We launched our first roommate program in Harbin, China in 1988, and introduced roommates at our Beijing site a few years later. With this experience in hand, we expanded around the globe, pioneering roommate programs in countries where others had said it was impossible. Today we have an established reputation as “the roommate program,” and weave local roommates into the fabric of our college and gap programs in Brazil, Greater China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, and Vietnam.
Local knowledge beats any tour book. Roommates can tell you how to get around town, where to eat, and what to do on weekends. Better yet, they can introduce you to their peers so that you can start to make your own circle of local friends.
Roommates share with you the slang, jargon, and buzzwords that aren’t in the textbooks. In some programs, language activities and assignments that include your roommate are incorporated into the curriculum.
CET roommates aren’t just part of the living arrangement—they are active members of your overall experience too. They take you out into the city, attend many of the activities and excursions, and join in community service projects.
The roommate relationship doesn’t just benefit the US student…it’s transformative for both sides. Local roommates gain so much from the experience that many go on to actively promote cultural exchange in their communities.
Burst the Bubble
At its best, study abroad is about exploring and embracing the local culture—immersing yourself to the point that you’re living like a local. But as anyone who has studied abroad will tell you, breaking out of the foreigner “bubble” is harder than it looks. It’s easy to find yourself spending all of your time with other study abroad students, enjoying the comfort of a shared language and culture.
Our advice for bursting the bubble? Make local friends. All you need is a foot in the door to the local community. At CET, this step is built directly into the program. In almost every college and gap program we operate, we pair you with a local roommate. Your local roommate is your key to the city, the language, and the culture. And often times, they’re also a good friend.