Homecoming: Housing and Study Away

The recent controversy over reserving housing when studying away should be resolved with the best interests of the students in mind.

By Madeline Lake

Ninety-eight days, 53 theater performances, 44 museums, 25 cities, 16 castles and palaces, 8 countries, 6 weeks in a hotel, one incredible semester. While I will tell anyone who will listen that my semester abroad in the British Isles was by far the most amazing, life altering experience I’ve ever had, there is only one number that really defined my experience abroad: G105.

I could lie and say that I was not ready to come home, but there was nothing I wanted more than to be back at school, sleep in my own bed, and not eat another restaurant prepared meal for an incredibly long time. It was the fact that after traversing mountains and deciphering city maps, I’d be coming home to G105  and three of the sweetest roommates I could ever ask for. They were the ones who decorated the door to my room for my homecoming, and collected all of the T-shirts I had missed from sorority functions.

Before the recent reversal of housing policies, future students studying abroad would not have been given this opportunity. The now altered policies stated that a student would not have been allowed to reserve a space in an apartment for the semester they are not studying abroad, and would instead have to find a housing option upon their return or switch out with someone else.

As a former employee of Furman’s Housing and Residence Life, I understand that when changes are necessary, changes will be made. However, housing for the second half of my junior year was of upmost importance to me. Although I wanted an incredible experience abroad, I wanted an equally satisfying experience when I arrived back at Furman.  Even though it’s “just a semester,” a semester is four months of your life. Four months of living with people that will shape one’s decisions, one’s habits, and ultimately, the rest of one’s life.

I don’t mean to sound dramatic. I simply want to raise a point. Is it fair that students are being confronted with uncertainties about living situation immediately after being accepted into Study Abroad programs? Not at all. Because of this uncertainty in policy, a number of students will probably choose not to go abroad at all because they want to make sure they have their living situations secured.  All this begs a larger question–was this situation handled in the way it should have been?

Going abroad was a defining point in my life, but so was coming back and learning how to laugh, cry, and live with three of my best friends. The recents gyrations of housing policy resulted in stressful and needless uncertainty, an uncertainty that can be easily prevented by a clarity and security of policy.

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