Celebrate Thanksgiving

Giving thanks.  Embracing friendship.  Sharing a thoughtful meal.  Telling stories.  Thanksgiving conjures images of extended families and friends gathered around a beautiful table, sharing a delicious meal, and expressing gratitude for what they have.  International students studying in the US during the holidays have a multitude of way to celebrate this quintessential American holiday.  We’ve put together four fantastic options for you to consider as many US students return “home for the holidays.”

1. If an American friend invites you, accept the invitation

Thanksgiving is about, well, being thankful for what you have.  This includes being thankful for new friendships.  An American friend invites you?  Accept.  It’s an invitation to be a part of the family, to share the tradition, to take a break from school, and maybe even to participate in the day after Thanksgiving—Black Friday—the day that many retail shops offer sales and discounts in preparation for December’s holidays.  How’d “Black Friday” get its name?  It’s the day that many retailers’ ledgers assure that they will end their fiscal year “in the black,” or showing a profit for the year.

2. Consider on-campus opportunities

Feel like staying on-campus during the Thanksgiving break?  Look for campus traditions at your school.  Some schools offer their own Thanksgiving celebrations for any students and faculty who opt to stay on campus, or who may not have options to travel.  Kansas’s Hesston College hosts an annual Thanksgiving weekend, with a dinner and a bevy of other activities, including art exhibits, concerts, talent shows, basketball tournaments, a benefit fun run, and other special events. At Ohio State University, any students, faculty, and staff who are not planning to head home are invited to attend an annual Thanksgiving feast—this year, the University expects over 1,600 attendees.  At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, students and faculty spend the entire month of November learning about spirituality.  Several faculty at the University host international students at their homes on Thanksgiving Day—as an expression of gratitude for sharing their learning.

3. Attend a parade

What’s Thanksgiving without a parade?  The most famous, of course, is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, with over 3 million in-person spectators and upwards of 40 million television viewers.  Several major cities besides New York also hold parades where you can enjoy the holiday spirit of gratitude.  Check out the Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.  Motor City has another option—check out America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit, Michigan for floats, bands, music, and a glimpse at the history of the US auto industry.  Also in the Midwest is Chicago’s McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, which began in the 1930’s in an effort to raise the spirits of Depression-era residents.  Charlotte, North Carolina, Houston, Texas, and Seattle, Washington offer additional possibilities for big parades.  If you don’t live near a city, don’t fret!  Check your local paper for smaller, regional events.  Watching a parade also gives you a chance either to travel to a new place, or to learn something new and interesting about your university town.