International students experience their first Christmas in America
While most of the people in the Western Hemisphere are dressing in red and green, decorating their houses, singing Christmas songs with the radio and praising the birth of Jesus, the easterners view and celebrate this remote holiday differently.
In most Asian countries such as China, Korea, Indonesia and Thailand, where the majority of campus international students originate, people are not given a Christmas break since it’s not a traditional holiday. Instead, eastern countries celebrate Spring Festival and New Year as the major holidays of a year.
However, as a considerable number of Americans start to celebrate the Spring Festival, an increasing number of easterners start to celebrate Christmas due to the increasing cultural exchange between the east and west. However, in most of the eastern countries, besides faithful Christians, Christmas is still mainly celebrated by younger generations.
Senior Chinese student Anthony Zhang spends Christmas in China mostly with his peers.
“I spend Christmas with my friends usually because Christmas is not traditional in China,” Zhang said. “We have what we call Chinese New Year instead. But normally there is still some fun things going on in our school. For example, we had an awesome talent show in my freshman year.”
“During my first Christmas in America, I was surprised that many people give Christmas gifts to each other. I got a lot of presents but I didn’t prepare presents to them. So it was embarrassing. But this year, I know how to spend Christmas, so I am so excited!”–Min Lee
Senior Krit Metanophakun from Thailand describes Christmas in his home country as a major shopping seasons for all.
“During Christmas, we don?t have a celebration or party as American,” Metanophakun said. “In Thailand, many people go to the mall in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, because most of products have been discounted. Specially, a big Christmas tree in front of the mall that is a good spot to have some picture with it.”
In Korea, China and some other eastern countries, Christmas is even treated as a kind of Valentines Day.
“In Korea, Christmas is also for couples,” Korean junior Hyemin Lee said. “They give gifts to each other and hangout.”[/fusion_builder_column]
On the other hand, in the more westernized Asian countries and regions such as Indonesia and Hong Kong, people celebrate Christmas in a more traditional manner.
Junior Olivia Tandajaja from Indonesia enjoys traditional Christmas celebrated in her home country.
“We have a Christmas break in Indonesia,” Tandajaja said. “My mom always cooks dinner on Christmas day and we usually exchange gifts. Christmas is my favorite time of the year! The cold weather, Christmas songs, and everything else about it.”
Hong Kong student, freshman Nathan Wong shared a similar experience.
“Well I usually hang out with my friends during Christmas,” Wong said. “I also have dinner with my family, and I buy presents for my family and friends.”
As the countdown for Christmas is underway, a lot of international students showed their high expectation to this holiday.
Metanopphakun has a high anticipation on his first Christmas in America.
“This year in America I hope I can find a Santa Claus here,” Metanopphakun said. “I wish to get some gifts from him. I wish this Christmas day would be the best day I have ever had.”
Zhang, who stayed in Illinois last Christmas and had a less enthusiastic time, has a exciting plan for the upcoming Christmas.
“I’m looking forward to it (Christmas) this year,” Zhang said. “In this Christmas, I would have to spend it in a very traditional way. That means I will go to some Christmas parties, watch some Christmas movies and chill out with my friends and family. I am also planning to do some shopping and travel to somewhere, hopefully Las Vegas.”
Lee, who also spent her first Christmas in America last year, shared her embarrassing experience and showed excitement for this year?s holiday.
“During my first Christmas in America, I was surprised that many people give Christmas gifts to each other.” Lee said. “I got a lot of presents but I didn?t prepare presents to them. So it was embarrassing. But this year, I know how to spend Christmas, so I am so excited!”
International students who plans to travel back home such as Wong, also showed great anticipation.
“I am very excited to go back home for Christmas,” Wong said. “I can see my parents, my friends and tell them about my life in America after spending my first semester in here.”
This year, the writer of this article Toby Pan is also spending his first Christmas in America. He is exhilarated to experience the most symbolic holiday of western culture by staying in his friend’s house during the break.
Follow the Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronline. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @MojunPan.
For more features, read the Dec. 12 article, Spanish position filled, new teacher brings experiences.