Students not left out in the cold

By Maria Tortorello

For most students, winter break couldn’t come at a better time.

The thought of kicking back in a chair by the fireplace, roasting chestnuts and singing holiday carols with the family is something that will bring a smile to the face of any college student after dealing with the stress of finals.

However, not all students get to go home for the holidays. Several foreign exchange students are faced with the dilemma of where to go during the break.

Students who live in the residence halls have to be out 24 hours after their last final exam. The residence halls officially close at 10 a.m., Dec. 11. After that, foreign exchange students must have a place to go for the holidays.

“The few students who choose to live in the dorms know ahead of time and have plans for the holidays,” said Mark Thackaberry, director of the International Student and Faculty Office. “There are usually one or two who do not know where they are going and we help them.”

The International Student and Faculty Office helps students find places to go through national programs that house foreign exchange students across the country.

For example, the Christmas House International Program houses students in families’ homes in states such as Arkansas, California and Florida. The students are responsible for paying for transportation to and from the families’ homes and a $35 registration fee.

Although the price of the program is low, Thackaberry said “only a handful” of students participate in such programs.

“We’ve had students who have stayed in the homes of Hollywood directors and students who have stayed with an Amish family,” Thackaberry said.

There are also those students who fly home to their native countries or go home with their new American friends.

However, the majority of the foreign exchange students live in apartments on campus and stay in DeKalb for the five-week break.

Jayita Bose, a graduate public relations student from Calcutta, India, will be spending the break in her apartment not far from campus, partly relaxing and partly working.

“I will really only have a three-week break,” Bose said. “The last two weeks I will start working in Swen Parson.”

However, in the first three weeks, Bose said she will try to visit some of her friends in Michigan.

Although Bose will not be spending the few days of Christmas completely alone, she still misses her family in India.

“I mostly get lonely around the holidays,” she said. “During the week it’s always busy and I don’t have time to think about missing home.”

Even though the holidays may bring on a case of homesickness for Bose, she said the winter break could not have come at a better time.

“We all need a break,” Bose said. “Five weeks is perfect.”