Finding their temporary homes for the holidays

By Camiran Moore

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Many UK students return home or travel elsewhere for Thanksgiving and winter breaks, but for some it may be too expensive or time-consuming because their families are halfway across the world.

The university provides living arrangements during breaks to international students who live on campus, but the Smith, Kirwan II and Woodland Glen I residence halls are the only halls that stay open for academic breaks.

While UK has international students from all over the world, many of them do not find it necessary to travel thousands of miles home for a three-day break. Some of them also decide to stay in Lexington for winter break.

Heru Siswanto, an architecture freshman, will stay in an off campus house during both Thanksgiving and winter break.

“We do have an Indonesian community in Lexington so they always do a gathering every year for Thanksgiving,” he said.

During winter break, Siswanto will be traveling with the Lexington Indonesian community to an Indonesian festival out of state.

Siswanto lives off campus, but with international students from all different countries. He said he prefers it that way so he can experience other cultures and receive a learning experience by living with people with rich cultural backgrounds.

Mobolaji Olagbaju, a geology and political science sophomore from Nigeria, lives in Haggin Hall, a dorm that shuts down during academic breaks.

“I have family in Georgia so I will go visit them for Thanksgiving break, but for winter break I am going back to Nigeria,” he said.

Some students like Majda Al-Habsi, a communication freshman from Oman, live off campus and have no obligation to leave a dorm. Al-Habsi said she and an Omani friend have decided to go shopping in Chicago for Thanksgiving break.

Both Alhabsi and Olagbaju miss one thing the most when they are not home during the holidays: the food. However, this year they will both be returning to their respective homelands for winter break.

“We encourage anyone who needs academic break housing, including international students, to indicate this need on their housing application so that they can be assigned to one of these halls,” said Sarah Nikirk, interim associate vice president for Auxiliary Services.

Ovid’s Cafe and Wildcat Pantry at the 90 will both remain open during normal business hours through Thanksgiving break. Additional locations, including Blazer Hall and Fresh Food Company, will close on Thanksgiving Day, and reopen the following Sunday.

Students have TVs and games in each of the residence halls for entertainment throughout the holidays. Some residence halls have pianos and others have billiards or ping pong tables.

Nikirk said the living and learning experience that students who live on campus share is a rich blend of experiences.

“Students who live off campus are not afforded this same unique opportunity,” she said.

Students can also use their Wildcat ID to ride a Lextran bus anywhere in the city for free. This allows students to get around town although their normal modes of transportation may not be available.

However, Nikirk said many of the international students visit friends or host families over the breaks and the number of students that actually stay on campus over the holidays changes every year.