Be an AUAP Roommate

Group of AUAP Students smile at the camera while posing in front of a Scenic waterfallIf you are living in the residence halls, becoming a roommate to an Asia University America Program (AUAP) student is a great way to enhance your Western experience! There are many benefits to having an AUAP roommate including the opportunity to make a friend from another country, learn about a new culture, and the chance to take advantage of many activities and events put on by the AUAP program staff.

Whether you are thinking about rooming with an AUAP student in the future, or have already received your placement and been matched with an AUAP roommate, we hope the following information is helpful to you.

Benefits of Having an AUAP Roommate


1. Share many fun activities together. Even the simplest things mean a lot, because everything is brand new. Try to see your world through fresh eyes and gain a new appreciation of life.

2. Experience a different part of the world without leaving your room!

3. Learn cross-cultural communication skills that employers find invaluable in today's job market.

4. Become more aware of what's happening on campus and in Bellingham.  Your roommate receives activity calendars every week highlighting campus, community, and hall events!

5. Laugh together at the funny things that happen when communicating with each other.

6. Become a better listener, which will help you improve future relationships in your workplace, with your friends , and your significant other.

7. Gain the satisfaction of knowing you helped someone learn about America who will tell their friends and family about you, and increase international goodwill between our countries.

8. Note your intercultural roommate experience on your resume for future employers to see.

9. Build a life-long friendship and a chance to visit Japan as an honored guest!

10. Learn more about yourself and your own country.  You never truly know about yourself, your language, or your own culture until you have learned about another.

How does it work?

I would like to have an AUAP student as my roommate. What should I do?

We are glad you are considering becoming a roommate to an AUAP student!  If you would like to room with an AUAP student, please check the appropriate box in the online housing application.

Does everyone who requests an AUAP roommate get one?

Those people who request an AUAP student when they fill out the online housing application will be given priority, but it is no guarantee that you will be assigned an AUAP roommate. 

Where on campus do AUAP students live?

AUAP students are placed in all WWU residence halls except Birnam Wood and Ridgeway.  If you are planning to request an AUAP student as your roommate, you should apply for housing in one of the dorms where AUAP students are typically placed. 

Will I be able to communicate with my AUAP roommate before they arrive on campus?

Probably. After you have received your roommate match letter in the mail, you will receive an e-mail in your WWU account from our program with detailed information about how to contact your roommate in Japan. If you don't receive anything, please send us an e-mail to that includes your AUAP roommate's first and last name.

How well will my AUAP roommate speak English?

AUAP students generally begin their program at WWU at a low-intermediate level. That means they will be able to communicate with you on a basic level, introduce themselves, tell you about their hobbies and interests, make plans to eat with you in the dining hall, etc . . . Most Japanese students begin learning English during elementary school and continue to study through university. However, they are not accustomed to slang, fast speech, or sarcasm. At first, try speaking slowly and using only formal English that they would have seen in their textbooks

Click here for a list of communication tips.

When will my AUAP roommate arrive on campus?

Two groups of AUAP students come to Western each year. In the fall (September), AUAP students arrive the Sunday before WWU classes begin. Typically, students arrive on campus between 10am and 1pm. Our second group of students arrive in late February (about 2/3 of the way through winter quarter).

I'm moving in earlier than my AUAP roommate, how should I set up my room?

With any roommate, it is a good idea to discuss the set-up of your room together before you set it up. However, if you are moving in before your AUAP roommate and you must set up the furniture before they arrive, keep the following in mind:

  1. Japanese people traditionally sleep on beds that are very close to the floor. In general, Japanese students feel very uncomfortable sleeping on a bunk or lofted bed.
  2. Japanese culture places a large emphasis on promoting harmony and diminishing potential conflicts. If a Japanese student is unhappy with the location of their furniture when they arrive they probably will not tell you about it for fear of causing a conflict and stressing your relationship.
  3. AUAP students do not bring as much stuff to school as you will. However, they will notice if you use up more than your share of the room. Make sure your AUAP roommate is fairly represented as you divide up your space!
  4. Remember, your AUAP roommate is from a different country! They see you as an expert at living in America and may expect you to host them to a certain extent. Placing a welcome card or a note on their desk is a nice touch and will go a long way.
What will my AUAP roommate be bringing to campus?

Your AUAP roommate will be flying to the US from Japan.  They will bring 1 or 2 large suitcases and ship a couple of large boxes.  AUAP students will not be bringing any large items for the room such as a refrigerator or microwave. 

What is an IPA?

International Peer Advisors (IPAs) are students who work in the residence halls as advisors to AUAP students. Each IPA is responsible for a group of about 10 AUAP students. Part of an IPA's job is to help facilitate relationships between roommates. IPAs will introduce themselves to you when your roommate moves in.

How long will my AUAP roommate be at WWU?

AUAP students study at WWU for one five-month term. So, if your roommate is moving in the month of September they will leave in February. If they move in the month of February, they will stay through summer quarter. 

What will happen when my AUAP roommate moves out?

When your AUAP roommate moves out you will have a couple of options.

  1. You can request to have another AUAP roommate.
  2. You can have a friend move into the empty spot.
  3. You can wait for housing to assign a new roommate to your room.

If you would like to host another AUAP student or have a friend move into the empty space in your room you should talk to the Residence Life staff in your building at least a month before your AUAP roommate moves out.

*If you have additional questions please e-mail We'll get back to you as soon as we can!

Tips for Communicating with AUAP Students

  1. Eye contact and full attention are important! Your eyes can help indicate who should answer and whether an answer is right or not. Most importantly, eye contact checks for comprehension or confusion. Similarly, talking with your eyes focused on other things such as your computer screen sends the message that you're not that interested in the person you are speaking with.
  2. Speak slowly and clearly, at least initially. Most new students have just arrived in the U.S. They may only be used to hearing English from language lab tapes or heavily accented by their teachers.
  3. Use simple English. Simple English is generally easier for non-native speakers to understand than slang and informal English. Also, two-word verbs are usually idioms and might not be understood when students first get here. For example, "call off" is more difficult to understand than "cancel."
  4. Use your voice (stress, pauses, and intonation) and body language to help convey your message.
  5. Relax. Try not to interrupt or finish sentences, or answer for the other person. (Silence is much more accepted in interpersonal communication in Japan than it is in the US.)
  6. Avoid asking, "Do you understand?" Most students will not admit that they don't understand. Use specific questions to check comprehension, or better yet, ask them to paraphrase the information.
  7. If you want to help your roommate improve English, don't imitate the mistakes. Always speak in clear and proper English when talking with your roommate.
  8. As a last resort, try writing down messages, especially if it is important information such as meeting times, places, and dates.

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