Foreign Mercer Bears, Where Are You Going?

By Jiali Chen

Before the end of every fall semester, Mercer international students have to not only prepare for final exams, but also consider another urgent problem: housing.

The dorms and campus housing close over the longer, winter break, meaning international students who are unable or unwilling to go home have to find somewhere else to stay.

Interviews with Mercer University International Students and Residence Life’s Office Staff

“My first year winter break I went to New York… Second year, I went to my cousin’s place in Canada,” said Jerry Ren, a junior from China. “This year, I actually have no idea what I’m doing.”

Christian Wells, assistant director of residence life, said winter break is the only time when staff is not on campus.

“We don’t want students here when there is nobody here.” Wells said. “That’s where the safety concern comes into play.”

Like Ren, most of them either will travel with friends or stay with an acquaintance.

If students cannot find any place to spend winter break, residence life can help.

“I’ll work with the international office to see if there is a possibility that they can find them a host family or someone that will be able and willing to help that student,” Wells said. “If that’s not the case, we also have year-round housing on Orange Street.”

“We do have people there on duty during the summer break,” Wells said. So the international students can sign up for summer housing online in March and April.

Students usually live in Adams Winship Apartments which costs $800 per month during the summer.

However, Thanh Ta, a senior from Vietnam, stayed on campus at no cost during the summer of 2015 because he had a job.

“When that summer was approaching, they sent out application and asked me if I want to be a summer RA,” Ta said.

For students who have class or work during summer break, summer residence assistance is the opportunity to live on campus for free.

Another option is to live off campus.

Samukai Sarnor, a senior from Liberia, rented a three-bedroom house on Oglethorpe Street for $925 per month. He split that with his two roommates.

Then, there are students who only stay for part of the summer because they participate in school programs.

“The first summer after freshman year, I stayed for the first half on campus taking classes. For the second half, I actually did study abroad to France for one month,” said Gabriel Gonzalez, a fifth-year student from Venezuela.

“For my third and fourth summer… I did Mercer on Mission to Vietnam,” Gonzalez said. “We do two weeks of classes and profession for the trip. And we do three weeks in another country.”

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