International students make plans for holidays

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    When the residence halls close at the end of the fall semester, not all students have the opportunity to go home and spend time with their families. For several international students, going home is not an option, and they are left to make other living arrangements until campus reopens.

    “They either stay with family or with other students,” said John Singleton, director of International Student Services. “Some travel.”

    Dimitar Zlatkov, a sophomore computer science major from Bulgaria, said he spent Winter Break last year in a motel.

    “It is an inconvenience because you have to pay extra money, and I have to find a place and move all my stuff,” Zlatkov said. “I am also isolated because I don’t have a car.”

    For students who could be displaced during Winter Break, the closing residence halls are no surprise.

    “We notify them at the onset there will be no residence space for them,” Singleton said.

    Though some students are forced to make other living arrangements, Singleton said that it is better than the alternative.

    “No international student would want to stay here with no one on campus,” Singleton said.

    He said there are typically only three to four students who are unable to go home and must make alternate plans. For those few students, Singleton said, campus would not be a desirable place to stay when there aren’t any other students around and without dining services running.

    Barbara Hawkins, associate director of residential life, said her office has researched the possibility of keeping a residence hall open for 12 months but didn’t receive any positive student feedback on the idea.

    Zlatkov said although campus would be quiet, it would be preferable to be placed in a residence hall with the few other students affected rather than being forced to make other living arrangements.

    Hawkins said her office advises any students who have not made arrangements for housing during Winter Break to go to International Student Services for suggestions.

    Astrid Viveros, a senior radio-TV-film major, said she knows it is hard on those students who are unable to go home.

    Viveros said she is from Mexico and is able to go home for the holidays but knows not all international students are as fortunate.

    Zlatkov said being away from family is simply a part of the experience in studying so far from home.

    “It’s sad at first, but you get used to it,” Zlatkov said.

    For those students who were unable to go home over Thanksgiving weekend, Viveros helped host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in Foster Hall with the International Student Association.

    Viveros said the traditional dinner is an American custom, so being unable to be with family was not as difficult.

    “It’s a good learning experience,” Viveros said.