The Collegian
Monday, February 26, 2024

Without UR's help, international students under high pressure to store belongings in the summer

<p>Graphic design by Lily Wood.&nbsp;</p>

Graphic design by Lily Wood. 

While the anticipation of summer was knocking everybody’s door at the end of April, international spiders had a major problem to sort through – the logistics of safely storing their belongings for the next four months. 

With Spiders having to move out of their residence halls no later than two weeks after the end of spring semester, most international spiders had no designated provision for summer storage. 

As many have no family or relatives in the U.S., students had to worry about either finding a storage provider or having to pay hundreds of dollars for storage before moving forward with their summer plans. 

Sophomore Jeff Tsai, who is from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, shared the dilemmas he faced while finding a plan for summer storage. 

”It was April, the final exams were in full swing and most students had already secured their storage solutions by the time I realized I had to manage a storage for myself,” Tsai said. “This last minute scramble added unnecessary stress.” 

Tsai outlined two options he had considered: asking a friend for help or seeking off-campus storage for four months.

“I looked into storage scholars but discovered that their higher-quality services came with higher costs, and I realized that it would be too expensive,” Tsai said. 

Ultimately, one of his friends was kind enough to help him by agreeing to store his belongings in their basement. 

While Tsai acknowledged that Residence Life and Housing had provided a spring extension period for students, which provided more time to figure out where to store belongings, he felt that UR should provide more opportunities to support international students.  

Tsai said he recognized UR might have faced limitations in providing on-campus storage due to constant renovation works but suggested that UR could better assist international students by offering a storage stipend. 

“This stipend would enable students with demonstrated financial need to store their belongings at trustworthy and quality service providers” Tsai said. 

Tsai also proposed hosting information sessions about summer storage options a few months before the end of the academic year to help international students plan their summer storage options on time.

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Sophomore Minh Tran described how she, along with a group of Vietnamese students, came together to find a solution. 

With the help of one of the juniors, they located a storage unit that they could rent for four months. Tran's friend assisted her in moving her belongings to the storage unit, which was located approximately 20 minutes away from campus.

Tran's story had a silver lining – by sharing the costs among the group of students, they managed to find an affordable storage solution. However, she also pointed out a need for UR to step in and provide more structured support for international students.

Tran proposed two options that she believes UR could consider. 

UR could provide dedicated storage spaces for international students, Tran said. This would significantly reduce the stress, hassle and costs associated with finding external storage providers, she said. 

She also suggested that students be allowed to store their belongings in the rooms assigned to them for the next academic year, eliminating the need for moving belongings back and forth.

“If UR could offer transportation facilities to help students load and unload their belongings, it would make the process of moving into storage units more convenient and less stressful,” Tran said.

Pamira Yanar, a senior who encountered recurring challenges with summer storage over the course of three years, shared their experience and emphasized the need for a solution.

Yanar recounted how the pressure of final exams coincided with the stress of securing a reliable storage location for their belongings. This process added multiple layers of stress, including the search for a storage facility, navigating transportation logistics to and from UR and dealing with the fees in U.S. dollars, which can be a significant expense for international students.

They also highlighted the practical challenges of relying on services like Uber, where drivers are not always equipped to handle heavy or numerous belongings. The frequent cancellation of rides by drivers due to these challenges left them with the need to make multiple trips to transport belongings to the storage facility, resulting in significant expenses.

This storage dilemma does not only exist in the summer.

“I had to store my belongings at a storage space and pay for it for nine months when I went to study abroad,” Yanar said.

Additionally, Yanar pointed out the difficulties faced by students staying on campus for summer research or summer school. 

These students are required to relocate their belongings from one housing assignment to another with no assistance provided by UR for transportation. They eventually have to store their belongings at a storage facility after their summer program is over until the start of the fall semester. 

“Once, I wasn’t able to get my belongings from the storage on time and I used my airplane blanket and neck pillow for a few days until I was able to get my belongings back,” Yanar shared. 

Storing belongings should not be this challenging, Yanar said.

“UR has a lot of space around campus and if we could be provided with either a designated space for storage on campus or at least some assistance with transportation to and from the storage space, it would lift a lot of stress from international students” they said.

Contact contributing writer Padmaja Karki at padmaja.karki@richmond.edu.

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