Stuck in the Snow: The Residential Student Experience Over Winter Break

By Katie R.

This year, Buffalo Seminary’s boarding program has housed students from countries all over the world including Taiwan, Spain, Afghanistan, Chile, and Kenya among others. However due to the weather over winter break, only nine residential students were able to return to their homes. The cost of flights and total travel time proved challenging for many, including even those who did make it home such as exchange student Jule Schuepphaus from Germany who said, “it was pretty good seeing my family and friends, however it was pretty short, as I only had one and a half weeks for break.” Of the remaining nine, three traveled elsewhere and six stayed in Buffalo. So where did everybody go?

The answer: most of the residential students who stayed in Buffalo over winter break were hosted either by faculty members or their fellow students’ families. The Director of Residential Life, Alex Valdez, referred to the process as a “well-oiled machine.” In fact, according to Kaya Fitzpatrick ’24, who hosted Angela Gracia Garcia ’24 from Spain, “involving the school, the process was simple. The school reached out to my mom about having Angela stay with us, and they were able to organize the living arrangement over email. They then informed Angela’s parents that she was staying with us.” This arrangement proved very successful and allowed students to enjoy a well-deserved break from school while celebrating different traditions with their host families.

Yet this wasn’t just any old holiday season. The historic winter storm that swept through the Western New York area was one that stunned even native-Buffalo residents, let alone the students who had never seen snow before coming to Buffalo. Outside, it was a post-apocalyptic winter wonderland of sorts, with cars and houses buried under massive amounts of snow, trapping many inside. Angela ’24 remarked, “it was crazy just because it was the first time that I ever saw that amount of snow. It was really cold but at the same time it was very pretty outside.” 

Regrettably, this also meant missing out on some personal holiday traditions that make that time of the year so special, especially when so far away from home. However, students ultimately persevered. Kaya ’24 explained, “with the blizzard, it made it difficult to leave the house. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go to my grandma’s house on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, which has always been a tradition in my family. I was excited to share that with Angela too.” She continued, “We eventually got to my grandparents’ homes for delayed celebrations, which was fun. Angela was able to meet my family on both sides, and we were able to hang out with friends who were in town for Christmas festivities. We went to buy gifts together, cooked meals with my family, and spent time with my cousins.” Overall, while many residential students were stuck in the snow far from home, they still had the unique opportunity to spend time with a new family and make new memories that are sure to last a lifetime.

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