The Quality of Life in International Student Housing

| Fall 2014

With the ever-growing global society and increasing cross-culture interaction on college campuses, it is essential for architects and designers to evaluate the quality of life provided for international students who come to the United States to pursue their education. College campus planner, M. Perry Chapman (2006), described the campus as a pilgrimage: it is “distinguished by the quests of those who journey there, searching for knowledge, seeking intellectual, cultural, and social enlightenment, aspiring to a change in the tenor of their lives” (p. xxvi). Student housing adds a significant dimension to the complete education experience (“Housing foreign students”, 1967, p. 2). International students have expressed a strong desire to further develop their student relationships which would match the positive experiences they have in the classroom (Eid & Jordan-Dormschot, 1989). This paper and presentation present a summary of the past and current literature on the origins of student housing and the growth of international students in the United States. 

Through the review of existing literature, it is evident there is a significant lack of understanding on how to foster cross-cultural relationships outside of forced interactions. On-campus housing provides a base-level platform to build these desired relationships between students. Instead of human-orchestrated social connections, this paper suggests allowing the built environment to create these highly sought-after student interactions. The author proposes conducting a targeted case study focused on Jardine Apartments – the primary international student housing at Kansas State University – that will reveal social patterns and common themes within the current environment. Using Kevin Lynch’s five elements of legibility in urban planning as a framework, the three-part methodology would analyze the existing Jardine community from both an expert and user perspective which would create deeper understanding and inspire research of the future.