How these exchange students are making the most out of winter break

The International Student Center provides a common home for international students. Foreign exchange students need to find housing accommodations for the holiday. (John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

“Nobody thinks immediately about Kansas when you’re talking about the U.S.,” Hans Bastian Seibert, graduate student in geography, said.

Seibert is originally from Germany, and the upcoming winter break will mark the end of his first semester as a Kansas State student.

Over fall break, Seibert took a road trip to the west coast with a fellow German transfer and in-state student Aaron Middaugh, sophomore in modern languages. The trio made stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Denver, among others.

Middaugh said the road trip came about spontaneously.

“I figured I’d never get the chance to road trip across the U.S. with two German guys again,” Middaugh said.“It was a fun experience because I had never been to any of those places before either. We all got to experience parts of America that we’d never seen before.”

The group also visited the Grand Canyon.

“That was the only opportunity I had in the whole semester to really see some places,” Seibert said. “When I’m in the U.S., I really want to go where everybody’s talking about.”

When asked how breaks are commonly spent in Germany, Seibert said Europe’s smaller size makes travel much easier than in the U.S.

“We go to more places throughout the whole country,” Seibert said. “[Kansans] like to travel around Kansas and back to see family, but we go farther: to the Alps, France, Spain and other countries.”

Pranav Savanur, sophomore in biomedical science and anthropology, said he shares Seibert’s zeal for travel.

Savanur was born in the U.S. and raised in India. Currently in his second year at K-State, Savanur said he plans to complete his entire undergraduate program in Manhattan.

Savanur aspires to travel in his future career through global medicine, and thus far he has spent his breaks pursuing this desire to see the world.

After spending his 2017 Thanksgiving in Alaska with a relative, that year’s winter break was spent in Texas with friends. He also spent two weeks last summer in South Africa.

Savanur said he’ll spend the upcoming winter break in Allen County, Kansas, with K-State Alternative Breaks. He said he’ll be engaging with challenges involved in promoting public health in rural communities.

After finals week, Seibert isn’t wasting any time getting back to his family and friends in Germany, who he said have been anxious for him to return.

“I’m going straight home on the seventeenth,” he said.

Savanur hasn’t been home to India since he started at K-State in fall 2017.

“My mom hates me for not coming home for over a year,” Savanur laughed. “She said she’s going to fly over and drag me home if I don’t go back soon.”

Savanur said that as a student with many dreams and experiences to pursue, the K-State faculty has been instrumental in helping him reach his goals through travel opportunities over breaks.

“For me, college isn’t just a four-year thing where you get your degree and leave,” he said. “It’s a chance to discover more about myself.”

Savanur said that while he does occasionally get homesick, his friends always make him feel welcome by offering a place to stay for the holidays. Despite being over 8,000 miles and several seas away from India, he said his friends at K-State feel like home.