Home for the Holidays? The struggles of going home for the holidays for international students


As finals drown students with stress and hours of studying, many students look forward to winter break after this trying time. It is an American custom for students to go home for the holidays. But what if a student cannot go home for Christmas?

Several aspects tie into holiday travel, but the past couple years students were not only hit with financial burdens but also the fear of travel bans.

COVID-19 has globally affected the holidays, but many international students could not even step foot into their home country. 

India native Vansh Kapoor a member of the men’s tennis team is unable to go home for the holidays but he is excited to visit Canada to spend quality time with his brother.

Kapoor, a freshman management information systems major, mentioned his fear of another travel ban and the expensive nature of international flights.

“The flights are crazy expensive and also I’ll be risking another travel ban in case there is one,” he said. “Especially after this new variant, it’s kind of risky.”

The average cost of a one-way flight to New Delhi from BWI Marshall ranges from $550- $675 around this time of year and this does not include the cost of bags, food, and the flight back to Baltimore.

 Although most students leave campus for the holidays, the university allows students to stay during the period between classes. Kapoor declined, and he’s grateful that the current circumstances allow him to see any family at all.

“I couldn’t see any family even in the summer because Covid was bad in India and flights were closed,” he said. “At least I’m getting to see my brother this winter. I would be absolutely devastated if I would have to stay here. It would be very depressing with no one around.” 

Iva Jankovic, originally from Belgrade, Serbia, is excited to return home on December 9 — it will be her first time in two years. Jankovic, a senior sports management major, is a member of the women’s tennis team.  Cost and the availability of medical facilities here have kept her from traveling more often.

“It’s definitely expensive to go back and forth internationally too many times and also a very long ride,” she said. “I’ve also had an opportunity to coach, play, workout and continue my physical therapy so I decided to just stay and do what I have to do here.

Jankovic has experience staying in the dorms during winter break and discussed her food situation while she remained on campus. The athletic department covered the cost of her housing at the time, but food was a hassle.

“Well last year I lived on campus so throughout the winter break I stayed in dorms but they didn’t provide food. I had to provide my own food during my stay. At the end of spring I moved off campus so I was in an apartment throughout the summer time.”

Carla Tyree, a coordinator of student life within Coppin State’s International Student Services office, said there are no international students staying on campus this year.

Tyree and her colleagues help students with everything from advising on course and registration requirements to better understanding their visa status and how to rectify any issues with it. She suggested the onus for providing food to students staying on campus between classes falls outside of her purview.

“Your best bet is to contact the residence halls directly, because they handle housing and food depending on the student’s meal plan,” she said.

Iva’s excitement to see her family flooded her words as she expressed how much she missed her family and close friends.

“I am definitely excited to see my family, it has been a while. Especially to be home for Christmas after years, looking forward to that, and also to switch up the environment a little bit and be in my country,” she said.

Desiree Carrizosa is a senior English major and staff writer of the Courier. Contact the Courier at [email protected] with feedback or story tips.