International Students Opt for an Alternative Winter Break


Selfie taken with 6 students in frame at a dining table with food set up.
Three students wearing ski gear on a goondola.

Lucas is from Guangzhou, China and he wasn't able to go back home this break. Instead, he traveled with his high school friends to San Diego, Los Angeles, Big Bear Lake, Grand Park and finally ended his trip at Disneyland before traveling back to Houston. 

Three students wearing ski gear on a gondola.
Bell tower with fireworks exploding around it.

I went to many places that I wanted to visit, met up with friends I haven't seen for a long time, and spent the whole holiday with joy, excitement, and exhaustion. I was most impressed during my visit to San Diego and the Getty. During the trip to San Diego, we encountered a local who offered to be our guide, and after taking us to walk around, we decided that San Diego is the most beautiful city in the world. 

La Jolla Cove sunsets and waves, the World famous San Diego Zoo and House Board Games are all unforgettable memories. Getty is known for the beauty of its building and the art collection inside. Architect Richard Meier liked to use white and large stone blocks for Getty's buildings. The gallery also features about 50,000 paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculptures and decorative arts from early 20th-century Europe. After getting to know the place, we found out that the paintings in the museum are mainly owned by a dozen former Fortune 500 CEOs, including the Getty Family, to preserve their wealth and prevent depreciation, which is so cool!

- Lucas L., Will Rice '26

A selfie taken by one person with four people in frame and a "Fort Worth Zoo" sign behind them.
Female sitting on a saddle hoisted on a wooden structure with a "burgers" sign on her right side (left side of image).

Nimah is an international student from Dubai, UAE, but she got to spend most of her break right here in Houston. Since most students leave Houston for winter holiday, those who live off-campus for the school year would let their friends who need housing over the break to stay in their empty apartment. 

Two females standing next to each other, smiling, with blue balloons that say "2023" and part of a Christmas tree behind them.
Four adults standing in a row and a child standing in front of them, smiling, with blue balloons that say "2023" and a Christmas tree behind them.

I could not go back home during break and needed a place to stay. When my friends heard of my situation, they were enthusiastic about helping me! The MOB (Marching Owl Band, for which I play the violin) traveled to Mobile, Alabama, for the Lending Tree Bowl for the first few days of Winter Break, during which we played at the football game, visited the Mardi Gras Museum and enjoyed a variety of foods. I stayed at my O-week mum's apartment for a while and then with my roommate and her family. I decided to learn more about the foreign city I had ventured to.

I worked as a docent for the James Turrell Skyspace and explored the Houston Public Library, coffee shops, and various conservatories and parks. Several faculty members of the Rice community invited me to spend time with their families or visit a new part of Houston alongside them. When events like New Year's and Christmas rolled over, despite not having anyone at home to celebrate with, I was able to spend time with other international students and was invited to gatherings with some of the OISS* staff members. While staying with my roommate in Fort Worth, TX, I saw a rodeo for the first time, went to the zoo, and visited the Stockyards. Overall, I'm glad I could use this time to recharge while learning more about the place I've chosen to call home for the next four years.

*OISS is the acronym for Rice's Office of International Students and Scholars

- Nimah S., Hanszen '26

Female sitting at table holding utensils with a plate of food in front of her.
Picture of a street in London, with apartment flats along the sidewalk on the right of the picture.

Most of Christine's high school friends attend university in the United Kingdom, so instead of going back home to Shanghai, China this winter break, she took the chance to travel to the UK to reunite with her high school classmates. 

Four plates of traditional English Breakfast.
A band wearing black, white, green, and gold colors on their uniform, marching down a street.

I was on a flight to London right after the semester ended. Compared to Houston, I experienced the hustle and bustle of London, a metropolis I had not seen for a long time. This is also my first time celebrating the New Year in a foreign country. Although I couldn't celebrate the New Year with my family, I chose another way to celebrate the New Year: get together with my best friends from high school and tell each other the funny things that happened during our three months apart. My only regret is not seeing snow.

- Christine C, Will Rice '26

A family photo with four people sitting down around the table and two people standing behind them, smiling at the camera.
A group photo with 6 people and a trail of trees decorated with white lights in the background.

Bela and her family used to live in Abu Dhabi, UAE, but they recently moved to Houston. So instead of traveling back to Abu Dhabi to see her family, they were able spend the holidays in Houston together.

My family and I moved back to Houston from Abu Dhabi, UAE after 11 years, so this was our first winter in the U.S. after so long. We spent a lot of time being with the people we love, who we did not get to see as often as we would have liked when we lived overseas. My mom invited a bunch of our family and friends to our new home for a Christmas Eve party, and it was great to catch up with loved ones I had not seen in years. My cousins drove down from Dallas over New Year's weekend and we were able to go see the Houston Zoo Lights! I definitely had times when I was homesick and missed my friends from Abu Dhabi and all of the different activities we would do together over the break. However, I’m glad I was able to reconnect with old friends, spend quality time with family and explore the Houston area!

- Bela K., Duncan '26

A mirror selfie of two females wearing winter clothes.
A picture of three students standing on a bridge with a nice sunset behind them.

Yuki was not able to go back to her hometown of Wenzhou, China this winter break, but she did have the chance to partially escape the cold.

A mirror selfie of two females wearing winter clothes.
Female standing under a street clock.

I spent a great winter break with my best friend from high school. I traveled to the University of Florida and spent a wonderful week at her dorm. We then traveled to Cancun, Mexico, and enjoyed the summer weather over there. Boston was our last stop, where we counted down the new year together at Boston Commons and were welcomed by the snow on the last day of our trip.

- Yuki W., Will Rice '26



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