Whether it crept on without a warning or it couldn’t have come any faster, it’s inevitable—December is in full swing. For many of the students living in UWindsor's six residence halls, the end of final exams will bring more than just a sigh of relief.
Danielle Gunsch, a first-year biology student living in residence, hasn’t been to her home in Kitchener for more than a weekend in over six months.
“One thing I really miss are long daily talks with my mom,” she says. “Right now we only talk every two weeks.”
She is excited for a busy and fun-filled Christmas, but mostly she is looking forward to the simple aspects of life at home.
“I just want to spend time with family,” says Gunsch. “And I can’t wait to walk my dog.”
But for many, travelling home is more difficult. Eleven per cent of the university’s student population is made up of international students from 100 different countries. Many of these students remain in residence for the duration of the break.
International Student Advisor Enrique Chacon attributes this to the fact that about 70 per cent of international students do not celebrate a holiday during this time of year, and therefore have no reason to go home. Cost is also a major factor.
“For many students the trip home is just too expensive,” Chacon says. Additionally, many graduate students remain due to the research-based nature of their studies.
Chacon also knows the struggle many international students face once final exams finish: “Campus is empty. Food services are closed. It gets quiet and lonely.”
Still, there are programs and events on campus to keep the holiday spirit alive. The Green Bean Cafe on Wyandotte Street West will hold a community Christmas dinner on December 25, presenting a perfect opportunity for international students (or anyone!) to experience a traditional, delicious, and free Christmas meal.
In addition, the Host for the Holidays program is gearing up for its fourth year. The program, in which families opens their homes and hearts to an international student for a holiday dinner, provides a sharing of cultures for everyone involved and an understanding that illustrates the true meaning of the holidays.
— by Lauren Farquhar