Spring Break 2023 Holds Special Meaning for Many International Students

Arthur Wang, Campus Reporter

For most international students, the Spring Break of 2023 has held special meaning. Due to Covid restrictions and many other conditions, many international students have not been able to travel back to their hometowns for years. However, during the past spring break, many of the students were able to go back for the first time in a long time. 

Over the past several years, traveling back to China required very strict Covid examination policies, which included two PCR tests and a rapid test prior to boarding the flight. They also needed to undergo 21 days of quarantine in a hotel before they could go home. Due to such reasons, many students stayed in the US for years. According to some students, during spring break they got to go back for the first time since they got into Kent, and going home made them very excited. For example, Mike Zhu, a Chinese student,  got to go home for the first time in three years. “Going back was not especially different for me, but it was still good to go back in first since all these years. Things are definitely changing.” When they traveled back, there were familiar scenes and there were also changes which fascinated him.  His family was also very happy about his coming back after all this time. 

Besides Covid, students from Ukraine have suffered from the war that is going on with Russia. Since most parts of Ukraine were relatively unsafe, students were discouraged to travel back to their home country. According to Lisa Popova, a Ukrainian student, this past spring break was her first time going back since last year’s Christmas break. “You cannot fly there right now, you can only take trains,” said Lisa. The only two options for traveling to Kyiv now are by train or a long-way bus from Poland or other neighboring countries, and these usually take hours. Also, while traveling, passengers are still threatened by the war. They sometimes have to stop and wait for the danger to pass before continuing to travel. Popova also felt really upset having seen her hometown partially destroyed and changed due to the war. “I was really excited to go back and I missed my home so much. I was really happy to be back home, but it was really sad to see the destruction in the Kyiv region,” said Lisa. 

For all international students, the most common difficulty is the long time span for traveling. In terms of China, it takes up to more than 25 hours on planes when traveling back since most of the flight paths are not recovered yet. Others like Russia may take up to 14 hours and more on planes. Overall, it is always hard for international students to go back to their hometowns because of all these difficulties. Nonetheless, they still enjoy traveling back. Said Russian Polina Frenkel, “I still enjoy going back home and experiencing this feeling of ‘home’.”