By Courtney Fowler, Assistant Editor 

With Starbucks in hand, Courtney prepares for her trip home (Photo Courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

With Starbucks in hand, Courtney prepares for her trip home (Photo Courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

There is no denying the excitement that comes with the holiday season. Our favorite latte flavors return to Starbucks, Christmas lists are made, and classes come to an end. But for me? The holiday season means finally being able to go home.

Though sometimes hard for us to admit, there is truly nothing that compares to returning home after a long, stressful semester. With the radio blasting and the weight of school finally off our shoulders, the drive home is always something we look forward to as students. Whether it is for Thanksgiving next week or Christmas the following month, there is simply something magical about being home for the holidays.

Unlike most UMF students who have the luxury of a short, few hour car ride home, for me, the trip consists of plane rides, long layovers, and barely contained excitement as I make my way back to my home state of North Carolina (go Tar Heels). A full day of travel only adds to the anticipation of seeing my parents, my closest friends, and my beloved kitten after more than eight months of being away.

The first steps off the plane are always the most memorable. The wave of relief hits, as my heart fills with joy and my head buzzes with excitement to know I have finally made it. These first moments are the ones I look forward the most, the ones that are constantly on my mind.

As I pick up my checked luggage and make my way towards the airport exit, I cannot help but feel a sense of contentment, at ease and relaxed to be back in the South. When I finally see my mom’s smiling face and teary eyes in the crowd, I know I am where I am supposed to be. The demands of school and living 1,000 miles aware are all worth that one moment, that split second of knowing I am home.

I never planned on going to college out of state. I never planned to constantly miss my friends, my family, or the smell of fried chicken and sweet tea in the mornings. I especially never planned on going home only two times a year. But if I have learned anything, it is to cherish these special moments. To laugh with friends I haven’t seen in months and to choose to stay home one night, spending it with only my parents. To absorb all of the love and joy I feel when I am home, and return to UMF feeling rejuvenated and at peace.

No matter where your home may be, make the trip back for the holidays, as I can attest, it is absolutely worth the wait and the time traveling. Help decorate for Christmas, offer to roast the turkey, or even take the full three hours to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with your family. Because in the end, the holidays only come around once a year, and who wouldn’t want to spend them at home.