Diversity in its Forefront: Having a Foreign Roommate

Sometimes, students are put in situations they've never dealt with before, such as having a roommate from another country. Here are some ideas to get along and really connect with your roommate.

Diverse RoommatesIt’s always great to have students at your school coming from different states, countries, even continents! But sometimes, students are put in situations they’ve never dealt with before, such as having a roommate from another country. In some cases, a foreign roommate may not speak much, if any, English. As a student with a suitemate from China, I’m here to help! Here are some ideas to get along and really connect with your roommate.

Learn about each other’s culture

When my suitemate moved in, she gave my other suitemates and I little gifts like tea bags and candies. That’s how we learned that it’s a tradition for those in Asia to give small gifts when going to a new place to see or visit other people they’ve never met before. This is a great example of how you can learn about each other’s lifestyles, cultures, families, etc. Even learning about your roommate’s day-to-day activities might show you a different side to life. I know my suitemate from China was not allowed to use a computer every day—or even every couple of days—which is very different from life here where everyone has a computer, uses the Internet daily, and enjoys the luxuries of having a computer.

Learn (and teach!) a new language

It’s always fun to know a word or two of another language. Basic words like “hi” or simple expressions like “how are you?” are fun to play around with. So why not learn a few words from your roommate? You’ll quickly learn how languages differ if you’ve never really spoke another language. Although my suitemate and I don’t talk too often—since there is a large language barrier—listening to her speak Chinese can be fascinating. And why not help your roommate out too and teach them some English? Some out-of-country students are not very familiar with English, and it can be extremely difficult for them coming to America (possibly for the first time!) to take classes, make friends, and start a new life. Your roommate will appreciate the effort of teaching them some English words to get help them get by!

Try new things

There’s no question that a roommate from another country will bring foods, games, etc. to school from their home country. So why not get in on the new things while you can and try them out? Eat a new type of food you may not eat otherwise or learn a new type of game they learned from home. It’s another way of expanding your horizons and learning about daily life, but now you can get involved in it too! Not only will you learn new things, but you’ll also create a closer bond with your roommate.

Having a roommate from another country or place may seem really scary at first, but it can actually be a blessing in disguise! You can learn so much from your foreign roommate—and they can learn so much from you too! Who knows when you’ll have the opportunity again?

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About Maria Martinolich

Maria Martinolich

Maria Martinolich is a student in the College of Communication at Boston University, majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a concentration in History. She's heavily involved with BU’s TV station (BUTV10), radio station (WTBU), and Greek life and was also a Fox News intern. Maria is originally from Long Island, New York, and although she’s a Yankee fan, she loves being in Boston! She hopes to be a news anchor or the next Bob Costas and cover the Olympics someday.

Being of Greek, Croatian, and Polish descent, Maria has a lot of diversity in herself and loves learning about new cultures, organizations, ethnicities, causes, and people. Because she grew up appreciating all kinds of diversity—and also attends such a diverse university—she's extremely excited about writing for the College Diversity section of CollegeXpress!


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