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Living Abroad

Overseas living conditions vary widely from those in the United States and students should be prepared to adapt to host country's standards and environments. Private rooms, private telephones and computers, access to gyms, cars, as well as varied diets and hot water are considered luxuries in some countries. Computer facilities and access to email may be limited or unavailable. Utilizing public transportation may be a daily experience. To gain the most from encountering these types of cultural differences abroad students should be flexible, adaptable, considerate and sensitive to different situations. Students may encounter much curiosity about the United States. The policies of the United States are known around the world and students are often stunned at passionate discussions about the US. Additionally, stereotypes about the US abound, based in part on movies, TV shows and other media around the world. Students report that patience and calm discussion about the difference between you and your government can be beneficial.

Housing & Meals Overseas 

The Study Abroad Office seeks out programs which offer students living arrangements in keeping with Santa Clara’s goals of cultural integration. The local situation determines, ultimately, what housing options are available and situations can vary widely among program sites. Housing overseas generally falls into three categories: homestays, university residence halls, and apartments.  

Santa Clara University requires SCU Study Abroad students to reside in housing provided by partners and host institutions as detailed in the Costs section of the Programs database listing for each program.


To many, the moniker “homestay” conjures the image of living in a “traditional” family with two parents and children, who welcome students as their foreign son or daughter for a time. While such homestay families may exist abroad, they are not the norm. Many host families are older, single individuals, or a couple with no children at home. Students living with a family in a private home may be treated as a family member, or as a boarder. In large, urban centers, the latter situation is most common. Living as a boarder with a family offers greater independence than as a temporary family member. In a homestay, meals may or may not be taken with the family. Each program determines the nature of homestays based on local circumstances. On programs which offer a homestay, students should communicate their hopes and expectations for their living situation clearly to the program sponsor during the participation process. Often programs are able to select host family types -- the "boarder" homestay or the "family" homestay -- in keeping with a student's expressed preference. Upon moving into a homestay abroad students should discuss their own expectations with the family, as well as such details as use of appliances, telephones, kitchen privileges, meal times, curfew and other household rules.

University Residence Halls

On some programs, accommodation in university residence halls may be available. If available, Santa Clara provides students with the standard university accommodation as part of the study abroad program. If a student selects non-standard accommodation, or fails to submit the application by the deadline and therefore fails to procure standard accommodation, the student is responsible for the difference in cost from the regular, standard room. See Fee Policy (link) Normally, this consists of a standard single room with a shared bathroom and kitchen, though doubles or triples may exist. Most student accommodation is “self-catering”, meaning that students prepare their own meals, however, some residences have dining halls. In the case of self-catering accommodation, Students should observe program specific budget recommendations for meals. Students living in university residence halls may be mainly first-year students and international students. It is frequently the case overseas that students live in university residence halls during their first year at college and then move into apartments with friends. Residence halls overseas may be operated by the university, but are seldom physically on-campus in the same way as residence halls at Santa Clara, and students often times commute to their classes.


Some programs offer an option for students to live in apartments. Apartments may be university-operated, or independently arranged through a program. In apartments, students may find they are living with other American students from the program. Occasionally, students may live in apartments with students from the host country. In apartments, students prepare their own meals. There is the greatest degree of freedom and independence with apartment-living, but some students may find the experience isolating. In apartments, students generally commute to their classes.