By Alex Downing
Going off to college is an exciting, yet stressful, chapter in one’s life. It entails meeting a myriad of new people, adjusting to a higher level of academic expectations and for many, moving into a dormitory building. The latter can prove especially daunting. I, for one, was racked with anticipatory anxiety over the concept of adapting to an entirely new style of living. Then, it happened. Only a few days before heading off to SMCC, many students received an email spelling out an unusual predicament. We were informed that Spring Point Hall had to be evacuated due to mold. And where were we being placed? Hotel rooms.
For 23 days and 23 nights, a portion of the SMCC student body called various hotels home. It was a unique experience that came with both difficulties and amenities. It wasn’t always easy — some had more glamorous stays than others — but it was an interesting situation nonetheless. I spoke with several students to gather testimonies on exactly what it was like to live out of a hotel room. Their recounts were varied and their levels of comfort depended greatly on their own individual circumstances.
One student entering her second semester here at SMCC, had a particularly luxurious stay. She was placed at a Hilton Home2 Suites, which is not your run-of-the-mill hotel. Her room more closely resembled an apartment, as it was equipped with a full-sized kitchen and a separate lounge area. The hotel even offered complimentary breakfasts. She thoroughly enjoyed her time there. “It was a really good stay,” she recalled. “I’d rather be there than in a dorm!”
Other students had more typical hotel experiences. Carter Castay, who just started his first semester here at SMCC, shacked up at a Quality Inn. His review was mixed. “It was pretty nice,” he recalled. “The bed was comfortable, and it was close to the mall, but it lacked the accessibility that comes with living on campus. There was always traffic in the morning and if you wanted to get food you would have to drive back over to the school.”
Anelise Carroll had a similar experience to Carter’s. She is a second-year student and was placed at a Hilton DoubleTree. “Having a car made all the difference,” Anelise informed me. “It made it so I didn’t have to ride the bus. I did have to spend a lot on gas, though. I didn’t expect to be using my car so much and the added expense was a nuisance.”
But what about those who didn’t have cushy hotel rooms and access to a car? Some students found the temporary housing to be exceptionally challenging.
Rika Sasada is one such student. Rika is here as part of an international exchange program. She is from Japan and has never spent an extended amount of time in the United States. Coming to SMCC was already an intimidating feat for her. She knew she would have to cope with cultural differences and a language barrier. However, the additional stress of her unusual living arrangements made her transition here all the more difficult. Rika was placed at a Days Inn, arguably not the most posh hotel, where she had to deal with faulty plumbing. She then had to learn how to navigate the bus schedule, which was written in a language that she is still in the process of learning. Rika called the overall experience “confusing.”
Despite the flaws of hotel living, I have to give credit to SMCC for their timely solution to an unexpected problem. If they had simply suspended housing, a lot of students, me included, would not have been able to attend this semester. Both the school and the students impacted showed an innate ability to overcome abrupt hurdles. Things can’t always work out the way they are supposed to. That would be easy, and life is not supposed to be easy. It is beautifully unpredictable.