians who frequently invite birds into the apartment by leaving their balcony doors open. Simon’s building, which has swipe access, was formerly a hotel and relics like a bidet and “gold accents on the shower, sink and lights” still remain.

She said that most Australian students commute to the university, partially because student housing is so expensive. Students in her building are generally other exchange students or wealthy native students.

Wharton junior Jane Zhu

Abroad in: Hong Kong

Housing type: Dormitory

Zhu lives in a dormitory to which she has swipe access.

The dormitory communities in Hong Kong are “huge,” she said, and dorm committees plan events that they promote with flyers and chanting.

“I’ve woken up at midnight because there was some event going on” and there were students “banging on my door,” Zhu said.

College junior Elena Tesser

Abroad in: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Housing type: Homestay

Tesser lives with a 70-year-old host mother who cooks dinner every night, except on Saturdays. “Overall, it’s…been kind of weird but a huge growing experience, living under someone’s roof who isn’t your parents but who still is obligated to take care of you,” Tesser said.

She noted that most Argentinian students live at home, as well, because many work part-time while they take classes toward their degrees.

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