When students go away to college, a lot changes academically and socially, but one overlooked area is the fact that many students find themselves away from their family and homes during the holiday season for possibly the first time in their lives.
Some students, however, have found ways to make their holiday seasons even more “lit” than in years past.
“Growing up my parents used to go really hard decorating our house,” says Syracuse University sophomore Francesca Sostar. “I guess going to college I just wanted to bring that with me.”
Sostar, a Long Island native, has decked the walls of her dorm room with several strands of lights, paper snowflakes, and cotton-like fake snow.
When guests walk in it’s as if they just stepped foot into Macy’s “Santa Land.” Sostar’s room looks more like something that belongs on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” not an average dorm room.
A floor below Sostar lives Zachary Levine, a Massachusetts native who is Jewish.
While Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, falls over Syracuse’s winter break this year, allowing Levine to celebrate with his family, last year was a different story.
Levine was forced to celebrate the eight-day-long holiday away from home and family, in his dorm at school, for the first time in his life.
“It was different, that’s for sure,” admitted Levine. “I had never celebrated Hanukkah away from home before, but that makes it even more special that I get to spend it with my family this year.”
Last year, Levine was able to light a menorah and do all the typical traditions associated with Hanukkah thanks to exceptions made by the SU Office of Residential Life for students celebrating religious holidays.
Levine did not get in trouble for lighting candles last year and while Sostar admits her room may violate the university’s policies, she’s not worried.
“I mean we’re definitely breaking some rules with putting all the decorations up,” says Sostar, smiling. “But I definitely think it’s worth it.”
Confidence seems to be the name of the game for Sostar, although her friend Erica DeCicco is confident nobody’s room tops hers.
“Not even close,” affirms DeCicco when asked if Sostar’s room compares to her’s.
“I brought a lot of decorations from home after Thanksgiving break,” says DeCicco. “Then my roommate and I went shopping as soon as we got back. ‘Cesca and I are always trying to outdo each other.”
So who’s room is better? Well that’s up for debate. It seems as though ABC might have to film the next season of “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on SU’s campus in order to find out.