Arkansas Tech University is home to 392 international students from 42 different countries.
While students from Arkansas, and even students from other states, have easier access to visit family on the long weekend holidays, for international students going home to their families can be difficult, if not impossible. Some international students, like junior health and wellness major Maria Vlaskina, make other accommodations for long holiday weekends.
Vlaskina, junior tennis player for Tech, is from Moscow, Russia. Being so far away from home, she has made plans to spend her Thanksgiving weekend with teammates Alejandra and Maria Sanchez in their hometown of Houston, Texas.
“Alejandra and Maria Sanchez are both my teammates and their family invited me to their house for Thanksgiving break,” Vlaskina said. “My first year here I went to another house also.”
With Thanksgiving being an exclusively American holiday, students like Vlaskina, who are fortunate enough to spend their long holiday weekend with another family, get to experience first-hand how significant this American tradition is through following along with family schedules for the holiday. Those who do not make other accommodations for the long holiday weekend often do not get the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving.
“I enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving a lot. It’s my third year in the U.S. now so I’m getting used to Thanksgiving, but it’s still new for me,” Vlaskina said. “It’s tough to be away from my family for so long, especially that we are all very close. But it’s a part of growing up, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to study and play tennis in America.”
International students also have the opportunity to travel to new places during the holidays, instead of staying at Tech or going home with a friend. Her sophomore year, Vlaskina took the opportunity to travel to Colorado over the holidays to meet up with some of her friends from Russia.
Out of the 392 international students who call Arkansas Tech home, only a fourth of them travel during Tech’s Thanksgiving break, while the remaining students stay in. However, during long holiday breaks like Christmas, around 50 international students stay on Tech’s campus.
The only thing different about international students and Tech students from the U.S., though, is the distance they have to travel to bleed green and gold.