Mon. Mar 25th, 2024

Christmas for international students: To stay or go home?

By Acacia Liu Dec 14, 2022

The semester is almost over, and we are feeling the Christmas spirit. Many local students have plans to go home and spend the holidays with their loved ones.

However, that might not be the case for international students.

Kingston University is home to over 5400 international students from more than 140 countries.

Figures for 2012 showed roughly 28% of the whole student population are from overseas, allowing students to have a diversified campus experience of rich cultures.

For the last two years Covid restrictions meant many had to spend the Christmas holidays away from their family. 

Akihabara Station, Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Jezael Melgoza/Unsplash

Haru Jaimie Komatsu, a first year design marketing student is spending this Christmas break with her family back in Japan. 

“I am very excited to go back to Tokyo,” she says, “I am a little concerned with the whole covid situation when I get there, hopefully I won’t catch it again.” 

The number of covid cases in Tokyo peaked at 38,000 cases per day in August of this year and has steadily increased since October to close to an average of 14,000 cases just this week, but the first-year student still chose to fly home despite the threat of coronavirus. 

“It was a mutual decision between my family and me to fly back since we’re used to seeing each other everyday, so we really missed each other.”

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the number of flights flying in and out of the UK in the first three months of 2022 was only 80,625, with 3.4m passengers. Between April to June of 2022, the number of flights increased by 600% with 63m passengers on board.

British Airways. Credit: Nick Fewings/Unsplash

The demand for flights has increased as the number of covid cases have dropped, and is expected to rise during the holiday season. But the cost of flying is still too high for some students.

Lin Kuangpei, a second year music tech student from Taiwan said: ”The flight tickets are so expensive and the break is so short, it’s just not worth it.” 

He added: “Maybe we’re a bit different. We don’t really celebrate Christmas in Taiwan because not many people are Christians. We have Taoism and Buddhism as our main religion. I’m not religious, so Christmas doesn’t mean much to me.”

For some, staying here offers a chance to see more of the UK.

“I’m going to Edinburgh alone next week to explore the country more,” said Lin, who lives at the Davidson House right next to Penrhyn Road campus, adding that he can’t wait to escape this student accommodation and stay in hotel rooms.

Another international student, Hannah Alvestad, a master’s student studying media and communication, said she feels lucky to be going back to Norway to spend the holidays with her family: “Christmas is a very special time to me, and I couldn’t imagine spending it any other way than with my family.” 

Family gathering. Credit: Kelsey Chance/Unsplash

Every year Hannah and her family have turkey dinner and watch festive movies together. “It doesn’t sound too special, but to us, this time together is the best time of the year.

“Being from Norway makes it easy to go back and forth to London, because it’s such a cheap and short travel route. I feel lucky that I get to still have the special moments with my family, while still getting to study abroad.

“Not everyone has that privilege, and I have several friends who would like to go home, but unfortunately aren’t able to because the plane tickets are way too expensive.

“Knowing how lucky I am to be able to go home, it will be extra special to me.”

By Acacia Liu

Year 3 Journalism student at Kingston University Reporter / Design and layout chief Interests: Animals, art, fashion and gaming

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