Forget the first 10 people you met at GW – not everyone is from Long Island. Or New Jersey, for that matter. Or even Pennsylvania. Though many times you may hear students asking one another “Nassau or Suffolk County?” GW really does attract students from interesting locales all over the country and the globe. Meet Jake Stoehr.
Ask sophomore Jake Stoehr where he grew up and he’ll hesitate for a second.
“Kind of all over,” is the usual answer.
But, if he’s in the right mood, Stoehr might follow up with a list that goes something like this: Landstuho, Germany; Alexandria, Va.; Oahu, Hawaii; Stuttgart, Germany; back to Alexandria; then Horicon, Wis.
And, oh yeah, there was that year in high school spent studying abroad in Japan.
After all, Stoehr is a military brat. With his dad in the U.S. Air Force Communications division and his mom working with the Office of Special Investigations (a.k.a. the OSI – it’s the Air Force equivalent to the FBI), Stoehr and his 16-year-old brother spent their childhoods hopping from base to base.
“It’s really kind of weird that I don’t have a place to call home,” said Stoehr, whose now-retired parents live in Wisconsin. But, Stoehr doesn’t resent his transient upbringing.
“It was a good way to grow up. I never really got bored with one place, I just got to have a lot of different experiences. I figure, it’s all about what you make with what you’ve got,” he said, adding that he’s met plenty of military brats who are bitter about their nomadic lifestyles.
Growing up on Air Force bases around the world gave him exposure to different cultures that many people his age don’t have. Hawaii was his favorite quasi-home.
“I like the way of life (in Hawaii) – how people are laid-back.”
In fact, Stoehr likes the relaxed Hawaiian attitude so much that he refuses to walk through the streets of D.C. at a pace faster than “strolling,” even if it means getting to class a few minutes late.
“I picked that up (in Hawaii) – punctuality is not a big deal. I guess that’s because there you can never be more than 30 minutes away from where you have to go,” Stoehr said.
Despite the laid back Hawaiian attitude Stoehr enjoys, he is used to the ordered and structured lifestyle of living on an Air Force base. Military police patrol the bases regularly and guards with machine guns would check his ID at the door.
While living in Germany, Stoehr took week-long trips to other European destinations such as Paris.
There were some excursions, however, that Stoehr was not invited on – his parents’ classified business trips.
“Every once in a while they couldn’t tell me where they were going,” Stoehr said. “But while mom was gone on business, the boys didn’t necessarily miss out.
“(My brother and I) would eat a lot of cheeseburgers and fries,” he added.
Now that he can call D.C. home for at least his college years, he has no idea what living in one place for more than a few years is going to be like.
His future plans? Stoehr has thought about returning to Hawaii to settle down.
Don’t count on it though.
“I really can’t imagine staying in one place,” he said. “That’s just foreign.”
“It ain’t Long Island” is a new series in the Life Section that profiles students who grew up in interesting and unique places. If you have a suggestion, e-mail email@example.com.