Where will int’l students go for the Christmas break?

Maiko Tanabe – The Aquinian

Some will travel, some will go to their friend’s but some will stay in a residence.

Isaid studying in her room. (Maiko Tanabe/AQ)
Isaid studying in her room. (Maiko Tanabe/AQ)

Ayat Abed Isaid isn’t looking forward to the Christmas break. While the majority of the student can’t wait to spend the holiday with their family and friends, Isaid, a fourth-year international student at St. Thomas, will be spending Christmas in a residence on campus.

“When I see people how happy they are about Christmas, I call it ‘black’ Christmas. It’s so scary and depressing for me,” she said. “It makes me feel sad and homesick because I’m all by myself in a residence with few people around.”

Residences on campus officially close at noon on Dec. 18, and so does the cafeteria at George Martin Hall. Then, the residence officially reopens on Jan. 10. The date when the cafeteria will reopen hasn’t been set yet, said Kelly Hogg, a residence supervisor at St. Thomas.

“They are still on talk when (the cafeteria) is gonna open,” said Hogg. “So it may be the 10th or it may be earlier.”

Hogg said there will be a few students staying in a residence over the holiday, but added that the students in residence can still feed themselves even with the cafeteria closed.

“(The residences) officially close, so the cafeteria closes as well. But for the students, who live in both Holy Cross and Vanier, the kitchen is gonna be available.”

Isaid, however, feels the option is not enough. She said the cafeteria should be available during the break.

“I don’t wanna cook my own foods. It’s not like I’m being lazy, but it costs me an extra hundred dollars on food, when I still have money on my meal card,” she said. “So it would be nice if they open the cafeteria at least three hours a day, not on Christmas Eve or Christmas, but come on, the other days.”

Judy Coates, an international student advisor, said there’s no reason for students to stay in a residence with nobody around. She added that there’ll be options available for international students to spend their holidays.

“They can travel, find a home stay or spend the holiday at their friend’s house if they get an invitation,” she said. “There’s no reason for students to be left in a residence unless they choose to stay here.”

Yuka Kanamoto, an international student from Japan, will spend her Christmas in New York.

“I have to pay to live in a residence during the break with no one around,” she said. “So I decided to go to New York and meet up with some of my friends there, and have fun instead of just staying in a residence by myself.”

Tomoe Kitagawa, another international student, said she will be at her friend’s place during the break. She’s excited to celebrate Christmas in a North American way.

“I can’t go back to Japan because it costs me a lot of money. And also, if I stay in a residence, there will be few people around and I’ll feel lonely. So I’m really excited to go to my friend’s,” she said.

Meanwhile, Isaid feels that with her home being so far away, there’s no option but staying in a residence. She said the problem is not only that the plane ticket is so expensive, but also that the break is only three weeks.

She added that she feels the university doesn’t accommodate international students as well as they should.

“When Christmas comes, they know that some of international students don’t go home because home is too far or too expensive to go back, so they have to stay here,” she said. “I have to cook my food. I have to pay for my place to stay in. I just feel like I have no place.”

Coates said students can always come and talk to her if they need an assistance making plans for the break.

“I’ll be sending out an e-mail to ask them what their plans are and the students who are in residence should contact me if they need assistance,” she said. “But if we don’t know that, it’s hard to find another plan for them.”

Isaid said she might visit her brother in Ottawa after Christmas, if she can save enough money.

“I’m gonna be all by myself. It makes you feel like you don’t have anybody,” she said. “I think the university should think twice on how they think about international students.”

“The Christmas break is gonna be snowy and it’s gonna be dark. I’m not looking forward to it.”