I’m 35 and my job wants me to live in a college dorm for 6 months

A reader writes:

I have been reading your advice for years and was able to use everything I learned to be offered a position in my company with a $20K pay bump, which also is a much better fit for me. But that is also why I am writing to you…

The new position comes with a six month, out-of-state training that my workplace is paying for, and I will be leaving in a few months to a year. I knew before taking the position that this training would be a possibility and am eager to attend because it would be invaluable experience.

Part of the training uses a facility that is shared with a college. At my first meeting with my new supervisor, they confirmed they would be sending me to the training and paying for meals, lodging, and the possible use of a company car instead of having me use my own. However, they implied that I would be staying in a dormitory or in on-campus college-apartment housing with room and board paid for, instead of having me stay at an extended stay hotel and using per-diem reimbursement or an expense card. I need help determining if this is something I should push back on, and how to do it without starting off on the wrong foot with them.

I’m 35, female, and in a long-term relationship where my partner and I live together (they will remain in the house paying the mortgage and working full-time while I am several states away in training). I am coming from big-city living in a progressive area to a rural, conservative state that will be several hours of driving to get to. From what I have gathered researching the location online, the campus is a no-alcohol zone and the housing is female only, with rules that there be “no overnight visitors of the opposite sex.” As a working adult, this puts more restrictions on my off-work hours than I feel should be required of me for six months, because I thought I could expect my partner to be able to visit me for a few weekends. In addition, the rooms have bare-bones furnishing, so I would have to provide my own (twin size!) bedding, towels, and rugs, things that would already be provided in an extended stay where I could sleep comfortably in a queen sized bed when my partner comes to visit and after we have had a glass of wine.

The “board” part of the room and board is also an issue, because the cafeteria at this location is not even open to provide all of the meals on the weekend, and a dorm would not have kitchen facilities for use (the apartment style might). I am concerned that the apartment-style living would be a shared common area with my only personal space being a lockable bedroom (sharing the common area with three other 17-22-year-old women, versus having a single-occupancy apartment to myself) or that the dorm-style would have community bathrooms.

Am I off-base in feeling like this is strange? The college is not teaching the training. Only one facility building is being used for the training that has anything to do with the school itself, and we are not being taught by school employees.

Because of the length of my training and my employer being a government agency, I understand their wish to reduce costs, but I am really wondering what they would have done (or did do) for the several men who hold this position currently, as I can’t see them housing them in an all-female dorm.

I have very rarely traveled to work training at previous employers, and only for a weekend to a week at most, and those workplaces reimbursed everything so I was always able to choose my own hotels and meals. I understand that six months is a big commitment for both them and me, and am relieved that they will be covering the costs instead of opting to have me do a short-term relocation (where the rent, vehicle, food, and utilities would be my cost to bear), but I would love to hear from you and others who have more experience with government/training/travel norms so that I can be better prepared to have a talk about ironing out the details with my new supervisor before they book everything. Because this training could set me up really well for the rest of my career, I am so eager to go that I wonder if I should treat it like a military deployment and just deal with all of the austerity as something I just have to get through, or if that would make me miserable and burn out?

For what it is worth, I am planning on asking around to see if anyone else has been sent to this training from my department and how it was handled, or what other closely-related departments have done when they were sent to training. In addition, I am going to see if there are restrictions or regulations on how this is supposed to be handled by my agency per HR, in case there are already provisions there that I can use to push back on some of these things. But what if there aren’t? I feel like these are things I should discuss with the supervisor, but what is normal and what is way off-base when it comes to work trips so that I have a baseline to work from, and how do I approach pushing back on their ideas if I need to?

First, for the record: No, it would not be normal or reasonable or in sync with professional norms to expect you to spend six months living in a dorm, or with roommates, or without your own bathroom or kitchen, or without overnight visitors (unless you were something like a camp counselor, which you are not).

But it’s worth finding out exactly what’s being planned because right now there’s a lot of speculation in your letter. I can understand why — the little you’ve been told does sound alarming AF. But let’s find out for sure what’s being planned.

In particular, it’s possible that they’re not planning to put you in an actual dorm room (which would be bizarre and unreasonable) and that the on-campus apartment-style housing would be your own single-occupancy apartment with its own kitchen and bathroom and not subject to the same-sex restrictions that their dorms have.

So go back to your manager and ask! It’s perfectly fine to say, “Can you tell me more about the on-campus housing you mentioned? The mention of dorms made me a little nervous, but I’m assuming it’s a single-occupancy apartment with a kitchen and no roommates that happens to be located on campus. Is that right?”

If it turns out that no, in fact they are planning to put you in a dorm without its own kitchen/bathroom or in any housing involving roommates, it’s entirely reasonable to say you’re not comfortable with that, especially for such a long period, and ask if you can look into extended stay hotels instead.

The campus no-alcohol rule is more of a grey area. If they give you a private on-campus apartment and don’t seem terribly open to using an extended stay hotel instead (presumably based on cost), it’s probably not worth the capital to push back on the alcohol policy by itself … but I also suspect it would be pretty easy to discreetly have alcohol in your own private residence and no one would know or care, as long as you’re not installing a keg on your balcony or something.

On the other hand, if it turns out that even a private on-campus apartment would be subject to the no-opposite-sex-visitors rule, I’d recommend saying that just won’t work for your situation with your partner and so you’ll need to look into off-campus options instead.

And even if the details sound sort of okay but not 100% what you’d be comfortable with, it’s also fine to say, “I don’t think I’m comfortable living on a campus for six months, for noise and privacy reasons if nothing else. I’d like to look into off-campus extended stay hotels instead.”

Your plan to talk to HR about this is good too, because it’s possible your boss just vaguely figured “low-cost campus housing, sounds good” and hasn’t considered everything that entails, and HR might quickly and decisively shut this down if it is in fact the scenario you fear.

But no, you should not need to just tough it out for six months.

{ 419 comments… read them below }

  1. Lab Boss*

    Writing in to second Alison’s point about “apartment style” housing likely not being as bad as you fear- I live in a college town and the “on campus, apartment style” housing is essentially the same as any other apartment with private units with their own kitchens and bathrooms and everything, they’re just physically located on campus and fall under the residential life umbrella in a business-org sense. At least at my local university this kind of housing is targeted at non-traditional or married students, visiting professors, etc., and are subject to MUCH fewer rules and regs than a normal dorm.

    Ask the questions of course, your mileage may vary, but hope is out there :)

    1. BigTenProfessor*

      There are some on my campus that are entirely privately-owned, but have a relationship with the university. Some of our Visiting Professors live there because they come fully-furnished and allow <1 leases.

      1. Loulou*

        Yup, I know some early-career or visiting faculty who live in apartments like this. It’s a sweet deal! I’d never refer to them as dormitories, but an outsider who was unfamiliar with the setup could easily make that mistake.

        1. PT*

          The college where I did my undergrad had some apartment-style dorms that were nicer than anything I’ve been able to afford as an adult. Multiple bathrooms, full kitchen, high rise with skyline and river views…

          1. Anonariffic*

            A university in my area actually bought an entire new construction luxury apartment building near its campus to use as student housing because the on-campus dorms were all full. The assorted adult professionals and retirees who’d already moved in were very unhappy about this, especially after they found out that their leases would not be renewed after the first year.

            1. Chirpy*

              Dang, when my college ran out of space in the dorms, they just rented the worst motel in town because it was the closest to campus.

      2. Momma Bear*

        This. My last two years were campus-owned apartments/condos which had been slowly bought out by the school so it was something like 90% students and 10% regular people. The Resident Director had his own unit with his family. OP needs to determine the specifics and what works for her. Six months in another area without her partner is bad enough, IMO. I’d negotiate the housing if it came with unreasonable restrictions. OP might also ask about the facility as many campuses are now hosting small business incubators. Eating on campus might not be so bad if OP has access to different facilities than the students. OP might be able to use a conference center or professors/employees dining hall vs a standard cafeteria.

        1. New Mom*

          I think even if the facilities are nice and OP has her own place, it’s still not ideal to be living in a place where 90% of your neighbors are undergrads. I’m also in my mid-thirties and I would HATE to live near 18-22 year old me.

          1. Barbara Eyiuche*

            Yes, even if the apartment is acceptable, the problem might be noise. Universities often have one building designated for mature students, or for quiet students, so it is worth checking whether the apartment would be there.

            1. Anonymous4*

              The university I attended had a section of apartments for grad students, set apart from the undergraduate housing, and while some of them were 2-bedroom, quite a lot were intended for married grad students and had single bedrooms.

              I’m trying to figure out how a 6-month occupancy of any sort of campus housing is going to fit into the university’s semester system. Maybe if the class starts in January and ends in June? I’m just not seeing anything that would make the University Housing people happy unless the company rents the dorm room for two semesters regardless of the room being empty part of the time.

              1. Kal*

                My university only had semester-based housing leases for the dorm-style housing. The apartment style ones had monthly recurring leases so you could move off-campus mid semester if you wanted and it did a good job preparing undergrads for how to handle standard leases outside the uni environment as well as being more flexible for mature students. Since I was in my first year when I was in there, I had 3 roommates in my 4-bedroom unit, but since we each had separate leases, I had roommates move out in November and March without issue.

                They also had a sort of cheap hotel service with a floor that was rented by the night like a standard hotel (aimed at visiting family around graduation or other events as well as a section aimed at students who need to crash overnight during intense study periods or bad weather that makes it unsafe to go home) and a section that was more of a long-stay hotel for visiting guest lecturers or researchers or the like who preferred having hotel-like services instead of an apartment. All of these services had rules run like a hotel and guests weren’t restricted to the rules that students in the dorms were I was also allowed alcohol and overnight guests with the permission of my roommates in my apartment-style unit, unlike my peers in the dorms – the rules weren’t a blanket thing. The only issue was that if you were below the legal drinking age you could only qualify for the dorm floors that were non-drinking.

                So its entirely possible that this campus is set up such that a 6 month stay is perfectly fine and it already has what the LW is looking for. So LW asking about it is definitely the right move to see if their worries are unfounded or if they will need to push back on some things.

          2. Princesss Sparklepony*

            Reminds me of when I was in college and living in a dorm. Each 4 story typical dorm building (double rooms, bathroom down the hall) had a stand alone apartment on the ground floor that they would house some sort of faculty in. They weren’t RAs or anything, just people who worked for the university. That one year, we had Mr Crankypants and his wife and possibly a kid. They did not enjoy campus life living in a freshman dorm. There was much gnashing of teeth from him and boisterous laughter at him… The building in question was pretty high on the party spectrum. Usually you never saw the people who lived in those apartments because they kept to themselves. This was not a successful use of campus housing.

    2. londonedit*

      I think this is one reason the OP definitely needs to ask for more information on exactly what the accommodation will be – when I was at uni (not in the US) my accommodation in the halls of residence was described as a ‘flat’, and what that meant was a corridor with seven private, lockable bedrooms (ours were en-suite, which in fact meant there was a tiny bathroom/wet room pod in the corner of each bedroom) and a communal kitchen with cooking facilities, a table and a couple of sofas. It was all self-catering so we didn’t have a canteen or other on-site food options (but we were in central London, so there were plenty of options around). The furniture in each room was absolutely bare-bones – a single bed, a desk chair and an industrial-looking armchair, a built-in set of desk/cupboards/wardrobe and a mini fridge. It was fine when I was 18/19 and in my first year of uni, but at my age? On my own for six months? Having to smuggle in wine on top of everything else? No way. If the OP will be in a completely private one-bed apartment then that’s a different matter (though I still wouldn’t be impressed with the no-alcohol rule and the lack of facilities for meals) but different universities have wildly varying accommodation so it’s sensible to get a sense of exactly what the setup will be before agreeing to anything.

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        On the other hand, imagine a UK Uni not allowing alcohol or visitors of the opposite sex into your accommodation. There would be riots lol

        1. londonedit*

          I know, it’s mind-blowing isn’t it! I suppose it helps that the vast majority of us are over 18 by the time we go to uni but still. I can only imagine what would happen if a university said students couldn’t drink :D

          1. Arabella Flynn*

            The drinking age in the US is 21 (with some state exceptions for being under supervision of parents etc). Technically this is not federal law, but states get extra funding for the interstate highway system if they set the drinking age at 21 instead of 18, so all of them have. The majority of university students, especially those living on campus, will be under 21, so the “no booze” rule is more doubling down on state law than anything.

            It is also widely ignored. Unless you’re at a famously conservative or religious school, you can get hammered quietly in your own room and nobody will care.

            1. Student*

              That’s just not universally the case. I went to a public university in the mid-west. Some dorms were as you described – one could drink and not generally get in trouble.

              But there were specific dry dorms – which was where the alcoholic students got sent, and a space for some of the more alcohol-conservative students to opt out of the drinking culture elsewhere on campus. You drink there, you could get expelled.

              Then there were separate, campus-specific alcohol laws. You could drink in some buildings under some circumstances, sure. But there were some extremely strict laws (not rules – laws, enthusiastically enforced by the police) about open containers of alcohol anywhere outdoors on campus and in most of the non-residential buildings. You have a picnic on a scenic campus green with an open container of beer or wine? You’re getting arrested. You drink in an academic building? You’re getting arrested, and someone is going to get dragged through the bureaucratic coals for not enforcing and following procedures around alcohol. Applied to anyone on the property, not just under-age students.

              Had to explain this to a very disgruntled German researcher who did not understand why we couldn’t have some beer while minding particularly slow experiment. After someone called the cops on his research group, and his post-docs narrowly missed getting arrested.

              1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                On-campus laws versus just school rules would also vary public versus private, since a state or city is unlikely to spend a bunch of time making laws that apply to private colleges around those kinds of things, but might well have a process for public schools to have campus-specific laws around things like drinking. Open container laws apply in places like public parks and other public non-college places in my state, though, so those sorts of rules wouldn’t be campus specific.

                I know my private college let those over 21 drink on campus except in the specifically dry dorms (which I chose to live in as a student since they had the least vomit in the shared bathrooms and the fewest fire false alarms due to the lack of drunk students – it was a worthwhile tradeoff to me at the time since I didn’t drink anyway, and if my friends wanted to drink we could just go to their dorm or apartment, which presumably wouldn’t be in the dry dorm), and they certainly have (often free) alcohol at alumni events, but it’s not a religious school, which a completely dry campus might be.

                Completely dry campus and single-sex accommodations with no opposite-sex overnights in 2022 sounds like it’s probably a fairly conservative religious-sponsored school to me. (This might be another avenue to push back on the accommodations if it’s an overtly religious school, particularly since you’re with a government employer – I wouldn’t be comfortable spending six months living in housing with rules tailored to a religion I didn’t follow to the extent of controlling both my drink consumption and choice of overnight guests!)

                1. Radical Edward*

                  The dry campus vs dry building thing is a really important distinction that I had totally forgotten about! I went to a state university in the South and our whole campus was dry, so it was zero alcohol 24-7, zero tolerance. It honestly wasn’t a big deal for most of us as bars and restaurants were literally across the street from campus, and plenty of friends lived off-campus for party purposes… but I agree that would be a different story if I were living in university housing now.

                  I always felt bad for our exchange students, who often didn’t understand what they had signed up for until their first day of Residence Life orientation, and would mournfully ask us if it was really that strictly enforced (yes, it was).

                2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                  I was involved in Residence Life in college, and went to a Residence Life conference in another state that drew from both the USA and Canada. One of the biggest differences was that the Canadian schools would often offer alcohol as part of undergrad Residence Life programming (since it both increased attendance and meant the RAs could better supervise student drinking), which was just Not Done at schools in the USA (I mean, particularly not in my case since I was in the dry dorm, but the other dorms and schools didn’t offer alcohol at undergrad events either – grad school is often a different story…).

                  That’s one of maybe three things I remember from attending that conference all these years later. (The other things I most remember is that the WSU RAs would say “Go Cougs” as an opener whenever it was their turn to share, and also a memorable drive back to campus in the snow in a minivan without snow tires. I may not have gotten much applicable information about residence life out of this conference.)

                3. Evelyn Carnahan*

                  I’m guessing that OP’s new job is for a state agency, so I would assume that the school is a state school as well. Public schools in conservative states can have pretty conservative/retrograde rules. I know that I’ve worked for a private Catholic university in a more progressive area and multiple large state universities in the Bible Belt, and the Catholic school was far more progressive. I think it’s also really important to note that it is unlikely that OP will be in the same space or have to follow the same rules as students, especially if she is learning about the school’s housing policies from their website. As others have mentioned here, putting a non-student who isn’t even affiliated with the school in the same housing as students would be a liability for the school. The school would also get tons of phone calls from angry parents once they found out, and I can assure you that university administrators will do so much to avoid angry parents.

                4. Humble Schoolmarm*

                  I’ve run out of threading, but the difference between the Canadian and American approach to on-campus drinking is explained by the fact that the drinking age varies between 18 and 19 in Canada. Most students go to university (not college here) at 18 and get to be legal some time during their first year or very early second. In other words, most students are of legal age and drinking culture and wet-dry licences abound here.

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        Mine was similar, and I’ve attended conferences on campuses that used the nicer end of student housing (I even had a full bath in one), and honestly, it’s nicer than a budget hotel for a week or so, especially if you get access to all the campus perks and everyone else on the corridor is also part of the training event. But it’s not somewhere you want to stay for 6 months. My campus did have some housing for married couples that was clearly installed in the 60s which would probably be used for events like this as well, but honestly I’m not sure the privacy would outweigh quite how ramshackle those damp prefab bungalows had become.

        1. Rachel*

          I agree with the potential for apartments to be ramshackle. In my city the university student apartments were notoriously run down, crime-ridden and not really fit to live in. This was in a decent area of town and owned/run by a major university.

          So you can’t make assumptions. You might have either great housing or bad housing. Ask and check it out!

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I lived in some nice graduate/family student housing made of separate apartments with full kitchens and baths when I was in grad school, but it came unfurnished (also, if you wanted them to supply curtains you had to rent them separately – I sewed my own instead using a bolt of fabric someone else was getting rid of, but it was still ridiculous and led to a lot of people hanging up towels/sheets in their windows instead). It’s usually easy to buy secondhand furniture and household goods at the end of each term in a college town, then resell it at the end of the next term, but that’s an annoying project to undertake as an adult on a temporary work relocation, particularly if your dates don’t line up with the start/end of each term or you don’t want to live the used student furniture lifestyle.

    3. Homebody*

      Yes, in grad school I had a “dorm” that was essentially an apartment, with a full kitchen, bathroom/shower, and furniture. It was also away from the undergrad portion of campus so I never had any issues with noise or lack of privacy. It also wasn’t subject to the same rules as a typical college dorm as all the tenants were older, generally married, or visiting professors.

      Fingers crossed that’s what’s happening in LWs situation! I’m hoping that just asking for clarification will be all they need to do to sort this mess out.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        I’ll also add that it seems unbelievable a college would close the cafeteria on weekends unless there were kitchen facilities in the student housing. Otherwise what would the students do over the weekends? Starve? Subsist entirely on crackers?

        I don’t know… I’m used to government jobs, but this arrangement doesn’t sound that strange to me. They’re providing a huge benefit in the form of free room and board during a valuable training. I wouldn’t expect the employer to pay thousands more per month for an extended stay hotel when there’s perfectly serviceable student housing available. As long as you have a private, lockable room and your apartment includes a bathroom and kitchen, I don’t see the issue with having a roommate.

        1. Zephy*

          University employee here – on weekends, the dining hall serves brunch from 10 or 11 to 3-ish and then dinner from 5 to 8-ish. No breakfast, nothing in between. There’s a cafe that has some a la carte options available, but IIRC they also don’t open until 9 or 10 on weekends, so if you’re up early and want breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday you either need to have something in your room (where your cooking capabilities are severely limited – there are no kitchen facilities, communal or otherwise, and restrictions on the sorts of appliances you can have), or go off-campus.

        2. Zephy*

          My kingdom for an edit button, but I also wanted to address this:

          As long as you have a private, lockable room and your apartment includes a bathroom and kitchen, I don’t see the issue with having a roommate.

          The OP is a whole entire grown-assed adult. Valuable training or no, it is not reasonable to expect someone who is not actually a college student anymore to live like one for half a year.

          1. Scarlet2*

            “The OP is a whole entire grown-assed adult. Valuable training or no, it is not reasonable to expect someone who is not actually a college student anymore to live like one for half a year.”

            This. I’m an adult, I should get to live with whomever I choose (or no-one), especially for a training that lasts a whole 6 months. Being that far apart from your live-in partner for so long is already a big imposition – if OP needs to have a stranger as a roommate on top of it, that’s just too much.

            1. Properlike*

              I became a grown-ass adult so I would not have to have a roommate. I’ve switched jobs, taken on extra jobs, and moved across entire states for the sole purpose of not needing to have a roommate.

              1. UKDancer*

                This so much. I lived in a leaky attic apartment in order to avoid having a flatmate. After university I knew I never wanted to live with someone again. If I’d had a shared flat I would have had a much nicer place to live but for me the leaks were worth it for having somewhere that was my own.

                There is no way I would be prepared to put up with someone I hadn’t chosen for 6 months. I’m too old and set in my ways.

          2. Emi*

            Yeah but plenty of grown adults have roommates! That particular point is more like giving her a housing stipend that only covers rent with a roommate than like expecting her to like like a college student.

            1. BubbleTea*

              If by roommate you mean person using the same kitchen and communal spaces, maybe. If you mean actually sharing a bedroom, I don’t know any adults who are in that situation with a total stranger in the USA or UK. I know it happens in countries such as Dubai for migrant workers. I also know it isn’t good there either!

              1. Ace in the Hole*

                Yes, I meant another person sharing communal spaces. That’s why I specified that LW should be able to have a private, lockable room to herself.

            2. Rose*

              Plenty of adults choose to have roommates or are in financial position s that force them to have roommates. OP isn’t in that category.

              Everyone is different but the reality is the majority of adults in their 30s are going going to be very unhappy sharing a kitchen and bathroom with a random college student because of noise, cleanliness, etc. You are forced to live like someone to a degree if you’re sharing their space.

              This is nothing like a stipend. OP can’t take her college dorm, add on a little bit more money, and have a better apartment. Nor should she have to. She has a home that she’s paying a mortgage on for a reason.

          3. Ace in the Hole*

            Many adults have roommates. It’s considered normal in many areas. I’m in my 30’s and have lived in shared apartments my whole adult life.

            I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to expect a whole entire grown-assed adult to share their (free!) apartment with another whole entire grown-assed adult for half a year. I’ve done it for over a decade, it’s not some huge ordeal. If LW doesn’t like it, that’s understandable, but I’d expect they’ll make her pay for alternative housing out of pocket.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              It’s one thing to do it by choice, it’s another thing to be required to do it as a condition of receiving a promotion.

            2. Lacey*

              I had a roommate for a long time as an adult – but I chose the roommate! To have one randomly assigned would be hell!

              1. Elitist Semicolon*

                Especially if the roommate is not also an adult. I was only sort of cool living in a private, lockable room around 18- to 22-year-olds when I was one; I’m sure as hell not up for that at nearly 50.

            3. Just Another Zebra*

              There’s a huge difference between a roommate you select yourself, who is likely also in a similar stage of life to you, than being forced to live with 1-3 college students. It’s just not comparable.

            4. alienor*

              I mean yes, but it sounds like they’re planning on mixing OP in with the regular student housing residents, and a 35-year-old doesn’t usually choose a college student as a roommate, unless they’re renting out a room in their house or something. I doubt the college student would be thrilled about it, either–they’ve already got to live under some pretty restrictive rules without having a roommate who’s almost old enough to be their parent.

              1. Annie Moose*

                This is what OP is assuming, but frankly I think that’s quite a stretch. In these sorts of situations, if you ended up sharing communal space with other people, it would almost certainly be other people in the same program as you. Nobody is putting e.g. visiting professors and 18-year-old college students in the same housing.

              2. Ace in the Hole*

                LW assumes she’s going to be housed with college students, but there’s no reason to think that’s the case. My local university occasionally hosts non-student residents, and they all stay in separate facilities from the regular student housing. She’d likely have roommates from her professional program, or other adults (visiting professors, etc).

            5. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

              The thing about that (free!) is that it’s not actually a benefit for an adult the way it is for a college student, because even if one didn’t have a partner who was going to have to stay behind and thus still pay for housing, one would then have to store one’s stuff, board one’s pets, find a subletter, etc. for half a year. The training is a benefit but the board is at best a slight mitigation of a massive inconvenience, before we get to possibilities like roommates or no kitchen.

              1. Rose*

                Lmao thank you. Free! Wow I’d they also pay for the hotel when she travels for business?? This is not a per yall.

                1. Ace in the Hole*

                  Providing housing for a business trip is different than providing housing for a 6 month relocation. A lot of places would not cover 100% room and board for the entire half-year training program. So I think it is fair to consider it a perk.

                2. Librarian of SHIELD*

                  I’m trying to imagine what kind of work training program requires a person to move away for six months and coming up empty. So, in a way Ace in the Hole is right, it’s not something a lot of companies would pay for because it’s not something many companies *require.*

                  Emphasis on *require* there. If your employer requires you to do it, they should pay for it. Paying for a place for an employee to stay while on work related business is not something businesses should do out of the goodness of their hearts, they should do it because they’re the ones requiring the travel. If the company can’t afford to pay for OP to live like an independent adult for six months, they could try not requiring her to move to an entirely different area for six months.

                3. AcademiaNut*

                  Six months is a short enough period that it’s not worth giving up your lease in your home city (or selling your home), moving your furniture and personal possessions and paying start up costs in a new city. So if they didn’t cover the housing during the training, the employee would be expected to pay double rent/mortgage for a six month period. Subletting is complicated and not always legal – not to mention the issues about renting out your home as an absentee landlord. Financially, in a half-decent job market you’d likely do better quitting without anything lined up (being expected to move is a big enough job change that you would be eligible for UI) and looking for a new job.

                  I work for a government research institute, which are notoriously stingy (economy travel only, no free coffee) and colleagues who have taken remote postings for 6 months to a year always have their expenses in the new location covered, plus some travel back and forth to keep an eye on their apartment. The food per diem isn’t as high as for short term travel, but rent/utilities/transportation are covered.

                4. Sasha*

                  And yes, both my dad, brother and husband have worked in jobs that sent them overseas for prolonged periods (think management consultants advising overseas companies, ad. agencies working with international clients). Accommodation was always provided.

                  Our entire family moved to Malta for two years at the company’s expense – our apartment was paid for, and two sets of school fees were paid. At the other end of the spectrum my brother was sent to work in the Berlin office for three months on a specific project, and got accommodation and a flight back each month.

                  I’d be horrified if a company sent a worker somewhere temporarily and expected them to pay for a second apartment and travel back and forth. It is really not the norm.

            6. Canadian Librarian #72*

              Uh, no. I’m 32 and lived in with multiple roomates until I was 27 and moved in with my now-spouse – I’ve never lived alone; housing is so expensive in my city that to do so means you’re either rich, or you’ve either chosen to spend 50% or more of your income on rent if your job isn’t quite that lucrative.

              So I’m not naive about the fact that “many adults have roommates” – I was one, and I have adult friends who still have roommates because they’ve don’t live with a partner. It’s normal and common – but it’s also something people typically do out of financial necessity, and it’s outrageous to expect it of an adult as a condition of employment or promotion.

            7. Rose*

              Come on. This isn’t a “free apartment” that they’re generously giving her. This is (potentially subpar) housing for extended business travel.

              Being asked to share accommodations with a stranger in a place you’ll be for six months is nothing like being an adult who chooses to have a roommate. Six months isn’t long enough for the majority of adults to give up their current housing, whether they rent or own. It’s not long enough to make subletting your living space practical in most scenarios. OP won’t get to vet and choose a roommate that she’d be compatible with, or choose an apartment that best meets her needs. Six months isn’t long enough for a partner to upend their own life and move with you so a house can be rented.

              This is absolutely not comparable to giving someone free housing. OP’s work is forcing her to travel temporarily for work. The bare minimum they should be doing is offering comfortable living accommodations, which includes not being forced to share space with a stranger.

            8. ceiswyn*

              I lived in shared housing for years as a working adult. And you know what? I got to choose the people I lived with, and the house that we shared.

              Living with people I knew, in a house we’d picked, in the city where I’d chosen to live and where all my friends were, is NOT AT ALL the same thing as having no choice in the people, living space or location. While still paying rent/mortgage somewhere else.

          4. exlibrarian*


            Having a 35 year old live with a college student is absolutely going to force them into a super weird dynamic– negotiating shared space with ANYONE requires both parties to come to shared understanding about expectations and boundaries: how socialization between roommates (and their guests) will work, levels of cleanliness in the space, degree of “sharing” when it comes to food and other items not under lock and key, acceptable noise levels, etc. A 35 year old professional and a college student are at very different points of their life, developmentally and otherwise. Unless there is a clear relationship established prior to move-in it’s not fair or healthy for either the older or younger roommate. (I’m in my late 40’s and I would happily take in any of my friends’ teen or college age kids, but I would NEVER go into a situation where I didn’t have the ability to set or enforce the household rules.

            FWIW, I lived in a house when I was an undergrad where by some weird chain of events a grown man ended up renting one of the rooms and it was one of the most horrifying experiences of my life: absolute torment for *everyone* start to finish. I literally still have nightmares about it. I’ve also lived in places where it’s normal for folks of all ages to have roommates and even then you have the power to choose who you live with, check references, or rely on your social networks to find something workable (as well as the power to move out, with various legal options in a worst-case scenario).

            Also! I worked for a non-profit with about 20% travel and the staff (including myself) pretty much quit en-masse because our leadership kept putting us into weird situations with low-cost/shared accommodations during conferences and work trips that forced us into dealing with weird crap during our off hours (when the random person you share a suite with needs medical or mental health help, or sets off the fire alarms, or causes some kind of kitchen/bathroom disaster, or decides to have a party in the middle of the night you’re going to be dealing with it! In some cases, you’ll be dealing with it Every. Single. Night. You can bet the people who were making the housing arrangements were making very different arrangements for themselves when they had to travel.

            I work in academia and as much as I really love college students (and I really do adore them!) when I relocated to start my current job I very intentionally chose an apartment building close to campus that did *not* lease to college students- -having to walk through drunk hallway parties (or listen to them) is not fun as a grown adult with a 9-5 job. On the flip side, it’s fun and normal and appropriate for a college student, and they should be able to do that without some old dork getting in their way.

            That said! If you are renting something through conference services or faculty housing you might be in a pretty regular apartment in town, or in a building that exclusively houses other adults (however these can vary a lot from campus to campus).

            1. Evelyn Carnahan*

              I’m also in academia and I can’t imagine a school that would place a non-student in student housing unless it was part of a specific program, like a faculty-in-residence program. A non-student who also isn’t actually affiliated with the university? They will definitely not be placed in undergraduate housing. It would be a nightmare for everyone involved! I think that if OP is working for the state where she lives, there are also probably state laws and agency regulations that would prevent her from staying with undergrads (although that’s not as likely).

              Before academia, I worked mostly in nonprofits. I could see every nonprofit putting people in unusual-to-sketchy housing situations. There was one that was sending several staffers to an annual conference, 3 women and 1 man. They decided that it didn’t make sense to get the man his own room, so they would have one of the women stay with him. All of the women threatened to quit and one even got a board member to intervene.

              1. Macapito*

                I was just going to say this. Putting the LW aside, there is no way an undergraduate student would be asked or expected to live with an adult non-student, especially one without any university affiliation. Nope.

        3. Anon for this*

          Our university students are sharing their horror stories of foodservice during the covid era and it’s horrifying. Very limited hours, uncooked food, bizarro food choices (someone asked for fruit with their meal and was given a lemon).

          If I were you, I would push for a kitchen.

          1. Corrvin*

            That’s horrifying! I have super fond memories of campus dining when I was an undergrad, and actually wistfully looked forward to a few on-campus meals when I applied to grad school. The food was so good and it included things I didn’t know how to make and I didn’t have to wash dishes. I didn’t appreciate it when I had it. :(

        4. Essess*

          Pretty common to have the cafeteria closed for some meals/days, frequently no meals on Sundays. Students usually get an X number of meals-in-a-week plan, and they are expected to eat elsewhere on the closed days.

        5. quill*

          Some schools do have days where the cafeteria is either closed, has reduced hours (like 11 am -5pm) or only open for one meal. And some days that “meal” is that you can either have a burger, pizza, or the meatloaf that’s the day’s special, or the salad bar that they change out once a week. If I’d been vegetarian during college I would have starved, or have had to steal half a dozen of the hard boiled eggs from brunch every time they were around to make sure I could actually have dinner.

          1. Chirpy*

            Definitely get more information. As others have said, if it’s a more “typical” apartment in a building for non-traditional students, it’ll probably be fine. If it’s a single shared room with public bathrooms, and you can’t have your significant other over for the weekend, definitely not fine.

            I once did an extended volunteer trip where the organization rented a furnished house for us for a single month. I did have roommates, as it was a whole house and a volunteer opportunity, but short term leases do exist. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for your job to rent an apartment for you for a six month training.

        6. Rose*

          I went to a very prestigious/snobby, very wealthy school for grad school. It was a profession program where most people lived on campus in designated housing just for o it program first year. The dining halls were essentially closed on weekends. I think they were open 12-2 and 5-7 and served a very reduced version of the normal menu. The expectation/reality was that most students would go out for most or all of their meals on the weekends so there wasn’t enough demand to keep the dining halls open. My dorm had a fridge, sink, and microwave. They defended this by saying I had access to a full kitchen which I technically did if I didn’t mind trudging across campus in the middle of all whether to the dorm that had an actual kitchen (which was always disgusting and often occupied). It wasn’t a fun way to live in my 20s, voluntarily, as someone who choose to move there, and I’d be very unhappy if my job expected me to live this way now.

        7. Student*

          My public college closed the cafeteria for Sunday. We did not have ready access to any area to cook our own food (though maybe 5-10% of the housing had areas where students could cook). This was considered pretty normal at the time for the region.

          We went across the street to buy fast food on Sundays. If the college won’t provide food at certain times, there’s always going to be a pizza place nearby, ready to fill the need. Most of the students would purchase a small refrigerator and a microwave for use in their dorm rooms, so anything microwave-friendly was also fair game for Sunday. Cereal does well in a pinch, too.

        8. somanyquestions*

          They’re providing her training to do a job they want her to to do; they’re not sending her to grad school out of the goodness of their hearts. She shouldn’t have to live in ridiculous conditions, and having a roommate is definitely a ridiculous condition.

        9. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          “ They’re providing a huge benefit in the form of free room and board during a valuable training.”

          They’re requiring her to take the training, and that training is out of state, they *have* to provide room and board. I don’t remember exactly what the rules are, I’ve been out of direct government service for decades (I did a stint as a contractor more recently, but that’s totally different), but it’s something like any travel more than two hours from your home of residence requiring an overnight stay obligates the government to pay for food and lodgings. There’s additional requirements for long stays like this too.

          Requiring anyone above a GS 9 to have a roommate would also be extremely weird, and for a six month stint I’d probably lower that to GS 6 or 7. Requiring *any* government employee to abide by a religious institutions rules (which it sure sounds like is the case here) is definitely unreasonable and possibly illegal. This entire thing seems weird to me.

          1. Enlyghten*

            I don’t know if OP is state or federal, but I’m pretty familiar with the regs for federal government travel (travel coordinator for the past 5 years). Lodging that isn’t inextricably part of the training fees must be booked through CWT Sato Travel (they’re not great). I’ve never seen a situation where Sato has booked someone anything other than single occupancy. That doesn’t mean the lodging has to have a full kitchen, but a roommate is not something I’ve ever seen.

            Long term TDY (31 days or more) is a little different. Normally a person would be reimbursed for the lodging up to a set limit (per diem rates dictated by the gov’t) with some allowances for ‘actual expense’ increase if there is simply no lodging at the per diem rate. With long term lodging, the traveler is paid a flat percentage (75% I think) of per diem for the duration of the TDY as long as they can prove they are paying for lodging. If they find something cheaper, they get to pocket the overage.
            The important thing here is they get to choose.

        10. CatMintCat*

          I wouldn’t have wanted a roommate at 18 (deal-breaker for me) and at 35, I wouldn’t consider it for a hot minute. The whole “Residential Life” dorm thing has always filled me with horror and the thought of doing it as an adult is giving me shudders.

        11. Darsynia*

          “I’ll also add that it seems unbelievable a college would close the cafeteria on weekends unless there were kitchen facilities in the student housing. Otherwise what would the students do over the weekends? Starve? Subsist entirely on crackers?”

          The college where I started (lasted a year and a half) was similar to BYU in that the governing principles were based on a specific restrictive religion. This particular one (Reformed Presbyterian) did not allow any work done on Sundays, so they closed the library, the computer labs, and did not allow anything to be printed or cooked by students on Sundays (even if you had one of the 4 person apartment dorms that had a kitchen!), and the food at the cafeteria was never warm on that day. The rules were so ridiculous that on our orientation day they joked that they were going to require skirts and that male and female students wouldn’t ever be allowed to eat together and we believed them, but it was a ‘prank.’ So yeah, some schools really do think this kind of crap should fly!

        12. Chirpy*

          My college only had brunch and dinner on Sundays in the main cafeteria, the “fancy” cafeteria (it had breakable dishes instead of plastic!) was closed all weekend, and the on-campus convenience store had shortened hours. I generally ate cereal or ramen in my dorm on weekends, or got together with friends to cook in the dorm kitchen (we had one for the whole floor) as it wasn’t always worth bothering to try to get to the cafeteria’s limited hours.

          Personally, as much as I liked the dorms back in the day, and I am perfectly fine with small spaces, especially if it was just for 6 months, I absolutely would draw the line at a random dorm roommate today. Especially a random college student. No thanks.

    4. Xenia*

      I second this point. I went to a big public college and the apartments on campus were much as you describe; much more geared towards non-traditional students and set up as actual apartments. I would get a clear idea of exactly what kind of campus housing you’d be getting set up in.

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think the shared kitchen and bathrooms is what she was afraid of for the dorm room. And in an apartment would she have to roommate with other people?

      For example, my college had 2 different types of apartments. Most buildings had apartments that were 2 bedrooms with the kitchen, living room, and bathroom. There were 4 people in an apartment (2 per room).
      The other apartment building was newer and had either single occupancy which was a studio, 2 or 4 occupancy. The difference was that everyone got their own bedroom and the 4 person apartments had 2 bathrooms.
      I think she’s afraid that they will put her in a position of sharing space with college kids.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        I went to a teeny tiny college for undergrad and the dorm situation varied by year/seniority.

        Freshmen had small dorms with twin beds, communal baths/showers for the whole floor, and common rooms for socializing.

        Sophomores/juniors had suites. Two rooms with two beds and a common full bath and common room.

        Juniors/seniors had NICE apartments. They were two separate rooms with full en-suite baths for each bedroom and a common living room and kitchen.

        This was a university without a grad program and limited family or employee housing. However, it the OP’s case, I really suspect that she’ll be offered a full 1 room apartment in a non-gender segregated area with full kitchen and living area (though she may have to supply some furnishings). I doubt she’ll be put with the students.

    6. Merci Dee*

      For four of my five years on campus, I roomed in an apartment complex that had already been in existence when the university expanded its facilities across the street from the complex, and then the university purchased the apartment complex to provide housing for its students. The apartments were pretty small, with two bedrooms each, a bathroom, eat-in kitchen, and small living room. They were originally designed for two people — one person per bedroom. But, the university being a typical university, they put two people in each room for a total of four in the apartment. So you didn’t even have a private space to go to when you wanted time alone. I’m fortunate, in that I had a great relationship with the girl who was my roommate for the majority of the time I lived in that complex — we’re still friends and keep in close contact today, 22 years after we graduated. But it would have been a challenging situation if you were living there with people you didn’t know or like.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is exactly what I envisioned for the in campus apartment because it’s what one of the universities in my city does. OP is right to be concerned and I think it’s a really good idea for her to get more details before everything is set in stone.

    7. NerdyKris*

      I sometimes see in movies and TV where faculty has an on campus “dorm” that’s more of a real apartment building, with individual one bedroom or studio apartments. Is that a common real thing that exists, or is that a creation of writers wanting to make plot easier, or an archaic thing that hasn’t existed since the 50’s?

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Most faculty don’t live on campus, but it’s not unheard of. Arrangements like this are often provided for housing and hall directors, and occasionally visiting faculty.

      2. Medievalist*

        My campus has some apartments for faculty inside undergrad dorm buildings on campus (but with separate entrances, and sound-proofing!) and also owns townhouses just off campus where they’ll put new/visiting faculty, especially since we’re in a high COL area where it’s otherwise hard to get a real estate foothold. So, it’s sort of a thing. (Admittedly, living in campus-owned housing near other faculty was genuinely useful for getting to know other new faculty, so I can also see how it’d simply help make plots easier!)

    8. Llellayena*

      Yes, I lived in one of these during grad school, as did others who were married, had families, etc. The one thing to ask if this is the way they want to go is if the apartment is (or can be provided as) furnished. My apartment was like renting any apartment, bring your own furniture. If it’s the same there, you’ll have to push your company to include the expense of renting furniture.

    9. Rock Prof*

      I also suspect that if it is apartment style housing with multiple bedrooms, they would likely have it set up that she would be sharing an apartment with others in the training program and not random college students. This could still be weird, of course, and I personally would push for single occupancy. But I have never heard of people staying on campus temporarily staying in already occupied dorms with students.

    10. Guacamole Bob*

      I lived in on-campus apartment housing as a working adult for a few years while my partner was in grad school, and I’d second this. It was a bit more institutional feeling than a normal apartment in terms of the quality of the carpet and the sturdiness and style of the furnishings, but we had a normal one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and bathroom, and the bed provided was a queen (that building was aimed at married/partnered grad students students). We brought all our own stuff other than furniture, including bedding and kitchenware – OP might find an extended-stay hotel more convenient from that perspective, but for six months it’d be workable to ship a couple boxes of stuff or pick up some basics.

      Definitely ask for more details.

    11. Anon Supervisor*

      Apropos of nothing, I lived in a dorm all 4 years of college, three of those with the same roommate, and I loved it. It was just enough independence and social interaction for someone who grew up as an only child. Our dorms were basically a bedroom with two communal bathrooms and a communal kitchenette. We had full dining service in the cafeteria all week, but I rarely at there on the weekends (was either working, or would just make soup). Some of my dormmates had small toaster ovens, so could cook a little more in their rooms. My college was a small religious liberal arts college, so the campus was dry and the floors were separated by sex (this was more because the Board was pretty old-fashioned, not because Lutherans have anything against drinking and midnight “mingling” with boys). You could usually get around these rules if you were halfway sneaky and not rude. That being said, I would not want to live in a dorm as an adult. I’ve had all the roommates I can tolerate (and I’ve liked all my roommates) and am glad I can go to the bathroom with the door open and turn the music up to whatever level I want.

    12. PennylaneTX*

      This exactly. Definitely ask the questions, but I worked for the Residence Life office in college, but specifically in the apartment dept. Nothing to do with residence halls/dorms or dining halls. They were apartments owned by the university. Some were subpar college student dumpy apartments but some were really nice! None of the dorm rules applied to those. Benefits were what others mentioned here–some were furnished, all had very flexible leases, and students could use university financial aid to pay for them. But all of these still fell under the umbrella of “on campus housing” and were managed by the same larger office.

    13. Lea*

      Yeah apartment style living is what I had in college with zero restrictions on visiting or alcohol (beyond age) and I think that would have been somewhat weird at 35 but otherwise mostly fine.

      Non apartment style with no alcohol or men otoh would be a hard no.

      I do agree that how could the school have any power over this person so I would be inclined to ignore rules. But op needs details!

      Buying twin apartment stuff also seems dumb

    14. Scott D*

      I was going to say the same thing. I work at a university and when we have to bring contractors on-site, we give them on-campus housing but it is truly apartment living. The apartments we offer are one-bedroom, private apartments with full kitchens, air conditioning, and functional (though definitely not high-end) furniture.

      The contractors are free to do whatever they want in their off-hours within the normal bounds of apartment living. If you’re blaring music at 3 a.m. and your upstairs neighbor is trying to sleep that’s a no-no). If you want a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend to stay over, that’s fine. If you want to drink alcohol, that’s fine. In other words–it’s a *REAL* apartment–just one owned by the university.

      Occasionally, we won’t have a one-bedroom available and when that happens we just give the contractor a two-bedroom but no roommate.

      I strongly encourage OP to find out if that’s the case here. If it’s a regular, active dorm and she’s expected to live with other students in shared facilities I would say “hell no” but if it’s just an apartment that happens to be on-campus it should be fine–and she’ll save a lot of commute time and can likely walk to work!

    15. ModernDragonfly*

      I would not be so sure that “apartment style” housing is not like the dorms. I went to a conservative university where no one of the opposite sex was allowed in the dorms. The university apartments were essentially just larger dorms… fur women to an apartment in two bedrooms. Men were allowed during the day but were not allowed after a certain time at night unless you were married and lived in the specific “married” apartments.

    16. Judy*

      For work (professional desk job certifications) I had to attend WEEK long training sessions once a year in which they put us in college dormitories on a dry campus with abso no normal college cafes/bars/clubs/bookshops within walking distance (Notre Dame). Flip flops in the shared bathrooms, Cafeteria food, no TV in the lounge, no WiFi. etc. after the first year I knew what I was getting into and brought a sewing machine but it was miserable. I can’t imagine doing it for six months.

    17. Outerbarkness*

      University employee here at a campus in a ‘rural, conservative state.’ All campus-managed housing, including apartments, are inspected at least monthly and it is thorough. Recently, an inspector brought in bolt cutters to access a locked mini-fridge hidden in the bedroom closet by a visiting scholar in our department, his four pack of microbrew resulted in a serious fine and one more strike to eviction.
      Many privately owned complexes have similar policies. An unmarried, opposite sex visitor would be a definite no-go.
      I wouldn’t coast by on this one and hope for the best. Securing appropriate housing in a town like this requires thorough research and clear, established boundaries.

      1. allathian*

        I’m amazed that anyone actually agrees to working/living conditions like these, unless they actually agree with the dry policy.

        At least here, if a landlord wants to visit their tenants, they have to give at least 24 hours notice, and the tenant has the legal right to be there during the inspection, and the landlord has to agree to visit at a time when the tenant can be there, so no sneak inspections when the tenant is at work, etc.

    18. tamarack & fireweed*

      Yup this. My reaction was torn between “of course that’s not reasonable to expect” and “does the OP actually *know* that the employer expects that?”.

      FWIW, my institution (a public university in a rural, rather right-wing US state) has on-campus housing of exactly this type – basically like your typical small apartment building. There may be minor differences, eg, if the university has programs in construction engineering or climate adaptation or whatever then the buildings may be using some innovative materials, or be largely solar powered, or recover waste heat or something along these lines, and double as showcases in addition to being habitation.

      But universities house visiting scholars, researchers on sabbaticals, international postdocs, and the like all the time, that is, people who expect to have the same liberties as in private housing. *Maybe* with restrictions on smoking and even alcohol consumption if the local law allows that. Or in our case, if you bring a gun you need to store it with campus police and can’t carry it on campus.

      And it may just be that when the OP asked, the other person grabbed a URL from the college that looked approximately right and didn’t realize that the rules listed there wouldn’t be applicable to non-student guests.

      So I think that the OP should get clarity on what the housing arrangements actually are, making it transparent what she’s expecting. And if the response is unreasonable then push back with clear expectations.

    19. Well...*

      I worry because apartment style sounds way more expensive to me than a long stay hotel so…. I’d be surprised to see this as the low cost option. Every college campus I’ve worked at has much more expensive on campus apartment vs off campus (better location, huge demand). It’s only cheaper when it’s a shared tiny dorm

    20. Jennifer M*

      Yeesh, we really are privileged these days, aren’t we? The concept of a short term sacrifice for significant long term gains is truly lost on us. It’s six months. Suck it up and do what you gotta do, since you say this small period of time could literally set you up for the rest of your career.

  2. The Dogman*

    Yeah Alison is correct, this is weird, not normal and pretty unfair to ask that of you.

    Make a list of questions to ask HR and get a meeting ASAP to resolve this. And I would advice that really being in the next week or so, you should stay on this til you get a resolution.

    The lack of personal space and total lack of resources/furniture would be a deal breaker for me… if i am providing the bed I get to say who sleeps in it, alone or otherwise!

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      This is a strange set-up; it’s *such* a long time that the company will have to pay a lot of money to put OP up in a hotel for six months, so I fear it’s not going to be all that easy to switch.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Six months is long enough to get a lease at a regular apartment. If they’re sending people to this training on a regular, they’re really better off with a long term lease anyway.

        1. The Dogman*

          I agree, this would make a lot more sense than the current plan… unless the current plan is very, very cheap!

          Which I suspect is the only reason they want to use the university apartments/dorms.

        2. Verthandi*

          Very true. I had to live in temp housing for several months a few years ago. There are temporary housing agencies that can help you find a suitable apartment within a certain radius of where you’re taking training.

      2. Moira Rose*

        LW said it was a government agency, though, and a government agency should be fully accustomed to arranging government-rate tax-free stays in extended-stay hotels.

        1. Hazel*

          Another good reason to get more info: I think it’s very reasonable that adults may not want to eat cafeteria/restaurant food for every meal for 6 months!

          1. Verthandi*

            Having been displaced and living in both an apartment and a residential hotel, you’re better off in an apartment. The apartment was less expensive and had better amenities. This was a few years ago, and locales are not the same, especially with a pandemic in progress. It’s worth looking into.

      3. The Dogman*

        Yes, it has to be based on a “great deal” sort of situation, but it is not an ideal set up for a working adult to be placed in dorms or shared apartments.

        I hope the company does the right thing, but I rather doubt they will.

      4. Autumnheart*

        You’d think that if this company were so invested in this training that they’d send an employee to complete it over 6 months, they’d just buy a condo local to the training place. Have an actual real apartment. How many employees are taking this training at once, anyway?

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Since this is on-site training I’m going to assume that there will be a lot of study time after hours and where is the accommodation for that? In a bare-bones room with a desk and chair or will there be access to libraries and training materials in an accessible location?

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        “oh, the campus has a library!”
        ok…is it open to guests?
        can you use their databases?
        can you print?

    3. No Name Today*

      Don’t forget the cafeteria thing. Are they expecting you to be able to eat at the cafeteria for three meals a day? Yeah, you will probably have lunch at work/training, but if you don’t have a fridge or kitchen in your room, are you supposed to buy when you need to? And when does the dinner session end? If you miss dinner, what then? And the limited weekend hours?
      Is there some type of per diem/incidental/allotment/allowance for daily eating?

  3. Jen*

    I’d chase this down because I also can’t imagine the college being okay with an older adult not associated with the university just living in a dorm for 6 months. At most universities on campus housing is a limited quantity, I knownthe University of Michigan had to put some freshmen up in hotels.

    So hammer out those details for sure.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I spend one summer as a teen living in campus dorms, because I was working for the Youth Conservation Corps and that’s the accommodations we had that summer. I was a teen and shared the dorm with another girl. The group leaders and camp director also lived in the dorms. I know the camp director didn’t have to share, but I think the group leaders (mostly young adults, but a couple who were older) did have to share.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I wonder about that, too. Back in my day there were various summer programs aimed at post-college demographics, with some involving stays in the dorms. But that was making use of otherwise under-utilized assets. Come the fall and those rooms were at a premium. Something is going on here, though it may be that religious colleges in the middle of nowhere aren’t the big attraction they once were, and there are dorm rooms to spare.

    3. thisgirlhere*

      The LW mentioned too that the men presumably stayed somewhere else. My knee jerk reaction is that most men wouldn’t be asked to stay in a dorm even if it was only with others of the same sex. Obviously, the LW should start by fact-finding, but she can always remind that it’s illegal to treat women differently as gently as possible.

      1. alienor*

        Yeah, I can imagine someone going “Oh, girls don’t mind sharing! They’re naturally social! It’ll be fine!”

    4. Lacey*

      Yeah, I’ve heard of some colleges having groups rent the dorms during the summer when classes are out – but not during the school year. When I went to college they wouldn’t have let a 36 year old stay in the dorms even if they were a student there, much less some random person going to an unrelated training.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      I remember in my first year I was surprised that a family were living in an annexe flat in my halls of residence. The next year, that accommodation had become student rooms. (That was the year Prince William started. There were some people who ended up in bunk beds and others in converted study rooms that slept three or four.)

    6. Well...*

      I’ve stayed in campus housing a lot as a full grown, married adult when visiting for conferences, etc.

      1. Anoni-Mouse*

        Me too, but never when classes were in session and actual students were living in those dorms. And certainly no one would have had me as an outside adult sharing a dorm room with the students.

  4. The Cosmic Avenger*

    At all the colleges and universities I’ve seen, there have always been at least a handful of apartments (often more) available for faculty, staff (usually administration), and sometimes graduate students. So yes, it’s definitely worth asking, not all on-campus living is equal. (And if the OP has that kind of apartment to themselves, the rules they cited might be different.)

    1. generic_username*

      Yeah, I went to a college that had a dry campus, which meant that no alcohol was allowed on campus by anyone. Our on-campus apartments were at the edge of the campus and had completely different rules. It was graduate family housing and operated more like an apartment complex than the typically thought of undergraduate housing.

    2. Ailurophile*

      Fully agree. When I was in grad school, I lived in a graduate housing complex. The university had purchased a 1950’s-era motel about half a mile from the main campus. The rooms were efficiency apartments, so they had a closet, a full bathroom, and a kitchen with a range, fridge, and sink. Each space came furnished with two twin beds, a sturdy wooden desk, a couple of end tables, and a dresser. We could ask facilities to remove any of the furniture pieces, but I didn’t bother; I bought some huge pillows and used the second bed as a couch. Because it used to be a motel, there was ample parking, and the campus transit also made stops at the entrance.

      Being removed from campus meant that I wasn’t fully integrated into campus life, which was perfect for me, an adult woman. It felt like living in a regular apartment complex, honestly. We had a lot more freedom and flexibility than one would associate with dorm-life, like having an RA or roommates or “dorm activities.” We had a maintenance number to call and university-provided, high-speed internet access.

      It was great because we had campus security, quiet hours during weeknights, and quick maintenance responses. My husband (then boyfriend) visited me several times, and it was never a problem. I had to get him a guest parking pass, but I know some apartment complexes or communities that also require this. If your situation is similar to this setup, I’d say go for it!

    3. Well...*

      Aren’t they generally pretty expensive though? Unless you negotiate for reduced rent as a university employee.

  5. blackcat lady*

    OK, I finally got my jaw picked up from the floor. You are already doing homework by asking around your work to see how other people were housed while doing training. I would look up extended stay hotels in the college town and go into HR armed with that information. If you are prepared with a couple of choices it may make it easier to get a yes answer. We all lived through dorm life once, who wants to go back?

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      OK, I finally got my jaw picked up from the floor.

      I’m right there with you with a similar reaction. This does a number on my hopes that 2022 would feel normal compared to 2021 and 2020, but it appears Insanity is still raising the bet, not yet calling.

    2. Anon for This*

      It really depends on what the answer to “What do you mean by on campus housing?” is, because that can run the spectrum from bare bones dorms with shared bathrooms, through apartments, bare bones or otherwise, shared with multiple people, to one person apartments, bare bones or otherwise. There are so many factors here that could tilt the scale in one direction or another that without more information it’s impossible to tell whether this is unbearable or not.

      1. Rolly*


        Whether it’s shocking or not depends on the details. It could be fine or even great, it could be terrible – we don’t know.

    3. wow*

      I do second that OP should look up other options — but if it really is a very rural area, there may not BE an extended stay hotels closer than an hour’s drive.

  6. Junior Assistant Peon*

    Depending on the college, it’s very likely that the “no alcohol” rule is just CYA and not really enforced.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Right. Or the campus is in a dry county, and you need to drive 3 towns over to buy a bottle of wine or a 6-pack.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        6 pack is easy to come by, if you drink the brand the local retailer sells. They probably have a drive up window. They might even operate a taxi for deliveries.

        Yes, I had kinfolks in the unlicensed alcohol retail industry in dry counties. They were pretty innovative.

    2. Esmeralda*

      Don’t count on it.

      Even here in medium-sized southern city at very large state university with a tailgate tradition, no alcohol in university housing is the rule and you’d better believe they enforce it. PRimarily for students, but faculty and staff can’t have alcohol in any student-related spaces. That includes University housing.

      1. Esmeralda*

        sorry, hit submit too soon. Visitors (people who are not students or employees) are subject to the same rule.

        1. Essess*

          Exactly. Otherwise, the students just get the ‘exempted’ visitors to buy the alcohol. To avoid this, most colleges require the same alcohol rules for all living quarters on campus.

      2. PostalMixup*

        I went to a very large public university in the southwest and it was the same. No alcohol in campus housing, regardless of your age, or you faced eviction.

      3. CTT*

        I was in law school at school with a dry campus policy, and at a net owning event with alumni, we had to wear name tags that prominently said “STUDENT” so we couldn’t get a drink at the bar. It made me feel like such a baby (although I’m sure I wasn’t as annoyed as the guy in the class above me who was in his 60s!)

        ALL that said, faculty were allowed to drink at events, so a non-student carve out is possible.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          And of course, I’m remembering my sophomore dorms which were a single building in that was otherwise all graduate student housing. (It was 2 bedrooms with a kitchen in the middle. Yes, it was strange.)

          The RAs made it very clear when bringing alcohol into the dorm- just don’t make it obvious.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I was an undergrad in a semi-drt county, & the rules were… Odd. Under-21s definitely couldn’t have alcohol on campus (not that it stopped them). If you were over 21, you could have it in your room, but it had to be hidden when the door to your room was open. And no drinking in public or at on-campus events. Also, you couldn’t be in a bar, liquor store, or liquor department (they were actually separate in the grocery store) if you were under 21.

      1. Antilles*

        The part about the room strikes me almost like an unofficial ‘understanding’ to look the other way – the written rule of the dorm still says no alcohol, but we’ll pretend not to notice if you let us keep plausible deniability.

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          That was basically how it worked at my college. The only alcohol rule enforced was the one against open containers in public.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          Actually, the written rule was different depending on your age, but I think it was a way of keeping the RAs from having to check IDs all the time.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      But the combination with the no canoodling rule suggests it is a private religious school, which could well be extremely serious about enforcing the rule.

    5. Jinni*

      Am I the only one who has never heard of a ‘dry’ campus? I studied at three different schools in three different states (albeit in the 1990s), but still…

      1. allathian*

        I’m pretty certain they only exist in the US, as long as we’re talking about the Western world.

        It’s very different in much of Europe, and especially the Nordic countries where tuition is free up to and including a master’s degree, and where students are typically legal adults when they start college/university, and they’re expected to take responsibility for their university studies themselves. My parents would never have dreamed of contacting my college about the progress of my studies, for example. Even if they had, it would’ve been illegal for my alma mater to tell them anything without my consent. I was financially independent at 19.

        1. allathian*

          Alcohol was freely available at events organized by the student union. To get around some licensing rules, they couldn’t sell alcohol for cash, but they could sell tickets for cash outside the venue, and the tickets could be exchanged for a bottle of beer or hard soda/alcoholic cider.

  7. Amber Rose*

    It’s possible that due to the agreement they have, there is a section of dorm apartments that is only used for this purpose, which would make them unavailable to students and with a separate set of rules. Still not ideal but maybe more tolerable.

    In my first year of dorm life I was in a separated floor that was dedicated solely to us underage babies in order to try and keep us away from the legally drinking crowd. We had different rules and stuff too. So it’s not like it’s unprecedented for them to separate out chunks of housing.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I was in over-21 housing my last year as an undergrad. It was really more to give a quiet space to grad students & seniors who didn’t want to deal with the noise of the younger crowd.

  8. Nonny*

    Having worked in higher Ed, I would be SHOCKED if they put you in a dorm with college students or put you in an apartment with students as roommates. That’s a huge liability to the college. I would bet that you get your own apartment. That is how we handled guests, several units were reserved and furnished for guest lecturers or important visitors who would be staying on campus.

    You may have a twin bed though. :/

    1. Jen*

      I was thinking the same thing, why would a college ever allow a non student to live in the dorms? Especially one so much older?

    2. Heidi*

      Agreed. As weird as it would be for an older adult to be rooming with college students, I would find it more objectionable if I were a college student and were assigned a random grown-up roommate for 6 months. It can be a big adjustment living with a stranger your own age. Living with someone completely unconnected to the college and in a different stage of life would be just bizarre.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          If the 40 year old roommate was another student – well, they have to live somewhere. I think the sticking point is non-student with students, not age. Older people go to college too.

            1. Beast ala Mode*

              We had “non-traditional” dorms or floors for older students – I think it was 21+. The “non-traditional” floor in my college dorm was basically the walk out basement level. These students came and went through their own lobby, had a kitchen that no one else in the dorm could access and their own lounge. I had a class with someone who lived there, and gave her the notes one day so I could see her set up. If you were living there by choice, it was a good option. If you were being sent there for company training for six months? No thanks.

          1. kiki*

            Ehhh, I don’t know many 40 year olds or 18 year olds who want to live with each other. Looking back, I did so many cringey things in my first dorm– I was just figuring out to exist completely independently and room peacefully with a non-family member while throwing in my first experiences with drinking and parties. Even now in my late 20s, I would not be interested in living with 18-year-old me and I was honestly a pretty tame student.

    3. turquoisecow*

      Yeah, I would be really surprised if OP was asked to room with undergrads. I think it’s more likely they’d be in faculty housing or maybe a section of campus that’s mostly empty. And unless it’s a super, super conservative school, I’d be surprised if she, as a non-student, was actually subjected to the same restrictions as the actual students.

      But yeah, definitely ask all these questions before agreeing to anything! (Or declining!)

    4. Anonya*

      Agree. I can’t believe that would be allowed to happen. No institution wants to take on that risk. An apartment-style living situation is much more likely.

    5. Evelyn Carnahan*

      Same here. I work in higher ed and I can’t imagine a college or university letting a non-student adult stay on campus with students. The parents would riot! My guess is that this is either grad student housing or off-campus housing that the university owns. I’m guessing that it’s a miscommunication by the new boss. It may be a relatively new set up and they’re still figuring out all the quirks, too.

    6. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, I was thinking this. I mean, I’ve worked in Higher Ed for most of my jobs and I have stayed on many a campus in many a campus housing, but I have never seen non-students housed with students. I’ve always gotten my own room with private bathroom (or bathroom shared with a few other non-students) and a kitchenette.

  9. ThinkQuicker*

    My dad did something that sounds similar back in the 1990s. We’re UK based but his company sent him to Harvard for a prolongued training course. And yep, they lived in dorms. 20 or so professionals in their 30s and 40s – all in twin beds (single occupancy rooms). It was a culture shock for the lot of them! The one saving grace I think was that the entire dorm block was populated by the people on the training course so they were at least living with other adults not college students.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I could be gracious about this for one week, max! Six months is way too long to go back to college style living for me.

      1. UKDancer*

        Me too. I went on a training course hosted at a UK university over the long vac for 3 nights and I was climbing the walls by the end of it because there were just too many people and too much noise. I would not have done 6 months of communal living. I need my own space and privacy.

    2. Esmeralda*

      My first college turned into a conference center every summer (I worked there after my first year). Dining halls, dorm rooms, classrooms, auditorium etc all used for conferences and training sessions. I had an apartment in one of the dorms. It did have a kitchenette. Which I used a LOT, because I did not want to see harpists on a weeklong bender at meal time. (That is one of the wildest bunch of adults I have ever encountered…)

    3. M2*

      I worked in Afghanistan and directed humanitarian projects paid for by various governments. When I got there I lived in a mud hut on a compound with others shared bathroom(that I had to walk to so I got a bucket for the night), shared kitchen, etc. There were “better” accommodations but you need to be cognizant if how tax-payer money is being used! My organization had this compound for years and it fit the security protocols so that’s where my team lived when based in that part of the country.

      I lived like that for almost a year until I moved to a different part of the country. When in the “field” accommodations (if you could call them that) were a tent and if you were lucky a building. I was also married. My spouse was working elsewhere and his compound was nicer but his HQ would not allow visitors or me to live there for security reasons. My organization allowed him to either visit or live with me if he followed proper security protocols. I survived and lived better than many people in the country.

      I do think clarity from HR and your boss is important. The alcohol thing may be a liability/ insurance issue for under 21s or maybe your training is such they don’t want people being impaired.

      Also, take a think is this 6-month training going to propel your career or do something better for society?

      1. fieldpoppy*

        This is kind of a weirdly lateral comment — working for an NGO in a country in conflict is a choice and you know the deal when you sign up. This is not something the OP anticipated in their job.

        1. Max Floof*

          I don’t know… reading this letter my first thought was FEMA.. which may not be the case.. but if it is.. they do have a learning campus in a conservative state and living arrangements during disaster response (which is a requirement of working for the agency) aren’t the best.

      2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        When I was deployed with the Army I lived in similar conditions, but I was *deployed*, not on TDY. When I was on TDY I was either in a hotel, or in temporary stay facilities on base. Government employees are not generally expected to live like college students unless they are in hazardous duty situations. This is not that

    4. Galahad*

      I have been in this situation, for a 6 week training.
      It’s not horrible, because you are with your working age peers, in the same program. The worst part was the crappy common area furniture, actually.

      AND typically you can ask to be housed in a hotel for weekends with your partner, and a weekend per diem for outside food / restaurants…especially given the lack of kitchen facilities.

  10. Loulou*

    This may be unnecessary for me to flag, since age was foregrounded only in the headline and not at all in the question, but… I’d definitely advise leaving the age difference between you and the students out of this. Living in an actual dorm would have been a nonstarter when I was 22 (I’m guessing many would feel the same!) and it would not be any more reasonable if your hypothetical suitemates turn out to be 35 years old too. I’d just focus on your specific situation.

    That said, I agree with others that the campus housing may be much more like a normal apartment than what you’re picturing. I know graduate students and faculty who live in university-subsidized apartments in major US cities. They’re just like normal rentals, except the rent is below market and there are obviously restrictions on who the primary occupant can be.

  11. Smithy*

    Depending on which government agency, it may also be worth touching base with your union to see if there’s any guidance around where you can and can’t push back. If this is the US federal government, what I know about their union and travel accommodations is through friends and family and not my own experience – but compared to my own nonprofit travel experience, there’s often a lot more concrete must haves and haven’ts.

    Issues around your partner visiting you and alcohol might be areas that may appeal to your manager on a human level, but be perfectly acceptable by the guidelines. However if you’re required to bring your own bedding, that might actually trigger something – at least compensation wise. No actual clue, but a union rep may just be better positioned to walk through where you have leverage and where you don’t.

    1. Fed Employee*

      I did long term travel as a Federal Employee. There is a nearly 0% chance this is the federal government. You still get your whole per diem. I elected to get an apartment for the six months I was on rotation. Others get hotels. The rules are all set out in Title 41 of the US law.

      1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        I’m actually a bit confused now. When I read the letter I specifically saw that she says her employer is a “government agency”, and since there is interstate travel involved I assumed “Federal Government”, but she doesn’t actually say that, and in several other places she references her “company”. I’ve posted a couple of comments assuming she was a GS 9+ professional government employee, but now I’m not sure.

        1. Fed Employee*

          I saw the same thing. I’m wondering if she is a contractor for a federal agency at this point. Who knows?

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          I’ve found it pretty common for people who work at a joint powers authority to refer to their employer as both a government agency (because it is public sector) and a company (because it’s not easy to pin down which government exactly it is… you can’t just say “the city” or “the state,” etc).

      2. Gunther*

        Depends on what this specific training is. My friend is a fed and had to spend 6 months living in a dorm with a roommate (also in the training) and eating at a cafeteria for all meals. Since room and board were provided, they only got $5/ day per diem for incidentals. They were given no other option; it was accept the conditions of the training or don’t attend the training.

  12. Lynca*

    I live in a rural, conservative college town and I want to second that apartment style housing comes in a lot of different forms that isn’t promenantly listed on the campus website. We have housing for married couples, non-traditional students, etc. They do have different rules so it does depend on which housing you get. So I’d investigate further on what they actually plan to give you.

    I still remember when the new apartment style buildings were built (they opened my junior year) and the uproar that they could have limited alcohol where traditional dorms could not have any was HUGE.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Yeah, married student housing has been a thing since at least the 50s. I kind of assume that’s what the OP might get. But I would confirm it. (Speaking as someone who had to spend several weeks in a crappy hotel room for work. The saving grace was that I got to go home for weekends. But it was awful, & it ruined the idea of work travel for me.)

    2. OftenOblivious*

      Yes — on our compass (smaller school), there were traditional dorms, there were grouped dorm rooms around a common living space, there were apartment-y style dorms, there were a few houses for specialized groups (you could live in the German house if you were majoring in German), married student housing, and probably some I can’t remember.

      I would also ask if there’s money for meals not covered by the cafeteria. OP will probably be there for either a fall or spring break when the cafeteria either reduces or stops meals.

  13. CatCat*

    Yeah, definitely get more details! My college had apartment-style housing (private units with their own kitchens and bathrooms) for graduate students. It was not like a dorm. But I see why you are concerned if you haven’t been provided details!

    A dorm with no kitchen, roommates, and shared bathrooms is a hard pass and not reasonable. I’d find out what the travel policies are if that is what someone is pushing. Just because something is the cheapest, which maybe this arrangement would be, doesn’t mean something pricier doesn’t fit within the travel policy. Also, a lot of hotels have government rates. (I had someone suggest I stay in a hostel for work once when we were having a hard time finding hotels that accept government rates [what I needed was an extra paperwork approval to go like $30 over the travel policy rate] and I said absolutely not.)

  14. Ben the PM*

    I absolutely agree on the “it might not be that bad” notes advising you not to imagine a worst-case scenario too quickly. The on-campus apartments I’ve seen are in fact nice, though barebones, apartments (and, yes, you’d probably have to provide some bedding etc.)

    One of my own big caveats would be that I’ve never seen one of those apartments myself that had a larger-than-twin bed, and while I do like my partner, I would really prefer not to spend my rare weekends with her in a twin.

    I’d definitely recommend making a full list of all your concerns but starting with “hey, what is ACTUALLY the deal with this housing?” and then simply cutting out questions as you go if they’re already answered. This is six months of your life, and it’s absolutely reasonable for you as a working adult to want to understand the conditions you’re expected to live in for that length of time.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Queen sized air mattress might be one alternative. The newer ones are much improved, they have types that stay plugged in and automatically add air as needed, as well as firmness settings.

  15. EPLawyer*

    Definitely find out what they did for the men. I am wondering if they went “hmmmm female on her own in a strange city, let’s put her somewhere safe.” Then didn’t really think beyond that.

    Or they went “hey cheap housing, cool.” And didn’t think beyond that. Considering housing costs on universities, and they jack them for non-students, I HIGHLY doubt this is much cheaper than an extended stay hotel.

      1. Olivia*

        Even if it’s a co-ed school, that doesn’t necessarily mean that men who went on previous trainings were given the same set of options. I went to a state school and most of the dorms were co-ed, but there was one all-girls dorm. There was not an all-boys dorm. This was in the mid-to late ’00s.

  16. ArtsyGirl*

    I actually went back to get my PhD in my mid-30s. My university was out of state (a two hour drive) from where my husband and I own a house. I got a dorm room in one of the graduate dorm for three semesters since it didn’t make sense for me to drive back and forth four or five days a week while taking courses. It actually was a fine set up. I had a kitchenette, a bathroom I shared with one other graduate student and there were no restrictions on drinking, guests, etc. Each floor of the dorm was mixed sex though I shared the bathroom with another woman getting her MA. The dorm was very different than my undergraduate one – it was quiet, had well maintained facilities including a nice computer lab with printers, and was located right in the center of campus so I could easily walk to classes, the library, etc. and had onsite parking. I will say it was monastic – I had a twin bed and the room was small, but completely doable.

  17. Student*

    Reformed academic here. Ask for the exact lodging details. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t know or you get the sense they are giving you BS to get you to go away, talk directly with whoever is arranging the lodging on the training end.

    Some colleges/universities that do this regularly have special housing that is meant for visiting non-college-student, normal adults. They use it for visiting researchers or other temporary visiting non-college-adults like yourself. It’s often very similar to a budget hotel, and exempt from rules applied to college students (but subject to any special laws that apply on campus). It’s way nicer than a dorm, but they sometimes fall into using similar language. So, the rules banning visitors probably won’t apply; however, check in on the alcohol thing. If the “rule” on alcohol is actually a local law, you could get arrested/fined – I have seen both types of “rules” on different campuses. Sometimes, campuses are their own local legal jurisdiction where all sorts of crazy laws apply or don’t apply.

    Other colleges/universities are straight going to put you in a dorm, sometimes in a single and sometimes with rando room mates. Just like you suspect here. They should at least be furnished! I’ve never heard of giving a visiting person like yourself the unfurnished version. The rando room mate, if this is the case, is probably not a traditional 18-22 aged undergrad college student, but somebody else at your training or in a non-standard situation (post docs, visiting researchers).

    The worst experience I had with something similar in academia had me arriving at my room only to find by surprise that I was sharing it with 6 other women, and actually had to share a physical bed with someone I didn’t know well. The second-worst experience, they tried to get me to be room mates with someone I’d never met in a dorm, and I opted to just pay for a hotel myself because I was so uncomfortable with it (it was a short trip, luckily). The third worst experience involved getting my own single dorm room, but a bathroom shared with one other resident… who had filled the shower stall with various kitchen utensils, miscellany, and a literal, full-sized skeleton model. We had a very interesting introductory conversation wherein I had to find a way to politely but firmly insist that the skeleton needed to be relocated.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Ha! I wouldn’t mind sharing with a full size skeleton but I wouldn’t want it in the bath while I was trying to bathe.

      we once shared our hours with a skeleton over the school holidays. we lived in a rural area and so several of the small village primary schools shared resources. My mother worked as a non-teaching assistant and did hours in two schools, so agreed to transport the skeleton when it was due to move from School A to School B (fun fact, the easiest way to move a skeleton is to sit it in the passenger seat and secure it with a seatbelt, but it does get a few odd looks from other road users) , and as that happened at the end of term it spent the holidays at home with us. It stood in the hallway, and was given a Santa hat and decorated with tinsel when we put the Christmas decorations up.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      They should at least be furnished! I’ve never heard of giving a visiting person like yourself the unfurnished version.

      But even in a furnished unit, you’ll probably have to provide your own bedding. And yes, it might just be a twin bed (maybe even one of those extra-long twins, so you’ll never be able to use that bedding again).

      1. Christmas Carol*

        And if you held your hand over your beer while you were walking down the hall in the dorm, your container was not considered to be open.

    3. Smithy*

      I attended universities in three different countries as well as a few different ones in the US – and completely agree with this. What is easy to assume (twin bed) is far less common from location to location than what is not safe to assume.

      For the OP, these top concerns may at first be about the campus or accommodations being dry and overnight guests – but campus apartments may come with kitchen equipment/utensils and may not. And similar to having to bring all bedding and linens – it’s another expense that right now her boss may not be accounting for while doing this budget. Especially if the dining facilities don’t cover weekends.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        Yes, I’d ask how these things should be expensed. If you do have to buy bedding, it should be considered a business expense that they have to reimburse you for, since it’s an expense you are incurring because of this training, just like meals.

  18. LifeBeforeCorona*

    For several summers I worked at a location that had staff quarters and student dorms. As a staff member, the cottages were basically fully furnished homes. The dorms were all 2 or 4 bunked rooms with shared facilities. I’m way too old to sleep in a single bed for six months with limited facilities and privacy. It’s really worthwhile to push back on this kind of accommodation.

  19. Video Wizard*

    I think there’s room for negotiation if the level is high enough/if this company is flush enough. I have known people in a similar situation where they negotiated for the company to fly their spouse out for X number of weekends or to alternatively fly them home on weekends. Many employees at big-firm consultancies basically live like this (away from home all week, back on weekends) for big chunks of the year, just not in the same city the whole time.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      The employer is a government agency, so they’re probably not flush, and they’re almost certainly not going to fly anyone around for weekend visits.

  20. Moira Rose*

    I’ve seen many colleagues at a federal government agency get sent on very long temporary details or training, and *no one* would be expected to live like this (in a shared bedroom with no private bathroom) unless they were low-level enlisted military.

    1. Jen*

      My spouse just completed a 2 month federal assignment and they gave him a housing stipend. The place where he went is heavy military/fed so there were places that catered specifically to these types of stays.

      1. Coconutty*

        This is clearly meant to be a leading question and frankly I’m stumped by what it is you’re trying to get Moira Rose to say, so would you mind expanding?

      2. Anonymous Luddite*

        I’ll try again: the emphatic “no one would be expected to live like this” (except for low level enlisted military) suggests that something that is horrible for civilians is somehow ok for entry level soldiers and sailors. I’m wondering why the carve out. “Oh I’d never do that to poor X, but hey if you’re a low level military person, suck it up buttercup.”

        1. Calliope*

          Umm no. It’s just about what’s normal/expected , not what’s “right” on some larger level. Also, we also expect college students to live in those settings too – hence them existing in college campuses. Not mid-career people in the army OR outside it generally.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes. I mean if you join the military or the police you don’t expect luxury during the induction. The Met Police always used to do a 13 week residential training course at Hendon Police centre and I know some ex-coppers who’ve done it and they said it was fairly basic accommodation but they knew that was the deal going in.

        2. Valancy Snaith*

          Yeah but…low-level NCMs are, in fact, expected to live in settings different from civilians, including sleeping two or four or eight to a room, using communal washrooms, and eating in a dining facility. And are expected to suck it up accordingly. Is there something wrong with pointing out the different expectations between military and civilians?

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Ah, the days of 50 men in a quonset hut. With a “fire watch” roster, so each took a turn watching for two hours to sound the alarm if the tin hut caught fire.

        3. Coconutty*

          Wow, that’s a pretty uncharitable reading of a fairly straightforward comment. Yes, lower-level enlisted military personnel usually live in barracks or some kind of dorm-like situation. There’s nothing horrifying or outrageous there. And also, it’s an awfully big leap from “a shared bathroom is not standard accommodation for professionals traveling for work” to “horrible”.

          1. Anonymous Luddite*

            If this is what Moira had intended, then I clearly misunderstood the comment.
            As a vet myself, I am a little touchy on what people think is somehow ok for the low-level military people but is out of the question for anyone else. Yes, “back in my day” we would share rooms until a certain point, but the days of open bay barracks outside of basic training is largely relegated to the past and/or Hollywood.

            1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              Depends on the situation. Even as an officer I slept in open barracks a few times at training facilities. On the face of it, though, Moira’s comments are completely accurate. In general, officers, NCOs above E7, and similar level GS staff are given private rooms during travel, junior NCO and lower enlisted may be expected to share.

              Even on post housing is usually setup that way. E-4 and below share a rooms with 2-5 people, E5s and E6s (if they haven’t moved off post or to family housing) get one roommate or no roommates, E7s get a private room, and well I’ve never heard of anyone over E7 living in barracks housing.

        4. Fed Employee*

          Well, Soldiers, Sailers, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians all signed up for austerity. It is acceptable for them, socially and morally. Civilians are bound by professional norms and by title 41 of US law. Members of the Armed Forces also get half pay after 20 years, most federal civil servants don’t. No one would or should reasonably expect an E-1 to be treated the same as an SES.

    2. Fed Employee*

      As a federal employee who did a six month training, I can vouch. I rented an apartment in Arlington when I did a rotation at the Pentagon. You still get your full per diem. It used to be reduced based on the length of the travel, but that got rescinded.

      1. Lizzianna*

        It depends on the agency. My agency reducing housing and per diem if the travel is over 30 days. The Regional Director can waive that reduction if you can show your actual costs are higher than the reduced rate.

    3. Coenobita*

      Yep, my federal employee spouse spent three months in another city doing a research project, and their agency put them up in the local Residence Inn. There were other housing options available, none of which were traditional dorm rooms, despite the fact that the project they were working on was based at a major university. So I definitely wouldn’t panic until you find out more details!

  21. Bee Eye Ill*

    Law Enforcement – I have a family remember who recently completed a similar training experience and this may be the same program you’re going through. He had to live in a dorm with a roommate for several months in a state 12 hours away and was only able to see his wife and kids a few times during that period. It is weird, for sure, but this was for a high level training program where successful candidates go on to lofty positions. I think all that’s described here is really just part of the program, and it’s certainly for everyone.

    1. pugsnbourbon*

      I was wracking my brain trying to think what on earth would require 6 months of on-site training. I came to the conclusion that OP is either in a cult, or the CIA.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I think my brother’s training for the Border Patrol was about 6 months somewhere away from where we are from. It’s probably not as unusual as you think.

      2. Bee Eye Ill*

        In Louisville, KY there is a program called Southern Police Institute that has various courses that run several months. I am guessing this may be part of it.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          SPI is a program of the University of Louisville. Some courses do run several months. Local, State and Federal LEOs are eligible to apply. There are similar programs at Northwestern (near Chicago) and an other in New England, but I’ve forgotten which university hosts that program. I suspect there are others I never heard of.

          The FBI also hosts a National Academy at Quantico. I think the students are lodged in the regular academy’s student quarters, which I understand are comparable to Student BOQs at military post-graduate schools. I’m way out of date on those facilities, too.

    2. AspiringGardener*

      If that’s the situation the OP is in, then surely they would know what to expect? I guess I’m confused as to how the housing set up is a surprise if it’s common to do this training in their industry/organization. Is there no one you can ask?

    3. Anonasourus Rex*

      I can think of a few training centers / locations where the OP could be going. All in some way related to fire/law/medical/emergency management/hazardous materials etc. The centers are often located in a rural area and so, esp when students are there for a week or two, they often stay on the campus. The accommodations vary a lot.

      There’s one training center I can think of that used to be a catholic women’s college. I loved it, but I was never there for more than 2 weeks. Pretty much everyone who eas there long term went somewhere else on the weekends since the dining hall was usually closed. And we could use per dime for a hotel.

      Find out more about the place you’re going before you panic. If you’re willing to toss a city out in the comments, I’ll bet you can find someone here who has been.

    4. Anonymosity*

      I used to date someone who trained at FLETC in Georgia. He gave me an *unofficial* tour of campus when I visited. Each student had their own private room with their own bathrooms and the dorm had housekeeping services. They were given small soaps similar to what you’d find in hotels; we joked that a small, mysterious storage building on the grounds was where they kept all the “government soap.” They ate in a dining hall unless they were socializing off-campus.

      No overnight guests were permitted in the dorms. We had to book a hotel room nearby for our time together. It wasn’t a big deal since I only visited once. However, I don’t think I’d want to do that if I were OP and my partner were visiting more frequently.

  22. Bagpuss*

    I agree with Alison and the other commenters that step one is to find out what would be involved, and then step two is to push back if it is inappropriate.

    I knw that when I was at University (not in the US and a long time ago) the year I was in a hall of residence, we had to be out by 10 a.m. on the Saturday after each semester ended as the Halls were used for courses during holidays.
    At the time I was there, our rooms were large, single occupancy and pretty basic – single bed, built in desk and storage, and a wash basin in the corner. We had shared bathroom facilities and kitchen. The year after I moved out they updated them and put en-suite pods in the corner or all the rooms so you got your own shower and WC.

    My siblings both lived in halls where the accommodation was in flats which were more like normal flats / apartments – 5 or 6 bedrooms, plus a couple of (shared) bathrooms and a kitchen and living area.

    I don’t think any of them would be somewhere I’d be happy to live in for 6 months with a bunch of strangers!, although I have stayed in similar accommodation for short periods (some of the London Universities rent out their student housing during the vacations and it can be a lot cheaper than a hotel, if you don’t mind it being pretty basic!)

    But depending on the location, you may well be able to get a 6 month rental on an apartment, or a long stay deal with an apartment style hotel as an alternative

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes I had a similar arrangement at my university. We had ensuite rooms with a shared kitchen (being in what was then a new hall of residence). They were used for courses. In my last year I was in campus flats where we had a bedroom each and a shared kitchen and bathroom.

      I would not be happy to be in any of this for 6 months now. I was barely happy at 19 and discovered that I really don’t live well when surrounded by other people. I’d hate to do it as a middle aged professional who is accustomed to space and privacy and minimal rules. Definitely push back and get them to give you an apartment.

  23. ElleKay*

    I’d also caution you to ask about your expectation’s that your partner visit. *IF* you have to stay in the dorms and *IF* visitors aren’t allowed then a hotel for a weekend here and there might be feasible but you should also be checking to see if this training will regularly involve weekend programming or if the assumption is that your partner *won’t* be visiting at all.

  24. Unfettered scientist*

    What kind of training is this? It seems so long but I’ve heard of shorter 6-8 week trainings that had similar dorm accommodations. Is this an intensive training where you’re expected to basically live the material for the duration of the training? Maybe that’s why they house you nearby with others in the program. Definitely get more info, but if they have everyone in dorms I’m skeptical they’d make an exception for you.

  25. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    Better half had to do some academies for his job, including a 12 month stint with a roommate at age 32. Ages 37, 44, and 51 he had no roommate, but was in a dorm style setting with no kitchen (room had a microwave and fridge). Depending on your field (foreign service, various law enforcement, some consultancies) it isn’t weird at all. Do you know anyone else who works or worked there that you could ask about this?

  26. Sharpiee*

    I loved college but the thought of returning to that kind of living environment for any amount of time is anxiety-inducing!

  27. Magenta Sky*

    There’s a lot of mention of extended stay hotels as an alternative, and that’s certainly realistic. But six months is long enough for a lease at a normal apartment complex, too, and furnished apartments, especially one bedrooms, are certainly not uncommon. All the amenities of home.

    And if they’re sending people off to this training on a regular basis, longer term leases are cheaper. It might be more expensive that the on-campus housing, but these days, it might not.

  28. I should really pick a name*

    Echoing Alison, ask questions to find out what the actual setup is, don’t assume.

    If housing is being repurposed for non-students, rules such as no alcohol and no visitors may apply.
    There are many types of student housing, with and without communal facilities.
    It’s not uncommon for schools to rent out residences for other purposes like this, especially in the summer when they aren’t occupied. Depending on the specifics, this might be a very normal situation.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      [blockquote]However, they implied that I would be staying in a dormitory or in on-campus college-apartment housing with room and board paid for[/blockquote]

      Rereading this, I noticed the word “implied”. Just makes me further emphasize that you need to find out the actual situation and not speculate.

  29. Ed123*

    Okay, so I’ve worked in a few different (university)hospitals that provide dormitory style accomodations for employees and students. My bf has done this more than me. So I’m not finding this set up super weird. The apartments vary a lot. Some are individual apartments that have space for spouse and kids. Some are big rooms (lounge and bedroom) but kitchen and bathroom shared with one person. Some are 6 people sharing one kitchen and a bathroom. Some have been studio apartments. Depending on the place some have provided bedding and plates etc. but some have not. As a result my bf has a very weird collection of cuttlery.

    It’s not the same thing and in these places don’t have the same rules as college dorms (well, I actaully didn’t live in adrom when I went to college) but it doesn’t sound totally weird to me. I also think you should get the details on what is expected and if there are alternatives to sugggest.

  30. WhiskeyTango*

    This doesn’t seem typical for government travel although I’ve never traveled for more than two weeks for work. Typically, there is a per diem for meals and incidentals that is based on the area you are visiting. (Google GSA per diem and you’ll find it.) They also have a lodging amount based on the area for reimbursement. (You can find that on the same GSA page.) I can typically chose my hotel and most hotels offer a government rate that is in alignment with the GSA rate. I am also free to book a higher cost hotel or room, but I am only going to be reimbursed the GSA rate. (So if I want a suite that’s $250 a night, but the GSA rate is $195, I’m on the hook for the extra $55.)
    If I were you, I’d look at the GSA rates and see if you can find an extended stay arrangement that falls in line with that. It’s a reasonable position to take and falls in line with most government practices.

    1. Prefer my pets*

      Just one clarification to this…there are actually multiple GSA set rates including the “regular” most people use but also a camp rate, long-term rate, etc. They are very different!

    2. Another Fed*

      This is NOT the case when there’s a contract for housing built in to the training. You get what you get & $5/day for “incidentals.”

  31. Junior Assistant Peon*

    I was in this situation once for a week when I took a short course. It was over the summer, so there were no undergrads on campus, and they put us up in a very nice apartment-style dorm where four people each had a small private bedroom and a shared kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The place was very clean and quiet, and the shared living space was a good opportunity to meet and network with the other professionals taking the short course. I would have preferred a private bathroom, but was grateful to have a private bedroom and that the place was clean.

    A setup like this wouldn’t be too bad; don’t assume you’re going to be dodging puddles of beer and puke on the floor until you get more information on the specifics.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t even want to share one bathroom with three family members, let alone three strangers!

      My kid’s college dorm had one- or two-person rooms, each with its own bathroom (so you shared with a maximum of one person), and a shared kitchen on each floor. Other dorms on the same campus ranged from very traditional (shared bathrooms) to basically on-campus apartments that were identical to apartments you could rent off-campus. It is possible you’ll be looking at something very similar to extended-stay hotels. It is also very possible you’re not.

  32. Observer*

    As everyone else says ASK. Make it an open ended question – Alison’s script is really good, but you don’t even need to be that specific to start with.

    One thing to look at if it turns out that they are expecting you to follow all of the rules of the campus is whether these rules are religiously based. Because if they are, your employer REALLY can’t do this to you. It would be bad enough for any employer to essentially condition a major perk or part of your job on agreeing to religious strictures that are not your own. It’s doubly problematic for a government agency.

    I do doubt that your worst case scenario is likely to be what is being expected. They may not have thought through or care about what an imposition the “no guests” rule would be for you. But unless these people are truly nuts, no one expects you to not eat on the weekends, or even to skip some meals on the weekends. On the other hand, any campus that has students living there either has the cafeteria operating 7 days a week, or they have some facilities for students to prepare their own food. Again, the idea that people literally won’t have access to food on the weekend is absurd enough that it’s just not likely to be the case even on a college campus.

    That still leaves the other issues, but this is one that I don’t think you really need to worry about. If I’m wrong that’s actually what they are expecting, then you are dealing with a MAJORLY dysfunctional workplace.

    1. Esmeralda*

      You’d be surprised at how many schools with dining halls do not serve three meals on the weekends — two each on Saturday and Sunday are common (brunch and dinner).

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          And at mine, the refectory was closed on a Saturday, but you could eat in the Student Union or in town. For my first year, I lived in a hall of residence without kitchens.

      1. Observer*

        And these schools don’t have any facilities in the dorms for students to make their own food? They really expect students to eat only 2 meals 2 days a week?

        1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

          Yeah, my college cafeteria only had brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday. I also don’t think I made it to breakfast on a weekday, like, ever in 2 years of living on-campus. We had shared kitchens on each floor of the dorms where someone would burn popcorn or a frozen pizza at 3 am a couple times a week and set all the fire alarms off. Oh, college days.

        2. Pucci*

          I worked food service when I went to college a few centuries ago. Most people that age still have their sleep schedules shifted and will sleep in on weekends (even when not hungover). Combine that with the significant number who never eats breakfast, and it really doesn’t make sense to serve 3 meals/day on weekends.

          But it would be an additional reason for someone in their 30s to push back on this

          1. Observer*

            Combine that with the significant number who never eats breakfast, and it really doesn’t make sense to serve 3 meals/day on weekends.

            So you are saying that people who don’t sleep in late on the weekend should not get breakfast? Sorry, that does NOT “make sense”. It’s simply an excuse to short people. And if there is also no place to the students to do their own cooking, it’s not “sensible”, it’s inexcusable.

            1. Calliope*

              I’m really confused by your umbrage here. I went to college 20 years ago and the dining hall opened at something like 11 on weekends to serve brunch. That wouldn’t work for me as an older adult – and occasionally left me scrambling as a student if I happened to wake up early on a Saturday – but it’s not like I was incapable of having a granola bar. This is so, so common.

            2. Calliope*

              Also I think most meal plans aren’t 21 meals a week anyway because most people don’t want the big cafeteria-style meals a day 7 days a week.

            3. Coconutty*

              This is really, really typical for colleges — it would be a big waste of money and food to open as early or as often on the weekends as they are during the week, because that’s not how most college students sleep and live. Also, most basic dorms do have a shared kitchen? And many college students have mini fridges in their room, and so on and so forth. This students are not starving.

            4. Kelly L.*

              You seem to be under the impression that there are literally no other options for food, though, and that’s not the case. It’s not like it’s forbidden to go off campus or to eat convenience food in your room. It’s not prison.

            5. Okay*

              I’m not sure why you think adults aren’t capable of providing two breakfasts a week for themselves. Poptarts, granola bars, cereal, etc. Nobody needs a fully cooked breakfast with eggs and hash browns seven days a week.

              1. Observer*

                YOU don’t need a full breakfast 7 days a week. That doesn’t mean “Nobody”.

                Snack instead of breakfast may be your preference, but that doesn’t make it a reasonable alternative. At least most cereals are actually intended to actually be the major part of meal, but who wants to eat cereal dry? Sure, you CAN but that’s not really reasonable.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Leaving aside the fact that there’s no requirement for it to be cereal specifically–that was just an example–you know you’d be allowed to own milk too, right? We all had mini-fridges.

                2. Calliope*

                  I’ve never heard of colleges that don’t have a fridge set up or allow mini fridges that you can store things in. Sorry but if you absolutely need an omelet at 7am every single morning and also are incapable of going out to get it, maybe just opt out of colleges that have this set up? It’s not like they lie about it during the enrollment stage.

                3. Ace in the Hole*

                  Every college dorm I’ve ever seen has either provided a fridge or allowed students to bring their own mini-fridge.

                  I really don’t understand your vehemence. There are plenty of non-cooked options for actual full meals. Peanut butter sandwich and fruit, meal replacement bars/shakes, microwave meals, instant oatmeal or instant noodles (using an electric kettle to heat the water), salads, smoothies, homemade parfait, cereal with milk….

                  If you absolutely must have a stovetop-cooked breakfast every single day of the week that’s fine, but it’s an extremely unusual need and you can’t really expect a college to cater to it.

                4. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

                  Nobody is saying early risers don’t deserve food. I mean, when I was in college, I needed food around noon, 7, and 10 pm. That’s what fit my sleep schedule, and I wasn’t that unusual. I paid a la carte at the like, snackbar type place, or I got takeout, or we had a freshman dorm kitchen cooking experiment. Or you know, I ate chips.

                  It’s just a capitalist decision. It doesn’t make financial sense to staff and purchase meals that only a small percentage of the customer base will be interested in. My school only served brunch and dinner on weekends, and I can’t remember ever hearing anyone complain that they couldn’t have cafeteria food at 8 am on Saturday. For the students, they’re paying for food at that time either way – either as part of a 21-meal-per-week plan, or as part of your meal plan with points at campus restaurants, or to buy food for yourself. It’s suckier for the OP since they’re older and this training is supposed to include room and board, but with all the horrible conditions capitalism has created, I can’t bring myself to get too riled up about this one.

                5. Calliope*

                  I don’t even think this one is really a profit driven capitalist issue per se. Students are paying for dining hall services – nobody wants to pay a gazillion more for room and board to have a 24 hour cafeteria.

                6. EventPlannerGal*

                  Why are you so mad about this? Serious question, I see so many comments from you speaking really rudely and aggressively to people about things that are not actual issues at all. And this is one that it sounds like you have minimal experience in and are basically inventing to get mad about.

                  – Meals are the kind of thing that will be covered by accommodation services when students are signing up for housing, and if not being served a full English at 8am precisely on a Sunday is that big a deal then they can raise it then or seek alternative housing.
                  – Given the sleep habits of students then it is really normal to just serve brunch/dinner at the weekends rather than waste a lot of time and food preparing an early breakfast that a tiny number of people will turn up for. This is not unusual, at all.
                  – And I have never heard of college/uni accommodation that does not allow you to store your own food, whether that’s in a mini-fridge, a communal pantry or whatever.

                  You are picking a fight over literally nothing and it’s weird.

            6. Observer*

              That something is common doesn’t make it acceptable.

              If someone is supposed to be getting “board”, food is not being provided and there is no capacity prepare food in your space, that is a problem.

              Given the all the pushback though, I’ll have to accept that in some schools “room and board” doesn’t actually mean full board. Good to know.

              1. Coconutty*

                I mean, yes. That’s absolutely true and not some shocking reveal. And many schools have different options for meal plans so you can purchase different numbers of meal per week. But also, food IS being provided! It’s just not necessarily available for as many hours per day on days when the overwhelming majority of people using those meals aren’t going to be eating at 7:00 AM. It seems like you’re really looking to be outraged by something that isn’t at all outrageous.

              2. Calliope*

                Even if there’s no shared kitchen whatsoever, you can have a fridge and microwave in your room. And “board” means what they define it to mean in the meal plan documents that you can read before enrolling. It’s not like a legal term meaning you get a full breakfast at a specified time seven days a week. This is seriously the weirdest conversation I’ve ever seen on this site.

              3. Nancy*

                That’s why students have minifridges and other items in their room. My college had a kitchenette on every floor with a microwave and other small appliances, and some also had a fridge I think. Students who wanted to eat before 10am brunch on weekends had options, but it made no sense to offer breakfast and then brunch a few hours later.

              4. Artemesia*

                There is nothing unclear about meal plans — they in fact detail precisely what you are buying and as others have noted it is usually brunch on weekends because most college students do not get up for breakfast on weekends. Those who do can certainly figure out how to get fed and same for those who have meal plans that don’t include Sunday dinner — they go out for burgers or pizza with friends or get a meal to heat in their microwave.

              5. Midwest Teacher*

                At my school, paying for the dorm and paying for meals was two separate fees. And you chose what meal plan you wanted (# of meals per week). Literally everyone had a mini fridge in their room, and each floor shared one tiny kitchen that had a microwave and an oven. It’s perfectly reasonable to eat cereal, oatmeal, or another easy quick meal 1-2 mornings a week when you’re a college student. I don’t know anyone who actually ate a hot breakfast every single day of college because no one woke up that early every single day, because again, college kids. The fact that you’re so outraged by this completely normal part of college culture is absolutely comical.

            7. SnappinTerrapin*

              Forty-odd years ago, my alma mater had a 21 meal plan. Most weekend mornings, there were more employees working than the number of students eating breakfast, so they eventually cut back to 19 meals.

              They didn’t reduce the board fee, but it postponed the next increase.

              I was disappointed a couple of times, before I figured it out, but I found something to eat.

              My son’s alma mater didn’t serve meals on weekends, but he had a kitchen (and bathroom!) in his dorm room.

        3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          My university dining halls were open for breakfast, brunch, and dinner on weekends, but the weekend breakfast was just coffee, tea, juice, milk, toast, and cold cereal, and not many people bothered to show up that early.

        4. Kelly L.*

          No, you just go eat somewhere else. When I was in college, there were a few options that did stay open on Sundays (like a convenience store and a bare-bones burger place), and then there were lots of options that weren’t university-owned. Restaurants spring up like mushrooms around colleges. There was every kind of food you could imagine within walking distance–both cheap fast food and better stuff.

        5. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I went to a very large state university and of the myriad dining options on campus, only about 2 were open on weekends — the cafeteria with a cereal/coffee/toast set up for breakfast and greatly reduced options for lunch and dinner, and one of the fast food places in the center of campus on rotation (first weekend would be the burger place, next weekend the sandwich place, etc). They closed pretty early on Saturdays and Sundays, too, so if you wanted to use your meal plan to eat on the weekend you had to get dinner by like 6pm. Dorms had a microwave (if you brought one), but no cooking facilities anywhere on campus for students.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Our “missing meal” was Sunday dinner, and I wonder if it had once been usual for students to go home that day, back when most of the university’s students were local-ish kids.

        6. Jacqueline*

          Full service meal plan at my school was 19 meals a week (not 21), because they expected only two on Saturday and Sunday.

        7. Jenn B*

          Microwaves, hot pots and mini fridges exist and were pretty standard in the dorms when I was in college. Heck, I bet now kids have things like air fryers in their rooms! I also specifically remember arranging my Saturday to eat brunch at the last possible minute before the cafeteria closed when I was living in the dorms.

        8. RagingADHD*

          No, they expect that the *adults* who go to school there are capable of planning their food intake to meet their personal needs. Many of them have a variety of food options and even small stores where meal plan money can be spent when the cafeteria is closed. There are also many retail establishments that surround college campuses, where students can go whenever they want.

          Colleges aren’t prisons. Nor are they kindergartens. Anyone who goes to college thinking the only source of food is the dining hall didn’t read the brochure that came with the meal plan signup packet.

      2. Grits McGee*

        Yep, went to a small religiously-affiliated liberal arts college in the south, and we were expected to fend for ourselves on Saturday nights. (And they pre-cooked food on Friday nights so that the kitchen staff could take off early. Every Friday dinner was grilled steak that had been cooked 6 hours earlier…)

      3. Rara Avis*

        If I remember, my college did Saturday breakfast (lots of athletes needing to eat before games or practices) but transitioned from Sunday breakfast and lunch to brunch during my tenure due to low attendance at breakfast. We were in an isolated location with very very few other thst options.

  33. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    Six months is a long time, and in my opinion, OP’s employer should make a commitment up front about the nature of the housing/accommodations. If the employer can’t commit to reasonable housing, well, that’s a problem. OP simply doesn’t have enough information about the housing at this point. More investigation is needed.

    I was at first a little confused by the initial references to the OP’s employer as a “company”, and then subsequent references to the employer as a government agency. I assume the employer is in fact a government agency.

  34. I'm just here for the cats*

    This is so bad on so many levels and I hope that your boss was just not thinking when he told you this. Here are my thoughts/concerns

    My first thought is you are a 35-year-old adult who doesn’t want to live in dorm! that is completely valid point.

    I find it out that they would get you a rental car so you don’t have to use your own but wont pay for an extended stay hotel. It sounds like you might be a government employee. I don’t know about your state but (or are you federal?) but in my state we have deals with hotels that we get discounted prices on rooms. I’m sure there is something that could be done. What do there agencies do that don’t have this option and what did they do with men? **

    Also WHY are you being treated differently. I would straight out ask about this! go to HR and ask why you are presumably treated differently than male employees in this same role. If you know men who had gone on this training ask them.

    You would have to find your own supplies like mattress pads, bedding, anything you would want to make the place cozy. Who is going to reimburse you for that and what will you do with it later? What about cleaning supplies?

    I can understand the concern over guests and other restrictions. Are the RA’s going to come and inspect your room or kick your partner out? what about the noise level. Not just college parties, but college kids are loud in general. Plus those rooms are not very sound proof.

    I don’t see a good college having strangers rooming with college students. I’m sure parents would have something to say about a 35-year-old woman rooming with their 18-year-olds. But being that this seems to be a thing that they do, I’m wondering about this school and if they are good or not. Unless they have some sort of apartment or something that is just for guests for this training that doesn’t have the same restrictions?

    I also keep thinking about the person who took a living on-campus job (I think it was a boarding school) and got in trouble because the kids were peeping into her windows (that the campus didn’t provide shades for) and saw her kissing their partner. Will you get in trouble if you have your partner over and the girls see you too together?

    OP just talk with HR and/or your boss and get clarification. AND UPDATE US SOON!

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Also, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. And from my experience, COVID hit the college hard. Had lots of people in spare rooms and hotels. What do you do if you contract COVID from the college kids?

      1. littlehope (formerly Blue, there were two of us)*

        Yeah, I would not want to be living in a college dorm during a pandemic.

  35. KHB*

    If I’m reading this right – the college has ONLY female housing, they’re considering putting you up in that housing because you are female, and they’ve (presumably) made other accommodations for men who have attended the same training – that sounds like straight-up sex discrimination to me.

    I’d definitely seek more clarity on what they did for the men who were in your shoes in the past.

    1. KHB*

      …because “Men can get promoted to Cushy Position X with the $20K pay bump if they spend six months living in an extended-stay hotel, but women who want access to the same opportunity have to spend six months in college housing under draconian rules” is really, really not OK.

    2. HE Admin*

      It’s more likely that the college housing is sex-segregated, so if OP is female, she’d be in female-only housing, rather than that the university ONLY has housing for female students and therefore men get cushier accommodations.

      1. KHB*

        She says “I can’t see them housing them [the men] in an all-female dorm” – that sounds to me like the college doesn’t have any all-male (or mixed) dorms. But I could be wrong.

        It sounds like OP has a lot more to learn about what exactly is on offer before jumping to conclusions and panicking. But if all the college housing IS all-female, and if men who participate in this training get offered different accommodations as a result, then she should definitely push back against that, even if the details of the college accommodations turn out to be “not that bad.”

      2. desdemona*

        I read that and assumed it’s a womens-only college, since otherwise OP would understand the men probably were put in the mens housing.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          The sentence can reasonably be read several ways. FWIW, i read it that the lodging she was offered was female only, and I assumed men would be lodged in male-only buildings, with similar conditions. I have no idea which interpretation is correct, but agree that her employer should ensure that its employees are treated similarly, regardless of gender.

          The most salient point to me, though, is that LW needs to ask more questions. Her concerns deserve to be addressed.

  36. Lurker*

    The “no overnight visitors of the opposite sex” seems discriminatory. So if the LW was in a same sex relationship she could have her partner stay over?

      1. Lurker*

        But she is not a college student. Also, it’s been awhile, but I think even my college allowed overnight visitors of the opposite sex (back in the mid 90s). It was more restrictive about the length of time – like it couldn’t be for more than two nights or something because they didn’t want non-students moving in (I guess). But it was a co-ed university. In fact, my dorm was one of the first to have a co-ed floor, which I lived on as a first year student. There were no issues having men on one half of the floor and women on the other. More single guys visiting the guy half of the floor (instead of just guys visiting their girlfriends)!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          The LW said this housing is “female only,” which sounds like it might be a more conservative setup than your college. I’m not sure if there are no male students at the school, or no male students in the on-campus residences, or maybe the LW has determined/assumed she would be put in a specific all-female residence.

      2. quill*

        Welcome to both everyone’s sneaking out of their dorms practice and the reason that you don’t open any doors, even if they’re unlocked, during lunch.

    1. Esmeralda*

      Fun fact. At my grad university, grad student housing (including the very nice apartments) was only for married couples or same sex roommates. At the time, there was no same sex marriage. So if you were a same sex couple, you could get an apartment. And if you were a married male-female couple, you could get an apartment. But if you were a man and woman not married to each other, then you could not get an apartment.

      I discussed this with the university ombuds. Who pointed out that of course they did not ask unmarried same sex roommates about their sexual orientation; “We don’t ask what people do in their bedrooms.” I replied, “No, but clearly the university assumes that unmarried opposite sex roommates are having sex with each other and that the university frowns upon it.” No answer for that…didn’t get me an apartment on campus…

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Oh, I know, it’s ridiculous. “We don’t ask what they’re doing in their bedrooms, we simply make assumptions and then make policies based on that.”

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Now that I think about it, this is how I ruled out University of Idaho back when I was applying to grad programs – I wasn’t interested in going to a school that felt the need to have differential rules based on their ideas about same sex versus opposite sex visitors in student housing, and felt like it telegraphed that I’d be in for a bunch of other conservative nonsense I didn’t want to tolerate for an entire Ph.D. program. (They kept individually nagging me to finish up my application when I ghosted them partway through after getting the housing information – now that I’m more of an adult I’d have let them know exactly why, but at the time I did a vague fade. I wonder how many other non-male applicants their CS program had that year, because they seemed very interested in me compared to some of the other places I applied.)

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      I recall reading an interview of Jim Nabors a few years ago. He mentioned several visits to his alma mater (University of Alabama) where Coach Bryant arranged for him to use a room in Bryant Hall, which was the athlete’s dorm at the time. He said he and the athletes enjoyed each others’ company.

      Of course, Jim could easily have afforded any hotel in Tuscaloosa, if he had wanted to. Coach Bryant probably saw the arrangement as something the scholarship athletes could mention to recruits when they came for their official visits.

      I inferred he had a private room, and only visited for a few days at a time.

  37. doreen*

    Until recently, I worked at a state agency with a training academy that had dorms, which were typically used for new employees who attended the academy for about three months. Depending on availability , the dorms were also used for current employees who were attending training that required lodging for more than a night or two. ( If the dorms were full of new recruits, current employees would be assigned to hotel rooms) There were a number of rules associated with living in the dorms , to the point where employees would either avoid training that required them to stay there or pay for a hotel themselves. The agency also sometimes sent people to out-of- state training for a few months. But for the current employees ( not the recruits), the agency covered travel home each weekend, so the OP should check into that possibility.

  38. Prefer my pets*

    I’ve worked for the federal government in several different agencies since the late 90s and have never, ever heard of people being housed like this for long periods (a short 3-5 day conference/training in single dorm rooms, yes) The closest is NCTC and NTC but those are still private rooms and no one stays there for months. Oh, and FLETC but I believe even there there is more privacy and it’s all other feds in the same program as you.

    1. FG*

      I was going to mention FLETC. There are also all sorts of training programs based at colleges that include housing. Staying “on campus” – whatever that might mean – isn’t a bizarre as the OP & Alison are making out. As frequently mentioned, if the specifics are important to you, ask, but this isn’t some arrangement from another planet.

  39. Canadian Yankee*

    I have just left the accommodations where my partner had been put during a four-week-long academic workshop at a large university. While there are some very minimalistic dorms for students, this was a large, fully-furnished two-bedroom apartment (actually bigger than our condo!) with a full kitchen. There was a possibility of a roommate, though he only had one for the first week, but each bedroom was lockable with its own self-contained bathroom. The dorm management explicitly allowed overnight visitors and even verified my covid vaccination status.

    So yes, make sure you find out the actual details rather than just looking at the “student housing” section of the college’s website!

    All that said, as a government employee, you may have next to no room to negotiate if you find the situation unsatisfactory. Government contracts and procurement are notoriously bound up in red tape (not to mention equity concerns), so you may find that only bona fide disability accommodations would allow for alternate arrangements.

    1. Observer*

      Government contracts and procurement are notoriously bound up in red tape (not to mention equity concerns), so you may find that only bona fide disability accommodations would allow for alternate arrangements.

      Rules like this have some significant equity concerns as well, though. The obvious question is how are men being accommodated – are they being subjected to the same rules and housing as women? But also, depending on teh specifics, there may be a lot of other equity concerns. Does the rule about visitors mean that same sex couples can visit, but not opposite sex couples or does it mean that Gay people need to hide their orientation? If the OP is correct about the “board” issue – ie they’ll only be getting 3 meals a day during the workweek and not on weekends, how is this equitable – the cost to eating when you don’t have any kitchen facilities is far higher than normal cooking. So, people who can’t take on that extra expense get to not eat on the weekends. etc.

      1. Canadian Yankee*

        I think it’s very likely that males are subject to the same rules. I have actually been housed as a male at a dorm on an all-female campus because the role for rooms leased by an external organization were different from the rules for students actually attending the college.

        “Equity”, however, applies to equity across individual people, not to equity between cost of meals. And equity concerns would mean that the employer can’t reward the person who complains the loudest with the best conditions or the cheapest meals. So the OP should be prepared to walk away if she discovered that they really are going to treat her shabbily.

        1. Observer*

          Equity applies across people, so you can’t force people who don’t have money to forgo meals!

          And equity doesn’t mean that because you’ve been mistreating people till now, you should ignore legitimate concerns! It means that you re-evaluate what you have been doing, and make the necessary changes.

    2. Dragonfly7*

      I would have to pursue the disability accomodations if my government job tried to have me do this. I have a severe allergy that makes it extremely difficult to share a kitchen because of cross contact, and college students that share it frequently report that their dining halls are unable to provide safe meals. I could do a micro-apartment/extended stay.

  40. Lynth*

    I agree with what Alison said. I’ve worked event support at a university, and we had an entire separate building that was exclusively for guests on campus (because it’s cheaper). I can’t promise this is the situation for this person, but at that location:

    1) Rules for students didn’t apply to guests staying in the guest dorms, so you would be allowed overnight guests and alcohol.
    2) No one other than guests stayed in the building, meaning it’s possible you’d have the whole floor to yourself but certainly wouldn’t be surrounded by teenagers.
    3) It was not nearby to the other dorms, giving guests at least some privacy away from students.
    4) They had basic furnishings, so guests did not need to provide their own sheets.
    5) In our particular case, they were closer to apartment-style dorms, with separate bathrooms, but no full kitchen (though in fairness a hotel would not have a full kitchen either).

    Sounds like OP did some research about the university and jumped to a lot of conclusions without actually knowing how the company handles the training. Maybe it is the case that the situation is going to be obnoxious, but I wouldn’t assume that just because you’ll be on a campus.

  41. Bluebelle*

    I attended a similar set up training for 3 months. Here is how it worked for me. The dorms for the people attending the training, which was attached to a college campus, were separate. They were beautiful and set up like a studio apartment with a tiny kitchen. They were only for the people attending the training, I wasn’t in a dorm with college students. I had the option of going home every weekend, but since I was single and the course work was intense I only went home every other weekend.
    I hope yours is similar! It wasn’t bad at all for me :) Good luck!

  42. lost academic*

    Get everything in writing. Maybe it’s a situation where the rules are clear about all residents obeying the no overnight visitors/no alcohol restriction and people look the other way on a routine basis but without an in-writing exemption or something similar you could theoretically be in a position where you’re thrown out of the housing, the company made to look bad, and in a bad spot overall.

    And even within a single university as many have noted, there is a wide range of accommodation, not just based on the type of student you are – the traditional shared bathroom room on a hall setup is definitely common but going by the wayside as too many incoming students are used to having their own bathrooms etc. You really would need to get everything in writing to know what you’re agreeing to and what they are promising.

    But for this kind of stay, I would expect furnished corporate housing to be made available and that’s a common offering for 6-12 months – especially at universities where visiting scholars are the norm, and when coming from other countries, aren’t well positioned to track down the perfect lease length with the right start and stop times, furnishings, etc.

    Another important resource will be anyone at this new company who’s done this before in this exact location – I would ask for the names and contact information to check with them.

  43. HE Admin*

    It is EXTREMELY unlikely that OP would be housed with students, as she seems to think is a possibility. It would be pretty much unheard of for a university to house a random, non-university affiliate with a group of students.

  44. anonymous73*

    Yes definitely get more details before making your decision, but if it were a dorm room and I had to share the building with college kids, it would be a hard no for me. I would push back hard, and stand your ground. A few companies ago we were replacing our loan system, and worked with a business consultant from the company who lived in Florida. He came up to MD every week for about a year and they found it more cost effective to rent a furnished apartment for him instead of putting him up in a hotel. I’ve never had a business trip last for more than a week and a half, but if they’re expecting for you to live and eat in a dorm, that’s not okay.

    1. HE Admin*

      There’s no way they’re going to be housed with actual students. It really seems like OP heard the implication (not even confirmation) of something being on a college campus and instead of asking any follow-up questions, just jumped to a TON of conclusions.

      1. anonymous73*

        I wouldn’t assume that. If this blog has taught me anything it’s that nothing surprises me anymore.

  45. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

    If the LW has pieced together this idea of the rules and setup for on-campus housing by reading information available to students and prospective students, I suggest throwing out most of that information entirely. Ask the supervisor or HR specifically about the accommodations that will be provided in connection with the training program. It would he HIGHLY irregular for a college to open up ordinary dorms where students reside to outsiders and house attendees to a training or conference among their students. What is more likely is that there is a building or wing that is not occupied by students but made available for people similarly situated to the LW as a means of generating revenue. There may be additional rules (no overnight guests is not implausible for conference-type housing, and the alcohol could go either way), but it doesn’t sound like the LW has learned of those from a reliable source yet. Also, for things like conference housing, universities and colleges may provide more in the way of linens or cleaning service, that’s pretty typical.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think the guest thing is a bit extreme. This is not just a short conference. It is half a year. Unless you are working for the military and are being deployed a company can not expect you to not see your spouse/partner for 6 months. And why should they have to rent a room to be able to see them.

      1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

        Oh I agree completely. I meant to say that I suggest LW not speculate that rules governing student conduct are the same rules governing long-stay guests. It’s not inconceivable that a college would restrict overnight guests for non-student training attendees because the college would have legitimate safety interests to balance against very limited control over the conduct of guests and visitors. It would be a highly inconvenient restriction and not a normal one for work to require this employee to accept.

    2. lunchtime caller*

      Right, this is why I feel like all the arguing about what types of setups are okay is basically irrelevant in the comments–it sounds like the LW googled “X university housing” and found the stuff that applies to the freshmen living in the dorms, and actually has absolutely zero information on the reality.

  46. glitterdome*

    Interesting because this happened to me my last year of grad school (so a little different but the grad program does tend to skew older in most places. A lot of married with children and second career people). It was a 6 month specialization at a different school in DC and the participants were from all around the country. Several of us were older. I was 29, just about in the middle to older range, but my roommate was in her 40’s/50’s I think (her oldest was about to start college) and a couple of other were around the same. All of us were in the dorms, in shared rooms, in a dorm that was not recently built, so think shared bathrooms. I had never lived in a dorm so it was definitely a different experience for me. All in all thought, it really wasn’t all that bad.

  47. Saberise*

    The problem she may run in to is that we’ve sent employees for similar training (not as long though) and the housing on campus was included in the cost of the training. There was no separating the two. So to pay for someone to live off campus would mean basically paying for housing twice.

    1. Massive Dynamic*

      If that’s the case, then the solution probably lies with whether or not her male colleagues have to also live in the dorm, or if because they are male, the company eats the double housing cost for the duration of the training and puts them somewhere off-campus.

  48. BA*

    On the surface, it is incredibly strange and very off-putting to be putting up a professional trainee in a college dorm. So as others have pointed out, there has to be more to the story. Apartment-style housing could definitely be an actual apartment and not a dorm.

    Depending on the answer to what the accommodations actually are, you have every right to point out that while there are accommodations you’re willing to make to further your career (living away from home for six months), there are concessions you’re not willing to make. The training is great, but if they’re expecting you to not see your significant other or to not have the same sort of privacy you enjoy at your place of residence is problematic. They’re asking for half a year commitment from you for this training, and they need to be understanding that you shouldn’t have to upend your life entirely.

    The large question that I also think needs to be asked is what men have been allowed to do for the same training, if it is an all-female campus. That should dictate what you’re allowed to do also.

  49. I'm just here for the cats*

    Also want to add about the food. Sounds like they may expect you to eat at the college cafeteria. Will they allow you to take food to go back to your room? Or are you expected to eat in the cafeteria? After a long day of training that’s probably the last thing, you want to do. A
    It sounds like campus dining is not open on the weekends or limited hours. Can you order delivery? I know the university I work for is really strict that you can’t have food delivered to certain areas on campus (although I think the dorms are ok. I know Student union is for sure a no go for delivery because that’s where all the food areas are. I’m not sure about the dorms since there is a caf there.)
    But here’s the biggest thing for me. What if you have dietary restrictions. You might be able to talk to the chefs but can they guarantee that you can get what you need? And are there limits?

    1. rural academic*

      This is also good to ask about, although again, OP should get real information before imagining worst-case scenarios. Many college dining services these days offer a range of options, including the ability to use your dining card at non-cafeteria sites around campus. I know the one at my institution also lets you pick up meals to go; it regularly offers gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan food options, and more complex food restrictions can be discussed with the service.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I’m glad this is a thing now. The university I work for does not offer this and the college I graduated from didn’t. But we are a smaller university and surprisingly there aren’t a lot of restaurants within walking distance. Subway and taco johns and then a one small restaurant that’s more of a bar.

    2. PassTheMysteryMeat*

      Yes, the “food”

      I remember eating in university cafeterias…. Teenager/early 20’s where I could eat anything – sure!

      Now, um, no thanks. I like to cook and to choose what ingredients (and what grade of ingredients) go into my food.

      It would not be reasonable that you would be required to eat institutional food for 6 months.

      I hope HR gets back to you quickly with more specifics!

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I had an iron stomach as a student and ate a lot of stuff I wouldn’t eat now. I shared a kitchen with 10-12 people and we had pretty limited facilities. As an adult I like cooking and I like using the ingredients I like and having the correct utensils. I would not want to spend 6 months living somewhere with no cooking facilities or minimal cooking facilities shared with other people.

  50. quill*

    Student housing varies widely these days so yes, do ask for more details!

    Though being expected to eat in the cafeteria that wasn’t open on the weekends was bad enough when I was a student working at college over the summer, it would be untenable for me now. So definitely ask about the meal situation as well!

  51. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    I don’t think they would be having you stay in the dorm-dorms, simply because universities usually only rent those out for the summer or breaks, not for six months straight (which would have you overlapping with the student population). They likely have a building dedicated to this, rather than mixing in mid-career professionals with 18-year-olds.

  52. Anonymous Poster*

    I work for a US government agency that does lot of long term TDYs and trainings. This sounds very out of the norm, we get per diem. We can opt into a program to let us sit in furnished apartments via corporate housing provider, or go find our own housing during long term training. None of it would be a dorm like this, though.

    You might have to front the cost of the extended stay or something while waiting for reimbursement, but I think GSA would back you in doing that instead of an on campus this.

    I think you have a lot of ground to push back on because this is not how any agency I’ve heard of would handle this sort of thing, except as a courtesy set up for folks if they choose to opt in. The normal, “fine front the cost and we’ll reimburse you” should always still apply unless it’s something really wonky.

    1. Fed Employee*

      This sounds so outside of federal government norms that I am forced to assume it is a state agency.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        I’m new enough to federal service from the contractor side that I have no idea, but I’m sure you’re probably right. Contractors were always their own thing but this… yeah it sounds really wonky and weird.

  53. AnotherSarah*

    I think it’s worth asking what married people and people with children do. Perhaps your org has never sent such people for training, but it’s worth asking–because either they assume married people/parents can’t do this kind of training that would advance their career (problematic), or there’s an exception for married people/parents (also problematic).

  54. Emi*

    I did a university summer program in an “apartment-style dorm” that was literally just an apartment that the university owned. I had a roommate but it was like having a roommate in a regular apartment. The university I got my degree from had single-sex dorms in general but lots of the rules were different (I don’t remember all the details) when they were running as summer housing because the dorms were open to grad students and visiting scholar types.

  55. Fed*

    Fed here. I do not agree with Alison’s advice since this is so govt specific.
    Do not go by what you read online and only by coworkers who have used that facility. The govt will have its own contract with the facility so lots of things that apply to other residents won’t apply.
    This is not that weird for government (especially Dept of State and law enforcement). You really should not accept if you will not go to the program assuming 1) you will have a twin bed and shared bathroom with one other trainee 2) you will not be allowed to have overnight guests (of any sex, have to get a hotel for your own kid) 3) cafeteria or other provided food (for trainees during covid they were given prepared meals to eat alone in their room during some periods of high transmission)
    You will sound very out of touch asking for a hotel (some trainees get placed in hotels due to lack of forms but that’s not based on their preference). Tons of people doing these trainings have children they don’t get to see and can’t afford to fly back and forth on weekends (or live too far) so it’s obviously a high burden for many.
    I only have done stints as long as 6 weeks and it definitely sucked (and I had my own bathroom for all but one 2 week stint) but was worth it for me. I know others who have done 6 months, including during covid which meant no visits from partners at all because they were not permitted to leave or have visitors.
    Obviously many people won’t be willing to do this especially since they may not give you information until closer to the training, and others find it acceptable sacrifice for long term careers. But if the training is required for the position (and again, ask around – some of these are mandatory before starting your duties and some never even pan out or are indefinitely not happening due to pandemic). And definitely only accept if it opens up a lot of positions/ career path! It’s so much for one job if you only expect it for a few years.

    1. Fed Employee*

      Hard disagree. For my six month training I was simply told that I needed to find housing that was within per diem. I got a furnished apartment in Arlington, VA.

      This is so outside the norms I can only assume it is a state agency or OP is a contractor.

      1. Anonymous Anon*

        That’s really lucky. I haven’t heard of anyone being allowed to do that when there’s on-campus housing available. Your per diem must have been very generous, Arlington isn’t a cheap area.

        1. Fed Employee*

          Standard GSA per diem rates, though those fluctuate month to month in the DC area. $220 per day for housing.

      2. Yet Another Federal Employee*

        I think it depends on the Agency. But generally, if the Agency has already paid for the training facility, you are required to stay there unless you have an approved Reasonable Accommodation request.

      3. Another Fed*

        DOS is so cushy!

        Fed who’s done a decent number of training stints:
        1. 6? 8? weeks in a dorm-like setting, individual bathroom, double bed, cafeteria, $5/day incidentals
        2. 6 weeks hotel stay (& the Hilton points to prove it) and per diem for meals!!!! (But this was super unusual & not the norm for that training)
        3. 3 weeks dorms, indv. bathroom, double bed, cafeteria, $5/day incidentals
        Have also done several week TDYs with shared bathrooms.

        So, your situation isn’t completely nuts for #fedlife. My best advice is to take your own electric kettle & an aeropress.

  56. KellifromCanada*

    Since this is government, they likely have written policies for everything, so I’d start with reading the policy to ensure I understand the rules. You may have other documentation you can refer to as well … collective agreement, contract or appointment letter. Assuming you find no documentation that can help you, though, I’d look at it from the perspective that they are trying to save money, so as long as you keep your travel/accommodation/meal budget around where they need it to be, you should be good. I’d look up the cost of housing and meals on this campus, and then research reasonable local accommodations based on that budget to discuss with the supervisor. Your supervisor should be fine with it as long as it doesn’t cost too much. Working adults who are not students should not be subject to the living conditions/lack of privacy/intrusive rules that may have been imposed upon us as undergrads. Good luck!

  57. LEO girl*

    This is really very common in law enforcement. Some agencies use college campuses (never actually mixing with students, no college would accept that liability) and some agencies (especially the federal government) have their own facilities that are dorm-style as well, and have rules about visitors, alcohol, etc. You’ve described exactly how every FBI / DEA / ATF agent in history has been trained….it may seem extreme to people in private sector jobs but this is COMPLETELY normal in my field. We literally joke that it’s college with guns because it’s so much like college. It’s not just entry level either, many, many advanced law enforcement trainings for established employees take place like this and last weeks to months also.

    1. Anonymous Anon*

      I remember hearing the uniformed officers singing cadence while doing their morning runs. And we were instructed what to do if we accidentally got caught up in a role-playing scenario.

      Oh and if you wanted to use the gym you couldn’t wear your own workout clothes, you had to use ones provided to you for the session. This extended to jock straps for the guys. I’m a woman but was totally squicked out at the notion.

  58. checking assumptions*

    Excuse me, but “rural” and “extended stay hotels” are not necessarily compatible in the same sentence. I live in a rural area with multiple smaller colleges in the area and the nearest extended stay hotel is 90 minutes away. The population density just doesn’t demand it. Colleges in this type of area often create these package deals on outside groups using their facilities for just that reason. It may not be possible to find other lodgings in such an area for a six-month stay. It might, but it might not. Before burning bridges OP, have you checked the availability of hotels in the area?

    1. Koala dreams*

      Yes, in rural areas often the options for accommodations are very limited, and it’s a trade off between a decent commute or a decent quality accomodation. And of course, it varies a lot from area to area.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think if she did all of this research on the college that she would have already looked into extended stays. Plus, as others have mentioned it might be easier to have the company pay for a furnished apartment or something.

    3. Jacey*

      I was wondering about this as well. It might be easier to get a 6-month lease on an apartment than find an extended stay hotel in a rural college town.

  59. Anonymous Anon*

    LW, having done this myself, albeit for a shorter time (just under 2 months) I can sympathize. Unfortunately, if this is government training, I’m not sure how much pushing back would help.

    When I went (which was at a government-owned training facility), my motel-style tiny room had cinder-block walls and a shared bathroom. I had a sink in my room but not much else. I believe I had to rent a mini fridge (It was a long time ago, I don’t remember the exact details), and there was an option to rent a TV. I think we were given sheets but they were terrible so I went out and bought my own.

    The cafeteria on campus was only open at certain times, so I learned to keep boxes of granola bars handy. We were not offered a rental car, and the only bus in this tiny town went to Walmart and back.

    I was (and am) married and the training center was over a thousand miles from home. I was fortunate that my husband was able to fly to me one weekend and visit, but that was it. This is before Skype/Zoom/FaceTime existed, so it was the only time I got to see him in all those weeks. It sucked. Big time.

    The government does things on the cheap and has policies that reflect that. Yes, it sucks, and I hope you can get some of it changed at least, but know this is actually pretty normal. Good luck!

    1. Anonymous Anon*

      ETA: when my husband came to visit, he had to rent a hotel room. He wasn’t allowed to stay in my room, not that there would have been room for him anyway! It was the best sleep I had the entire time, the mattress at the facility was horrible.

  60. Kat A.*

    It’s only 6 months and could set you up well in your career. It sounds like it’d be worth it.

    My spouse and I have spent 3 months to a year apart at times due to work obligations in other states and, for one job, another country. Sometimes we got together for a long weekend once a month. Other times we couldn’t see each other at all. We set up regular times to talk on the phone every couple of days. FaceTime is also an option.

    It’s only 6 months out of a lifetime. The benefits to your career will be worth it. Too many women screw themselves over when they pass up opportunities like this.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      That’s great if it worked out for you. The OP might not feel the same way. It might be more like she doesn’t want to be policed like she’s an undergrad when she is a grown adult and should be able to live in some semblance of comfort. If that means not having to deal with a bunch of young undergrad girls then I can understand it.

  61. Ann O'Mouse*

    Definitely get more details. I don’t want to speculate too much, but I work in on campus housing, and we have guest apartments within our dorms that aren’t advertised on our website. The apartments are literally apartments: they have full bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms. When occupied, our students aren’t aware, because the guests don’t really come out of the apartments. They have to abide by our mask mandate (so if they’re in the main areas for any reason, like to check the mail, or pick up a food delivery, they need to wear a mask). But other than that, they they basically have their own set of rules (which is, “follow the law”). A big example of this is that we don’t allow pets in the dorms, but our guests can have pets if they’re registered with us. We also own an apartment complex. It is a true apartment complex, not dorm rooms, and some of them are set aside for guest housing. I’d confirm if you’re staying in the dorms, or in something more like that, too. If you are staying in a true dorm room, push back on it, absolutely.

  62. Bookworm*

    Agree, ask for more details. This seems more like a traditional college-dorm set up where you have to provide your own toiletries, etc. but if it’s just an apartment on campus that isn’t being used and the school is just making some extra money, then perhaps that’s a little different.

    It does seem a little strange though. you’re an adult, well out of your college years and it seems like it’d make more sense to put you up in a long-term stay type accommodation and not a dorm. Especially for 6 months. Do hope it works out for you, OP!

  63. CoveredinBees*

    Ohhhh, you are not off the mark for not wanting to live with a bunch of undergrads in a dorm. They’re in a very different part of their lives and set of norms than you are and often not terribly compatible. I live next to a house that is rented to to undergrads and, most years, their lifestyles are totally normal for people their age and would be utter torture for me in my late 30s.

  64. Koala dreams*

    In many seasonal jobs this type of shared accommodation is pretty normal. The quality of the living space can vary a lot, so you should definitely look for more details before accepting. In addition to the issues mentioned, you should also ask about laundry (washer? laundromat?), and any limits on appliances (some places don’t allow you to bring a mini fridge or a heater, for example). Many places match people by gender but I’ve also heard of places with mixed accomodation, so that’s something to keep in mind.

    But don’t make it about being “too old” to live with roommates, it will only make you look prejudiced and out of touch. Yes, I know you didn’t go in that direction in the letter, but it always comes up the comments so I’ll warn you anyway and hope you take it in the spirit it’s meant.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      But this is not a seasonal job where you might expect shared accommodations. Plus she’s not worried about “being too old” to live with roommates. She doesn’t want a bunch of 18-20year olds in her face while she’s doing professional training. I don’t get anything from the letter that she doesn’t want roommates period. She doesn’t want to be stuck with some college kids.

      1. lunchtime caller*

        right but to be clear, she’s the one who has invented that “will be rooming with college kids” detail

  65. Mystic*

    Apartment style on campus dorms vary wildly. at my university, I actaully had apartment-style for almost all 4 years. I had my own bathroom, although I did have to shower the shower one year. the others I had my own full bathroom to myself. The living/common area and in-unit laundry was shared with the others.
    But this doesn’t sound too normal, even for govt.

  66. Just Me*

    This actually makes me wonder if the training is really intended to be a short grad-level program that is paid for by the employer, as opposed to a more traditional work training. OP mentions the training site is housed with the university but it makes me wonder if it’s that they’re truly sending her into a specialized grad program and she will need to enroll as a student at the university for that time. If so, this might make slightly more sense…

    I’ve worked in gov’t and in higher ed and seen things sort of like this. I agree with Fed that it’s worth doing some research into the field specifically to see how much this aligns with what normally happens.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      It sounds like only part of the training is within the university
      “Part of the training uses a facility that is shared with a college. ”

      I think they would tell her if it was a grad program.

  67. Clever Alias*

    My biggest advice here is take a deep breath and ask some questions before you panic further.
    You’re making a lot of leaps, which I get — this is weird — but most will probably be allayed with a a follow up conversation.

  68. Properlike*

    If your spouse is going to visit, why can’t they stay at a hotel and you go to them? (A cheap option if everything else is essentially paid for.) I assume you’re not going to be on the clock 24/7? They’re not living with you.

    A twin bed is not the end of the world.

    As Alyson points out, you’re assuming the worst without having any information at all. Six months is a long time to make a drastic locational change. So to a point, I think this normal “brain processing” but it could be tipping over into catastrophizing before you have sufficient information. Once you get that info, pros and cons, but sounds like an excellent opportunity that buys you more flexibility in the future.

  69. Orange You Glad*

    As Alison said, you need to wait until you have more information. You seem to be on the right track by reaching out to HR and other colleagues. Once you have all the details, then you can evaluate whether or not the accommodations are something you can live with and find an alternative.

    As others have said, I doubt they would house you with college students and subject you to the same rules. Most likely you researched the college’s website which is designed to market it to students.

  70. gbca*

    I’m surprised people aren’t focusing on what seems like the obvious thing here: these accommodations are only able to be provided because you’re female. Since it sounds like there are plenty of men who have gone through this training program, you should be provided accommodations that are equal in quality to what the men received. I think the first thing to do is find out what the men’s accommodations were. Then go to your boss and find out the real scoop on what the plans are for your housing (as many mentioned above it may not be as bad as you fear). But I think you have a very strong position here to ensure your housing plan entails the same privacy and freedom from restrictions that the men received.

    1. Accountant*

      Because the LW doesn’t actually know anything, they’re making assumptions based on the college’s published housing information *for students*. If it’s a small number of people, it’s much more likely that they have a handful of apartment or small houses, and if it’s a large number the organization likely rented an entire building or discrete chunk of a building. The least likely explanation, especially for a government or government-adjacent agency, is that the trainees are going to be incorporated into the residence life system like they were students.

      1. gbca*

        I agree with you – I just think that if for some bizarre reason this is what the employer is planning to provide, the easiest way to push back is to ask for accommodations equivalent to the men.

  71. animaniactoo*

    Now that we have debated all the ways in which this could be fine, or could be adjusted for, or is totally not fine…

    We need an update to find out what it actually is!!! Please LW, don’t leave us hanging!

  72. Econobiker*

    “I am really wondering what they would have done (or did do) for the several men who hold this position currently,”

    Reach out to those folks in the current positions and ask how their accommodations were handled during their training. Then you can get a baseline for what you are being offered.

  73. Lizianna*

    We have a couple training programs that are run by universities and use university-housing.

    The students use graduate or faculty housing, which are generally small (one bedroom or studio), furnished, private apartments that have their own kitchen and bathroom. I’m not sure of the official alcohol rules, but generally if you’re not blatant about it, no one will know if you have a glass of wine or a beer in the privacy of your living room. Because of our agreement with the university, it’s significantly cheaper than an extended stay hotel. I don’t have the contract in front of me, but we’ve never had an issue with employees having overnight visitors of any sex. It’s much more like an apartment building that the university runs than traditional dorms.

    So I definitely think it’s worth talking to HR or your boss about the specifics.

  74. RagingADHD*

    No, you should not “push back.”

    I think Alison is doing you a big disservice by failing to advise you that jumping to these conclusions or approaching this with the mindset you’re revealing here, will be very detrimental to your credibility with your manager. Anything approaching the tone of “pushing back” is going to make you sound bizarre and irrational, because the things you are pushing back on are assumptions and extrapolations based on things your manager “implied,” combined with a bunch of stuff you googled, and then spun off into a fantasy.

    And I gotta say, nothing is guaranteed to set you off on the wrong foot with a new supervisor like reaching for a reason to complain about unequal treatment compared to your male coworkers, when *none of this has actually happened.*

    You certainly should not assume, of all things, that you would be sharing an apartment with college students as roommates. That’s not how college roommate assignments work, and the students would have as much or more of a major, legitimate beef with having a random non-student stuck into their living situation, as you would.

    What you should do is ask for more information about what’s really going to happen. The most likely scenario is that you will have a normal-looking apartment, or possibly something similar to a long-term hotel room. My college (in an extremely liberal academic/technology hub within a “rural, conservative” state) had a whole apartment complex as part of on-campus student housing, and they were exactly like any modest apartment building anywhere in the country. The only communal amenity was the laundromat.

    Just take it down a notch, and find out what’s really going on before you psych yourself up to push back on imaginary things, and wind up kicking a permanent dent into your own reputation at work.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think “ask, don’t assume” is good advice, and it’s what Alison recommended in her second paragraph. But I also think pushing back if the answer doesn’t make her comfortable is reasonable if only because it sounds like there are possibly different policies for men and women (if the LW is correct about the female-only campus housing).

    2. Dahlia*

      Alison is not doing OP a disservice by suggesting OP ask exactly what this means. Alison never once says OP should “push back” on anything.

      Your entire comment is just repeating the advice she actually gave.

  75. IWantToGoToThere*

    At my college, there was a building with temporary housing on campus for people who weren’t students – visiting professors, lecturers, etc who weren’t college-aged and wouldn’t be expected to stay in a dorm room next to a roomful of loud 19 year olds. The building had a handful of hotel-style rooms. This wasn’t advertised online; since it wasn’t intended for student housing, there was really no need for them to mention it on their website.

    As many others have said, talk to your new manager! Talk to HR! See what the reality of the situation is before you make any judgments on how to handle this.

  76. Canadian Librarian #72*

    +1 on the many comments suggesting you seek out full details before proceeding to freakout. The freakout might be 100% warranted, or the details could reveal a bearable situation.

    I lived in res (in dorms) while in my first two years of university, and they were quite traditional – I spent one year in a shared bedroom (one roommate) and one year in a single room. There was a kitchen on the floor, but food was constantly stolen and cooking equipment was minimal. All washrooms were shared – think change rooms at the gym, minus the lockers.

    A few years ago, I went to a weeklong PD conference held at a university and the best accommodations I could afford that were close to or on campus were the campus hostel. It was like a hotel, basically; very bare-bones room but with a desk, queen bed, electric kettle and mini-fridge, tv, and full en-suite washroom. I didn’t love not having a kitchen for a full week, but it was fine otherwise.

    If what this ends up being is closer to the second scenario, perhaps it would be workable for you. But if it were me, I would really put up a fuss at being made to live in an actual residence hall where all washrooms were communal and kitchen facilities weren’t acceptable.

  77. Former TFAer*

    This is sending me back to my days training for Teach For America. Hundreds of us in dorms for six weeks for training. Shared room with a stranger and a community hall bathroom, plus cafeteria food and school buses for transportation. I didn’t mind it too much as it was a short period and I had just finished college, but there were older corps members and even married couples – no idea how they survived that.

    We did also have to provide our own bedding for the twin bed, which is where my favorite roommate story comes in. Like most of us, she’d moved to this city and had her stuff in storage, including linens. The first night she said she hadn’t had a chance to go get her linens from storage so she just laid a towel down on the bed and t-shirt over the pillow…y’all. It stayed like that for SIX WEEKS. There was a Target and a Walmart within two miles, but she never once went to get real bedding.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Back in undergrad, one of the guys in my dorm slept in a sleeping bag on a bare mattress all year. I’m not sure if he ever washed it. I was both appalled and kind of impressed, because I don’t think I could have tolerated that for even a week with other options available.

    2. Another TFAer*

      Same here – I had Institute in Houston so we didn’t even get real beds in the dorms, just those pull-out built-in contraptions that turned into a sofa. I think we called them a bouch! It definitely didn’t seem as weird at the time since I was a semester out of college, although I had not lived in a dorm for several years, but it seems this LW has gotten some weird ideas about how living on campus will work. My spouse works for a university, so even without the TFA experience to reflect on, I’m fairly confident that whatever arrangement the training program has with this college, it won’t include her being assigned a room with a student as a roommate.

      Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets stuck having to eat cafeteria food while she’s there for the training. How we complained about the packed lunches during the week from the dorm cafeteria! When I was there, we picked up our lunch at breakfast and you just grabbed a random soft-sided lunchbox. They were square, plain, and either red or blue I think. I remember one of the students in our class at my elementary school site asked me and another Corps member if we were sisters. We didn’t really look alike so we asked why she thought we were sisters, and she said it was because we our lunchboxes matched and we brought the same lunch!

      1. Former TFAer*

        Also Houston Institute so tragically familiar with the bouch. That was the other weird thing – once you pulled them out, you were maybe two feet from your roommate’s face! And those lunch boxes – yeesh.

  78. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

    Re the alcohol policy, as others note it may be a hard rule. A middle-aged church lady, I have found myself furtively exploring the snow-covered back streets of a small Midwestern city in January looking for an off-campus dumpster where I could toss the evidence of contraband consumed in secret in on-campus adult guest accommodations. The struggle is real.

    1. Old Admin*

      May I please… please start laughing at the image you just painted there? I understand it’s real, but it’s the stuff of standup comedy and hilarious movies!

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      My alma mater was affiliated with a church that does not teach abstinence, but alcohol was prohibited on campus, presumably for liability reasons. At that time, the legal drinking age in my State was 19, so it wasn’t just to comply with that law.

      We just dumped the empties in the trash can down the hall – or used them to decorate our rooms. The empty bottles and cans weren’t forbidden, just the ones that still contained the contraband.

      I remember artistically arranging the bottles for a dorm inspection, with a pack of rolling papers in front. When the head resident and the dorm president came to my room, they rolled their eyes. The dorm president pointed out the fact that he already knew I occasionally rolled and smoked Prince Albert tobacco.

  79. Small town problems*

    I’m not sure what field you are in, but depending on which this can be considered somewhat normal, especially if your company or organization is affiliated with the university and if you are working under a grant.

    I stayed in a college dorm room for a position and was much older than the students. I had a corner room that was used for RA’s and had an efficiency kitchen. It was sometimes interesting and annoying but it was included and I didn’t have to pay or look for housing. Giving me a per diem wouldn’t have been an option as these accommodations were written into the program as part the college’s in-kind support and the college didn’t have that much money to pay in cash instead.

    I live in a rural / remote place where housing is very expensive and hard to find. The organization where I work now often works with one of our corporate sponsors to provide dorm style housing as an in kind donation or heavily discounted for researchers or short term employees staying 3-6months. The only hotel in town costs $150-250 a night, and $40,000 to pay for accommodations / per diem (which is more than stipend) is definitely not in the budget (federal rate is actually $171 / night and meals / incidentals $129).

    Insurance is one reason why college’s have dry housing, especially if it’s a smaller school or state university, or because of local culture/ mandates.

    No one is going to know if you have a glass of wine in your room.

    I would guess this has probably been done for years with other employees. And it depends on who you are working for as how “normal” this is.

  80. JelloStapler*

    A traditional dorm is very different than apartment-style housing. We have apartments on campus, owned by the University that are just like an apartment complex, we have interns stay there over the summer. It has a kitchen, etc. In your situation, I could be okay with that setup if I didn’t have to have roommates.

    Residence hall- if perhaps a Hall Directors’ apartment or something where you did not have to share kitchen or bathroom with anyone. But less ideal. Residence halls are usually only dry if you are under 21, so as Alison said, unless you are hosting keg parties, you’re fine.

    Ask for clarification on this.

    1. JelloStapler*

      oops, as Small Town Problems said, re: drinking. I thought I had the end of the actual entry above the text box.

  81. Hannahlouwho*

    I would also assume there would be some liability issues if they expect a non student to share space with a student.

  82. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    As someone who works at a University, it is highly unlikely LW would be mixed in with undergrad students, especially not in a roommate/suitemate situation. It can create a huge liability for the university to have non-traditional students mixed in because of the age difference, I can’t see them being willing to take it on for someone not affiliated.

  83. Nupalie*

    While a female state govt employee, I worked under the following conditions for 5 years:. Travel 18 weeks/ year to remote state parks, sharing a 2 bedroom luxury cabin with a male coworker. We had separate bedrooms but shared a kitchen, shared the van driving down there etc. My 2nd week on the job I was in this scenario with a guy I’d known for 10 days. How ever, we actually agreed to this because (a) the all male staff had been sharing cabins vs 2 separate lidge rooms at same total cost for 15 years because (b). The meal per diem would not cover 3 meals per day at the park lodge…and the nearest other restaurants could be a 30 minute drive away.
    So everyone in this job shared a cabin and kitchen.
    The LW’s situation might be that this particular choice worked for a prior employee for a specific set of reasons. LW should not be bound by precedent but by practicality. I can think of many reasons campus housing might be inappropriate, including ADA access for service animals or wheelchairs… It doesn’t sound as if the employers HR Dept has thought this through.

    1. reeneejune*

      ADA access for service animals, wheelchairs, and other concerns absolutely apply to campus housing, whether as a student or outsider! When I lived in campus housing, I had an ESA cat living with me in a fairly “traditional” dorm scenario. When I asked what would happen if a roommate was assigned or if the people sharing a kitchen and bathroom objected to my cat, I was told that I had a right to have kitty with me and that the other person would be responsible for requesting a room change and the university was responsible to accommodate that, if appropriate.

      There may be other reasons why university housing may not be appropriate, but ADA considerations shouldn’t be one of them.

  84. OneTwoThree*

    While I was in college, I was a Resident Assistant (worked for housing). There were two times when we had the community stay onsite that might apply here.

    Most like the scenario above were in the campus apartments. There was an outside group that would occupy a set area of the apartments for training similar to this. The apartments had private bedrooms, shared bathrooms (with 1 other bedroom), a living room, dining room, and kitchen. For students, the school only provided the furniture. For the training residents, they also provided very basic linens and kitchen pans, cutlery, etc. This section of the apartments had very different rules than the residents. If it was a basic safety (fire codes, health codes, etc.) thing they had to follow the rules. If it was a community rule (alcohol, guests, etc.) they didn’t apply.

    There were also a select few times when outsiders would stay in a typical dorm setting. However, this was typically for a large group setting. Think a traveling act passing through town. Once again, they were provided basic linens in addition to the furniture. In a lot of cases, they would take out the extra beds and dressers to make each room a single unit. They would only do this when students weren’t also staying there. All community rules as above did not apply. Once again, basic safety rules did apply.

  85. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    Frankly, I’d leave it at ‘you need to talk about exact plans with your employer’.

    Dorms at even state schools aren’t what they once were. I had a dorm that was essentially a short-term studio apartment. Complete with in-unit laundry, an efficiency kitchen, and furnishings.

    It’s also very common for schools to rent out excess capacity for corporate training programs, summer camps, and so on. I’ve helped to manage these programs, and in the case of adult rentals most of the usual ‘campus rules’ didn’t apply. Visitors were permitted, the rentals were never with in the same areas as students, alcohol wasn’t banned, and so on.

    If it turns out that they’re trying to cram you into bed 4 of a what used to be a dual bed dorm room…yeah push back. However, it’s far more likely that you’ll be in a modern and appropriate space.

    1. LJ*

      Yeah, we’re all spinning our wheels speculating here, but it’s far more useful to ask the employer. I do hope we get an update from the OP afterwards

  86. Betsy S*

    Must have an update!

    I’ve spent half my working career at universities, and accommodations vary wildly.

    Bottom line for me as a professional is an apartment with my own working kitchen, my own bathroom, adult furnishings, and no roommates, and my own food. If they give you the choice of eating university food or preparing your own that’s one thing – six months DOES seem like a super long time to pay for someone’s food. You’d be paying for your own food in an apartment or short-term rental.

    The twin bed alone is a deal breaker for me, even sleeping alone. I’m not sleeping on a dorm bed for six months.

    When I went to one particular tech conference I always shared a room, but just for a few days. It was *fun* but partially because it was so short! I made some good friends and got introduced to a lot of people I might not have met, and I was glad to get home. And then a few years ago I got to share my room with a first-time young attendee and introduce *her* to a bunch of folks she would not have met, which was even more fun.

    But six months? no way.

  87. Barbara Eyiuche*

    Yes, even if the apartment is acceptable, the problem might be noise. Universities often have one building designated for mature students, or for quiet students, so it is worth checking whether the apartment would be there.

    1. Jacey*

      Heck, I was bothered by the noise when I was a college student living in one of those apartments! But it may be different at different schools. The combination of gendered dorms and no alcohol makes me wonder if this is a less boisterous than average college.

  88. Guin*

    I wonder if the LW is getting sent overseas to Saudi Arabia or Dubai or a Muslim-majority country. She doesn’t say where she’s going. The no-alcohol and women-only policies would make sense. Maybe she’s involved in energy/oil, which she would in fact need a lot of technical training for.

    1. Jacey*

      It’s possible, but I can think of a number of schools in the US that have similar restrictions. I don’t think it really changes the advice either way, though?

    2. Guin*

      I obviously have reading comprehension problems, because LW specifically says “out of state” in her letter. Never mind.

  89. Jacey*

    OP, please make sure you get more information before you worry over this. I’m a habitual catastrophizer, and I see a lot of my own thought processes reflected in your letter, especially the level of detail you’ve imagined for the worst case scenario. I find when I get stuck in that frame of mind, the only thing that breaks me out of it is more information, because otherwise my imagination runs WILD.

    Fingers crossed for you, and please update us when you can!

  90. Lizy*

    Late to the comments, but yes – ask. My college had dorms that were suites – 5-6 rooms (mostly double but some singles) and they shared a bathroom and kitchenette. There were some completely separate rooms – like 1-2 per dorm – and those had their own bathroom but no kitchen.
    I’m sure the college had off-campus housing for visiting professors and the like – but that’s not advertised as “student housing”. That may be what “lodging” they mean. Those would be more like an actual apartment or even a large house with 3-4 bedrooms that would house 3-4 professors (or people like OP).
    Also – I live in a very VERY rural area. There’s 1 hotel within a half hour of me. The next closest is easily 45 minutes away. But I guarantee there’s short-term rentals available. I know a huge construction project rented a couple of houses for a while because they needed a place for their employees to stay.
    So yes – ask. It may not be as bad as you’re imagining!

  91. LilPinkSock*

    On-campus housing for training events, visiting faculty, and even grad students (in the cases of both my schools) isn’t usually the same setup as the freshman dorm. On many campuses, they’re not even anywhere near each other. Get some more info from the program coordinator first!

  92. reeneejune*

    I worked in campus housing during university. The information you’re seeing about rules regarding overnight visitors and alcohol may well only apply to students of the university. Different rules may apply when the housing is being leased to a training program. I’d suggest talking with the HR person who coordinates accommodations to get a better sense of what this looks like in practice, and don’t rely on the university’s housing website for much more than a general sense of what the facilities look like. I’d say something like “I have this stereotype of what staying in a university dormitory might look like, and I have some concerns. Could you talk to me more about what it actually looks like for employees staying there, especially with regards to some of the behavior standards that are set for students in the dorm?”

    FWIW, I lived in dormitories during the end of my undergrad and through my graduate program. The first year I shared a kitchen and bathroom with the room next door, and the second year I had an apartment with my husband on campus. The apartment was a standard, small 1 bedroom with the normal kitchen and bathroom set up you’d expect in a private apartment.

  93. MS*

    Once you figure out exactly which type of housing they actually intend to put you in, you should go online to reddit for the school or Chegg or something and try to find the real scoop on how strictly those rules are enforced. It should not be hard to find a forum online for the school where some real students could give you the inside scoop. When I was a graduate assistant at a college, they put all us GA’s in the dorms bc off campus housing was too expensive near the college. We had our own floor, separate, from undergrads, and while technically dorm rules still applied to us, the school kind of turned the other way and didn’t really strongly enforce them of us unless we were causing disruptions or being blatantly obvious about it. The school even knew we all would drink in the dorms so they moved us to the first floor the second year so you could more easily discretely sneak stuff in. I frequently snuck alcohol in my room and had my boyfriend stay overnight several times and never got in trouble for it. In my experience, most colleges won’t strictly enforce these rules for non students living there, so I would not worry too much about those rules unless you learn they are actually going to be strictly enforced for you. I felt kinda weird living in a dorm still at age 25, but really it wasn’t that bad. We even had a few 40 year old GA’s living in there too.

  94. Emmy Noether*

    All the comments about dry student housing made me think about how different college can be for people: I once lived in student housing which included a student-run bar in the building (very cheap and generous cocktails). I also moved my boyfriend in for two weeks and no-one batted an eye.

    But this was somewhere where the legal drinking age is 16 for beer…

  95. Dana Whittaker*

    I would look into long-term AirBNB rentals. My husband’s company did that when they got a new out-of-state account that required him to be 5-6 hours away for 242 days out of one year. They had multiple support people in the beginning, so AirBNBing an entire house made sense over paying for hotel rooms, but it eventually ended up being just my husband.

    The house he picked (because he revoked the company president’s picking privileges after a particularly poorly located choice) was owned by a famous sports figure, and he found himself mixing with the owner’s friends on occasion. Five years later, we are still friends with the owner.

  96. Alice*

    My father and a colleague from academia spent some weeks in a US college some years ago. They were housed on campus but it was more like they had their own flat with a shared bathroom and kitchen area. I believe the flat had four bedrooms but the two of them were the only occupants. Unfortunately they had to abide by the no alcohol mandate, as the college was in a dry county, but aside from that it was not like being in a dorm at all.

    I would really like an update on this, as I think it’s likely that this will be a similar situation, but it’s better to ask in advance just in case! Especially since LW is staying there for 6 months, one might accept a rough living situation for a couple of weeks, but for that long a period of time you want to make sure you’ll have privacy and be able to spend time with your boyfriend.

  97. It'sABonesDay*

    I think it depends on the college what “apartment style means”. I lived in the “apartment style” dorm and it was dorm rooms oriented around a shared living room and kitchenette with shared bathrooms. The kitchenette had a microwave and cooktop but no oven.

    The other thing I’d want answered is: would LW actually be expected to live with undergrads in a dorm-like setting? Because all parties should have huge problems with that.

  98. Galahad*

    I have been in this situation, for a 6 week training.
    It’s not horrible, because you are with your working age peers, in the same program. The worst part was the crappy common area furniture, actually.

    AND typically you can ask to be housed in a hotel for weekends with your partner, and a weekend per diem for outside food / restaurants…especially given the lack of kitchen facilities.

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