According to Marist’s own website, the school accepts, “approximately 300 transfer students per year.” This may not be surprising, but what may surprise you is the housing assigned to the overwhelming majority of these transfers.
The Marriott Residence Inn, about 5 miles south of campus, is a functioning hotel that additionally serves as part Marist dormitory. Many transfer students point to issues such as the isolation and distance from campus in addition to the separation of students within the hotel itself as a source of constant struggle/frustration. Living at the hotel can be hard for many reasons, but there are several things students can do to better their stay with the Residence Inn.
- Meet the Staff
One of the most crucial as well as beneficial things a newly transferred student can do is to introduce his or herself to the staff of the hotel. The staff are, as Marist students may overlook, real people. That is, they have lives outside their work, and being that most of the employees are local, they can be a new student’s most useful source of information. Before I had established a strong group of friends here at Marist, I became social with the staff. “A lot of new students will kind of ignore us,” said Jett Vinca, a hotel employee for the last several years. “I think they’re nervous or whatever, but the thing is, most of us working here aren’t much older, we do a lot of the same things. When people ask me I’m, for the most part, always glad to help.
Thanks to the staff I learned things like where to go out on a Friday, where to eat vs. where not to eat, what can and can’t be done at the hotel, the whereabouts of the closest good will, grocery store, record shop, and the list goes on. “They keep you hip,” said Dilini De Silva, a senior who spent her first semester at Marist living in the hotel. “They give you the lowdown on Poughkeepsie that you couldn’t get from anyone else, especially for someone like me, coming from another state.” Transfers, rarely local themselves, can benefit greatly from this kind of inside information. The employees are, in my experience, all friendly, and were very welcoming, making the new environment much more comfortable.
If you don’t have a car of your own, and plan on using the shuttle to and from class, be sure to introduce yourself to whoever is driving. Get their phone number. When class gets out at 12:15, and the van leaves to go back to the hotel at the same time, being able to text whoever is driving that day that you are on your way can be a lifesaver. In addition, unbeknownst to most, the hotel’s room service does service student rooms. That’s right, twice a week your room will be cleaned. But don’t expect your mom to come in and clean up, these are working people, so I suggest treating whoever it is in your room with respect, as well as introducing yourself.
The transfer process can be a tough one, being thrown into a new environment relatively alone, but meeting the staff is the quickest way to end the feeling of isolation within the hotel. Knowing the faces you are guaranteed to see every morning and every night can be very comforting for those struggling to adjust.
- Get up and get out of your room.
The way the hotel assigns rooms, students and guests alike, can be difficult to adjust to. My room, 124, was surrounded by hotel guests, not students. The closest students were, initially, at the end of the same hall, with at least 5-6 guest rooms between us. This can greatly further the feeling of isolation. Whereas a normal dorm assists in the meeting of new people, as the flow of students to the rooms creates a natural tendency to see one’s neighbors, the hotel does not provide this. Because of this, it is important to get out of your room. Go do homework in the lobby, maybe say hello to the other students doing the same. The only way to meet the students who are likely feeling the same isolation, is to get out of your room. “I met my current housemates and best friends nearly two years ago in the parking lot (of the hotel). Before that, I was always in my room or on campus, but that day I was out taking pictures and low and behold, they were too,” said Roshni Karadia, a current junior whom lived in the hotel after transferring.
Further, try to get involved in campus activities. Outside of class, most transfer students are in the library or back at the hotel, limiting exposure/integration into the rest of the Marist student body. To counter this, join clubs, intramurals, study groups, etc. “Majority of my friends that I met my sophomore year as a transfer, either came from those I knew in the hotel, or those I met through flag football,” said Andrew Sackett, a former hotel resident.
- Utilize the hotel’s amenities
When you actually do manage to get out of your room, it won’t take long to realize the variety of things that the hotel, and the area around it, has to offer. Take advantage of these things. Take a swim in the hotel’s pool or hang out in the hot tub. “The hot tub is easily the most underappreciated aspect of the hotel,” says Jack Cummings, whom spent his first year with Marist in the hotel. “People, for whatever reason, never used it, I was in that thing as often as possible, I mean, it’s not like people living in Champ have a hot tub. So many kids just stayed in their rooms when we had access to all this random (stuff)” Take advantage of the hotel’s own gym, open 24/7. If being outside is more your style go play basketball on the hotels court or play soccer in the field next to it. Take a walk to Barnes & Noble across the street and read a book, grab a coffee at Starbucks on your walk over. Hotel residents have access to sushi, frozen yogurt, a 24/7 diner, and a Red Robbin literally yards away.
- Be Open, Be Friendly
One of the biggest things that new students living in the hotel tend to do is not talk. That is, students will often find themselves in the shuttle on the way to class, surrounded by fellow students, and not utter a word. Often students will be waiting in the lobby, large groups of individual students, who will sit in silence rather than introduce themselves to one another. Instead of silence, simply say hello. Pass on a compliment. Most of the students are nervous just like you, and a simple hello can go a long way. “I met Tom in the (shuttle),” says Jesse Foote, another transfer student, referring to meeting myself. “I always had my headphones on, I never really wanted to talk to anyone. But one day Tom asked me about what I was watching on my phone. When he said he knew I was on WordStar I was like, ‘That’s my man.’” Jesse has since become one of my best friends, and it all developed out of simple small talk in the shuttle.
- Cook REAL food
The hotel, while being out of the way in comparison to mostly everything Marist, is sandwiched between two large shopping plazas, the Hudson and the Poughkeepsie plaza. Within these two plazas is two separate grocery stores, Price Chopper and Stop n Shop, both within walking distance. In addition to this, each room within the hotel comes with a full kitchen. That includes an oven, microwave, stove, full fridge, coffeemaker, pots, pans, silverware, and dishwasher. Utilize this. Cook real food. Ask any student living in one of the freshman dorms, they’ll likely tell you what extent they would go to for a real kitchen, for real food. “I ate better there (in the hotel) than I do a majority of the times I cook for myself back home. Definitely much better than I do now that I’m off campus,” said former resident Andrew Sackett. Whereas the majority of those who live in freshman dorms get used to eating extraordinary amounts of instant and junk food, during my stay at the hotel I was cooking (when I could afford to) full meals; steaks, pastas, etc.