International students find problems looking for housing

MU currently has 2,879 international students enrolled.

Over the last few years, MU has seen a steady increase in the number of international students, according to an annual report published by the Institute of International Education.

Data collected from MU shows that as of fall 2014, there were 2,879 international students enrolled at that time. Finding housing is one of the issues they have to face as they start living in a foreign country, which can be quite challenging.

Rui Huang, a freshman from China, expressed his frustration in the process of selecting a residence.

“I couldn’t be there in person to look at the dorms,” Huang said. “All I had was a website and email inquiry. I’m glad I landed a great place to start my college life with.”

Availability is one of the major concerns for any incoming international student. Only a handful of residence halls remain open during breaks, according to the Department of Residential Life website. Students who reside in other halls will have to come up with a solution as the buildings close down.

“I know some others are probably going to travel to other places, which can be expensive,” Huang said. “I think I will have to stay with a friend in Chicago. It’s either that or Motel 6 for me.”

Break schedules can be a major deciding factor for some students, and there may be drawbacks.

“I chose to live in Defoe-Graham largely because of that,” said Yifan Qin, a freshman from China currently living in a hall that stays open during breaks. “The buildings that do remain open during breaks didn’t have the learning communities I wanted. I had to take classes I didn’t like very much.”

Socialization is a problem for many international students, as well. Even with programs like Language Partners that MU provides in an attempt to help with the integration and transition to life in America, the language barrier and other cultural differences still pose a big challenge.

Those barriers often lead international students to remain in relatively narrow social circles of fellow international students.

“I barely talk to (domestic students),” Huang said. “I tend to hang out with friends from the same cultural background as mine, because I’m still not very fluent in English thus I cannot communicate very well.”

Qin said that is a problem.

“Getting to know and befriending Americans can be hard for me,” Qin said.

When asked about future plans for housing in the upcoming semesters, Huang and Qin both said they decided to live off-campus with friends who are also from China.

“As long as the price is within my budget and the location is comparatively close to campus, I don’t have that much of a high standard for housing selection as long as I live with my friends,” Huang said. “I feel much more comfortable that way.”

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