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Moving up without losing your winter break: International students’ fight for home

Brick building from a corner angle with large glass windows and a blue sky
Davis International Center
Candace Do / The Daily Princetonian

This past Friday, all international students on campus were sent an email with the subject: “Important: Winter Break Travel and Continuous Housing.” The email sent by the Davis International Center (IC) reads like a threat: If you don’t stay on campus over winter Break and the United States closes its borders, you will not be allowed to return to campus until Spring 2023.

International students are being forced to choose between family ties and continuous education. This dichotomy isn’t just unfair. It’s also completely unnecessary.


As members of the international community, we are distressed, and so are other members of the student body who stand in solidarity. With winter break approaching, we find ourselves sharing our excitement and yearning for returning home, celebrating winter holidays with our friends and family, and showing them how much we’ve learned and changed during our time at Princeton. Now, during one of the most stressful times of the year, our days are plagued with difficult phone calls to parents, finding places in the United States to stay over break, and mourning over the loss of a hope built up for months.

We are still in a global pandemic, and the entry requirements for international students are complex, but that was not the justification given by the Davis IC. International students can’t return to the comfort of home after a four-month-long University travel restriction because the University refuses to make plans for hybrid education.

The Davis IC’s statement seems disingenuous. After all, this isn’t our first time dealing with a pandemic. The University had already successfully implemented a hybrid education program for Spring 2020, and it continues to offer accommodations for COVID-19 positive students in quarantine. Actions like asking professors to Zoom-stream lectures, or converting in-person exams to take-home ones are incredibly simple, and would make an immense difference in the mental and financial well-being of international students in the coming months.

As it stands, this policy would certainly pressure families to travel to the still COVID-ridden United States in order to spend the holidays with their children. This would place many low-income students in a stressful bind. Many have also already bought several-hundred dollar tickets home. If the policy is maintained, all the money spent on those tickets will be lost. The University provided no reassurance on reimbursements to students, particularly for those on financial aid, adding to an environment already riddled with uncertainty.

Beyond the obvious financial strain, this policy is bound to be hugely taxing on mental health.

International students know homesickness intimately. We carry its weight with us wherever we go. It’s not only the first-year-wide struggle of separation anxiety, but rather the myriad of daily reminders that you exist in the periphery. It’s the under-seasoned food and local slang you don’t truly understand. It’s the cold winter you’ve never felt before, and the 10 hour time-difference that makes it impossible to call home when you need the support of a parent. Going home isn’t a petty wish, it’s a precondition for a much-needed sense of stability and belonging. 


Until Friday, the Davis IC, along with its IC leaders, has offered continuous support and understanding to the extra processes and psychological burdens that come with being an international student. The email struck many as drastically different in attitude and tone from previous messages that the Davis IC has sent. The Davis IC should advocate for international students within the administration rather than expecting us to navigate a possibly life-altering choice by ourselves.

Historically, the University has always taken an active stance in support of its international student population. Last year, in response to the Trump administration’s decision to reject new applications for the DACA program, Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss wrote, “Princeton stands with Dreamers, international students, and the many immigrants whose talent, hard work, and creativity contribute so vitally to this University and to our country.”

Additionally, amid the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s issuance of new guidelines for international students at the start of the pandemic, President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 released a statement stating, “Princeton stands firmly with our international students, who are crucial to the mission and quality of this University and, indeed, to the vitality and creativity of our country.” The most recent Davis IC email seems inconsistent with Princeton’s former stance, both in matter and in sentiment.

We ask for the bare minimum from the administration: grant us options and support. It is more than possible to offer a hybrid model in the case that international students cannot come back or to allow students to return to campus in the fall after a semester of leave. Other options like sponsoring National Interest Exceptions Statuses and offering up refunds or stipends for travel, albeit more complicated, should also be explored by the University.

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Over the summer, first-years were tasked with reading Jennifer M. Morton’s book “Moving Up Without Losing Your Way.” The reflection this book presents on the ethical costs of upward social mobility hit close to home for international students. Coming to Princeton required many sacrifices; in particular, that of closeness with loved family members and local communities. In the spirit of inclusiveness and understanding, the least we are owed by the administration is compassion and an active effort to provide more reasonable options.

Isabella Checa is a first-year from Quito, Ecuador. She can be reached at

Mariana Icaza is a first-year from Mexico City, Mexico. She can be reached at

This message received endorsement from 434 members of the Princeton undergraduate student body. 

The following international students confirmed their support for this message:

Aabid Ismail ’25, Abbie Lambert ’24, Abhinav Agarwal ’23, Afzal Hussain ’25, Ahmed Farah ’22, Aigerim Askergali ’24, Ainil Norazman ’22, Albert Kreutzer ’25, Aleena Brown ’25, Aleha Amjad ’25, Alejandra Durán Urriago ’25, Alessandra Yan ’24, Alev Studenikina ’23, Alex Dreger ’25, Aliya Ismagilova ’22, Amina Ahmad ’22, Amisha Srivastava ’23, Anais Mobarak ’25, Ananya Vinayak ’22, Andrew Barry ’22, Andrew Mi ’24, Anika Agarwal ’25, Anna Goodman ’23, Anna Krokhine ’24, Anoushka Malhotra ’23, Ntea Garo ’24, Aoife Moloney ’25, Audrey Chau ’25, Aylin Hadzhieva ’25, Brian Mmari ’25, Cal Gorvy ’25, Carina Bäte ’23, Caroline di Vittorio ’22, Cerina Corrigan ’22, Chloe Chen ’23, Christina Cho ’24, Christine Chen ’25, David Oke ’25, David Song ’24, David van Velden ’25, Dimitar Chakarov ’24, Dimitris Ntaras ’22, Divraj Singh ’25, Diya Kraybill ’25, Dora Kollar ’24, Edward Zhang ’24, Eesha Agarwal ’23, Elizaveta Rozenberg ’22, Emily Santos ’25, Emiri Morita ’22, Emre Onal ’23, Eoin Gaffney ’24, Erjia Jiang ’23, Evelyn Howe ’25, Faith Moore ’23, Felipe Bickenbach ’22, Felipe Mendoza ’22, Fergus Nevill ’25, Gagik Amaryan ’22, George Chiriac ’25, George Huang ’23, George Pavlakis ’24, Gil Sander Joseph ’25, Giorgio Battigaglia ’24, Gustavo Andre Blanco Quiroga ’25, Harbin Hong ’23, Harry Higginbottom ’23, Helena Frudit ’25, Hyunsung Yun ’23, Ian Fridman ’25, Icey Siyi Ai ’25, Ifeanyi Isichei ’23, Ioana Marinescu ’24, Imaan Khasru ’23, Ina Aram ’25, Inci Karaaslan ’24, Isaac Cape ’25, Isabella Gomes ’25, Ish Kaul ’22, Isha Sinha ’25, Jacquelynn Lin ’25, Jafar Howe ’23, James Ding ’25, Jasmeet Dhanoa ’25, Jasmine Hao ’25, Jay Kaplan ’23, Jelmer Bennema ’23, Jhonelle Moore ’25, Jihan Adnan Khan ’25, Jilian Leung ’25, Jiwon Jun ’24, Jiwon Na ’24, Jiwon You ’22, Joe Wolfin ’22, John Ahloy ’22, Julia Berndtsson ’23, Kanak Gupta ’24, Karel Kalas ’25, Kartik Shah ’23, Katherine George ’25, Kerrie Liang ’25, Kiara Marie Wassoodew ’25, Kok Wei Pu ’25, Kritin Vongthongsri ’24, Lachlan Toovey ’24, Lenca Cuturela ’24, Lily Parris ’25, Liora Nasi ’24, Lola Wheeler ’23, Mariko Storey-Matsutani ’25, Marko Medvedev ’22, Martin Lee ’22, Max Peel ’25, Mia Medic ’25, Miguel Caireta Camps ’25, Mila Bileska ’25, Molly Chadwick ’25, Musab A. Almajnouni ’22, Mutemwa Masheke ’23, Mykhailo Bilokur ’25, Naimeng Ye ’22, Nal Xaviera ’25, Nazdar Rosna Ayzit ’23, Neyci Estefanía Gutiérrez Valencia ’23, Nicole Dunn ’25, Nirakar Sapkota ’22, Oliver Weizel ’24, Pascal Nabare ’25, Patricia Vieira ’24, Pattamon Nganthavee ’22, Paul Hoeselbarth ’24, Philip Kastner ’25, Phine van Zijl ’25, Pia Bhatia ’25, Rachel Chen ’24, Rahul Saha ’22, Raneem Mohamed ’22, Reuel Williams ’24, Riri Jiang ’24, Ronit Singhi ’25, Rosy Monaghan ’24, Rupert Peacock ’24, Saad Malik ’22, Saarthak Chaturvedi ’25, Sarah Elsharkawi ’25, Seyi Yung ’24, Seza Tunc ’24, Shazra Raza ’24, Shireen Amna Waraich ’24, Shirley Ren ’24, Simon Park ’23, Sophie Pye ’25, Sreesha Gosh ’23, Srishti Gosh ’23, Sriyans Rauniyar ’24, Su Fey Ng ’25, Sydnae Taylor ’23, Tanushree Banerjee ’24, Taylan Aydin ’25, Tecla Tariro Mafa ’24, Thomas Dhome-Casanova ’23, Thomas Earl ’24, Vedant Shah ’24, Tim Eilers ’24, Warren James ’22, William Doyle ’24, Xiao-ke Lu ’24, Yana Mihova ’22, Yavuz Gonen ’25, Yi Jin Toh ’25, Yu Jeong Lee ’22, Yuyu Yasuda ’25

The following domestic students confirmed their support for this message:

Aaron Brezinski ’24, Aaron Chaffe ’23, Aaron Cohen ’23, Aaron Serianni ’25, Aaron Wenk ’25, Aavi Gupta ’24, Abani Ahmed ’25, Abigail Rabieh ’25, Aiden Quayle ’25, Alden Weiner ’25, Alexander S MacArthur ’25, Amanda Wang ’25, Amelia Sanchirico ’25, Andrea Mejia ’23, Anella Lefebvre ’24, Anna Johns ’25, Asishah Balogun ’23, AJ Gutierrez ’25, Akhila Bandlora ’24, Alana Hoffert ’25, Alba Bajri ’25, Alecia Barbieri ’25, Alex Luo ’23, Alexander Tao ’25, Alexis Conboy ’25, Aliha H Mughal ’23, Allen Liu ’22, Allison Thomas ’25, Althea Dulany ’25, Amber Chow ’24, Amina Anowara ’25, Aminah Aliu ’25, Anmoldeep Singh ’22, Ana Blanco ’23, Andre Yin ’22, Andres Larrieu ’23, Andrew Berg ’22, Angel Dong ’25, Angela Challman ’25, Angelica Castro ’25, Angelica Win ’23, Anna Lucas ’23, Anne Wen 023, Annie Rupertus ’25, Anthony Frascella ’24, Anthony Monte ’24, Anya Sharma ’23, Aria Lupo ’24, Arjun Jagjivan ’24, Asher Joy ’23, Audrey Zhang ’25, Ayanava Ganguly ’25, Ben Kim ’25, Benjamin Guzovsky ’23, Ben Siminoff ’25, Berkeley Yiu ’25, Bing Li ’23, Bracklinn Williams ’25, Braiden Aaronson ’25, Brei Bell ’25, Brooke Beers ’25, BT Hayes ’22, Caroline Schuckel ’25, Carrie Li ’23, Cassie Eng ’25, Cate Bade ’24, CC Song ’25, Charlie McWeeny ’25, Charlie Multerer ’25, Charlie Nuermberger ’25, Chiara Vilna-Santos ’24, Chinyere Aguwa ’25, Chlow Park ’25, Christian Garcia-De La Jara ’25, Christian Owusu ’25, Christie Lauren Ulloa ’22, Christina Luo ’23, Clarissa Allert ’25, Connie Gong ’25, Cora Wen ’24, Cynthia Nwanko ’25, Daniel Morgante ’25, David Bershadsky ’24, Devanna Ritchie ’25, Diane Peck ’25, Diane Yang ’23, Dyanne Ahn ’25, Dylan Shapiro 23’, Eleanor Monroe ’25, Elena Every ’25, Elizabeth Giuffra ’25, Elizabeth Poku ’24, Elizabeth Polubinski ’25, Ella Webber ’25, Emely Fernandez ’25, Emilio Chan ’25, Emily Della Pietra ’24, Emily Paulin ’25, Emma Chang ’23, Erkhembaatar Unenbat ’24, Ethan Abraham ’23, Evelyn Mcgonigle ’25, Faraz Awan ’24, Fatima Diallo ’25, Fawaz Ahmad ’25, Frida Ruiz ’25, Gabriel G. ’25, George Dickinson ’23, Gigi Pacheco ’23, Gia Musselwhite ’25, Gisele Bisch ’25, Grace Morris ’24, Grace Yoo ’25, Hajra Hamid ’25, Haley Hendrickson ’25, Hannah Faughan ’23, Hannah Van Dusen ’25, Hannah Van Zandt-Rollins ’25, Henry Vecchione ’22, Hiba Siddiki ’25, India Ingemi ’24, Isa Cebedo ’25, Isabel Jacobson ’25, Isabel Rodrigues ’23, Isabella Korbly ’25, Ivy Wang ’23, Jack Green ’24, Jack Jennings ’25, Jack Johnson ’23, Jackson Crocker ’25, Jad Bendarkawi ’24, James Adams ’24, Jasmyn Dobson ’24, Jason Bohner ’25, Jason Luo ’25, Jazz Chang ’23, Jenia Marquez ’25, Jennifer Chavez-Veyna ’25, Jennifer Melo ’25, Jet Jue ’24, Jo Goldman ’25, Joanna Georgian ’22, Johanna Linna ’22, Jordan Slaughter ’24, Jose Ayala Garcia ’22, Joseph Narker ’25, Jovan Aigbekaen ’23, Joy Quan ’23, Julian Jimenez ’22, Jupiter Ding ’24, Kalu Obasi ’25, Kameron Wolters ’25, Karlo Andrei Antalan ’25, Katarzyna Krzyżańska ’22, Katie Rohrbaugh ’24, Katya Williams ’23, Kayla Yelensky ’25, Kimberly Lu ’22, Kisara Moore ’22, Laney Gold-Rappe ’25, Laura Fang ’23, Laura Sandoval ’25, Leena Memon ’25, Leila Grant ’24, Lia Opperman ’25, Lily Feinerman ’24, Luc Harbers ’25, Luke Bazter ’24, Lyla Choi ’25, Madeleine Chong ’23, Madeleine Gaynor ’22, Madison Machado ’25, Mahalia Norton ’24, Maida Shahid ’25, Maithili Shingne ’23, Marissa Bornn ’25, Marissa Mejia ’23, Martin Mastnak ’25, Mary Cate Hyde ’23, Mason Thieu ’25, Matthew Willer ’25, Maxfield Evers ’25, Megan Bequette ’22, Mensch Santelices ’22, Meryl Liu ’25, Michael W Ishak ’25, Mori Ono ’25, Moses Abrahmson ’25, Munisa Said ’22, Natalia Eichmann ’25, Natasha Montiel ’22, Nathalie Rodilosso ’22, Ndeye Thioubou ’25, Ned Dockery ’25, Nelly Serrano ’25, Niccole Meister ’22, Nicholas Aronow ’25, Nick Ledo ’24, Noel Peng ’22, Nomi Wills ’24, Nooha Kawsar ’25, Nyherowo Omene ’25, Olivia Buckhom ’24, Olivia Hee ’23, Ovinabo Banerjee ’25, Paige Sherman ’25, Paola Rodriguez ’25, Patrick Kozak ’24, Peter Skinner ’23, Philip Byriel ’25, Reema Choueiri ’25, Rhim Andemichael ’24, Rhys Drout ’22, Richard Gomez ’25, Roma Bhattacharjee ’25, Rowan Park ’25, Ryan Hoffman ’25, Ryan Lee ’25, Saoirse Bodnar ’22, Sara Shiff ’25, Sarah Brewer ’24, Sarina Hegli ’25, Saumya Malik ’24, Sebastian Williams ’23, Sekinat Aliu ’24, Seth Kah ’25, Shailee Desai ’25, Shelby Kinch ’23, Simran S Khanna ’22, Sophia Chang ’25, Sophia Colmenares ’24, Spencer Bauman ’25, Stephano Mateus Boyer-Paulet ’25, Stephen Duncan ’25, Sruti Roy ’25, Sydney Eck ’24, Sydney S Johnson ’24, Talia Gill ’24, Tanaka Dunbar Ngwara ’24, Tanzila Morshed ’23, Taryn Sebba ’23, Tina Karimaghaie ’25, Teddy Bhatia ’25, Tessa Flanagan ’22, Theresa Lim ’24, Thomas Coulouras ’25, Toussaint Santicola Jones ’25, Uma Menon ’24, Uzair Malik ’25, Vanessa Herrera ’25, Venezia Garza ’25, Victoria Shore ’25, Warren Quan ’24, Will Olson ’23, Windsor Nguyen ’25, Xander Guidry ’23, Yejin Bann ’25, Yejin Suh ’25, Yoel Yacob ’22, Yulissa Cantero ’22, Zachary Dorff ’25, Zoe San Martin ’24

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