Mercyhurst University enrolled the largest international class in its history this year as it welcomed 80 undergraduates from 25 different countries. This is an increase from 44 international admissions in 2012, and 53 in 2013.
As the school continues to embark on its 4-1-4 academic calendar, some international students are left on campus with little to do.
Jenbli Cox, a freshman intelligence major from Jamaica, had to stay on campus during the week of Thanksgiving break this year.
Cox said that it would be easier to stay on campus during breaks if Mercyhurst held different actives for the students that have to stay.
“Even if Mercyhurst was able to set up volunteer opportunities it would make a difference,” Cox said.
Phuong Nguyen, a freshman communication major from Vietnam, was able to travel to Colombia with a few of her friends for the first week of Christmas break. After that week, she traveled back to Erie and stayed in the dorms for the remaining two weeks of break.
“Staying in the dorms while no one else is on campus is quiet boring, but we made it fun by cooking food from home and just hanging out together all of the time,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen suggested opening the dining halls during break and providing activities for students still on campus.
Lan-Nhi Phung, a freshman biology major also from Vietnam, was able to stay with her friend’s family for two weeks of the Christmas break, which was her first traditional American Christmas.
“It was very exciting. I got to go Christmas shopping, cook, and decorate a Christmas tree for the first time” said Phung. “My friend’s family treated me as part of the family and even bought me gifts.”
Both Phung and Nguyen said they were grateful that the school allows international students to stay on campus during break.
“A lot of universities kick students out during break, so we are lucky Mercyhurst shows mercy to us,” Nguyen said.
Laura Schmiedeler, a sophomore fashion merchandizing major from Arizona, also had to stay on campus during Christmas break.
“It’s boring … but also very relaxing at the same time,” she said.