5 Gifts Every International Student Wants For Christmas

The quickly approaching holidays signal the arrival of many things: snow, days off, family gatherings, and above all, gifts. If you’re a host family or American friend shopping for international students, deciding on a gift can sometimes lead to a big blank. We’re in contact with hundreds of international students, giving us an inside look on what they want to see most under the tree.





There are five main categories to shop in, depending on what tone the gift should have. We’ve arranged them in order of increasing personal touch:


Utility. These gifts are great for the travelling student—the one who’s constantly forgetting to pack that one thing they need.

  1. Portable charger: Perfect for students who will be spending hours travelling. Nothing is worse than running out of battery halfway through a film on a 15-hour flight.
  2. Travel pillow: For all those students catching up on sleep from finals! Help them snatch a couple of hours during a layover or redeye on their way home.
  3. Passport holder: These protective cases are perfect for those who are constantly between countries. Make sure your friend’s passport doesn’t fray on their many trips.
  4. Universal power adaptor: The savior of all travellers, this extremely useful adaptor will allow every outlet to be usable, an absolute must for trips.

Americana. International students come to America for many reasons, but one of which is the nostalgic America we all know and love. Remind them of that this holiday season with classic American gifts.

  1. White Picket Fence Necklace: Every American dream begins with a white picket fence. Get your friend a constant reminder of the potential of coming here.
  2. American university gear: Universities in America are some of the best known in the world. Get your friend a Harvard, MIT, or Stanford mug, key fob, shirt, and more at any of the university shops.
  3. Coca-cola merchandise: Coca-cola is a well-established symbol of America. It’s the classic drink that brings with it a sense of the American spirit.

Local Color.

  1. Starbucks City Mug: In many foreign countries, Starbucks is seen as pretty cool. What’s even cooler is a practical gift from the city where the student studies. In most American cities, you can purchase mugs specific that feature the name and landmarks of that city.
  2. Baseball cap or American football jersey: Get this paraphernalia from the teams based in the US city where the student attends high school or university. If you’re in the Northeast, try the Red Sox, Celtics, or Patriots. This is a gift international students can take home and show off to their friends.

Home Away From Home. If your foreign friend can’t make it home for the holidays, there’s nothing better than a taste of their home country. If there’s one thing international students miss the most, it’s food from home.

  1. H-Mart: A perfect place to start for students from Asia. Shelves are brimming with Korean, Japanese and Chinese favorites, like kimchi, ramen cups (from soba and udon noodles to vermicelli and somen), seaweed snacks, and pocky sticks.
  2. Try Cost Plus World Market for your European exchange student.  This store has favorites from Germany like Kinder Riegel and Christmas stollen; from Italy panforte; from France the Bûche de Noël; from Sweden Nyåkers Gingersnap Tin.
  3. For Eastern European students, your best bet is a local specialty market or bakery. Here in Boston, we have Bazaar Gourmet and Baltic European Deli where you can find favorites from Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland and more like traditional kefir, homemade borcht, pierogi, kielbasa, rye bread, and beautiful pastries and fruit cakes.


  1. Visiting the 50 States Journal: Help them document their travels and set a goal to visit all 50 of the United States of America!
  1. Camera: Another way to document a study abroad experience is by taking pictures. The Diana Camera: Great for giving shots an artistic edge, but the classic Polaroid Camera or high-quality camera never go out of style!
  2. Travel Stub Diary: Preserve memories from their time in the USA with this cool diary.

What are your favorite holiday gifts for international students?

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“I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being patient, understanding, caring towards me for the past year. The scholarship helped a lot in getting my visa. You sure do know how to do a brilliant work and if there is any way I could take a survey about your services at Cogito, I would give you a 10 out of 10.”