As if living in a foreign country was not hard enough, international students at ACU have to contend with something most students look forward to each year: holidays.
Imagine. You’re floating blissfully through the fall semester, meeting every deadline, sleeping nine hours each night and spending time with friends. Now, come back down to earth. If you’re like most students, you’re frazzled and harried, and you can’t find your pen or your keys. Yet, you know in just a few more weeks, you’ll be heading home for four long – perhaps not long enough – weeks of much needed rest.
But what if you’re an international student, and home is too far away? At least you won’t have class. Relaxing in a dorm room and eating food from the Bean might be almost heavenly without school looming. That is, if you had a dorm room, which you won’t. Nor will you have food to eat, unless you head to the grocery store.
The semester system is useful, but it neglects the needs of a sizable portion of the ACU community. Residence halls close the day after finals, and meal plans are cut off. Students who stay in Abilene during the Christmas break must find someone to stay – and eat – with or else find a soft place to camp on the Lunsford Walking Trail.
Fortunately, many students do leave for the holidays, and their houses and apartments are vacant. International students can essentially trade places for a few weeks by simply picking up the rent. For juniors and seniors who already live off-campus, holidays are not as threatening, but those students had better be prepared to cook.
ACU may never resolve this problem – it is complicated, and it likely has many unforeseeable consequences. For instance, if meal plans are functional and the electricity is on in Gardner Hall, more students might choose to stay in Abilene, which could cost the university more money. Instead, students would probably see a hike in tuition and meal plan prices, but the point remains. Allowing students to stay for the holidays is challenging.
Even if ACU doesn’t discover a solution, however, international students have hope for a happy holiday. Many Abilene residents open their homes to students who need a place to stay. Many more could do the same.
If you have a washer and dryer, share it. If you made a delicious – or a mediocre – dinner, invite a friend. Christians shouldn’t need an excuse to give, but Christmas is certainly a good time to start.
Just be careful how far you spread the holiday spirit. We’ve had enough sanctions for one year.