By Sofia Netto | | Copy Editor

As you might already be aware of, we are less than 30 days from winter break. For many F&M students, this means finally going back home and getting some rest while enjoying the holidays with their families. Ah, who doesn’t love to be back in their old rooms, having hot chocolate with marshmallows while watching their favorite TV shows? I know I would.

Sadly, this scenario is far from the reality of many international students that are unable to go back home. This could be due to personal reasons (as also happens with domestic students), changes in their countries’ currencies, or even the fear of the new COVID-19 variant (yes, while many of us think the pandemic is over, breaking news: it is still a thing). For the many who took an entire year online, going back home only to be unable to reenter the United States is a difficult decision: should we choose our homes or our education?

In this situation, many have chosen the uneasy decision of staying in the U.S. for winter break. Spending the holidays in a strange country with few or no things that remind you of home is definitely not the winter break we all think of, but it is the reality. International students learn from the beginning that their lives are never the same as domestic students simply because we face the additional challenges of moving and adapting to a new country, without anyone by our sides, and wondering how the breaks are going to be is just 1% of our daily struggles.

Additionally,  some students simply don’t have the money to get back home. While many American students may say, “But, c’mon, how expensive could those plane tickets be?” I will assure you, a lot. With the pandemic, many currencies have fluctuated and devalued when compared to US dollars. Sometimes it costs just too much to spend three weeks with your family and friends, which gives some of us the hard decision between financial stability (every buck counts when you’re international) or spending the holidays in the best way possible. Many times the answer is: I need money to survive, my family and friends can wait.

For everyone out there that cannot go home because of personal issues, financial problems, or because they are scared of not coming back to the U.S., you are definitely not alone. Our common issues bring us closer,  an admittedly sad, if effective, way to make friends. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends to find out what they are up to during break or shoot me an email and I will be sure to find something for you. Happy holidays! 🙂 

Sophomore Sofia Netto is a Copy Editor.  Her email is ssilvade@fandm.edu

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