International students travel for spring break

Six students who could not go home spent week off in Chicago

Tyler Stigall, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Hector Lopez Vila (left) and Christiane Felicio were two of the six students who decided to travel to Chicago, Ill. with Rodolpho Camargo for their spring break.

Contributed by Rodolpho Camargo
Hector Lopez Vila (left) and Christiane Felicio were two of the six students who decided to travel to Chicago, Ill. with Rodolpho Camargo for their spring break.

Every year, the week of spring break presents an interesting challenge to many of Allegheny’s international students: what do you do for a week when you have no easily accessible home to return to?

In response to this dilemma, this year a group of six students staying at the Max Kade International House decided to explore Chicago, Ill. for spring break. Shu Yi Tang, ’17, a four-year international student from Malaysia, described the decision as a consensus among her friends.

“We have a Facebook group for international students,” said Tang. “I stay at the international house, and we have a pretty close community there. One of my housemates, Rodolpho Camargo, [said that] there were a few places he wanted to go.”

Camargo, the Portuguese teaching assistant, posted a few destination ideas on the Facebook group’s page and asked if anyone wanted to go with him. The students in the international wing voted and decided on Chicago.

“We wanted to go to a city to see a change of place, not necessarily going to the beach because that’s where everyone is going,” Tang explained.

According to Tang, the group of students decided to take the Amtrak, which, while only being slightly cheaper than flying, provided them with the unique experience of taking a train in America.

“All of us were surprised by how comfortable the environment was,” Tang said. “There was also an observatory deck with glass all around you and you get to see everything passing by outside. And we woke up seeing a sunrise in the train. It was a really interesting experience.”

Upon arriving in the Windy City, Hector Lopez Vila, a Spanish teaching assistant from the University of Autonoma de Madrid, compared Chicago to New York and Madrid. Vila originally came to Allegheny to experience a small-town American community.

Of Chicago, Vila remarked, “It was very great to be in a different environment with new people, with the feeling that you are completely disappeared and no one knows you. It was a very liberating experience. Here [in Meadville], everyone knows you, but that feeling of being free was very great.”

(From left to right) Laura Hagen, Hector Lopez Vila, Shu-Yi Tang and Katharina Lopez spent some of there time away from Meadville by the beach in Illinios.

Contributed by Rodolpho Camargo
(From left to right) Laura Hagen, Hector Lopez Vila, Shu-Yi Tang and Katharina Lopez spent some of there time away from Meadville by the beach in Illinios.

According to Tang, the group of students arrived in Chicago on Sunday morning, and stayed at a hostel, relying on Chicago’s metro system to transport them about the city. On Monday, they spent time at Navy Pier and enjoyed the beach. They also visited Cloud Gate, commonly referred to as “the Bean,” according to Vila, where they observed the skyline of Chicago.

“You can see the skyline of the city reflected in [Cloud Gate],” said Laura Hagen, ’17. “It’s supposed to be like a gateway between the pedestrians and the skyline. It’s a really cool concept.”

The group visited a litany of tourist attractions, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Garfield Conservatory.

Of the latter, Tang recalled, “It’s like a greenhouse essentially. It was one of my favorite places because it was still pretty cold in Chicago and inside there it was warm, and in one of the sections were flowers that were blooming. So it was a really nice kind of escape from winter where you could see spring bloom right in your face.”

Hagen is not herself an international student, but she is a German major who lives in the German international house and is close friends with many international students. She admitted that there were times when she noticed her background distinctly manifesting itself during the trip.

“It was the first time that I had hung out where I was the only American,” she said, “so I suddenly became aware of just how American I am, and all the little things that I might say that make sense to other Americans.”

Many of the students, including Vila, are at Allegheny only for the remainder of the semester, rendering any future spring break plans moot. Vila did, however, concede that he still had some travel plans before he returned to Madrid.

“I will go [for] a few days to Miami because my plane leaves from Miami,” he said. “Maybe I will try to go to Philadelphia in April. I would like to go to Boston, but I don’t know if I will have time.”

Other groups of international students took a cruise around the Bahamas and traveled to Miama, Washington D.C. and New York City.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email