Vietnamese international students talk of a special Christmas

Christmas and New Year's Eve is coming, many overseas Vietnamese students cannot return to their home countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vietnamtimes reporters had the opportunity to interview international students as they had to celebrate Christmas alone halfway around the world from their family.
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Pham Phuong Lien (3rd-year student at Seattle University, Washington, D.C., USA)

Christmas has long been a common holiday for all. This is an opportunity for children who study abroad to return home, reunite with their parents, relatives, and fully enjoy the warmth of family. However, this year, affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, many students are unable to return to their homeland even though the vacation lasts for up to a month. Christmas and New Year are important holidays for family members to reunite. For international students, it is quite difficult to return to the hometown to reunite with family during the holidays.

Talking with Pham Phuong Lien (3rd-year student at Seattle University, Washington, D.C., USA), her friend said that this is the 5th time she welcomed Christmas in the US. "I myself have witnessed the pandemic situation of the US in general as well as in the city I live in particular from the very early days. So I can confirm that the situation in the US is dangerous. My plan was to visit my family last summer, but due to the COVID pandemic, I was stuck in the US. I spend most of my time indoors, and only go out when absolutely necessary. The pandemic is dangerous. I have no family to be around, so I have to be even more wary and careful".

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Although she felt sad that she hadn't returned to Vietnam yet, Phuong Lien still found herself more fortunate than many other international students.

“When seeing people in Vietnam join hands to fight the pandemic, seeing life is back to normal in Vietnam, everyone can stay with their family, being able to go to school to meet their friends and teachers and to travel here and there makes me sometimes quite sad and jealous”, Lien said.

Although she felt sad that she hadn't returned to Vietnam yet, Phuong Lien still found herself more fortunate than many other international students as she always received support and encouragement from family and friends in Vietnam as well as people around in the US. During the pandemic, Lien still had a safe place to live and study.

When asked about her biggest wish for her family during Christmas 2020, Lien confided: “I miss my parents and my family very much and I hope the pandemic will soon be controlled worldwide, so that Vietnam can open the door and I can reunite with my family. I hope that everyone stays healthy and keeps their vigilance, even though our country is doing very well in preventing COVID-19. I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday ”.

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Nguyen Phuong Chi is a second-year student at Hiroshima University of Economics (Hiroshima, Japan)

"Don't want to eat banh chung in tears"

Nguyen Phuong Chi is a second-year student at Hiroshima University of Economics (Hiroshima, Japan) who shared that she and her friends planned to have a Christmas gathering but then had to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Only in the last month of the year, the number of people infected with COVID-19 in Japan increased dramatically, causing trains to delay and operations to be banned, so this year is a sad year for Vietnamese students", Chi shared.

According to Phuong Chi, her part-time job at a restaurant was also affected: “2 weeks ago, Hiroshima province announced that the restaurants were only open until 8 pm, so we had to take a break from work." Her study also went online, which caused difficulties. "Vietnamese banh chung and pickles are also sold in Japan, but after a day of studying and working hard, I don't want to eat banh chung in tears", Chi touched her mind when she remembered her homeland.

Unable to return home, she has to welcome Christmas and New Year with her family through phone calls. Chi realized that being an international student, living away from home, everyone is trying and learning to accept negative emotions but still look forward to the future. "I wish you all to be healthy and optimistic to overcome the epidemic raging around the world. If you are having a warm Christmas in your homeland, please cherish every moment with your family and loved ones! ”, she talked about her wishes in this Christmas.

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