You really never know who you’ll come across at CUW.

West coast to east coast, north to south, local to abroad—students come from all around the country and beyond to make a new home at CUW and pursue their own educational endeavors. One third of our students come from outside of Wisconsin, so an out-of-stater isn’t alone on Concordia’s campus.

We can’t help but want to know—what brings them here? What’s the change like for them? But mostly, we’re just glad they’re here! As a proud resident of Wyoming (yee-haw!), about 1,000 miles away, it’s a common talking point for me. Time to get to the bottom of what makes some of our non-native Wisconsinites tick.

Meet six of our stellar students from afar.

1) Skylar Petrik, Business Management- Montana

Skylar “Big Sky Montana” Petrik (OK, maybe I only call him that) is a junior-year finance major who will graduate in May 2020. He’s from Sidney, Montana, which is a little farming town in eastern Montana. It’s right around 1,000 miles from CUW’s campus to Skylar’s front step.

Skylar was well equipped for the Wisconsin weather upon his arrival three years ago.

“Weather has not been a tough adjustment at all. Montana can be a very desolate and unforgiving place, especially in the winter season. The polar vortex was a pretty incredible experience, but I grew up very used to long stretches of 20-plus below zero weather back home.”

Meeting new friends and staying occupied while away from home posed no issue for Skylar given his involvement in several activities, including ACHA hockey his first two years, Bible studies, and current SGA presidency.

“Honestly, my group of friends has just kept growing and growing as I’ve been at Concordia. It’s been really great,” says Skylar. “I also have my pilot’s license, so I will try and pull the airplane out of the hangar on the weekends and do some flying if the weather is nice. One of my favorite things to do though is to drive to Brookfield on Fridays for Chick-fil-A. My girlfriend and I started that tradition this year and it’s been a great way to keep ourselves preoccupied. One of the nice things about being farther from home is that I’ve had the chance to get to know my friends’ families and spend time with them since it is not as easy for me to get home for breaks.”

Most of us don’t have an airplane pilot’s license, but there’s still something to learn from Skylar about adjusting to college life.

2) Abbey Walter, Rehabilitation Science- Connecticut

Abbey Walter is a sophomore rehabilitation science student on track to go to physical therapy graduate school after she receives her undergraduate diploma in 2021. She’s from Ridgefield, Connecticut, about a 14-hour drive away.

With an exuberant personality like Abbey’s, a person can find their place pretty quickly. She offers this advice for students planning to come to Concordia:

“For students that are looking to come to Concordia from out of state, know that being away from home for so long only makes you appreciate going home more! There’s also always plenty of people here on the weekend to have an adventure with! Some of my best friends are fellow out of staters because we’re the ones that are always here. It’s a cool community. You really get to meet some super sweet people from Wisconsin that have weird accents (the way they say bagel is just not natural).”

When not studying, Abbey will always find something neat to do.

“Going to Milwaukee has been a really cool adventure for the weekend, from driving around to see Christmas lights, eat Insomnia, or find cool coffee shops. Probably the best thing I did was go to a rodeo at the Fiserv. I learned that the best bulls have the best names like ‘Gunpowder and Lead’, ‘I’m a Gangster’, or ‘Big Black Cat’. When it comes to longer breaks, the best advice I can give is make friends with someone who’s mom is a real good cook. That way you have a feast to devour for Thanksgiving!”

3) Logan Briscoe, Biblical Languages- New York

Logan is a sophomore Biblical Languages major. He’s from Saratoga Springs, New York, in the eastern portion of Upstate NY. You can catch him with his fellow theology major friends without fail at daily chapel and Compline, and during his many hours studying in the library. Spiritual life at CUW led him to his ever-growing tight knit posse.

“My best avenues for finding friends were joining clubs and getting involved in on-campus activities. When I first got to Concordia I became involved in PSSA, UPCO, various campus ministries, musical groups like Kammerchor, and the evening services offered here like Evening Prayer, Vespers, and Compline. If you’re trying to find friends, become involved and friendships will form without a doubt.”

Logan spends his free time enjoying the finer things in life.

“Many clubs and activities host weekend events and there are many concerts offered locally, like those of the Kettle Moraine Symphony Orchestra. Local churches, like Luther Memorial which I usually attend, host events for students like a Game Day or a Superbowl party. There are also many sporting events to attend and local establishments, like theaters and restaurants, with student discounts. You don’t have to look to far to find ways to kill your boredom.”

New students heed his succinct advice- “Three things are key to going to college far from home: call home often (Mom worries!), find a great group of friends, and learn how to creatively pack a bag. With these you cannot fail!”

4) Allison McElwee, Biomedical Science- Wyoming

I must preface this one by adding that it’s pretty wild how paths cross sometimes. Allison is from Laramie, Wyoming- interestingly the same place I call home. I had to check my vision when I saw someone from my high school at the same university so far away. But I do suppose it’s no mystery why someone might end up at CUW from afar. Allison is a sophomore studying biomedical science, graduating May 2021, and a killer soccer and ice-hockey player.

The adjustment to the weather has not been a difficult adjustment for Allison, coming from frigid Wyoming. She notes she actually enjoys having more snow.

“I’ve spent some of my free weekends sledding or just hanging out with my other out of state friends. I found most of my friends through sports here. I am on the hockey and soccer team so that made it really easy to make friends. It is also easy to make friends who have the same major as you because you have a lot of classes with them.”

She wishes to give advice to incoming out of staters based on her experience.

“I would just say that anyone coming to Concordia from out of state should really get involved. There are so many great ways to make friends here and great programs to get involved even if you aren’t involved in sports. It is also a good idea to know some other out of state students so when you can’t go home you aren’t here all alone!”

5) Mihoby Rasaminanama, Nursing- Madagascar

You’ll run into your fair share of out of staters, but you’ll be pleased to meet many from further yet. Mihoby is one of CUW’s international students with experience worth sharing. She is a third year nursing student, graduating in December 2020. She comes from Antsirabe, about 10,000 miles away over the Atlantic Ocean and continental Africa, on the island of Madagascar.

Just have fun. You’ll be a little homesick now and then. Admire the change and learn from it. Make the best of it. At the end of the day, this will be your second home.”— Ramiro Vasquez

She details her international adjustment.

“Concordia really does a good job in helping you grow in body, spirit, and mind. You get to know your core beliefs about who you are and how you present yourself in your personal and professional world. Although home is far, I consider Concordia my second home because I have grown so much in this school and I made incredible connections with so many people. Always reach out for help if you are facing any kind of situations because and always open up yourself to others so they can see what they can do to help you.”

Mihoby confirms that there are some very clear geographical differences between Madagascar and Wisconsin.

“Coming from a tropical island, the weather is still one of the things I am not used to and every year it gets hard to adjust to it. Thanks to Concordia for having tunnels.”

6) Ramiro Vasquez, Radiologic Technology- Arizona

Anyone will tell you Ramiro’s a cool dude with some interesting hobbies. He balances these with his radiologic technology major and clinicals at Aurora Healthcare. Don’t be alarmed when he says he likes to fight with his roommates on the weekends- his crew is big into jiu-jitsu and wrestling, and roughhousing is their way of bonding. He hails from Yuma, Arizona, a couple thousand miles away and a 30 hour drive.

With Arizona being a notoriously hot place, he says he’s had to adapt to the weather over his first three years here.

“The first year was pretty hard, as an Arizona boy. I didn’t have the proper clothing. After getting used to Wisconsin’s weather, it hasn’t been too bad.  Going from 115 degrees, and maybe a couple days of rain to this much snow was hard. The biggest thing was the subzero’s.”

Meeting people was easy for Ramiro with the right moves.

“Classes were a huge one. You’d be surprised how many people you meet studying in the library. I met a lot of my friends during my labs. A good one is if you forget a pencil, you know, ‘can I borrow a pencil?’ That always works.”

In his freetime he likes to breakdance, play Spikeball, do parkour, or find any other outdoor activity that catches his interest when the weather’s nice.

He sums it up best.

“If you’re from the west coast, bring warm clothing. Just have fun. Yeah, you’ll be a little homesick now and then. Admire the change and learn from it. Make the best of it. At the end of the day, this will be your second home.”

Kai Goldenstein

— Kai Goldenstein is a student writer and senior year Social Work major, minoring in German

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