Many students at BYU–Hawaii said they were staying home for the holidays due to the financial burden it would cause them and their families if they returned home. Despite going home, students agreed that Hawaii can feel like home as they make new traditions with their friends.
According to the BYUH website, over 70 countries are represented on campus and approximately 30 to 40 percent of the student body are from international countries. This creates a problem for many students who need to travel a great distance in order for them to see their family and friends for the holidays.
Of a poll of 200 students, 94 explained they would be staying home, and of those students staying, 70 said they have experienced at least one Christmas from home.
Since nearly 40 percent of students are staying home this holiday season and nearly 68 percent of students have spent at least one Christmas away from home, many individuals expressed their opinions on what they felt their first Christmas away from home was like.
Martine Printz Gylseth, a junior from Norway majoring in business, said, “Coming to Hawaii and not knowing anyone and having no family was really hard for me at first. I have come to know so many good people and my closest friends are here on the island now and I consider them my family- my ohana.”
Glyseth said what helped her is being okay with trying new things and putting yourself out there to make new friends. This has been a blessing in her life as she has tried her best to navigate spending time away from family, but being able to enjoy new memories with her friends and ohana on the island.
Students from the same poll explained how hard it is sometimes missing their families and knowing they are having fun without them. They miss many of the small traditions they use to do that they will not participate in this year.
Demetrius De Moors, a senior from Georgia studying human resources in business, offered advice to others commenting, “Don’t think too much [about] missing your family because that seems to just make it worse- instead find your friends. Do your best to experience the same kind of traditions that you would do at home but do them with your friends. This way it makes these traditions still special and you can build new memories with others. ”
Sera Hone, a junior from Utah studying communications, explained, “When you are far from home and you are not around family members, the holidays can be more lonely than fun. I think the best thing to do is to surround yourself with people you care about and you know care about you. Things do not have to be expensive either. Just spending quality time with people is the best way I feel the holidays can be spent. Also one of the best things to do is to eat lots of great food.”
In the end, Gylseth said, “Christmas is my favorite holiday, because that is when I am usually with all my family celebrating. I love this holidays specifically because most important, celebrating the birth of Christ. I will have my family in mind, but luckily I will be with my other brothers and sisters celebrating Jesus Christ.”