Christmas abroad: an international student’s experience


by Kylee Hereid, reporter

For the majority of Simpson College students, winter break is a time to go home, relax while spending time with friends and family, and escape the busy schedules waiting when spring semester begins.

However, for other students, Simpson’s campus continued to be ‘home.’

While all their classmates dispersed across the country to spend their holidays in their hometowns, many international students remained.

One student who boarded on campus is Ishaya David, a sophomore biochemistry student who came to Simpson from Nigeria at the beginning of his freshman year. This winter, he celebrated his second Christmas away from home.

“I was mostly on campus,” David said. “It is really quiet and no one is around. All the halls are empty. I mostly just stay indoors.”

Staying on campus is not uncommon for international students. Their options otherwise are limited, either traveling to their home country or staying the break with a friend.

However, finding flights across the globe can become a financial and logistic nightmare. As a result, many students prefer to stay on campus where, according to Simpson’s website, they will face no additional charge to reside.

David did spend a few days celebrating Christmas with his host family. He said it was fun to spend time with the hosts; it was just different to be without his family.

“All my life I was used to having a big Christmas with music playing and so much laughter,” he said. “The only difference was that the people I would usually spend time with at home weren’t there. “

It was difficult to adjust to, but David found a lot of similarities between his host family’s Christmas traditions and those from Nigeria.

“It was similar because you eat until you can’t stand and everyone talks and laughs, which is what I do with my family,” David said.

For students like David who cannot see their families for long periods of time, social media helps them keep in touch. According to David, he calls his mom every other day and relies on Facebook and Skype to contact his friends.

“It is hard knowing I can’t see my family, but at least I can call them and hear their voices,” David said. “With so many social medias out there, my life is easier than it could have been.”

Many students struggle with this separation as they come from different countries to study at Simpson. According Simpson’s website, past students have come from Argentina, Ireland, Mexico, England, Poland, Canada, Australia, Nigeria, Kenya and many other countries.

Despite the distance, some of these students still choose to travel home for the longer winter and summer breaks. David, along with many international students, uses the seasonal breaks as opportunities to travel the United States.

So far, he has visited states including Florida, Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado and New Orleans.

This summer he plans to go home for the first time since he left.

“There is never a day that goes by that I don’t think about home,” David explained. “I don’t whine or complain about it, but I always think about it.”