A Foreigner’s Guide: Surviving a Break on Campus


I am an international student. I am also a senior. That means that, at some point in my years here at Mount Union, I have spent some breaks on campus. Let me tell you this, it is quite an ordeal.

There are also only a handful of things you can do at Mount Union during the break. The gym has limited operating hours; shorter than that of the normal school days. The library hours are even more limited than the gym; making it hard for students to even make full use of it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is no rant. I am merely stating the living conditions for an international student during a break.

Just thinking about how to keep yourself well fed is another problem.

While the city of Alliance has an abundance of fast food restaurants, those surrounding the campus are only limited to Arby’s, Taco Bell, and Sheetz; three of which would not be the first choice for many students.

During breaks, long or short, the cafeteria closes. That would be acceptable if you really think about it. There will be very few students on campus and it would take more staff members to prepare the food than the number of people they are providing for. However, I strongly believe that the closure of the B&B Cafe during the break is very uncalled for.

Yes, this is the part where people try to tell me that there are many delivery services where I can get food delivered to my doorstep. That is true, but restaurants that deliver are basically pizza places and Chinese restaurants. Besides, wouldn’t you get bored eating fast food all week? Coming from a culture where most meals are home-made, seven days of fast food is equivalent to living on oatmeal.

While most students will be away, some remain; along with faculty members and staff. The B&B should be kept open to give students who choose to remain on campus an option. There are many places that students can go to get food in Alliance, but most international students do not have cars to take them there. I am one of the lucky few.

Here are some things an international student can do to survive the break (according to my experience before getting a car):

1. If you live in an apartment/townhouse, have a friend bring you grocery shopping.

- STOCK UP so that you can cook all break.

2. While you are essentially on break, operating hours for the gym and the library are limited.

- It is advisable to wake up before lunch so that you could get a nice workout or get some school work done in the library (if you need the books).

3. Start a project. Pick up some kind of activity to occupy your time.

- I made a dual-layer blanket. Other suggestions are knitting and a 10,000 piece puzzle.

4. Take a walk around campus with your camera.

- While not everyone will own a DSLR camera or have an interest in photography, realize that one day you will look back and realize that you did not take many pictures of our beautiful campus. Any camera, even your cell phone, will do. Create memories.

5. Find campus employment.

- There are several departments on campus that remain in operation throughout the break. If you are a communications student, the radio station in HPCC may have openings for you. Other places to look for employment are the library and the gym.

6. Find other students who are living on campus to hang out with.

- There may be other students on campus who did not go on a vacation during the break. Keep in touch with them and maybe plan something fun.

7. When all else fails, there is always studying class material to get ahead of the class.

It is becoming more common for international students these days to find a place to go to over the break. Some even have community friends or host families that take them away during the break. But if you find yourself stuck on campus during a break, go through numbers one to seven and see if anything works for you. They have worked for me and I am already a senior. That’s saying something!

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