Finding a place to stay will be one of your first responsibilities when relocating to a new country. Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as looking through the classified ads, selecting an apartment, and moving in. You'll have to manage a lot of cultural customs, which can be challenging to do when you're living in close quarters.
Despite these difficulties, many people prefer to live with roommates when travelling. Having a local roommate gives you an instant link to a group of friends, the ability to attend family gatherings, and the chance to learn more about the local culture, manners, restaurants, and clubs, among other things.
If you're lucky, you might even acquire access to a car, which will provide you with invaluable possibilities to explore your new digs from a local's perspective. The ability to visit places and do things visitors may never have the opportunity to do.
Check out our ideas for a living (and getting along) with a foreign roommate overseas to make this a good experience!
Break the ice
Living with new people can be awkward, even if you’re from the same country. Here are some suggestions on ways to get to know each other:
- Cook a traditional meal together.
- Watch a popular TV show from your host country together.
- Go out for a movie. It is one of the most accessible options, especially if you’re shy. You’ll be doing something together, but with minimal conversation.
- Grab some drinks at their favourite bar.
- Host a housewarming party at your apartment.
- Decorate the new space together.
- Have a cup of tea or coffee at home and share photos of your lives.
- Try out a new restaurant.
Whatever happens, remember to try your hardest to be patient. Because you're also "the foreigner," be aware that there may also be a steep learning curve on the other side.
If you're patient enough to look for them, there are always methods to make things easier. If language difficulties make it challenging to get to know each other or communicate expectations, try utilising gestures or translation software.
You're there to study, and you're supposed to follow the local society's laws. On the other hand, your roommate is your most valuable source of information on how not just to survive but thrive in your new house, so take advantage of it whenever possible.
Pull your weight
When you move in, you should expect to contribute monetarily to shared commodities like dish soap, toilet paper, milk, eggs, and other typical household supplies. Also, depending on how outfitted the living space is, you may need to acquire furniture, dishes, or appliances.
Aside from financial contributions, talk to your new roommate or roommates about chore distribution and a cleaning schedule. Cleaning disputes are regrettably all too prevalent in living conditions, especially when you're in a foreign nation with different norms or expectations than your own.
For more tips on how to adjust to living with roommates, check out episode four of our ask amber podcast!
The most crucial guideline is to be respectful, whether you choose your roommate on Craigslist or are placed in a foreign hostel or homestay. When living with another person, the essential factors are privacy, comfort, and responsibility, which are universal throughout cultures.
To put it another way, respect each other's limits (especially if you're cohabiting with someone of the opposite sex) and be mindful of each other's right to quiet enjoyment of your home.
Agree on if and when parties or gatherings are permitted in the house and stick to the regulations. Keeping open and courteous communication is an excellent way to handle almost any conflict.
The most challenging aspects of living with a foreign roommate abroad will undoubtedly be cultural customs and intercultural communication. It's crucial to remember that what's familiar or polite in your home country's culture might not be so in your roommate's.
Navigating these complexities will require time (and patience, as mentioned above), and doing research ahead of time will assist. Suppose, living with a student from London, Dublin etc., who will have an entirely different culture than you, so give yourself and your roommate some time to adjust.
The world is incredibly diverse, with various cultural standards and communication techniques. Here are a few cultural nuances from famous study abroad destinations to show the intriguing cultural points you'll find living with a foreign roommate.