International students discuss plans for Thanksgiving, winter break

November 15, 2020

Flags+hang+in+the+Student+Union.

Flags hang in the Student Union.

International students at NKU are facing a unique situation as classes move online until the end of the semester and COVID-19 cases rise around the globe.

“Since it started during the summer, there were not many cases,” said Rojan K.C., a computer information technology major from Nepal, in regards to COVID-19 in his country. “But right now it’s gradually increasing and the death rate is increasing as well. So, it’s actually getting worse in Nepal.”

K.C. said that he would not travel home for winter break because of the pandemic. 

“The plan for right now is to catch up with the classes that I’m taking next semester,” K.C. said. “The main thing I’ll do is to start to learn the basics of those classes so it won’t be hard when I get into them.”

K.C. added that he would be working at the campus recreation center during the break, and he might visit his relatives in Minnesota in the last week of winter.

“Only after everything gets back to normal will I go back home because I guess that would be the safest thing to do,” K.C. said. “If I get COVID and I go back home, my family will also get infected.”

However, not every international student is staying in the United States like Rojan K.C. According to Isabela Stracieri Wibe, president of the International Student Union (ISU) at NKU, there are some students that have already left or are planning to travel back to their home country for the break.

Wibe is a senior majoring in finance. Her father was transferred to the U.S. so she followed her family here from Brazil. She said she is going back to Brazil next semester after she graduates.

“I still have my family [in Brazil] and they call me every week or so,” Wibe said. “The situation around COVID, politicians and everything is kind of complicated there.”

Wibe plans to stay close to campus for Thanksgiving and winter break. She will work on campus and have a few interviews for next semester’s internships.

“Usually organizations like WISH and BCM offer you a host family, so they kind of adopt an international student,” Wibe said. “Whoever wanted a family had to request very early because there could be 1 to 3 students per family. I didn’t request one because I have my family here and my boyfriend’s family from here. They’re planning to do Thanksgiving for us.”

As the president of ISU, Wibe is working with other organizations at NKU to assist international students. She feels that the resources available to them on campus are adequate.

“They’re not perfect, but they offer whatever you need,” Wibe said. “Both ISU and WISH, and even the International Student Office, drop food at [international students’] doors. We give them laptops, we call them if they’re feeling lonely…”

Wibe and ISU also want to assist students during Thanksgiving and winter break.

“For Thanksgiving we’re just doing online meetings because there’s only so much we can do,” Wibe said. “For winter break, we don’t have a plan yet. Mostly we want to see whoever’s going back home and whoever’s staying. For those who are staying, we might be able to help them a little bit more. For those who are going back home, we have to plan meetings and games that match everybody’s schedules because of different time zones.”

According to an email by Toni Schneller, administrative assistant of NKU Center for Global Engagement and International Affairs and sponsor for WISH, FUEL NKU will be offering take-home Thanksgiving dinners for students the day before the holiday break. Though NKU will maintain a virtual campus after Thanksgiving, meals will still be available in campus housing and in the Student Union until Dec. 18.

Schneller hopes that WISH will be able to continue past winter break activities such as seeing Christmas lights at the Creation Museum, ice-skating and sledding. In addition, WISH is planning a virtual game night, Christmas movie watch party and possibly a paint together event on Zoom.

Rojan K.C. feels that NKU is taking good care of international students. 

“I didn’t live on campus for summer break but my friend lives here, and FUEL NKU and the WISH group provide my friend with food,” K.C. said. “I also talked with my friends from other universities and they told me that those universities didn’t give anything to students who couldn’t leave the dorms.”

K.C. said that he is glad the health center at NKU checks international students for COVID-19 if they have any symptoms, which can cost more if they go to hospitals.

K.C. added that it might be difficult for international students to catch up with classes after the transition to online learning.

“We need to communicate our problems with our professors or anyone in concern,” K.C. said. “We cannot meet them in person, and if we have any problems with lectures or anything else, I guess communication is the best way to get through the situation right now.”

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