Deck the dorms: How university students are spending the holidays

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed how we can connect with people in person, especially for college students wanting to spend time with family during the holidays.

Savannah Lomelli was spending time with her friends this time last year celebrating the holidays and visiting festival light events. This year, she’s spending most of her time at her campus apartment and only seeing a few close friends and her roommates.

“We’ve been sort of buying some small gifts for each other and putting it under this little four-foot tree so it’s very cute I think,” said Lomelli.

Lomelli is a senior at the University of Washington studying art. She’s from Olympia and said she’s been limiting her trips back home due to the pandemic and saving visits for special occasions.

“I will be going home potentially for Christmas. If anything comes up obviously that’s not going to happen,” said Lomelli. “My mom is a little bit immunocompromised so that’s something we found out recently. So, I’m extra hesitant I guess to go home. I’m actually getting a test on Wednesday. I’ve been socially isolating myself as much as I can this week and the week before.”

Lomelli said she’ll continue to isolate as much as she can, and if she feels that it is safe enough, she’ll make the trip back home to be with her mom and sister.

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David Bell is a Ph.D. student at UW. His parents and sister live in Palo Alto, California, a 14-hour drive from Seattle.

Bell was considering the trip to spend the holidays with his family, but after thinking it over, brought it up in conversation again to his parents.

“I think it was Thanksgiving, I was like, ‘Hey, I’m probably not going to come back’ and they were like, we’ll come to you, and I was like that’s not better. It’s not that I don’t want to drive,” said Bell. “They pushed a little while and I kind of made a case to say, look the projections for the vaccine are next summer. We can put off one year in the interest of having more years.”

Bell said just like Thanksgiving, his family is doing Christmas over Zoom in the interest of keeping their family, and yours, safe.

“My heart goes out to the people who are financially struggling in this time. I hope we’re able to coordinate to better take care of those people in the near future,” said Bell.

“I think right now having a sense of strong community is really important, and through everything, this year has brought us, I think now more than ever it’s really important to be there for each other,” said Lomelli.

No matter which holiday you and your family are celebrating, a psychologist at the UW said by being intentional on how we approach and experience the season, we can find joy and recognize, even embrace, how we’ve weathered this past year.