The Dispute Resolution Tools That International Students Might Find Useful in Their Shared Living Environment During Alert Level 3

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Our team has been thinking about things that might aid students in dealing with the current COVID-19 situation. Here we provide you with a list of tools taken from dispute resolution that students might find useful.

Have gatherings
In any shared living arrangement, it is important that you help each other through the current restrictions. We suggest a get together with your housemates to share your individual schedules of study, prayer, exercise, and cooking, and talk through how you might be able to accommodate each other’s needs. This coming together might be over a shared meal once per week. Having lunch or dinner together and cooking for others, instead of cooking by/for yourself, is a great way of creating conversation and enjoying each other’s company and food choices. Or, you could organise a quiz or games night where you can play board or card games in your bubble. If you don’t have any games, take turns making quizzes for each other.

Share your day
Have a blank piece of paper in a place where people frequently pause, perhaps on the fridge and invite the others living in the house to use it. On it each person in the house can write any kind of communication they wish. These can be in pictures or words. On the paper you could write your thoughts, feelings, ideas, something you have found has worked for you, or anything that you want to share.

Alternatively, you could have a cup or a dish where people can leave a piece of paper with one word on how they are feeling that day - anonymous and voluntary. You might agree to meet and talk about each of the words that were shared at the end of the day, or not.

Create space
It might be possible to hang a piece of fabric or a sheet across a shared living area, which might offer a feeling of privacy or separation if some want to be away from the larger group or divide the space for a separate activity. There could be other ways you want to create space by turning a spare room into an office or designating rooms of the house to certain activities so that you can keep work and socialising separate. It’s important that everyone feels that they have their own area in the house that they can go to when needed.

Know when to talk
In thinking about whether to raise an issue with someone in the group, consider how important the issue is to you and to the person you want to raise it with. You also might want to consider, is this the right time to be asking this? Important conversations need good timing to help them be effective.

Use the EAR technique

It’s important to not just know when to talk, but how to talk as well. Using E.A.R statements can help. E.A.R stands for Empathy, Attention and Respect. It is a great idea to combine these three things in order to have a kinder and more engaged conversation. Giving someone E.A.R lets someone know that you hear how upset they are, that you want to hear what’s going on for them, and that you can find a quality in the other person that you respect. It might sound like this, “I can see that you are striving to get a good grade. Tell me more about when your busy times are with online lectures. Let’s see if we can solve this together.”  

Who are iStudent Complaints and what can we help you with?
iStudent Complaints is an independent dispute resolution scheme established by the New Zealand Government. Our objective is to encourage swift settlement of contractual and financial disputes between international students and their providers in New Zealand. As an independent and impartial service, we are not affiliated with any Education providers.

Why did we do this blog?
Even if we need to step in one day to help you resolve a dispute, we want you to enjoy studying and living in our amazing country as much as we do. To that end, we’ve created this content so that you may continue to explore and experience the best New Zealand can offer.