Rather than gorging on a juicy turkey for Thanksgiving, Engineering junior Rohimino Razafindramanana celebrated the holiday the international student way — calling up delivery pizza.
While the exodus of students leaving prior to the holiday break left the University empty, international students like Razafindramanana stayed on campus.
Despite being thousands of miles away from their homes, to some international students, this year’s Thanksgiving was unfamiliar as it is not a holiday celebrated in their home countries.
Since the break was short and because no one celebrates the holiday in his native country of Madagascar, Razafindramanana stayed in Ann Arbor and relaxed with both international and U.S. students.
It’s always fun to celebrate a holiday, Razafindramanana said, but he added, “It’s more of a long weekend to me — either to get away from studying or to get some more work done,” he said.
Other international students left the campus briefly to attend local Thanksgiving dinners.
Jason Chou, an Engineering senior from Taiwan, said on Thanksgiving Day he ate with other Taiwanese international students and second generation Taiwanese Americans at a dinner off campus.
Chou said he did not think too much of the holiday until he arrived in the United States. But after living in the country for several years, Chou said, Thanksgiving has become a somewhat ironic American holiday to him.
On one hand, Thanksgiving is a time for people to be grateful for what they have, Chou said. “But look at the dining halls. People waste food like crazy. It’s kind of a sarcastic or ironic thing about Thanksgiving,” he said.
Like many college students, Chou said besides attending a Thanksgiving dinner, he took advantage of the long weekend break by sleeping in and cracking open his textbooks to catch up on homework.
But by studying overseas, some international students say they can’t help but feel a little left out during the holiday season. While international students attending the University can experience American holidays, they forfeit the opportunity to celebrate some more familiar holidays.
When she is in America, LSA sophomore Ji Hyun Kim said she celebrates Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, Kim said studying abroad hardly ever affords her the chance to celebrate the Korean holidays.
Such was the case for Korea’s version of Thanksgiving known as Chusok, which was held in late September.
Although it’s never been a big deal, Kim said, “It’s hard to celebrate holidays, because whenever I’m at school I can’t really celebrate Korean Thanksgiving because it’s a different day and here, they don’t give any days off.”
But Engineering freshman Yung-Hsuan Chiu said studying in Michigan still has its perks — Thanksgiving was not only the first time she celebrated the holiday, but also the first time Chiu saw snow. “It’s very pretty. It makes people feel the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday.”