International students during the winter break

Winter break is finally here. Many students have their plans for the break, and for most students, going back home is part of those plans. But what if home is too far away, or even across the ocean? That is the case for most international students. Considering that winter break is relatively short, it’s financially challenging to spare a couple thousand dollars to go back home for just a few weeks. Instead, many international students choose to stay in Pullman over the winter break.

Although staying in Pullman sounds like a better choice, it also poses some challenges for many international students. The most common issue is homesickness. Some students feel left out of their families, as they cannot attend important family meetings. But, of course, there are also pros. As many of the main WSU facilities, including the libraries, are open during the break, students staying in Pullman can take advantage of those facilities and use them to support their goals for the break.

“Bookin'” sculpture by Terry Allen at the main entrance of Holland Library during the winter.

What exactly happens to international students over the winter break? What are their plans, and how do they feel about staying in Pullman over the break? Browse student intern Jay Lee interviewed several international students to answer these questions.

Do-Gyun Kim is a fifth-year international doctoral student studying biological systems engineering. He planned to work on his dissertation over the break.

“There are other international students in my lab, and they said they are also planning to stay in Pullman and work on their research,” he said.

Many international students prefer going back to their homes during the summer, Do-Gyun said. However, if a person is too homesick, needs assistance, or wants to spend time with their family during the holiday season, it would be wise to go back home, he added.

Do-Gyun is also planning to go on a trip to California for three days and said he thinks that going on a short trip is a good choice for international students to refresh during the break.

Chaewon Kim is a sophomore international student studying digital technology and culture. He said as much as he wants to go back to Japan for the holiday season, spending over $20,000 just for a plane ticket is not something he can easily do. Since tuition for international students is expensive, many students face financial difficulties and can’t afford plane tickets for such a short break.

“If the break was a bit longer, I could do a part-time job back at home to earn back the money I spent on buying a plane ticket,” he said. “But three weeks is too short to do a part-time job and earn enough money.”

Chaewon is planning to use the break to study coding and designing programs. He said having access to the WSU Libraries, specifically the Dimensions Lab in Holland Library, will help him greatly with studying coding and programs. Other facilities, such as the Student Recreation Center and Chinook Student Center, are also good resources available for use during the break, Chaewon added.

As a person who came from Korea myself, I agree that it can be challenging to go back home during the winter break. But staying in Pullman over the break has its advantages. Many facilities continue to operate, and there are plenty of other students to hang out with. International students can take a short trip to other U.S. cities for a break and the chance to learn more about their adopted country. They can work on improving their major-related skills by utilizing resources at WSU. There are many things to do while in Pullman. Find your way to having a good break!