Perspectives on Dorm Life from an International Student

The trees, the people, the colors on the walls, everything can impact our perception of a place (especially when choosing a university). Hi, I’m Lu. I’m Brazilian, and I just returned from visiting colleges in the U.S. To clarify, I have attended university before, so I do have a general idea of how things should be like. But as an international student, my experience with universities is a bit different, especially dorm life!

I visited a total of five colleges in the U.S.; some were big liberal arts institutions, while others were small Christian ones. But all of them had one common factor, and a very new one for me: dorm rooms. In Brazil, we don’t have university-sponsored residence halls, or “dorm rooms” on campus or anywhere. Most people study where they already live, or they move into a regular apartment. There is no “student housing.”

So, as a pop culture fan, my knowledge of American college life was what I’d seen on ‘Pitch Perfect‘ and ‘Gilmore Girls‘. But I was pretty sure a great a capella sisterhood or a Paris Gellar were unlikely real-life scenarios. I ended up loving it! The best part was meeting people. I met students that, like me, are from other countries, but I also talked to American students and learned more about how they view university life.

I made friends with some young women like me, and we spent hours in their dorm room talking about everything going on in the university. We shared our stories and what it feels like to be in college. We talked about our insecurities and how competitive the world can be and what changes we would like to make so that the next generations can have better opportunities. I liked their suite-style set up: two individual bedrooms with shared a bathroom.

I also became friends with a group of international students. They lived in an apartment-style dorm, with a kitchen, living room, laundry, the works! We spent lots of time in their living room talking about how it can be hard to be away from home and family, and how your friends become your new family. There’s no parent to give you any extra support or a relative who lives close in case of an emergency. I admired them. You have to grow up quickly when studying in another country.

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Obviously, we also talked about what we do for fun. My U.S. friends said they go bowling, hiking, host dorm parties, and eat lots of good food. I really loved how nature played a significant role in lots of the activities they did. They told me all about tubing down the river to horseback riding. Sports seemed pretty popular as well — many of my friends got into college with sports scholarships!

Honestly, it was great to see how U.S. students make their dorm life a community and a family in college. Being away from home is hard and being able to count on each other is tremendously helpful. I really hope that when I go to college, I can find amazing people like I did during this visit, so we can all help one another grow to the fullest of our capacities.

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