International students spend the holidays at home


Media: Caeli Robinson '23

Caeli Robinson ’23 gathers around the table for a big winter meal with all her family members.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Pennsylvania and many other countries, long periods of social isolation and masking have left many people searching for a spark of joy during the holiday season. However, with classes not resuming until January, more and more students planned to go back home for the winter holidays and stay with their families for the extended period.

Ariana Polevshchikova ’23, who is from Russia, spent the winter holidays with her family and friends back in Moscow. After being away from home for the last fall trimester, she was delighted to reunite with her family members and spend the most exciting time of year at home. 

Ariana Polevshchikova ’23 meets her little brother and friends for a holiday dinner. (Media: Ariana Polevshchikova ’23)

Russia is known for celebrating Christmas on Jan. 7, according to the Russian Orthodox Church. The traditional celebration initiates on Christmas Eve with a Сочельник (saCHYELnik) meal, which signifies the end of the prior national fasting period. 

“We don’t follow numerous rituals Russians used to do during traditional Christmas. The meal and fasting choices are eclectic, but we still view Christmas as a holiday of love. Therefore, the holidays are a crucial part of our overall culture and national sentiment,” Polevshchikova explained.

“The photo is with my younger brother and my best friends. We used to have a lot of fun every holiday before I came to Hill, but at least I am happy to spend a lot of time with them during the winter holidays,” Polevshchikova said.  

Caeli Robinson ‘23, though originally from Hong Kong, wasn’t able to see her big family for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though Robinson was not returning home this winter break, she recalled memories of the holiday season in her hometown in Hong Kong. 

“There are many displays of lights on skyscrapers and fireworks. I used to watch the New Year countdown outside with my friends,” Robinson said. Having meals with all of her family members was her most enjoyable memory. “I love the big meal times with my grandparents and cousins during the Christmas holidays. The small talk and jokes across the table delight me,” Robinson said. 

This year, Robinson had to stay in the United States due to the elongated quarantine weeks and field hockey practices. Nonetheless, she was still able to meet some of her family members to enjoy the holidays. 

“I wanted to go back to Hong Kong to see all my friends, so staying behind in the U.S was very disheartening. However, the fact that I got to spend time with my cousins and grandparents still gave me time to enjoy the holidays with my loved ones,” Robinson exclaimed.