ASB ideal for international NU students

Stephanie Louise Lu

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For international students, Northwestern is their only home in the United States. Because dorms close for spring break and flight costs are high, international students living on campus often don’t have a place to go.

“Dorms were such an issue, so sophomore year I moved out into an apartment. … If I wanted to come back early, I could,” said SESP junior Maggie Jim, an international student.

NU will officially close on-campus housing from March 21-29 this year. No students are allowed to stay in the dorms during this period.

Jim is currently weighing options for her Spring Break plans.

“I kind of struggle with Spring Break every year because I’m from Hong Kong and my family’s there,” she said. “I’m one of the lucky ones. … My sister is in New York, and my aunt is here in Chicago.”

For international students without family close by, visiting friends becomes an attractive option.

“Last spring I visited my friend in Michigan and Pennsylvania,” said Kenan Mir, a Communication junior from Pakistan. “The spring break before that I went to London to see friends and family.”

Other students participate in activities such as those run by the student group Alternative Student Breaks, which sends students on service trips both domestically and internationally. The trips are timed to coincide with Winter and Spring breaks.

For Weinberg freshman Xin Kai Cheng, an international student from Singapore, the cost of a Spring Break trip is his primary concern.

“I’m thinking about an ASB trip,” he said. “Maybe go on a road trip to Florida or something, somewhere around here. … I mean, it all depends on the pricing, right?”

The most cost-effective trips are those that don’t require air travel. They range in price from $180 to $300 including food, transportation and lodging, according to the ASB Web site.

SESP junior Rae Shih, the participant coordinator for the ASB executive board, went on her first ASB trip before her freshman year. Since then, Shih has participated in four more ASB trips and will go to Washington, D.C. over the upcoming Spring Break.

Her pre-Wildcat Welcome trip focused on urban poverty, a topic especially relevant to her social policy major.

“I would say that it’s definitely a great way to experience different parts of America,” Shih said.

Students also said they chose to go on ASB trips in order to make friends or because they heard positive experiences from other students.

“The Kentucky trip was one of the cheaper ones because we didn’t have to take a flight, we just drove there,” said Clarissa Nebuya, a Medill sophomore from Japan. “I made friends on the trip. … When you live together and do things together, you can get really close. I’m still in touch with them.”

Jim, however, said she worried about the aspects of ASB that were out of her control.

“You don’t always get the site you want, like your first choice,” she said. “You could end up with a group that you don’t like.”