CUW The Beacon

The Voice of Concordia Students Since 1984

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Thanksgiving Break offered a much-needed week of rest and relaxation for the student body, while also providing opportunities for students to go back home and reconnect with their families. Two CUW students, choosing to remain anonymous, shared their unique experiences of spending Thanksgiving on a nearly deserted campus as well as all the challenges that have come with staying on campus year-round.

A third-year psychology major at CUW embodies resilience in the face of life’s relentless challenges. Growing up in a turbulent family environment, they have learned to rely solely on themselves. “From a young age, independence wasn’t just encouraged; it was necessary,” they recount. Since shortly before they arrived at CUW, they have been without any help. Every parking pass, textbook, and additional cost of living has fallen entirely on them. They have purchased their own car since they arrived on campus and have been steadily working the same job for almost three years.

Balancing a demanding academic workload with a near full-time job in Mequon, this student’s life is a testament to determination. “My days are a blur of classes, work, and homework. It’s exhausting, but I guess I feel pride in managing it all,” they explain.

Estranged from their family, the student found themselves alone during the holiday. Utilizing CUW’s Sodexo dining service, they ordered a special Thanksgiving pickup meal. “Sitting in my dorm, eating that meal, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of loneliness and independence. It was bittersweet,” they share, their eyes reflecting a myriad of emotions. On the bright side, the student has been able to tag along with a good friend of theirs from back in their hometown during Christmas.

In contrast, another student faces a different set of challenges. A sophomore majoring in business, this student’s journey from a small town in South Korea to CUW covers more than just miles. “The decision to leave my family and come here was driven by ambition, but it came with a heavy heart,” he says. Adapting to a new culture and educational system presented its challenges. “Every day was a learning experience, from understanding classroom dynamics and social norms,” he recalls.

The distance from home (nearly 7000 miles) brought an intense sense of loneliness, particularly during holidays. “I remember my first Thanksgiving here. It was so different from any festival back home. I felt isolated,” he admits. However, he found comfort in CUW’s community. “Joining student organizations and participating in events helped bridge that gap,” he added, acknowledging the role of community in easing his transition.

One positive he noted was that the sense of loneliness he first felt allowed him to closer connect with his faith. “[CUW] gave me all the tools I needed to learn more about what I’ve been saying all my life.” he shared. He talked about how during his time at CUW, when he feels lonely or sad, he looks to his faith. This was especially the case last year.

This year, Thanksgiving had a different flavor for him. “I organized a small gathering with other international students. We shared dishes from our respective cultures and stories from back home. It felt like creating a family away from family,” he shared. Though last year he was forced to celebrate with his family through deliveries and video calls, this upcoming Christmas, he’ll be heading back home for a short time during winter break.

Seeking to be seen?

As CUW’s campus returns to its usual pace before winter break, the experiences of these two students paint a picture of one of the unseen sides of campus life. Their stories, distinct in their challenges and triumphs, underscore the resilience and adaptability inherent in the student body. Their distinct journeys offer a glimpse into the diverse tapestry of experiences that define CUW as a community. If you find yourself feeling alone on campus, there are resources available. Here are two of the most beneficial:

  • The CUW Campus Activities Board (CAB) creates, plans, and executes many exciting campus events throughout the school year. Some of these events include Bonfires, Movie Nights, Themed Bingos, and Workout Wednesdays. CAB also organizes trips at a discounted rate for students to attend. Some destinations include Brewer’s and Buck’s games, Admiral’s Games, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Follow @CUWCAB on Instagram for more details.
  • Student Wellness is the place to start when looking for mental health and wellness support for students. Schedule an appointment with an intake coordinator for a personalized approach to your mental health and wellness journey and to assist you in identifying a positive path forward. Email or call 262-243-2244 today!

—Julian Koonce is a senior majoring in Mass Communications with a minor in Business.