By Bethany C. Cates

As the holidays approach, many students are packing up their belongings and heading home to spend time with their families. For some, this means hopping on a plane, and for others, this means staying on campus to wait for their families to pick them up. For international students at MU with family outside of the country, holidays can be very challenging.

Two freshmen – Albertine Byemba-Kilongo, an international student, and Amma Afful – share their take on traveling during the holiday season. Byemba-Kilongosays, “I was only permitted to travel since I was coming here to study; therefore, most people that wanted to come to the states to visit weren’t allowed.”

Imagine having to travel 24 hours to get to an institution, understanding you would not be able to return home until you obtain your degree. These circumstances can be very mentally challenging because FaceTime, Skype and Zoom can only do so much. Given the current global situation, and the many different viruses being spread, it is very hard to travel in and out of the country. 

Afful is from Ghana, West Africa, where all of her family resides. She says, “I heard they are asking you to pay for a yellow fever test and COVID test as well; you cannot send your own test results from the hospital.” This requirement not only brings great challenges to traveling, but it also makes traveling more expensive.

The many students who stay near campus or close by may never think about the hardships other students experience during the holiday seasons. Oftentimes, once an individual has gotten back to their home country, they must then quarantine, which impacts the duration of their time at home. Byemba-Kilongo mentions that when she was first coming to Columbia, “I had to submit a traveler’s form and a negative COVID test result that was less than 2 days old, but once I got here, I didn’t have to do anything else.” Each country is different, and the rules and regulations of each may bring much stress to students.

Afful continues, “It’s a lot, but I cannot go through all the stress, so for now we will just stick with WhatsApp video calls.” 

As our Tigers embark upon this holiday season, we hope that each of you enjoys your family and cherishes the moments that not all are able to obtain.

Edited by Ryan Cohen