Not going home for the holidays

Junior Alvin Ogolla is originally from Kenya. When asked where he stays over breaks, he mentioned that his family owns a home in the United States, but he goes back to Kenya often. While Ogolla has the luxury of a home here in America, other “international” students are unable to visit home during short breaks for a number of reasons including cost and travel time.

“We suggest events to do, we’ll send out a newsletter with events happening over breaks…in New York City that they would want to check out,” Maria Bouzas, director of the Office of International Programs, said. “We help them to have the proper documents to travel, but that’s about it.”

The Office of International Programs keeps track of F1 and J1 exchange student visas, which account for about 400 Seton Hall students. However, Bouzas said there likely are others who have different types of visas that are not counted.

Sophomore Julian Spindler had never been to the United States before leaving his home in Germany to visit Seton Hall in March 2013. Spindler is goalkeeper for Seton Hall’s men’s soccer team. He came to Seton Hall in order to play soccer as well as to pursue an education. He hopes to declare a major in finance and marketing next semester. He explained that in Germany it is hard to pursue both an education and a sport.

“I came here to test it out if I would like it and I do, so I’m staying,” he said.

Spindler said he goes to Germany on long breaks but for Thanksgiving he stayed at the home of a friend here in New Jersey.

Sujud and Rozan Hammoud are sisters from Venezuela. While Sujud attends a university close by, Rozan works in the Office of International Programs while she completes her Master’s Degree at Seton Hall.

They go home twice a year, during winter and summer breaks. During shorter breaks the sisters spend time doing their schoolwork in the off-campus residence they share.

“Spring break is to be at home studying,” Sujud said.

Through programs that many international students participate in, she has met students from a number of different countries, representing at least four of the continents.

“Since everyone is in the same situation, everyone is really nice and you get to meet people from all over the world,” Sujud said.

While there may not be time to return to Venezuela during shorter breaks, the sisters do leave the South Orange area.

Hammoud said they visited relatives in Canada once. Other relatives live in New Jersey, and it was they who encouraged them to study here. Hammoud said their family wanted them to learn English and experience a degree of independence. Once they both finish their collegiate studies, they plan to move back to Venezuela.

Emily Balan can be reached at

Author: Emily Balan

Emily is the news editor for The Setonian and writes for the news section. She also writes for The Diplomatic Envoy where she holds the layout & copy editor position. She will be graduating in spring 2016 from the School of Diplomacy with a BS in diplomacy and international relations and a BA in philosophy, with minors in French and journalism.

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