Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

International students still face difficulties while traveling back from breaks

Media: Kiern Lim

Traveling on New Year’s during the recent winter break has led to some very stressful and time-consuming trips. The recent break has been a refreshing rest from schoolwork. Hill is home to students from around the entire globe, and many students returned home during this break. Among these students were various international students coming from countries such as China, Korea, and Vietnam.  

New Year’s is one of the busiest times of the year. It just so happens that winter break ended on January 3rd, meaning that many students are forced to make their return trip during New Year’s. Many international students have been especially affected by this, as trips from China, Korea, and Vietnam all take more than 10 hours of flight time. This often means that the optimal time for travel is during either New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. 

Traveling on near New Year’s means that airports would be more packed than usual, leading to longer lines and waits. Michael Pham, a third former, stated that “I had to queue for a long time because there were many people traveling at the same time. It took me two hours to pass over the authorities.” These long lines could even cause some to miss their flights, resulting in more stress. Helen Qiu, the Director of International Students, said that “one student whose flight got canceled and had to book another flight and she missed that flight. So, she will need to reschedule her flight.” There certainly is no lack of trouble traveling during New Year’s, but some students did have smoother experiences. 

The amount of traffic at airports also depends on many different factors. Ben Lee, a third former from Shanghai, China, has stated that “it was very quiet because it was a midnight flight.” Ben Choi, a third former from Hong Kong, has stated that for him it had been a “very speedy trip other than the actual flight itself which was a very long 16 hours.” Choi mentioned that it was because he was a “Hong Kong permanent resident,” and he had the ID card, “which makes the Hong Kong airport system seem much faster than it actually is.” Essentially, there are many factors which can determine the efficiency of travel. 

On top of traveling during New Year’s, international travel in general is a hassle. Many identification documents are needed, as well as more luggage. Ibrahim Ekmekci, a fifth former from Turkey had some trouble travelling internationally a few years prior. “We had a science exam on that day, and it was the final,” he recounted. “I thought that I had a bad exam, and I was a little bit stressed out, and a lot of things were in my mind.” Ekmekci said that he had thought he prepared everything, but apparently not. “I got out of the van. And then I saw another student holding up her passport and I got an instant flashback and was reminded of the exact position of my passport, and that I didn’t put it into my backpack.” Ibrahim then had a very stressful three hours of calling Hill security, calling his dorm parent, and calling his parents. Ibrahim made it only fifteen minutes before baggage check-in closed. Pham struggled with jet lag and sudden weather changes. “The first and foremost problem I encountered was jet lag…Since my hometown and the US have different weather conditions, I got sick for the first week back.” Pham is from Vietnam, and the weather was more “humid and hot” instead of the freezing winter in the US.  

Qiu mentioned that because of New Year’s, many international students had their flights delayed. Referring to international students, she mentioned “some of them need to stay for an extra evening or maybe five or six more hours.” For these students, Qiu said that Hill hosts them at school until their flight. “We call them delayed departure international students. I normally host them in the Warner Center, providing some hot meals like Chick-fil-A.” 

For the upcoming spring break, many students have already purchased tickets to return home. “The biggest difficulty is booking flights between here and China because I have to go through Hong Kong for transit,” Lee said. “Those tickets are often booked out or really expensive.” Lee stated that sometimes the prices will get unreasonably high, causing the booking of these flights to be a hassle. 

Travelling thousands of miles is no easy task, but numerous international students do it almost every break, going through hours of stress and hassle. Difficulties come up from everywhere, such as busy airports, forgetting ID, and booking tickets.  

“It doesn’t matter if you’re sad or feeling down, you should always make sure you have everything for a long journey,” Ekmekci said. 

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