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Part 13: Dorm Living - 2001-09-10


Our VOA listener question this week comes in an e-mail from Mongolia. Amarkhuu Ayulguisaikhan asks about foreign students living in college dormitories, also called “dorms” or residence halls.

Most American colleges permit foreign students to choose if they will live in a dorm or in housing that is not owned by the university. Many foreign students say the dorms are cheaper than apartments. They say dorms offer quiet study areas and rooms for social activities or sports. They say dorms are close to places they go every day, like the library, computer center and classrooms. They also say that living in the dorm provides the best chance to get to know other students.

Dormitories may house as few as twelve students or as many as one-thousand. Some dormitories are organized into areas called suites. Suites have several bedrooms, a large living area and a bathroom. Six or more people may live in one suite. Other dorms have many rooms along a hallway. Two students usually live in each room. On each floor of the dorm is a large bathroom for all the students who live on that floor. Sometimes there is also a kitchen for preparing food.

In most universities, males and females live in the same dorm. They may even live on the same floor. But they usually may not live in the same room or suite. Most universities do have some separate dorms for men and women. They may also have special dorms that do not permit smoking or require all students to speak a foreign language.

Ed Spencer is the chief housing officer at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Mister Spencer says many American universities are willing to change some policies so foreign students are happy living in the dorms. For example, he says Virginia Tech changed its policy banning candles in the dorms so that foreign students could hold ceremonies that require burning candles.

Mister Spencer says foreign students should ask university officials questions before deciding where to live. For example: Does the university provide special kinds of food the student may require? Will the university provide a single room if the student prefers not to live so closely with others? Do any of the dorms have private bathing areas? Mister Spencer says it is important for all students to understand the rules of the building in which they will live.