For some Jaguars, the place they call home is just over the hump. For others, it’s a couple hours away: a midnight drive to New Orleans or Natchez. When you’re home is around the corner, surviving in college is a lot less intimidating. When the holidays roll around, the pleasant ride back home to comfort and security is always a promise. Although you may be living on your own, you’re never too far from the nest to be left without what’s needed. 

     However, for some Jaguars, home is farther than a trip to Cuba, and for many that’s far from a dramatization. When the winter holidays roll around - Thanksgiving, Christmas and even birthdays - those students who are so far removed from home are exposed to a cold truth: they won’t be spending the holidays with those who love them. 

This state of isolation is prime time for maturity, as these students have to learn how to be on their own much sooner than many of their classmates. Mayberry and Dunn are closed? No choice but to eat elsewhere, and let’s hope the holidays aren’t shutting the closest dining options down. Could they go actually go home? Of course the choice is there, but for the average college student, an almost $400 ticket for a week at home is a trade they can’t afford to make. 

Could they celebrate with friends? Maybe they could spend that time with those who they’ve built connections with away from home: a friend or anyone with a kitchen to cook in. However, these options aren’t common, considering these friends will often be with family as well. And even if they are available, there really is no place like home. I was lucky enough to have a friend welcome me into her home for Thanksgiving break, and she definitely ensured my stay felt like I was right back in Los Angeles. Even then, I still missed the comfort of family, and any family I do have in the area never invited me over. Imagine that isolation, during the most family-oriented time of the year. 

     So with all the melancholic testimonial I can offer, let’s lighten the conversation up. What can you do to help a friend too far away from home? The answer is simple: give them what you would want. If you were thousands of miles away from home, would you want to get a taste of the warmth of family? Assuming you would, help your friend experience that too. Bring them to the family reunion, fake last name included. Let them cook a sweet potato pie with your Mama, you can sit this year out. Take them all around your city, and throw them into the rich culture you have to offer. There will never be any place like home, but your home is wherever you make it. 


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