& living with roommates
IT IS CRITICAL THAT YOUR STUDENT ATTENDS VERTO DISCOVERY WEEK.
During these mandatory orientation sessions abroad, participants will learn more about their new cultural environment from onsite Verto staff (all of whom live locally), academics, transportation, activities, excursions, and important ways to stay safe and healthy as they transition to life abroad.
As excited as your student may be to arrive at their destination — and eager to explore their new city — it is very important they attend the ENTIRE Orientation Program where they’ll meet fellow students, onsite staff, faculty, and learn about local life. Our staff have been looking forward to your student’s arrival and will serve as their primary resource during their abroad experience. This time is set aside so students make important connections and learn about resources they will need for their semester abroad. The welcome activities will help students get through their jetlag and prepare them for the new routine of college level coursework they are beginning with our Academic Provider, the University of New Haven.
This is likely the first time your participant has lived away from home for an extended time. You can expect there may be challenges as they adjust to new routines and living with new roommates, just like if they had moved to a college campus in the U.S. Unrealistic expectations about housing can disappoint and frustrate students, and become a concern for you. Despite the fact that housing costs are generally much higher abroad, that additional cost doesn’t necessarily translate directly to more amenities.
ACCOMMODATIONS & EXPECTATIONS
Whether your participant has indicated a preference for a homestay, residence hall, or apartment, here are items to expect your participant may experience, which will likely differ from what they are accustomed to:
* Verto requires participants to reside in Verto housing during the entire length of the experience.
APARTMENT TEMPERATURE CONTROLS may be centrally managed by the landlord or only operated a few hours per day per local utility laws. Central heat and air conditioning is not common. Participants should expect to need to crack windows to vent rooms and bathrooms to circulate air and prevent mildew or a stale environment.
HOUSEKEEPING SERVICES may be available in apartments, however participants are always responsible for their own dishes, laundry, and cleaning up their personal spaces. If a living area is too cluttered to be cleaned then housekeeping services may be suspended.
LAUNDRY DRYERS are seldom available. The participant may contract laundry services to launder clothes in the way they are accustomed. Clothes drying racks and clotheslines are commonly used abroad and are provided.
WASHING MACHINES may be located on a balcony or in a kitchen and will be smaller than a typical machine used by a U.S. family. If your participant has not done their own laundry, now is the time for a lesson in sorting laundry, how much laundry soap to use, and NOT overloading the machine.
MULTIPLE PERSONAL APPLIANCES (hairdryers, flat irons, curling irons) will overload outlets. These items can also be damaged by repeated use with converters. In some locations, use of U.S. appliances is forbidden due to risk of electrical damage. It is recommended that participants buy these items onsite to best manage this issue.
PRIVATE BATHROOMS are rarely available, so participants should expect to share and set up schedules to balance the needs of all roommates. Bathtubs with fixed or removable shower handles are the common fixture, instead of a showerhead permanently mounted on the wall.
CLOSETS and general clothing storage may not be as large in space or quantity as participants are accustomed to; instead, participants may find freestanding wardrobes and small dressers available. Encourage your Vertoan not to overpack; as a general rule, they should lay out what they want to take — then pack only half. Additionally, participants should leave items of great sentimental or monetary value, which cannot be easily replaced, at home.
MANY COMMUNITIES HAVE “QUIET HOURS” LAWS in place that prohibit loud gatherings in residences, including noise in common areas such as hallways and stairwells, between 10pm and 6am; repeated noise violations may result in ticketing and fines.
WI-FI AND INTERNET ACCESS may not be as consistently available or as fast as participants are used to back home. Participants may need to utilize the Verto Study Center, libraries, or cafes to access the Internet as needed. We advise participants not to rely on Wi-Fi for their communication needs.
LIVING WITH ROOMMATES
If your participant is sharing a living space, Verto will require them to complete a Roommate Agreement, which is a document created collaboratively among all room/apartment residents, signed by these individuals, and given to Verto staff, as an agreement to adhere to this foundation for healthy living. These documents are important tools to help all participants enjoy a respectful and positive living environment. Encourage your participant to talk to their roommates when an issue comes up, using the Roommate Agreement as a starting point. It is easy for participants to text or communicate via social media and miss the opportunity for clear communication with their roommate in the room next door.