Holiday break gives foreign students travel opportunities

Ed Swaray

While University students count down the days until winter break, international students have a variety of plans for the time away from school.

Some travel to their home countries for the holiday season, and others will stay in the United States – either traveling the country or staying on campus.

Feso Adeniran, a chemical engineering sophomore from Nigeria, said she is going home for the holidays. For Adeniran this is a yearly ritual; she has gone home for the holiday season both of the two years she has studied here.

Despite the extra-long commute, Adeniran said, the trip is worth the effort.

“I have not considered spending my holidays here,” she said. “Christmas is a big family affair back home, and it’s easier for me to go there than for my family to come over here.”

At home, she and her extended family celebrate with traditional Nigerian food.

For Estella Mora, a senior from Colombia who graduates Dec. 14, her family will come to her.

Although she went home for the holidays each of the past four years at the University, her parents arrived in Minnesota to commemorate her graduation and celebrate the holiday season.

“This year is special because I am graduating and my parents are here,” Mora said. “After graduation we are going to California to spend Christmas since Minnesota is too cold for them.”

But Mora said Christmas in Colombia is different than in the United States – children receive gifts Christmas morning from baby Jesus instead of Santa Claus.

Haiyan Jia, a plant pathology graduate student from China, said she will spend her holidays in the United States without much fanfare. In China, she said, Christmas is not as big a holiday as in the United States.

Rather, the Chinese New Year – or the Spring Festival – is what most Chinese look forward to celebrating.

Jia said the Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars will host a performance during the Spring Festival – which varies based on the lunar calendar from late January to early February. The holiday is a time for family to come together with traditional food.

The University currently has 4,500 international students. Almost 80 percent are in graduate programs and live with their families off campus.

About 105 international students live in the eight residence halls, said Mannix Clark of the University’s Housing and Residential Life Office. Three residence halls – Bailey, Centennial and Middlebrook – are open to their residents over the semester break. However, students must pay either $16.15 or $17 per night to stay over the break, depending on the hall.