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Friday, May 7, 2021

Home for the holidays

By Jacob Carver


According to Western’s Office of Institutional Research, 2,129 students could be headed to their homes outside of Washington during one of the busiest times to travel during the year.

As the quarter draws to a close and the holiday season begins, out-of-state students start to travel back to their homes to see family and friends for the holidays.

Since 2010, the percentage of out-of-state students attending Western has increased from 7.5 percent of the total student population to 12.2 percent this year, according to Western’s Office of Institutional Research and their research on enrollment by place of origin.

Stefanie Sommer keeps a small flipbook of family photos, along with a travel set of office supplies, given to her by her aunt. // Photo courtesy of Stefanie Sommer

There are 190 students studying at Western from outside of the country, according to the enrollment research. Of that 190, about seven are from Germany.

Senior Stefanie Sommer is from Germany and has plans to leave the U.S. for the holidays, as well as finish school in Germany.

Similar to out-of-state students that live in the U.S., Sommer has not been home since September.

“I think I would have gone home anyways, if I had stayed here longer,” Sommer said.

While some students look forward to seeing familiar sights and places, Sommer said she is excited to see the food that she is used to.

“I miss the bread a lot,” Sommer said. “There are different stores in Germany that I normally go grocery shopping in which do not exist here.”

Winter break is a time for out-of-state students to catch up with family and friends while they can. Sophomore Katie Winkelman is from Colorado and looking forward to just that.

“I usually go home once or twice a year,” Winkelman said. “During that time, you’re really encouraged to spend some quality time with friends and family to try and make up for lost time.”

Sophomore Veronica Delgado, another Colorado native, has a similar situation with how many times she gets to visit home.

“I think last year, I only went [home] twice,” Delgado said. “And I think this year, I’m only going for winter break and I won’t be back until possibly in the summer. So I definitely don’t get to spend a lot of time there.”

According to the enrollment research, the two most represented states besides Washington are Colorado and California. These two states make up 37.9 percent of all out-of-state students, with 11.7 percent from Colorado and 26.2 percent from California. 

Junior Grace Parziale plans for winter break are just a four-day trip before Christmas.

“I haven’t been home since mid-summer,” Parziale said. “A lot of my roommates go home every few weeks or their parents come up or something.”

Another factor out-of-state students have to consider is the cost of returning home. According to Winkelman, an average cost for plane tickets back to Colorado can range from $200 to $300.

“That’s like rent or a couple weeks worth of groceries that you’re spending to go home,” Winkelman said. “It’s kind of an expense you can only make a couple times a year.”

Parziale is also affected by the price of plane tickets while trying to leave for California.

“The cost definitely affects how much I go home because I don’t see the point in spending money just to go home for a couple days at most,” Parziale said. “When I go home, I’m gonna go home for four days. I am gonna be not working during that time. It affects if I’m going to be making enough money to support myself.”

For Delgado, purchasing tickets home has to come two or three months in advance, in order to get good prices.

Winkelman said traveling can also go wrong. For them, this came in the form of being stuck in Portland for three days on a layover.

“The first flight was from Seattle to Portland and then I was gonna stay on the same plane and go from there to Denver,” Winkelman said. “The flight from Seattle to Portland was fine, but once I got there, the flight was overbooked.”

Winkelman said the next two flights she was scheduled for were overbooked and grounded because of a storm in Denver. When she finally left Portland, the plane she was on had engine troubles and was forced to land in Utah, where the airline she was with put her on yet another overbooked flight. She finally made it to Denver early the next morning.

In Delgado’s case, the trip home is a very relaxing experience, one in which she does not have to focus on school.

Although these factors affect out-of-state students, they still don’t deter them from looking forward to being at home. 

Parziale said she spends a lot of time in airports, train stops and bus stations. However, that time is enjoyable for her because of the interesting people she meets and stories she hears, she said.

Although, once she gets there, Parziale’s time feels like it gets stretched a little thin.

“I always expect it to be so amazing and I’ll be able to have so much time with all of my siblings and my nieces and nephews,” Parziale said. “But, I feel like every time I go home, it’s good for five seconds or five minutes or the first day even. But the rest of it is crazy. I don’t even end up seeing my family because I’m trying to get everything done that I can’t get done while I’m up here.”

Now that Parziale has done this a few times, she knows what to expect and plans on engaging more with her family while she can during this trip.

“I haven’t really gotten to enjoy just hanging out and talking more,” Parizale said. “So, I think this break will just bring some calm, hopefully, to my life. And some good bear hugs.”

Winkelman looks forward to the lack of responsibilities that come with winter break.

“Being an out-of-state student, I think there’s fewer opportunities to really go home and hit the reset button,” Winkelman said. “That’s something I’m really looking forward to, just being able to chill.”

For Delgado, the feeling she is looking forward to is a release from school, as well as seeing family.

“I look forward to spending time with my parents,” Delgado said. “That’s not something I get to do very often and I miss it.”


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