For fall semester study abroad students, living arrangements in the spring may be even more cramped than their plane rides home.
The housing availability is unusually limited next semester, affecting juniors returning from studying abroad in the fall.
"We have enough beds for everyone who wants to live on campus, but this spring semester's available configurations (e.g. singles, doubles, triples, quads) don't equal the number of requests for these specific types of housing," wrote Associate Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall in an e-mail to the Orient.
The housing crunch is due to a variety of factors, wrote Rendall. More students are studying away in the fall semester than in the spring semester, and "the demand for on-campus housing is growing with larger class sizes and fewer students choosing to live off-campus."
Additionally, according to Director of Off-Campus Study Stephen Hall, 21 percent of students that had expected to study abroad for the spring semester ultimately decided not to do so.
"It's in the normal range," said Hall. "It's a little bit higher than we thought, but just by a handful."
Last year, 24 percent of students who were approved to study abroad for the spring semester changed their plans.
"I think it's important not to make it seem like off-campus study is the only factor here [affecting housing availability]," said Hall. "I think one of the things...is that, over the last two years overall, study abroad numbers have dropped slightly and...in this year and the coming year we've seen a preference for the fall over the spring, which is a bit unusual."
Hall said that students typically cancel their plans to study abroad for the spring semester during the last two weeks of November, usually for academic reasons.
"They realize they need to take a particular course at Bowdoin [or that] they're probably going to support their major...better by staying here," said Hall.
Hall said the Office of Off-Campus Study is used to handling last-minute requests.
"We can [accommodate changes] at any point before the start of the semester, but we can't speak for ResLife and say, 'Yes, they will have a room for you,'" said Hall.
In order to address the housing crunch, the Office of Residential Life held a "mini-lottery" for each type of housing configuration.
"All spaces—e.g. singles, doubles, triples, quads—were each entered into the 'mini-lottery' regardless of whether or not previous arrangements were made to swap into a particular vacating apartment or room," wrote Rendall in an e-mail to the Orient. "For example, if you requested to be placed in a double that was vacating, your group was still put on a piece of paper and placed into a hat with all other double groups. The order in which the double pairings were pulled out was the order in which the spaces were assigned."
Returning juniors may also be placed with sophomores or seniors who have vacancies in their rooms, suites or apartments, wrote Rendall.
Jack Hilzinger '12 was placed in his preferred housing for the spring semester, but said that he has "heard a lot of grumbling from other people."
"I was never worried about not getting a bed, but I was pretty concerned about my living situation for next semester," wrote Hilzinger. "I had been hearing this entire semester while I was abroad that a lot of students were electing to remain on campus rather than go abroad next semester."
Andrew Won '12 just returned from studying abroad in Australia to find that he had been placed in a Chamberlain double, an outcome he was unhappy with. Chamberlain doubles are generally perceived as undesirable.
"Before I left for abroad, I filled out a form provided by the study abroad office, for preferred Spring Semester housing," wrote Won in an e-mail.
"I had prior knowledge that two of my friends would be living in Brunswick apartments and would be studying abroad in the spring semester," wrote Won. "So, I thought okay this would be perfect—my friend Nico and I are studying abroad in the fall and will just swap into the apartment that my two friends were living in. Both parties verbally agreed to switch."
"What I did not foresee was that there would be such a housing crunch," he added.
Won is now trying to be placed in a single in close proximity to his friend.
"Fingers crossed, but it seems like we may get our wish," wrote Won.