DURHAM, N.C. - Millions of people continue to spend the holidays without their families, including some international students at Duke University. Sannan Saleh, 20, is one of those students.

  • Many international students spend the holidays away from their families
  • Duke junior Sannan Saleh couldn't afford the $2,000 airfare to Pakistan
  • Duke housed the international students during winter break

"I would obviously prefer to see my family, but I think that's part of growing up and leaving home," the Duke junior said Thursday.

He couldn't afford the $2,000 flight to visit his family in Pakistan. His Muslim faith doesn't recognize Christmas, but with much of the campus empty, he knows it's a time to be with family.

The university housed him and other students in a dormitory for the winter break. Saleh says they all have become like family.

"We like talk to each other. We make dinner together," he said.

Saleh says being without loved ones during the holidays has taught him more about himself. He keeps in touch with his family.

"The people who are close to you, you don't need to be in proximity to them or close proximity to them to still remain close," he said.

But he has advice for others spending the holidays alone.

"I think true contentment relies on just being able to be comfortable within your own shoes and not feeling left out," he added.