The busy semester has wound down and college students are getting a much-needed break. As an international student, your options for spending your leisure time will differ from many students who both study and live in the US. There’s good reason to consider visiting the home of a US friend during the winter break. With what may be your limited time in this country, it’s advantageous to immerse yourself in as much American culture as possible while you’re here, and staying with a friend can be a great way of doing so.
International students studying in the US will especially want to consider visiting the home of a friend in the States if you’d be visiting a place you’ve never been. It can be easy to get homesick while you’re away from your loved ones, but spending time with the family of a friend can ease your loneliness. The experience can open up your social circle and your eyes to a world you’ve never partaken in. Spending quality time with an American family during your winter break will help with getting to know some traditions of the US. It will be insightful to fully embrace and the culture of your surroundings. At the very least, it can simply be enjoyable to get to know new people and places.
During the winter break, probably the most common holiday you’ll see people celebrating is Christmas. Enjoying Christmas with a US family for the first time can be exciting. There are a lot of traditions you can engage in for the first time. If you’ve never decorated a Christmas tree, or gone caroling or volunteering before, these are some meaningful activities to introduce yourself to if the family you visit partakes.
Keep in mind the US is full of different people, religions, and cultures, so the holidays you potentially get to experience could vary depending on which friend you go home with, none more or less enjoyable. Your Jewish-American friends may celebrate the eight days of Chanukah, and African American friends might celebrate the seven days of Kwanzaa. This is one of the best, most interesting things about staying in the US during your winter break. The country is such a melting pot that there are simply no limits to what you could live out and learn by visiting a friend’s home.
Most students who study in the US are here for the education, of course, but also to experience life outside of their home countries. We highly recommend that you take every opportunity to see as much of the US and live the culture so that when you do head home, you bring back a bevy of insightful memories and experiences that you can apply to your everyday life.
Should you decide that you will visit the home of a friend during winter break, we’re happy to leave you with a list with some tips on being a gracious guest:
- Find out what holiday(s) your friend and their family celebrates and research that holiday so that you might know what to expect and can ready to converse and immerse!
- Bring a small gift or token of appreciation for the family hosting you. This can be as simple as a dessert for everyone to enjoy or a keepsake from your home country.
- Be ready to help with meals or dishes after a meal. Or simply ask how you can help.
While you will be visiting and learning new parts of a friend’s traditions, remember that kindness politeness, and being considerate are transcendent among all cultures. As long as you apply these things during your visit, you are doing it right!