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Picking a home away from home 

Written by Razali Norazmi, August 2017

Accommodation, a term used to identify your home away from home. As a student, you’ll spend at least 1/3 of your day or perhaps a little more if you prefer to study at home. Thus, it is vital that you selectively chose the most comfortable place to reside in while studying abroad. There are many factors that you should consider when selecting your accommodation. Cost and location are the usual primary concern. However, you also need to bear in mind that sometimes where you stay also determine the kind of life you’re going to be leading in a foreign country. To make it easier to understand, I will be touching on 3 kinds of accommodations that are generally found in and around most universities abroad.

First on the list, we have Residential Colleges. Residential colleges are university affiliated residences which are commonly found nearby universities. Since it is found within the university community grounds, it is marketed to be convenient and secure, as residents are given access cards to enter the premises of their respective colleges. The biggest attractions of these residential colleges are their camaraderie that is seen from the students attending these colleges.

Living in these quarters dictates that as a student, you will spend huge amount of time together with other residents – Students, due to the fact that some colleges have their students sit down together to have their meals. But beyond that, student community engagement and their active participation in university events, makes it highly popular with students. The accommodations have majority of the necessities a student would require, such as internet access and catered meals. Additionally, residential colleges have exclusive support systems for students in the form of extra classes, peer consultation and study rooms – Study is space is usually scarce following up towards exam periods. Bonus remarks for residential colleges would be the highly hyped events thrown for their students.

Recommendation: Students who are looking to be part of an engaging and active community and university life beyond academic life.

Secondly, On-campus accommodation. Similar to the residential colleges, these accommodations are found within the campuses grounds making it highly convenient for the students. Just as how residential colleges are, these accommodations are usually well secured, as students are given access cards to enter the respective premises.

The accommodations are also typically equipped with a “games room”, where you can always find a pool table and other entertainment equipment. Unlike the residential colleges, you’re not bound to a ‘family’ or an organisation, rather you are really just renting a room that is situated within the campus. Some of the on-campus accommodation providers like Unilodge and Urbanest (Note: They also provide Off-campus accommodations) do try to engage the students and encourage student community living. It’s uncommon for them to have karaoke nights or movie nights, and participation of the like is never compulsory. Rental Fees encompasses internet access and other utilities, except food. In a nutshell, this accommodation is popular for the fact that its living within the campus and you have the flexibility of choosing your meals, which has its ups and downs.

Recommendation: Students who enjoys their own space, doesn’t want to be constantly involved with events and activities and have the university just a stone throw away.

Lastly, Off-campus accommodation. Similar to the accommodation mentioned above, the difference is that these accommodations are located off campus. These accommodations are usually categorised into two types, student accommodation providers and renting. For student accommodation providers, please refer to above as they are the same, the only difference is that they are off-campus.

On the other hand, renting allows you be in control of the size, type and location of your accommodation. You could rent a simple room to even a studio apartment or entire house – with acknowledgement that there is definitely a price different. No doubt, having the ability to choose a location for your accommodation give you the upmost flexibility, although there are some factors that you should consider: Convenience, Safety and Transportation. Additionally, renting your own accommodation requires you to be more independent as it takes a longer time to set everything up and that you should be right on top of your bills. Moreover, the cost of rental is usually cheaper as they may not include facilities and utilities or even internet access.

Recommendation: Students who enjoy being or seek to be independent, do not want to be actively and constant involved with activities, and enjoy their personal space.


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