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By Essi Korhonen. September 28, 2015 - 8:57 pm
August 24th, 2015 was a big day for Hawai’i Pacific University, its Aloha Tower project, and especially the many new and continuing students who moved into the Waterfront Lofts at Aloha Tower Marketplace. On that day the brand new Waterfront Lofts, providing housing for almost 300 HPU students, was opened and ready for students to move in.
Two students shared their thoughts about the Waterfront Lofts after their first month of living there:
18-year-old Kiahna Stephens is a freshman from San Diego, California. This is her first semester at HPU and her major is political science.
Stephens applied for Hawaii Loa Campus Residence Halls at first because she thought that there was a better meal plan. She got on the waiting list, but finally requested a double from the Waterfront Lofts. The application process was simple for her, too. Stephens got what she wanted and now she shares her room with one other student in an apartment of four. She is happy that she ended up living at Waterfront Lofts because she has all of her classes Downtown and now she doesn’t have to ride the shuttle every day.
Right from the beginning, Kiahna Stephens has liked the Aloha Tower Marketplace and her new home, the Waterfront Lofts. She also thinks her first impression of the place was really good.
“I like that we are all on the second floor. There is something cool to be able to look on everything that is happening and I really like that the bookstore is right downstairs. You get your textbooks from there, which is really convenient,” Stephens said.
Even though it’s sometimes quite loud, Stephens likes that there are boats coming near.
“It’s cool. You’re on a pier, and it’s really exciting,” Stephens continued.
Stephens thinks that the HPU facilities, bookstore, and the Learning Commons are great and they are also well located.
“The Learning Commons is actually really cool because they have like couches and stuff, so you can feel comfortable. It’s cool because they have the little cubicle things, so you can study there, and it’s really quiet. They don’t let it get crazy. You can print and scan, and it’s nice to have access to a computer if yours breaks. It’s nice to have that right there,” she said.
The Learning Commons closes at 8:00 p.m., and sometimes that’s too early for Stephens. She stays up later and would be happy if the
Learning Commons could be open until 11:00 p.m., at least.
Stephens purchased a meal plan at the Waterfront Lofts. She usually likes the food and in her opinion the options are really good. There are different meat options, but also vegetarian options at the same time. She has a lot of food allergies, but luckily she has many options to choose from. Only the serving times are a little bit awkward for Stephens. She usually has to leave for her classes just before lunch, and she is often only able to eat dinner.
“A breakfast option would be cool,” Stephens pointed out.
“I wish they had put more kitchen space,” said Stephens about their apartment, but otherwise she thinks the apartment is good.
“I think that the way that the room is set up is actually really good, because I feel like it gives you privacy. There are places where you can just
close the door. I also feel that the way like the bathrooms are set up is also really good for having roommates, because one person can be taking a shower, one person can be going to the bathroom, and one person can be at the sink. That part is nice, the privacy, “ Stephens explained.
In addition to privacy, Stephen feels relatively safe at the Waterfront Lofts.
“The gate system is really good. You have to have an ID to be able to get up here. It definitely makes you feel safer,” she said.
Constant privacy though isn’t necessary and it’s nice to have friends living in the same building.
“Usually there is something going on Friday nights. Gordon Biersch has really good sweet potato fries. Sometimes we go down there. Usually we just go to bigger rooms,” Stephens said, explaining what she does with her friends at Aloha Tower Marketplace.
20-year-old Jessica Hintzsche is a junior and majoring in marine biology. This is her first semester at HPU because she is a transfer student from Chicago. She explained that it was really hard to find a good apartment because she didn’t know the area. That is why she eventually chose the Waterfront Lofts.
Hintzsche had already completed a lot of applications so the application process wasn’t difficult for her. She was really nervous though about whether she would get housing or not.
“It was nice to get in, I guess,” Hintzsche said.
Hintzsche is happy about the area. She thinks that it’s great that the rooms are on the second floor, so the traffic that comes when people go to the boats and the restaurants downstairs doesn’t disturb her. She also praises the HPU facilities and the Learning Commons at Aloha Tower Marketplace and thinks that they work well.
“The area is really cool and it’s really convenient for all of us living down here,” said Hintzsche.
“It’s really nice that we have printing right here, so I don’t have to walk all the way to the Downtown Campus just to print one essay, “ Hintzsche continued.
Hintzsche lives in an apartment of five and she shares her room with two other students.
“I love all of my roommates. We are all very different people, but we all work very well together, somehow, and I think that it’s awesome,” said Hintzsche.
Hintzsche also goes hiking or snorkeling every week with a group of other students who are her Waterfront Loft neighbors.
Roommates and neighbors are nice, but not everything has been perfect. Hintzsche thinks that it is nice that the apartment came with a
microwave and a full-sized refrigerator, but she doesn’t like that it doesn’t have a stove. She didn’t purchase the HPU’s meal plan because she knew that the dining room wouldn’t be ready yet and she wasn’t sure how well the dining would be organized. She also likes to make her own food to eat when she is hungry. The biggest disappointment was the lack of windows in her room.
“We are paying waterfront rent, but we don’t have windows. There are no windows. I wake up and I have no idea what the weather is like, “ Hintzsche said.
“I didn’t have hot water for the first two and a half weeks. I had regular running water, but the first two and a half weeks I took cold showers. I sent them a work order, but it took awhile. Once they actually came and fixed the shower, it was like, done. I understand them, it was just cold,” Hintzsche also said, adding that reporting about the problem was quite easy.
“Another thing is that they don’t have a lot of storage space in here. We don’t have a closet and we don’t have drawers for our desks. We have books and stuff, but where do you keep books? We don’t have a bookshelf or anything. That was kind of weird, too. It’s actually a large space, but they just didn’t supply anything. None of us wants to buy anything because where are we going to put it if we have a break, you know?” Hintzsche explained.
Hintzsche is not really sure if she’s getting what she’s paying for.
“I don’t know. I feel like I could get a better deal for those things elsewhere, but it’s also convenient to be down here where everything is happening and then the security is nice. I’m a person that likes security. I am going back and forth, but I think that I might move off in the summer, once I get situated,” Hintzsche pondered.
“I definitely say that this is a good place to live if someone is transferring though. I have a good hope that in these coming years it’s going to be better once they get more shops down here, because it’s really nothing down here yet. Once we get dining commons and once we get situated here, I think that it will be a better place and the community will know that we are here. I know that we are going to have community events like that Halloween FunFest and everything down here, but I’m not sure how the attendance is going to be, just because people aren’t used to this shift. I feel like once it gets established here, it’s going to be a lot better. I am optimistic about this place,” said Hintzsche.
Photos courtesy of Essi Korhonen.