The end of the year marks a joyful time, filled with family, laughter and a time of thanksgiving. The sweet smell of cinnamon and clove floods the air, as Christmas trees are being cut and decorated, and dining room tables are being covered corner to corner with an array of enchanting dishes. For college students, November and December mark a time of relief from the hectic life as a student. Many return home to be with their family and friends, but not all have the chance to escape to a place of familiarity.
For some college students, home is an ocean away, and the cost of traveling home for such short periods is simply too expensive.
“I remember coming in the Student Center over Thanksgiving break and there was literally less than 10 people,” Scarlett, a business student from China said. “I do really feel lonely sometimes and miss my home, but it is too expensive to buy a plane ticket for just one week.”
Many international students can relate to this sense of loneliness when classes end and the campus empties, leaving them to face the reality of being miles away from home.
“Normally I don’t realize I miss home that much, but it is times when I go into the store on Thanksgiving and realize there is no food, or the store is closed, or when campus is empty that I really miss my family,” Scarlett said.
American holidays that are not celebrated in other countries (such as Thanksgiving) elicit only the feeling of being left out, but for holidays like Christmas, the grief of being far away from family traditions can be intense. However, some International students don’t waste their time focusing on what they are missing but instead create memorable experiences of their own.
Zivile Raskauskaite, a graduate student from Lithuania, said she takes the time to travel during Thanksgiving and winter break.
“Last year, I and a few of my friends took a road trip to the Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving break, and Savannah, Georgia, for winter break,” said Raskauskaite.
Leaving home to attend college is never easy, but leaving your country to pursue higher education can be even scarier.
“I feel it’s all about people,” Raskauskaite said. “And that works in all cases, not only in celebrating holidays, but traveling so far to attend school. Many are trying to still set up life alone here, and it just happens that you are gathering your new family — and that new family is your friends.”