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International roommates


CFBrown

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I'm not trying to be offensive or anything, but I'm curious to know what's been your experience with international students as roommates? I could potentially be sharing a place with a student from China and I've heard mixed messages regarding their...residential upkeep tendencies... Should I be concerned?

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I've had roommates from China and from Korea. I didn't find either of them odd. It might be better if you explained the specifics of their behavior that you find unacceptable. Also, are you going to live in a dorm or something? If you are, there should be plenty of people there to help you if you have an issue with your roommate.

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Your question is, "no offense" but are all students from China dirty/loud/otherwise bad roommates? The answer is no, there is no such generalization. No one can predict how the one Chinese person you will meet will be. However, I think it's a safe bet that if you assume you will not get along and that they are a bad roommate, that won't help. Just go in open minded and see what happens.

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Think about all the people (your peers, mentors, the first generations around you, even professors in your new department) that might feel marginalized by your question. You might as well change the topic to "Chinese roommates" instead of being obscure about it. To be honest, regardless of how you phrase that question, it's going to sound somewhat offensive. There are all kinds of people in every culture and there's always some sort of trend to tag people based on their origins, but it doesn't work like that. Even if you don't get along with someone, they probably have a couple of good qualities that you would appreciate. Don't let someone's cultural background or nationality prevent you from seeing those good qualities. 

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Slightly off topic but I found it similarly interesting when I was in Australia and U.S. citizens were stigmatized as internationally ignorant and gun crazy. Sure some people in the U.S. are interestingly staunch gun supporters and support politicians who "meddle" in other country's affairs, but that is clearly not all U.S. citizens. 

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With any roommate from any country, the key to getting on well is communication.

If a roommate leaves their dirty dishes clogging up the sink for weeks of end...politely ask them to clean up and explain why the dishes are a problem. If a roommate has never lived independently and clearly has no idea how to clean a bathroom...go through the cleaning process with them. If a roommate makes a lot of noise at 3am...explain that you are trying to sleep at that time and their behaviour is inconsiderate. 

 

Be understanding to international visitors and always give them the benefit of the doubt. Some behaviour/actions might come off as unusual, but could in part be fuelled by homesickness, culture shock, differences in culture norms, etc. 

 

There are plenty of obnoxious, dirty, weird and loud American roommates out there in the world, too. Nationality of your roommate doesn't guarantee anything. 

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I fully agree with the above comments that generalizations cannot be made and it's best if you can go into the situation with an open mind.

 

The only concern I would have about an international student is what would happen if their visa was not approved or arrived too late for the them to attend school in the fall. While this is a rare occurrence it can happen and could cause you to scramble for a new roommate at the last minute.

 

If you have any food insensitivities or allergies then this could be an issue, as certain cultures have tendencies to cook dishes with certain ingredients. For instance, I hate the smell of fish so if I had a roommate who cooked fish multiple times a week it would be really hard for me to live there. I also do not like the smell of excessive curry in my home. For others, being a carnivore, eating pork, or storing and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in the home could be problematic. But these issues can arise regardless of one's culture.

Edited by jenste
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