A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

International students make most out of
holidays even though they can’t go home

During the holiday season, airports and bus stations fill with people traveling to spend Christmas at home. But for some college students, the distance between their schools and hometowns can make traveling home a difficult – and often expensive – task.


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Take, Ariel Gutierrez, a senior at Georgetown College. Guierrez, who is from Chile, is staying in the United States for the holidays this year.


“It’s my fourth year, so I’m just saving some money. It’s a lot of money to travel that far,” said Gutierrez, an international business major.


Although he won’t be traveling home to Chile, Gutierrez does have travel plans within the United States.


“I planned a road trip to New York with another international student for New Year’s Eve,” Gutierrez said. “I love camping, hiking and climbing, so I’m probably going to go to Red River Gorge several times,” he added.


Gutierrez also plans to attend a Christian conference in Atlanta and visit a few friends in Versailles and Louisville. When he’s not traveling, Gutierrez, whose dorm will remain open during the break, will spend time on campus reading and working out.


Though Gutierrez has a fun-filled winter break planned, he will miss celebrating the holidays with his family and friends, particularly New Year’s Eve, he said.


“At 12 (a.m.), we get together with friends and go out to a huge park where they have music, and we salsa all night until 7 a.m. It’s a lot of celebrating,” Gutierrez said.


Other students will stay on campus to work because international students are allowed to work longer hours while on break than during the academic year, said Emily Brandon, Director of International Programs at Georgetown.


“It is an excellent opportunity to earn some extra money,” Brandon said.


Tat-tun Tsang is one of the international students taking advantage of the extra work hours over the break. Tsang, a junior accounting major from Hong Kong, will work at Georgetown’s student gym, he said.


While they may not be able to make it home for the holidays, the international students don’t have to worry about spending Christmas alone. They often receive invitations from friends who live near Georgetown to spend Christmas with their families.


“There’s several different options. There’s always people here that offer different things,” Gutierrez said.

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