A $750 ticket stands between Jamie Wren and a trip home for Thanksgiving.
Wren, a junior studying specialized studies, is from Whittier, California — 2,310 miles away. In her two and a half years at Ohio University, she has gone home only once excluding summer and winter breaks.
After deciding to come to Athens, Wren did what many out-of-state students at OU have to do: suffer through the distance and homesickness to save their family the money and stress it would take to go home.
For the past two years, Wren has followed friends home to Columbus for Thanksgiving instead of spending it with her own family. Although she was always grateful for being welcomed into someone else’s home, it didn’t feel right.
“They let you in and they do the best that they can to make you feel like family, but you know it's just like not the same,” Wren said.
That’s why this year, Wren decided the long trip would be worth it, and she will travel home for the holiday.
“I was just homesick,” Wren said. “I didn't want to go through the feeling of missing out on my family events again.”
Wren’s trip will take her more than seven hours. Her flight from Columbus connects in Chicago and lands in Los Angeles.
“I know that it's like a lot of extra work and money and time …(but) I'd just be so much happier going home,” Wren said.
Wren shares the difficulties faced by many OU students who live far away, some of whom do not have the option of going home this year.
Hardika Singh, a freshman studying journalism, tops Wren’s trip to California with a 7,552-mile distance back home to New Delhi.
It took Singh two years to convince her parents to let her study in the U.S., a discussion that was not easy to decide.
“We did give it a lot of thought because it was really expensive and if I ever get in trouble, my parents cannot come and see me,” Singh said.
A trip from Columbus to New Delhi involves many connecting flights, adding up to more than 20 hours of travel, and a ticket is currently priced at more than $1,500, she said.
For the holiday, Singh is traveling to Cincinnati to stay with a friend from OU. For Singh, it will be the first time experiencing a true American Thanksgiving other than what she has seen on TV.
“I'm really excited because I've never experienced it before, and I've always watched it in American movies, and always in Friends. Somehow, Monica (Geller) always comes in my head when I think of Thanksgiving with friends,” Singh said.
Singh expects Thanksgiving to be celebrated closely like Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
“It’s like the festival where everyone visits each other and everyone sits together to have a family meal and stuff like that,” Singh said. “You cook good food and you light up your home, there's prayers to be sung. I think it's going to be something like that, where the whole family comes together once a year.”
While a holiday full of pie and turkey-induced naps excites students to traverse home or follow friends, it doesn’t appeal to others.
Kohl Eisenhauer, a senior studying education, has to make the 1,947 mile trip to Phoenix, Arizona, if he wants to see his family, but he chooses to travel only by car.
“I never fly. I drive my car to and from Arizona every time I go. It takes me three to four days. I load essentially all of my possessions in my car … then I drive across the country with it all, by myself,” Eisenhauer said.
Despite the love for his family’s elaborate Thanksgiving dinners, filled with family and friends, he will not make the trip home this year.
“I miss my family … They miss me a lot … but they're not like ‘Thanksgiving is such an important holiday, come home,’ ” Eisenhauer said.
Eisenhauer thinks he will miss the food the most.
“My family's favorite thing to do is save leftovers,” Eisenhauer said. “Stuffing is one of my favorite foods of all time. That is the one thing I miss about Thanksgiving.”