International students at SF State have a tough time finding housing compared to those who leave to study abroad

While students who head to foreign cities find themselves with wider housing options than available in San Francisco, international students who entered the university in Fall 2014 are in stiff competition for places to live.

SF State offers the option of applying for on-campus housing, but due to limited space and disinterest, the 250 international students are left scrambling to find apartments.

“I’m 28 and I would be sharing a room with an 18 year old who just moved out of their parents’ house,” Lasse Lange, a student from Denmark who opted out of the dorms in favor of apartment hunting while staying in Oakland. “School is a bit out of town, it would be a hassle to do stuff.”

Students who also opt-out or can’t get dorms are offered a 15-page guide, which gives temporary shelter options and explains their rights as San Franciscan tenants.

During international student orientation last week, an estimated third of the audience raised their hands when asked if they haven’t found a place to live yet.

Erica Zamora, a Chinese and International Business major, left SF State on three different exchange programs in China and Taiwan, where she received help finding dorms and off-campus housing.

“They were very helpful in the process abroad and even gave references to realtor offices to find apartments,” said Zamora of her host schools. “There’s a lot that you can’t do while still abroad.”

On the other hand, places like Hong Kong, where it is incredibly difficult to find residence, the partner schools give priority to those with financial needs, Zamora added.

“Those who go abroad will receive some services, but it’s dependent on geography. Housing is difficult for anybody in San Francisco,” said Noah Kuchins, assistant director of Office of International Programs (OIP). “It’s sometimes challenging and stressful, but it’s a fundamental part of the experience.”

However Kathy Phan, senior and OIP worker, said the chaos of finding shelter is due to poor planning on the student’s part.

“A lot show up two to three days before or do it last minute,” said Phan.

But of the tons of emails Lange sent out, only three or four good deals transpired. In the end, he said he’s in the final stages of leasing a place in the Mission—for around $1300 per month.

“This is a lot more expensive than home and Denmark isn’t cheap at all,” said Lange. “It’s harder when you don’t have a network.”