International students weigh options for break

By Andy Kwalwaser

Davide Motta wants to go east for the holidays, far enough to see New York, Boston and Philadelphia – but not far enough east to go home.

Motta, a native of Milan, Italy, is one of 5,200 international students at the University weighing options for how to spend their winter break. Not all students will travel, but those who do are faced with difficult decisions.

For many, it is a choice between seeing a new country or seeing their families.

Motta, graduate student, said he counters homesickness by not going home at all.

“Since I’m here, I have to exploit my visa. If I go home, I won’t want to come back here,” Motta said.

However, not all international students get the travel bug right away.

Markus Pape, senior in LAS, bought his ticket home to Kiel, Germany, months ago, and regrets buying it. After visiting Florida and Tennessee during fall break, Pape said he would have liked to take another road trip over the winter.

“If I hadn’t booked a flight in advance, I would only have gone home for Christmas,” said Pape, who said he did not think he would like being away from home for so long when he first planned a year abroad.

University Housing offers international students the option to stay on campus during breaks, but there are no programs organized for them.

Emma Swift, assistant director of International Student and Scholar Services, said that students who do not travel or go home usually pursue off-campus jobs and internships.

“The University itself doesn’t do that much planning,” Swift said. “Our undergraduate students generally travel, then head home.”

This is the plan for Sarah Terry, junior in AHS from Maidenhead, England. Terry wants to visit home for Christmas before flying to Colorado for a ski trip.

“I miss everyone,” Terry said, but added that she still wanted to do something out of the ordinary while she was studying in the States.

Students who want to travel are faced with long distances and high expenses.

Motta went to San Francisco over fall break and thought he could have visited several countries in Europe for the price of one trek across the United States.

“Campus isn’t the real America,” said Motta, who visited St. Louis and Indianapolis over last year’s breaks. “At least at the Indy 500, you get the real America.”