Thanksgiving in an International Student P.O.V

Melida Castro

Thanksgiving is the time of the year when schools and workplaces expand their weekend for families and friends to gather around to say thank you for all the good in their lives.
An international student sees this time just as a long weekend. They don’t celebrate this holiday and most don’t even understand the concept of it.
When asked why they thought people celebrate Thanksgiving, most shrugged and said they didn’t know.
Freshman Huy “Henry” Nghiem from Vietnam had a clearer idea of the concept, “From my understanding, Thanksgiving is an occasion for those who celebrate to express gratitude for what they have been having/achieving for the last year; it is also a time for families to gather as well.”
International students had different experiences this Thanksgiving break. Sophomore Yinuo “Genesis” Li from Beijing, China was fortunate to spend the break off campus, “I went to my roommate’s house and my relative’s house as well during the break.”
On the other hand, like most international students, freshman Antonella Laitano from Tegucigalpa, Honduras stayed on campus for the break. “Actually, my only plans were only to get some rest since we were given two days off. However, I passed my thanksgiving with some friends and had fun. [We] ate McDonalds.”
Nghiem stayed on campus too and was invited to two different dinners. “I was fortunate to have two Thanksgiving meals with two families [the Kims and the Rowells] during the holiday… One meal was traditional for Thanksgiving with turkey, gravy, cheesy mashed potatoes, stuffings, corn, butter buns, and cookies. The other meal was an unusual one with roasted ham, pan-fried brussel sprouts, corn casserole, and croissants.”
An issue that affected all international students living in residence halls on campus was the dining hall closing for the entire Thanksgiving break. “I was actually glad because the everyone working in the CSL had a chance to rest and gather with their families,” said Henry Nghiem. But this resulted in having to eat microwaved food (noodles and frozen pasta) and take out food (pizza and chicken nuggets).
“Closing [the] CSL may be inconvenient for the international students who stayed on campus, which is a majority portion of the whole number. The school should definitely have some open hours during Thanksgiving.” said Genesis Li.
Unlike domestic students, international students aren’t able to drive home when they’re feeling homesick. They don’t get to see their families until Christmas break, and some aren’t able to go back home until summer vacation.
“We’re actually far away from our homes… Campus is really lonely during breaks, and there’s nothing you can do while being here,” Laitano said.
Others, like Nghiem, found campus when all domestic students leave to be quite peaceful. “For me, I don’t feel bored at all, and I am enjoying every moment of the break. The campus is quiet yet beautiful in its own way.”