Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol 49, No. 1 - 67

International Students' Housing Experience
The participants discussed communication as a facilitating factor (i.e., being honest
and straightforward with one another and apologizing when needed). For example,
Participant 9 said, " Sometimes, my roommates bring their boyfriends, but we talk to
each other whether we allow the boyfriends to stay all night or no. " This type of communication
can be even more important with roommates from different cultures because
cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal behaviors can increase the likelihood of
misunderstanding each other; international students from high-context cultures (such
as Asia) may communicate less explicitly than people in Western cultures (Hall, 1976).
Participants reported that similar cultural backgrounds or shared interests in such
things as music or majors facilitated their adjustment to living with roommates from a
different culture. For example, Participant 5 said, " What I can think about is . . . sharing
common things . . . like TV shows, what we like, or watching [a football team's name]
games . . . so that helps, being together and watching TV, having fun. " Having similarities
in interest and culture would help any roommate situation, regardless of culture,
which is in line with theories on interpersonal relationships. People tend to be more
attracted to those who are like them (i.e., the similarity effect; Byrne, 1971).
On the other hand, some interpersonal characteristics that helped international
students' roommate relationships are unique to multicultural living conditions, such
as teaching and learning language, which the participants variantly discussed as something
that helped them build relationships with one another. As Participant 12 affirmed,
" I also teach one Japanese girl Korean, and I think especially we can get along with
Japanese friends because our language has many similarities so that helps us to get
close with Japanese friends. " Language learning was not only a benefit of living with
roommates from different cultures; it also promoted positive roommate relationships
and an overall positive residential experience. Indeed, it seems that a cooperative learning
environment where students teach each other's language enhances relationship and
social development function (Burton, 1987; Cohen, 1984; Tsay & Brady, 2010).
Establishing room and house rules or strategies, such as having schedules for cleaning
common areas or using common spaces if others are sleeping, was also variantly
discussed in terms of interpersonal and relational characteristics. Participant 4 reported,
We kind of did some rules around the house so we can be living and respecting each
other's areas and things . . . .We have schedules to clean different areas like the common
ones, and we have to respect them every time.
Given that international students from high-context cultures may not be familiar with
explicitly communicating their expectations with roommates (Hall, 1976), establishing
clear rules at the beginning of the relationship may be helpful.
Finally, the participants variantly discussed environmental features of their residence
halls that facilitated their adjustment to multicultural living, such as having a
common area in the hall or having larger rooms. Participant 2 described the residence
hall as being " really cozy and nice. I have my own closet, and it's like a house. We're
a little community . . . so that helps the good environment. " A shared space to build
a community and mingle with others and a building structure that promotes more
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