The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Alpaslan Ersöz spent his winter break at Penn, along with a few other international students. 

Credit: Courtesy of Alparslan Ersöz

Several international students at Penn didn’t have the good fortune of returning home for winter break. It can feel easy to be lonely on a barren campus, but two students made the best of their time off in Philly.

Alpaslan Ersoz is an Engineering graduate student from Konya, Turkey who spent his break in the International House of Philadelphia. IHP held some events for its residents over break, keeping them active and out of the cold until school started back up again. Ersoz participated in a talk about African diaspora, among other organized events. IHP’s events allowed him to meet new faces around University City, while many people were back home with the same old friends and families.

Although this winter has been lacking much snow or ice, Penn’s campus was much more socially frozen and bleak over break. “The campus was so silent, and the situation was hard on me, because without students, the campus is like a ghost town,” Ersoz said.

Although few students remained, the shops and restaurants in University City were open. “I think that overall, Philadelphia is a nice place for living alone,” Ersoz said. “But on the other hand, I really want to visit my family and go back to my country.”

Though he would have liked to return to Turkey for break, Ersoz still managed to have some fun nights in Philadelphia. He was without any family, but a handful of friends stayed for break as well. Ersoz got together with some of his remaining Turkish friends and ventured downtown to celebrate New Years’ Eve in American style. “It was the first time for most of us to see how Americans celebrate the holiday,” he said.

Minsu Kim, an Engineering junior, had his first chance to celebrate the New Year in Toronto, Canada, but also spent the majority of break on campus. Kim was born and raised in Busan, South Korea, but has studied in the United States since the 9th grade.

America feels a bit more like home for Kim, he said, and several of his friends stayed on campus with him. “It’s true that not many people stayed and our campus really felt empty,” Kim said, but having friends in town kept break from feeling terribly lonely.

One solution to the break-time lull is to take up a new hobby. Kim learned to knit over break, allowing him to keep his hands and his mind occupied. “I was looking for a new and possibly unexpected challenge for myself, therefore I chose to try knitting and ended up making three beanies, two scarfs and a little snowman doll,” Kim said.

Kim also regularly practiced Judo across town, keeping him active and out of the house.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.