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If you are a college student, spring break can be both exciting and intimidating. Traditionally, spring break offers students a much-welcomed recess from classes, along with the opportunity to travel and partake in fun activities with friends. If you do it right, spring break can be the best week of the year. However, spring break can also be quite stressful if you fail to plan ahead properly. Spring break can be especially tricky for international students who might not be familiar with the concept. That is why we’ve asked many international students, advisers, and graduates for their advice. Here are some tips for surviving spring break as an international student!

Naomi Hong, student at Occidental College and writer at CollegeXpress

“Use Airbnb with friends! There are hundreds of listings for groups of various sizes; especially if you are a large group, you may be able to rent out a very nice house for a reasonable price. If someone in your group does not have an AirBNB account, be sure to have them sign up using the code of someone who already has one, so that you can both get some discounts!”


Raphaelle Soffe, international student at Harvard University and writer at Times Higher Education

“Traveling is about experiencing new cultures, new challenges, and a new form of independence. I would thoroughly encourage it not only as an opportunity for exploring and excitement, but also as another dimension to your education.”



Sameer Kamat, founder of MBA Crystal Ball

“International students, especially those concerned about getting a good job after graduating, could use the opportunity to expand their professional network. An internship in their target industry would be a great way to pick up practical skills and make valuable contacts. If that’s not possible, there are still other informal yet effective ways to network with helpful folks (via alumni networks, LinkedIn) who might have some interesting leads and tips to share.”

Barbara Diaz,  former international student at Creighton University and writer at ISEP Study Abroad

“My personal advice is to take the best from what you are experiencing right now: it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Be curious, daring, and extroverted. You’ll learn a lot from the U.S., but also from yourself.”

Dan Lucas, producer at BBC, former international student at the University of Florida, and writer at Universities UK

“Really make the most of every opportunity that comes your way & don’t be afraid to try new things. Whether it’s the sports facilities, the international film section in the library, the Hare Krishna lunches, the societies; there are so many resources at Universities in addition to the academic resources & so many people who are passionate about their hobbies. If you use your time wisely & aren’t afraid to leave your comfort zone you have a golden opportunity to meet interesting people, challenge your own beliefs & experiment with new ideas.”

James Dorsett, Director of Michigan State University Office for International Students and Scholars

“If this is your first spring break in the US and you really need the time to finish a project for one of your classes, work hard and finish the project—because you are foremost a student.  Hopefully you will have some time left over to have some fun.  You will have other spring breaks still to look forward to.  But if you can afford the time, connect with some friends and travel.  The US is a big place, and there is plenty to see and many interesting people you can meet.  Or finally, if you have made a friend who is willing to have you come home with him or her, do it, and experience another family and hopefully another culture.”

Christopher Nzuka, President of the International Students Association at Salem State University

“My advice for first year international students is to simply take a break and travel.  I would recommend visiting Washington D.C for those who have never been there before. I was there last year and I found it to be peaceful and relaxing. There, they can walk the national mall, get to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and also the new Museum of African American History.”

Ngai Morrison Kwong, Marketing Manager for International Student Insurance

“Safety is the first priority when it comes to traveling as an international student. If you are going outside of the US during Spring break, make sure to notify your international student advisor in advance and save all your school’s emergency contact numbers in your phone. Also, photocopy or take a photo of all your important documents and store them in your phone – if you lose anything, you will have immediate copies should you need them. I also highly recommend bringing your insurance ID card with you in case you need medical or travel assistance overseas.”

Benjamin Bearup, international student at the International University of Monaco

“I have tons of advice to give since I am actually studying full time abroad. I chose to visit Hong Kong for spring break partly because it is very different from Monaco and from the USA where I am from. There are many different avenues a student studying abroad can take for spring break. While studying abroad you meet many people from different cultures. I would recommend a student take any and every opportunity they have to explore a completely new culture to them. Go somewhere that may not be very touristy but memorable. If possible, go with a group of friends you are studying with or meet during your studies. Also, always plan well ahead and have a budget!”

Katharine Clair, International Student Adviser at Trinity College

“Make sure you have your F-1 visa paperwork in a safe place especially if you are going outside of the United States for Spring Break. Keep your passport and I-20 in a safe location and be sure to have the I-20 signed before you go! If you don’t have one already, consider investing in a passport holder that can go around your neck or waist and can be hidden inside your clothes.”

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