|▶International Students Share Their Winter Holiday Plans (2020-01-24)|
Moving from one place to another is always an adventure. No amount of research can prepare you for the surprises you will find in the new place.
This is often the case with international students in the United States. Around major American holidays, international students often find themselves in uncharted waters, which they learn to navigate with time.
Around Christmas, many international students do not have money to travel back to their home country, so they spend the holiday in the States. Those with extended family in the country go to stay with them for the celebrations.
“When it’s Christmas, I go back to my family in New York,” said Daniel Mensah of Ghana. Mensah is in his final year at The George Washington University in Washington. He is specializing in economics.
International students with no extended family in the States often celebrate Christmas with their American friends and their families. Lourds Fernando from Sri Lanka is a doctoral candidate in biology at Howard University. She told VOA she celebrates Christmas with her best friend whose family lives in Maryland.
“So I’ll go there,” she said. “Her family is there so I’ll go for dinner or something.”
Some international students who are Christian attend church services in the States. During the holiday season, they join with their church family in celebrating Christmas.
“Personally, I think it’s more the family element. I have a church family here, so the excitement of spending Christmas: we go to church and we stay together,” said Sally Amankwah of Ghana.
She is a masters’ candidate in sociology at American University in Washington.
The act of giving gifts to adults at Christmas and even the holiday itself is foreign to some students.
For some international students, Christmas is not a holiday they celebrate in their home country.
“We don’t really do Christmas in China,” said Bo Wang of China. He is a master’s candidate in business analytics at American University.
Wuntha Kyaw-san of Myanmar is studying computer science at Howard University. He told VOA that the idea of celebrating Christmas is new to him.
“Since we don’t actually celebrate Christmas back home, it’s like a new experience, you know,” he said.
During the three to four weeks break between school terms, some international students take time to explore the United States.
“Usually, I go to other places in the States, travelling with my friends,” Wang said. “For this year, I plan to go to Denver to snowboard for my Christmas holiday.”
Other students do a mix of things over winter break. They spend the holiday working, meeting up with friends and having fun.
“Now (as graduate student), it’s always work because, you know, research is time consuming,” Lourds Fernando said, “so I rarely take break, even though it’s a break for the school.”
[December 07, 2019]