Sehar Tariq ’05 was almost too afraid to go to her cousin’s wedding.
For many Yalies, that may sound strange, but Tariq’s cousin, who she said is like a sister to her, is getting married in Pakistan.
“I decided that life has to go on and I can’t sit here scared forever,” Tariq said in an e-mail. “My biggest worry was that I would have trouble getting back into the [United States] because I had heard stories about people who had been sent back.”
Despite fears of terrorism and uncertainty about changing visa regulations, most international students say they have not changed their plans for traveling during winter break. Their reasons are varied, but the results are the same — international students are not letting fear take over their travel plans.
“I think generally students are continuing with their winter break travel plans but are now feeling a bit insecure about traveling,” said Ann Kuhlman, director of Yale’s Office of International Students and Scholars.
Joy Chia ’04 said she had no doubt that she would return to Singapore this winter.
“It really wasn’t a question about changing travel plans,” Chia said in an e-mail. “I think that one only can think about doing that if one has the luxury of doing it. It’s not a matter of choice for me. Not to fly is out of the question. To get home, I have to get on a plane and fly for about 22 hours to get back to a very different part of the world — and since that’s the only way, I’m going to do it.”
A few students, still apprehensive about flying, have made alternate plans for winter break. Elina Fessa ’03 said she is taking a road trip to Florida with two other international students instead of going home to Greece.
“I miss home a lot, and I wish I could go, but there is something holding me back — not exactly fear — don’t know how to name it, it’s just that I’d rather wait and ‘be in pain’ for a bit longer until I go home and see my parents and friends than have something happen to me, and make everyone else suffer for a much longer time period,” Fessa said in an e-mail. “Besides I feel a bit scared about re-entering the country ’cause I feel that something in my documents might be a bit ambiguous or something, and I might have to go through hell to get back in, and I don’t want to take chances right now.”
Kuhlman said every year there are some international students who stay in New Haven during winter break, and since the residential colleges are closed, the OISS finds places for them to stay.
“Last year they stayed in Harkness Medical dorms,” Kuhlman said. “The year before that they stayed in the international house. This year it’s more challenging because there’s a longer list of students.”
Kuhlman said in the past, all of the international students remaining in New Haven have stayed together.
“I think that’s a preferable arrangement,” Kuhlman said. “It’s a pretty quiet place around here during winter break.”
Tomer Posner ’02 said he is taking advantage of the low airline rates to return home to Israel and go on a snowboarding trip in France as well.
“International flights have become pretty cheap in the past few months — so I can afford this really cool break,” Posner said in an e-mail.Ê”As a native of Israel, I abide to the principle of not letting terrorism change my lifestyle.”
Emmanuel Imbeah ’05 said while he is not returning to his native Ghana during the break, he still plans to visit relatives in the United Kingdom. He said he knows many people who are traveling abroad this winter and does not see any reason for concern.
“I guess there exist some real possibilities that getting back in would be difficult, but I am not particularly worried about what’s going to happen,” Imbeah said.