December 4, 2020

Webster University international students spend a different Christmas with families

For many college students, winter break is synonymous with freedom. Homework, lectures, and deadlines become a thing of next semester. Thoughts of being home, surrounded by family enjoying the holiday season, first and foremost. However, for some the chance to go home for winter break isn’t an option.

Webster University closes its residents halls on December 14 at 5 PM, to be opened up once again to students on January 12. For International students, this can cause complications. All thoughts of being back home replaced with questions such as , “how much is it going to cost to fly?” and “where will I stay?”

“I’ll be staying with friends over the break,” says Joshua Subintoro, freshman mathematics major. “I’m from Jakarta, Indonesia. It would cost me somewhere around $5,000 to fly home and back just for Christmas break.” With food and gas prices increasing, finding money for things other than basic needs can be difficult. Particularly travel which has always been pricey.

“I feel that Webster should be more accommodating to students,” says Subintoro. “Some [people] that I know don’t have the money to stay in the dorms for break or are lost on where to go. And really, there aren’t many international students here compared to the amount of traditional students. Even flat-out just letting international students stay in the resident halls for free would make more sense than just kicking us out or making us pay to stay here being so far from home.”

However, Webster doesn’t just turn students away. Webster University accepts a select amount of what is called the winter break housing application. Students wishing to stay on campus are requested to fill out an application and turn them in by a set date. From there, a committee looks at the application and deems whether or not the given situation is extreme enough to receive on-campus housing for the break. Approval or denial is given. If an application is approved, there’s still the matter of the $500 fee attached to it (this does not include food or personal items).

“Because of the cost, I won’t be able to go home until summer break now,” says Subintoro. “I just can’t afford it. I haven’t seen my family since I left for college though I like it here at the university.” Hamood Al-harbi, freshman Biology major, has yet to be home since the beginning of the semester either.

“It would be pretty expensive for me to go home for any break except for summer break being that the trip alone would be somewhere in the thousands,” says Al-harbi who is from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “I’m thinking that for break I’m either going to go to New York City to see the ball drop in Times Square or somehow find the money to go back home. It’ll be a lot of fun either way; it’s winter break!”

Jorge El-Azar, an RA at Webster, plans on heading back home to his native country for break as well. “I’m from Managua, Nicaragua,” said El-Azar. Managua is approximately 2,779.8 miles away from Missouri. “It will cost me around $900 for a round trip.”

Subintoro will be missing out on the Eid Festival while he’s in the States for break. The month of Ramadan (this year it occurred July 20th-August 18th), Muslims fast. To celebrate, on the final day of fasting for Ramadan participants have a big celebration with lots of food. “I could celebrate here, but it would just not be the same,” says Subintoro. “I’ll still have fun over Christmas break though.” Subintoro looks forward to spending time with his friends and enjoying the Christmas season here in America.

 

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