Family photos are propped up against empty water bottles instead of hanging in mahogany frames. The dishes don’t do themselves, which means they might not get washed until there’s nothing left to eat with. It’s probably a lot different from the homes they were raised in, but for many students, Bowling Green is home.
“I think of Bowling Green as home, and it has a lot to do with the relationships I’ve made with people here,” Winchester freshman Austin Lanter said.
Lanter, a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, feels at home within his brotherhood.
“They obviously won’t replace my family, but I have those people I’m close to, and I can walk around campus and see someone and stop and talk to them, and it’s just good to have relationships like that,” he said.
Union freshman Tony Wanick also finds himself at home within the sense of community Lanter described.
“I love the people here,” Wanick said. “Everyone is just so friendly. Even if I don’t know someone in the area, I feel like there’s an atmosphere here that I could just go up to anyone and give them a great big hug and it wouldn’t be awkward.”
Community may be born from the number of students adjusting to the change of scenery Bowling Green offers.
“In Northern Kentucky, people speak like they’re from Ohio and have a more Midwestern accent,” Wanick said. “I feel more at home with the allure of a country accent. It’s like I can hear my momma calling me in for a supper of biscuits and gravy. It’s great.”
For others, the size of the city, which holds the fourth largest population in Kentucky, is a defining difference in the way they relate to Bowling Green.
“I come from a town of about 3,000, and finding things to do there was always hard,” Beaver Dam senior Travis Taylor said. “But living in a place like Bowling Green, there is always something to do, whether it’s running out with friends to make a GADS run or even late night stops at Waffle House.”
Alex Jacobs, a freshman from Jeffersonville, Ind., also enjoys the number of commercial features Bowling Green offers, but he likes the way it retains tradition as well.
“Bowling Green is bigger than my hometown, and in some areas it still has a sort of rustic feel with all of its independently owned and operated businesses and town square,” Jacobs said.
Lexington junior Carly Weber, however, sees many similarities between her hometown and Bowling Green, though she still calls Bowling Green home.
“All the activities and living in Bowling Green feels the same as Lexington,” she said. “The difference with Bowling Green is that it is the hometown that I have created for myself with my own schedule, rules and life.”
While many students focus their lives in Bowling Green, winter and summer breaks are inevitable, as is a return home.
“Sometimes, coming back from breaks is almost unreal,” Jacobs said. “It almost feels like I put my life on pause when I see the city limits and again when I open my front door. I love seeing my family and I miss them very much, don’t get me wrong, but in a weird way, I kind of feel like going home makes me kind of go back to how life once was.”
Weber also finds it difficult to head home and forget life on the Hill during breaks.
“It is a bittersweet situation,” she said. “Every time a long break is coming up, it is hard to pack up my car and leave Bowling Green. Throughout the entire break I think of my friends, the fun times and how much I miss WKU and Bowling Green. When it is time to come back to Bowling Green, it is a great feeling.”
Some parents have a hard time adjusting when their children move to Bowling Green, though.
“It has been a big adjustment, but since Carly is the first to leave, this is helping us start adjusting to an empty nest,” said Terri Weber, Carly’s mother. “There is always loss and a grieving process but at the same time, we realize that it is time for her to start her own life and make it better than the one we gave her.”
Austin Lanter’s mother, Alice Lanter, has had to make this adjustment twice. Austin’s sister, Jennifer, is a junior at WKU.
Alice Lanter said though she worried at first, she has a peace about her now and believes her children have adapted well to life in Bowling Green.
“I enjoy when they do get to come home,” she said. “It’s definitely different when they do come back because the house has been so quiet, but we do pick up right where we left off. We adapt back just as if they haven’t been gone.”