Family above all

Column by Gisselle HernandezAssistant Features Editor

As the end of the semester looms ahead like the monster some of us fear (or the saving grace some feel can’t come soon enough), the awareness of the running clock leads my heart to a place more than a 1,000 miles away in an itty bitty Third World country: home.

Many students travel from all over the U.S. to attend our beloved Murray State, and most have the privilege of visiting back home for breaks. These breaks have a slightly different definition for international students: FaceTiming a half-comatose parent or significant other who wakes up from their slumber to speak with you during breaks at your summer job because time zones suck.

The fact that there’s a pang in my chest every time I see my dad’s face or poodle’s furry nose confined to a tiny screen makes me appreciate any time spent with them. I implore the rest of you to do the same.

Because Murray State is smaller than most universities, a lot of students have the privilege of commuting from their homes or moving in from somewhere close by. On the other hand, a number of internationals, especially those from across the pond, face adversities apart from the expected culture shock.

Obviously, family means a lot to people – often, it’s all most people have. But many cultures, especially Hispanics like mine, value family over everything else. I remember growing up and dreading get-togethers because it would mean having to greet 40 tíos and tías (uncles and aunts) personally. Being raised in cultures where extended families are common creates a bond most people from the outside looking in would not appreciate. Leaving home, whether it be for a better life in the “Americas” or for a better education, often affects families in more drastic ways than others would think.

Things like National Sibling Day or National Grandparents Day resonates with a lot of people – you don’t have to be Hispanic to appreciate that. But for students who are thousands of miles away from home, it’s just a painful reminder that the atmosphere and sense of constant support they were used to isn’t as easily accessible as a few hours drive or a quick plane ticket.

Millennials take for granted the pestering mom who is a hopeless cause when you’re trying to explain Twitter to them (“come see what I ‘twitted!’” cue the facepalm.)  As the Summer Break approaches, while some await sandy beaches and internships, others look forward to the one thing they can’t go back to: home.   

Of course, it’s not only internationals that face this – students who live far away or don’t have enough money to go back home may experience this, too. But just know that while you roll your eyes when you see a text from your mom pop up on your screen, your family is the one thing that is going to be there for you after all the regrettable drunken nights, the stressful internships and when you feel like you’re utterly and completely alone.

Once you appreciate the gifted time you have with them, you never will be.