Students at Oklahoma Christian University had three weeks of Christmas break to travel, spend time with family and celebrate the holidays.
A new tradition for senior Bailey Paulk’s family allow them to travel for Christmas each year, visiting places like Cancun and the Dominican Republic, according to Paulk. This year, Paulk’s family went to Costa Mujeres, Mexico for a week.
“I went with my mom, dad and brother to spend quality time together before 2019 began,” Paulk said. “A few years ago, my parents made the decision to travel as a family for Christmas now that my brother and I are older. We’ve really come to enjoy the tradition, and it gives us something to look forward to every year.”
Paulk said the tradition is especially valuable because her brother lives in Montana and her family only gets to see him once or twice a year, so spending a week together on vacation enables them to reconnect.
“Usually on our trips we go on some type of excursion like snorkeling, but this year we decided to just relax,” Paulk said. “Literally, for a week straight we slept, ate and laid by the beach or the pool.”
Since she enjoys traveling, Paulk said she was ready to get away and relax after a long and hard semester. Her family also celebrates Christmas when they return from their trip.
“We aren’t supposed to get gifts for each other, because the trip is supposed to be our Christmas, but we all get each other gifts and celebrate every year,” Paulk said. “I really enjoy that because although we experience an awesome vacation, we still have celebrations waiting for us at home. Both sides of our family also come together for two big, crazy parties where we exchange gifts and play games together.”
After all of her traveling and parties, Paulk said she was still left with a week to decompress at home and prepare for a new semester.
“I feel really rested and was able to release the stress of the fall semester,” Paulk said. “I will say that it’s also tough coming from an amazing vacation back to reality when you enjoy traveling so much, but I’m looking forward to a trip to Honduras to serve with my fellow nursing students in April.”
Junior Adele Hudkins also traveled over break to go home to Saipan, a commonwealth of the U.S. in the West Pacific. According to Hudkins, she goes home every Christmas break, and her family travels to the mainland during the summer. She said traveling home takes about a day.
The worst U.S. typhoon since 1935 struck Saipan Oct. 24, 2018, but Hudkins said Saipan is resilient and things are returning to “normal” every day.
“Little things have changed—trees naked, some restaurants closed or moved to a new location, houses are closed in,” Hudkins said. “A lot of things are being fixed. During the holidays, we would have a Christmas village, but since some of Saipan doesn’t have power there wasn’t one this year. Nonetheless, locals were still in the Christmas spirit and made the most of what they had.”
Although living so far from her family is difficult, Hudkins said knowing they are just one call or FaceTime away makes it bearable, and it gets better with time. While in Saipan, Hudkins said she spends time with friends and family and is usually at the beach, the closest one being five minutes from her house.
“I like to hike when I’m home,” Hudkins said. “The food there is the best—authentic and most of them are hole-in-the-wall places. I pretty much do what every tourist wants/gets to do in a short amount of time. You run out of things to do on a small island, so after break I’m ready to be home.”