Flying commuter lands housing
September 12, 2008 1:52 PM
On a recent Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., Monica Moffitt sat outside of the Humanities building. Though Moffitt's class doesn't begin for another hour, she's been up since 3 a.m. for her morning commute to campus.
Moffit, who was unable to secure campus housing prior to the beginning of the fall semester, flies in on Tuesday morning from Los Angeles International Airport to San Francisco International Airport, attends classes and heads back home on Thursday afternoon.
"On Tuesday I wake up at 3 a.m., get to the airport by 5:30 for a 6 a.m. flight and get to school around 8:20 for a 10:00 a.m. class," Moffitt said.
Originally from Orange County, Moffitt, 22, received her bachelor's degree in radio and television from Cal State Fullerton last spring. This fall, she signed up for classes to pursue her master's degree in communication at SF State. However, when she didn't apply for campus housing until May, Moffitt was placed on the waiting list at No. 188.
Over the summer Moffitt learned from e-mails sent by the housing office that the waiting list starts rapidly declining once the semester begins. She didn't think getting a spot would be a problem and having enrolled in three classes, she drove up from southern California and decided to stay in a hotel during the first week of school.
But by the first week of school, Moffitt's number had only dropped to 22 on the waiting list. When another week passed by and her spot on the list didn't budge, she dropped her swim class and went to the housing office to ask about why nothing had opened up. She then learned that only undergraduate housing opens up quickly.
Moffitt said the advice she received at this point was to, "Look for some serious temporary housing."
Philippe Cumia, associate director of university housing, said that students are encouraged to apply for housing by January, before even being admitted to the university. "Our process is first come, first served," Cumia said.
According to the director, housing applications become available every year on October 1 for the following academic year and that usually the waiting list gets depleted by the middle of the fall semester. Cumia said that students who can find temporary housing for up to six weeks into the semester can normally expect a call to move into housing as cancellations are confirmed.
However, Moffitt determined that flying back and forth on Southwest Airlines' $50 each way rate, plus a couple of nights at a hotel, would be less expensive than an extended hotel-stay. The downside, she said, is the excruciatingly early wake-up call.
Moffitt has spent the last couple of weeks jetting back and forth between the north and south--bringing extra baggage with her too. "I literally haul my suitcase on Tuesday and Thursday," she said, stressing that it's a pain to have to bring it along to school. Her suitcase is filled not only with personal items, but heavy textbooks that must fit in a carry-on sized bag.
When she lands at SFO on Tuesday morning, Moffitt takes BART to Daly City, then the SF State shuttle to campus. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights she's been staying at The Hampton Place in Daly City that comes out to $110 per night with a AAA discount and an understanding hotel manager who knocked the price down a bit more. In total, Moffitt estimates she's spent around $1,000 just on hotels and flights combined.
Aside from the financial burden, Moffitt feels this strenuous situation has mostly affected her well-being. "I think it's affecting my health more than anything," she said.
It's a sentiment echoed by Moffit's boyfriend of five years, Reed Metcalf. "It's taking the most toll on her sleep schedule," Metcalf said.
Metcalf, an English major at Cal State Fullerton, said that Moffitt tends to get anxious on Monday night before catching her Tuesday flight, causing her to stay up until midnight or later.
Moffitt also said that being isolated in her hotel has been lonely. When she's not attending classes on campus, Moffitt spends the evenings at the hotel studying in the lobby enjoying "endless cups of tea" the hotel serves.
For meals, it's whatever's easy and available. "I live off of Ramen, granola and continental breakfast," Moffitt said. "I grab yogurt [from the continental breakfast] and stick it in an ice bucket in my room."
Good news finally came last Friday when a room finally opened up in University Park South, ready for Moffitt to move in. She plans on moving within the next couple of weeks.
After she's all settled, Moffitt said she is most looking forward to not having to wake up at 3 a.m. She'd also like to be a better pen-pal because she likes to send family and friends letters in the mail. "I want to send people stuff and not see them when the letter arrives," she said.
Moffitt said she wouldn't have been able to travel back and forth without the strong support of her family and friends. Even her grandfather has driven her out to LAX in the early morning.
"It has been really nice to see her family and friends pull together to help her out," said Yvonne, Moffit's mother. "It's an entirely new experience for her and she's handled these hurdles very well."
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