International students share new holiday traditions, ones from home

This winter break, international students at Seton Hall University will mostly be celebrating the holidays in the states, away from home.

While the holidays are well-known in America for returning home and spending time with family, students whose homes are across the globe, don’t have that same luxury.

“I’m not fond of 17-hour flights. The break’s so short, it just isn’t worth the effort,” Francesca Regalado, a junior diplomacy and international relations major from the Philippines, said.

International students do not let living away from home during the holidays stop them from enjoying their time off.

Regalado brings her own culture into the mix by participating in a Filipino tradition called Simbang Gabi.

“We go to mass every day at 6 a.m. the nine days before Christmas,” she said.

There are various traditions which are brought from their homes to celebrate their holidays in America.

“Since we came to the states we don’t have any new traditions we do every year because sometimes my mom is in the country and sometimes she’s not. I’m looking forward to seeing her. I’ve seen her three times this year,” Eleanor Wong, a junior sociology major, said.

Alisha Sharaballi, a senior diplomacy and international relations major, said she plans to spend her time with family over the break as well, but not her own.

“My best friend invited me to go home for Christmas with him. He has a large Sicilian family and I absolutely love seeing how different families celebrate the holidays,” she said.

Sharaballi said she intends to have a busy winter break with an additional three-day trip to the casino resort, Mohegan Sun and then spend others days dedicated to work.

“I decided that I would get a head start on my thesis and job applications,” she added.

The holidays certainly mean different things for different people. For international students, the holidays is sometimes not as widely and intensely celebrated in their own countries. The idea of sharing free time and good food with a group of people is more commonly shared.

“I don’t really have anything specific I like to do around the holidays since my family doesn’t really celebrate Christmas but as long as I have good company, and good food, I’m happy wherever I am,” Sharaballi said.

Also, students at SHU who choose to stay on-campus during break are welcome and must register through their housing profiles.

Nicole Peregrina can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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