Winter break for most students is a time to relax and head home for the holidays. But what about international students?

According to some students of the international community at ETSU, the high cost of international flights coupled with the shorter winter break make it difficult for them to travel back home to their families.

“If money grew on trees, I would definitely head home, but unfortunately the airfare is no less than $1,200 to do so, and winter break is too short for that price,” said Georgina Smith, an ETSU student and native of Zimbabwe. “Luckily I have an aunt and uncle who moved here a long time ago who live in Kingsport, and that is what I call my ‘American home,’ where I will spend Christmas.”

Like Smith, many international students do have the benefit of having other relatives that are close by, so that they do not have to spend the holidays alone.

According to Smith, even if an international student does not have family in close proximity, the winter break can still provide a positive experience.

“I would say for international students, winter break is not all that bad, mostly because ETSU has so many international students,” Smith said. “That means we would not have to be alone, and the exchange students have usually made enough connections by the time winter break comes to have something to do.”

Winter break is particularly interesting for Smith, as her native country is noticeably different in December and January when she is back home.

“At this time of year, it is summer in Zimbabwe,” Smith said. “It is just much hotter, so we spend a lot of time outside swimming, boating and hiking.”

The winter break will come and go for all students, but for Smith and others, ETSU will be missed during our four-week hiatus.

“I will miss my friends the most during winter break,” Smith said. “ETSU is a very friendly place, and I like that I can see so many friends every day between classes, the library and the marketplace.”