Freshmen Danika Hodgman (left) and Alex Eigen (right) spend a January afternoon on Tiger Tail beach, Marco Island | Photo courtesy of Alex Eigen

Defining moment: A weekend away

Bethel University freshmen bond over a trip down south.

Alex Eigen strolled slowly down Tiger Tail beach, iced coffee in hand. The Marco Island sun beamed down and the warm breeze filled her lungs. The entire month of January had been exhausting. After completing her Interim course on creative problem solving, this Florida excursion was well deserved. Plus, there was no one she would rather wander the beach with than her best friend, Danika Hodgman.

“We’ve known each other for less than four months, and we’re inseparable. It’s crazy how alike we are!” — Alex Eigen, freshman

Eigen and Hodgman hadn’t always been friends. In fact, when they first met, they didn’t like each other at all. However, their relationship changed completely a few weeks into their freshman year at Bethel University. One rainy September afternoon they were stuck in a car together, waiting on Hodgman’s roommate. Talking for over an hour, they bonded over their love for shopping and trying new restaurants.

“We’ve known each other for less than four months, and we’re inseparable. It’s crazy how alike we are!” Eigen said.

“After we got to know each other a bit we realized how similar we are. Now we are never afraid to make fun of each other or tell each other our feelings,” Hodgman said.

The Florida sun brought a perfect end to the weekend, as most of the trip had been primarily cloudy. Sunday was their final day to relax before returning to school to start their second semester. Neither of the girls were ready for the routine back at home.

By 11 in the morning it had already been the perfect day. The girls woke up early to drink coffee and watch the sunrise on the balcony off of their room at the Marriott. They spent the rest of the day walking along the beach, grabbing lobster bisque at Marco Prime, and tanning by the pool.

“We did a lot of exploring and windows shopping on 5th avenue,” Hodgman said. “It was nice to be able to relax after such a long January.”

As evening approached, so did their flight home. Alex refreshed the Delta webpage over and over again, watching anxiously as seats to the Minneapolis Saint Paul Airport filled. This nervous feeling was one she was so familiar with. Just months earlier, her mom began working near their home at the Bemidji Regional Airport. Flight benefits meant that Alex got to fly standby. While this opened up her travel opportunities immensely, she had now come accustom to playing the waiting game. If there was an empty seat, she could fly home.

Loading the page once more there wasn’t a single open seat on the flight. Alex was stuck in Florida. Her only option was to stay another night alone and take the next flight for Minnesota at 5 a.m.

Monday morning was a blur. Alex’s flight landed at 10:10 a.m., just an hour before her first class. After waiting what seemed like hours for her luggage to arrive, she sped back to campus. Not only did she make it to her Reporting 1 class right on time, she got there before the professor.

“It was a crazy 24 hours,” Eigen said.