By Rae Wee

Despite being miles away from home during Thanksgiving, some students found comfort and a family in a foreign environment during this season of gathering.

The recently concluded Thanksgiving break saw most students going home to spend time with their families and enjoying a hearty Thanksgiving dinner feast. But for international students whose homes are more than just a few hours’ drive away, their Thanksgiving meal was spent in a slightly different way than the average local.

Clemente Rodríguez, an exchange student from Spain, spent his break in New York with a group of 13 other international students.

“It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. I couldn’t believe that I was there,” the 21-year-old electrical and computer engineering major said.

Thanksgiving dinner for him was held back in his apartment together with his friends as they tucked into a meal of turkey breast, chicken, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese from Boston Market.

Rodríguez said that as the group bonded over games and laughter, he felt like he was being transported back to his hometown in Corral de Almaguer, a Spanish municipality.

“I had the opportunity to be with my best friends in the same place and to laugh a lot with them. I received lots of affection,” he said. “I felt like I was home because I was celebrating this [holiday] with them.”

19-year-old Alice Bi stayed with her cousins in New Jersey over the break and spent her Thursday night having dinner with them, albeit in a less conventional manner.

The freshman government and politics and English major had a full spread of Szechuan- and soy sauce-braised dishes with rice — following her Taiwanese roots.

But regardless of the lack of a traditional Thanksgiving meal of roast turkey, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie, Bi was more than grateful to be spending time with her family.

“There was a sense of familiarity and comfort when you’re surrounded by family who care and love you as much as they can with their understanding of you,” she said. “It’s like relaxing after a long day because you’re somewhat safe under that roof, with people who’ve gone through similar experiences.”

The five-day Thanksgiving break turned out to be a 10-day adventure for Katiarina Zhukouskaya, an exchange student from Denmark.

The 21-year-old design engineering major first went to Boston for four days, followed by a road trip to Chicago.

Zhukouskaya, along with nine other exchange students, stayed in an Airbnb in Chicago. Having been on the dining plan on campus since coming here, the girls decided to try something different and cook their Thanksgiving dinner instead.

“We are all used to cooking on our own back at home, so the thought of making and eating our own food made everybody happy,” she said.

The 10 of them got to work and eventually cooked up a feast of steak, oven roasted potato boats with vegetables in red wine sauce and green salad.

“It was ‘hygge’ as we say in Danish, which means cozy,” Zhukouskaya said.

“The atmosphere was nice, we had fun, and thank you toasts were made,” she added. “It was just a very nice evening.”

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Pixabay.

Rae Wee is a junior journalism major and can be reached at weerae97@gmail.com.

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