Travel costs make holiday homecoming a challenge for international students – By Deenie Hutchinson

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Holidays are just round the corner and students at The Master’s College are eager as ever to head home to their comfortable beds, a stress-free environment, and most importantly, seeing their families, but what happens to the students who live out of the country?

According to Expedia.com on, leaving the country in time for Thanksgiving and coming back in time for class averages to about $1,150. That’s a hefty amount of cash. When asking several international students, they made it clear that heading home for Thanksgiving wasn’t an option and so, they’re forced to stay in southern California with no chance to see their family.

Although students who live out of state or even in state living in northern California face this issue, there’s nothing like being 8,000 miles away from home.

Brittany Jack, an international student from Australia is one of those students.

“It makes me sad because everybody gets to go home to see their family and I’m not able to because they are so far away,” says Jack.

Because of this, Jack and her brother plan to spend Thanksgiving at Pastor Harry Walls home with his family. She usually doesn’t find herself getting homesick but feels it heavy this semester.

“I have a lot of friends who offer their home up for me to spend Thanksgiving, so it’s not a problem for me, but there might be some internationals that don’t have that connection,” says Jack.

TMC transforms into a ghost-town when the holidays roll around. Most campus buildings shutdown for several days leaving students no place to eat, workout, or simply gain access to computers. Although Carlo Teran, a student from Mexico, and Emma Hurley, a student from Uganda don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, they fully understand how discouraging it is when everyone is away off campus.

Hannah Willoughby from Germany found herself very emotional when expressing her feelings on not being able to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Being her first time spending Thanksgiving away from home, the weight of homesickness grows heavy on her.

“It sucks…I’m going to cry. I’m not going to see my family,” says Willoughby. “It’s going to be hard, and I’m going to be on campus. It’s going to be empty.”

Right along with her is her brother, Kaleb Willoughby, and just like Hannah, Kaleb stresses how much Thanksgiving just won’t be the same, but is enlightened by the fact that they have each other.

“It’s nice to spend Thanksgiving with a different family,” says Kaleb, “but we would often just spend it at our own house in Germany or the whole family goes to another family’s house and we have a big meal and everything.”

The Willoughby’s will be spending Thanksgiving with a TMC professor and are very thankful for it.

Fortunately enough, the Willoughbys and Jacks have a place to go for Thanksgiving, but Teran and Hurley are still unsure of what their holiday plans look like. What can TMC do to help out the internationals who have no place to go?

After  suggesting the idea, Willoughby encouraged the thought that setting up a system similar to how Outreach Week works, (a week where students sign up to serve at a church) international students are encouraged to fill out a questionnaire asking whether or not they have a place to go for the holidays.

Professors and staff members, or even students, who are willing and able to open up their home for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas are assigned a certain amount of international students to welcome into their home for those who have no place to go. This idea was encouraging to Hannah, but wasn’t really to Hurley.

“One Christmas, I spent it here. It was miserable because Christmas here is very family oriented. Back in Uganda, it’s more communal,” Hurley says. “It felt like I was intruding on people’s personal time.”

Is the only solution to this problem flying international students home, or bringing their families here? That’s a large load of cash both TMC and the students just can’t afford. Most of the international students understand how hard it is but accept the fact that it’s just another part of being in college. They only hope it’ll only be four or less Thanksgivings and Christmases they’ll have to miss.

“To me it’s part of life and I accepted it and, yeah, it sucks,” says Kaleb. “But hey, we’ll all be together in heaven.”

By Deenie Hutchinson

 

 

 

 

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