Feature: International Students’ Plans for Thanksgiving Break

By Yuhan Ma


It’s now the time of year when all kinds of holidays are approaching! I believe that every one of us is anticpating Thanksgiving break. For American students, Thanksgiving usually means going back home and reuniting with family members, and the big Thanksgiving dinner is always the most exciting part. You cut the turkey, enjoy the delicious food, and talk about fun things with family and friends! However, Thanksgiving often can be very different for international students. In order to find out how these students plan to spend Thanksgiving break, I randomly selected a student and her two roommates, all of whom are international students, to interview.


From left to right: Steve Chang, Emily Han, and Alex Zeng


Emily Han lives at Gregory Towers with her two roommates, Alex Zeng and Steve Chang. She is a Junior studying Management through the Gies College of Business. The course work is heavy and challenging for her, and sometimes it can get very stressful. That’s why Han said she is planning on a Thanksgiving trip to Boston with her friends.

“I just think that I haven’t been really relaxed for a while because of my classes and organizations, and I need a vocation to rest myself,” she explained.

Han said she specifically wants to visit the campus of Boston University, because one of her friends goes there.

Last year during Thanksgiving, meanwhile, Han was in downtown Chicago for a week.

“The only thing I can remember that we did was shopping. I really bought a lot of things. I love shopping because it is a great way for me to relieve my stress,” she said.

Though schoolwork occupies most of her time, there is one thing Han always remembers to do, and that is to video chat with her family and dog.




“I video chat with them every day, because I love my dog so much. My day could become so much better when I see my dog. She’s the sweetest thing in the world.”

Han hopes that her family and dog will have a great Thanksgiving as well, even though she will not be with them.


Alex Zeng, a Sophomore majoring in Physics, is going on an exciting trip during Thanksgiving break. He will be attending an NBA game in Oklahoma City with his friend. Zeng said it will be a ten-hour drive for them to get there, but he is still excited about it.




“I am a huge NBA fan and I would go to watch their games as long as I have time. Even when I can’t come to the game by myself I still watch the live at home all the time. I think it will be so exciting and I can’t wait to go to Oklahoma City.”

Last year during Thanksgiving, Zeng went back to his high school in Maine to meet his friends and celebrate the holiday with them.

“We had lobsters for dinner and it was wonderful to spend my time with my old friends. I also felt great when seeing my high school and teachers,” he explained.

For Zeng, Thanksgiving is always a good time to have fun with friends. Even though his friends are all in different places, he always tries to reunite with them and let them know what has been going on in his life.


Steve Chang is a Sophomore from South Korea majoring in Mechanical Engineering who went to the same high school as Alex. He said that for this Thanksgiving, he wants to stay home and study.




“I am not that type of person who would travel a lot. I would rather staying at home and enjoy my time alone. That was also what I did last year when I was a freshman,” explained Chang.

Chang said he was indifferent in terms of Thanksgiving and has never celebrated it.

“It’s just not my thing. I would probably care more about holidays in my own culture,” he said.

Majoring in Mechanical Engineering requires a lot of studying. Chang said he’s pretty sure he will have lots of homework to do, even over break. However, he thinks he will be very productive, especially since his other roommates will be on vacation.


Although none of these students have chosen to go home to see their families, they all know what they want to do to over Thanksgiving break. Thanksgiving may have different meanings to them, and the ways they spend Thanksgiving may not all be the same, but one thing that’s for sure is this: they are each trying to make college a meaningful and unforgettable experience.




All photographs were taken by the author.


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