Now that the fall semester is over, students are heading home for the holidays. That includes Rose-Hulman freshman, Juman Alabdullatif, who will travel as far as Saudi Arabia.
“I thought it would be easier. Because, I’ve been–I think I’m a pretty independent person. Even if you can do the every-day tasks alone, if you don’t need help. You still need that attachment to family,” says Alabdullatif.
That’s why many students rely on the support of each other, making new friends, and their involvement in the community.
Gracias Manzongo is studying abroad at Indiana State University. He says it’s because of his friends here that make Terre Haute a home away from home.
“It gives you a sense of belonging when you’re not home, you know, and over time truly here becomes like home,” says Manzongo.
Although his classmate Timothy Ghogel wont be returning home to India, he’s excited to celebrate his first Christmas in America.
“I’m so excited for Christmas. It’s just four days away, but I’ve had big plans for this day,” says Ghogel.
It will be spent with his host family in Terre Haute. A family that hasn’t even known Ghogel for a year, but counts him as one of their own.
“They suddenly said, ‘you’re a part of Connor family,’ and I was like wow. See they were so accepting. Despite, you know, despite my origin,” says Ghogel.
With such a diverse set of students and religious beliefs, Christmas isn’t the only reason to celebrate. That’s something Alabdullatif enjoys about America.
“America is one of the very unique countries where you see a different culture everywhere you go. They modify the holiday based on what people bring with them,” says Alabdullatif.
Rather than modify a holiday altogether, Jiao Jiao Wang always uses her time away from school to travel within the U.S. Next stop: Washington, D.C.
“I heard there were a lot of amazing museums and monuments there. I really want to go see them,” says Wang.