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Staycations, ice skating and first-time Black Friday shopping: How international students plan to spend the holidays

<p>Five dorms in the Sigma Chi fraternity section were robbed during Winter Break.&nbsp;</p>

Five dorms in the Sigma Chi fraternity section were robbed during Winter Break. 

Though the holiday season may look less traditional this year for international students, here’s how some of them are still making the most of their time off given the pandemic restrictions. 

For first-year Nancy Phan, plane tickets to her home in Vietnam are extremely difficult to come by. Phan described the process of registering for a government-sponsored flight; the wait is often three to five months, and flights “often get cancelled last-minute if the COVID situation gets bad,” she wrote.

Even as a fully-vaccinated passport holder, current regulations would require her to spend a seven-day quarantine period at an appointed hotel. 

Instead of flying home, Phan will stay with her roommate, first-year Lauren Pehlivanian, in New York City over Thanksgiving break. Over winter break, Phan plans to remain on campus and pursue her hobbies more freely, which include practicing Chinese, reading, cooking and earning certifications from online classes on Coursera. 

In India, the travel situation is significantly more lenient: current restrictions allow for travel between the United States and India without a quarantine period. First-year Shanaya Piramal plans on flying home for winter break. It will have been the first time she has returned to her home city of Mumbai since August. 

For Thanksgiving break, Piramal will be visiting a friend from Duke in New York before spending time with her high school friends. She is looking forward to experiencing part of the holiday season in the United States.

“We are going to go to Christmas markets, ice-skating and Black Friday shopping for the first time!” she said.

Although residence halls will be open over Thanksgiving break, certain resources will be limited in order to allow staff members to enjoy time off with their families. On Thanksgiving Day, all dining and transportation services will be closed. Student Health will also be closed from Nov. 24 to Nov. 26. On the other days of break, these services will operate with abbreviated hours. Blue Devils Care, a 24/7 mental health resource hotline, will be fully available to students throughout the week to provide support. 

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