As the fall semester comes to an end and the weather gets colder, going to class becomes a difficult responsibility for all students, who are in need of a break. Fortunately, Thanksgiving Break is here! While we all like a break to de-stress and relax before the last wave of exams, not all of us understand the meaning of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, nor do we know the fun activities that go along with it.
To start off, what is Thanksgiving? It is a holiday celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday in November to give thanks for the harvest of the preceding year. It is dedicated to celebrate family, friends, and food; families and friends gather to enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pies while catching up with each other and cheering for football. As an international student, I want to share with all my fellow international Jayhawks some ways you can enjoy this valuable break!
1. Celebrate traditional Thanksgiving day with a host family. If you’re eager to learn about the American experience on Thanksgiving Day, the best way is to connect with an American host family and live the experience yourself. Your potential host family could be the people who picked you up from the airport, or they could be the friends and roommates you are close with, so do not be reserved and give it a shot. You might miss out on a wonderful stay-over opportunity by not asking. If there are no friends who can help you out, check out ISS’s Betty Grimwood Thanksgiving Homestay Program–a wonderful program that has been running for almost 60 years. It gives you the option to either spend the day or spend the entire break with a trustworthy American family, and it gives you a great opportunity to exchange culture and enjoy traditional American food!
2. Travel to different places in America for sightseeing. So you tried, but were unsuccessful with finding a host family. That does not mean you cannot enjoy your break to the fullest! If you like to travel and explore different places, maybe it is time to ready your back pack, gather a couple friends, and get going! Attractive destinations for Thanksgiving are New York City, where you can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; Keystone, Colorado, where you can hit the slopes for ski season; or Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to enjoy the magic of Thanksgiving and Disney World itself. One drawback is limited transportation options during Thanksgiving Break, as everyone is rushing back to his or her family, but a well planned and well budgeted trip will create your own unique Thanksgiving experience.
3. Participate in Black Friday. You didn’t find a host family, travelling was too costly for you, and you ended up staying in Lawrence for the break. This might be the perfect opportunity for you to participate in the annual Black Friday–where you can get items for significant discounts. It marks the beginning of Christmas shopping season, and it is usually the busiest shopping day of the year, as people try to take advantage of the long weekend and prepare for Christmas. Even though Black Friday has been criticized for ruining the meaning of Thanksgiving Day, and traffic in the stores can be hectic, the experience of waiting, rushing, and getting good deals is definitely one-of-a-kind, and I recommend trying Black Friday at least once to get the full experience.
4. Relax, recharge, and get some work done. If you are not interested in any of the above options, and you just feel overwhelmed and in dire need of a break, Thanksgiving comes at an ideal time. Kick back and forget about school for a couple days, and work on some projects you have been neglecting. This applies to me as well, as I have been busy with school, work, and activities. I plan to relax and spend time for myself, as well as catch up with some work during this break. Finals will be around the corner when the break is over.
These are the few ways to spend your Thanksgiving Break that I want to share with my fellow Jayhawks, and I hope they are helpful! Have a great Thanksgiving Break, be safe, and until next time, peace.
Anh Le is a Jayhawk junior from Hanoi, Vietnam, majoring in Finance and Information Systems. He loves traveling, reading, playing sports and learning about business and technology. He is currently the Resident Assistant of Gertrude Sellards Pearson Residence Hall and a student in KU School Of Business. He is also in the Honors Program and is an International Student Ambassador for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.