International students look forward to US holidays, reflect on tradition

File Photo The Festival of Lights is held every year during the holiday season in Central Park and begins around Thanksgiving.

Story by Bailey Bohannan, Staff writer, and Cody Hall, Contributing writer

File Photo The Festival of Lights is held every year during the holiday season in Central Park and begins around Thanksgiving.

File Photo
The Festival of Lights is held every year during the holiday season in Central Park and begins around Thanksgiving.

As Thanksgiving Break approaches, all across campus, students are packing up, planning their trips home and saying goodbye to friends for the holiday.

Students look forward to this holiday full of food, family and friends with smiles on their faces as they anticipate the break from school work and campus life for a few days. Going home to the family is a holiday tradition for American students – however international students don’t always receive that same luxury.

Over Thanksgiving Break, only Lee Clark, Regents, and White residential colleges are open. Each night costs a student staying on campus $12.

The student must fill out the Thanksgiving Interim Housing Form and submit it in order to apply to stay on campus from 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25 when the campus closes to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29 when campus re-opens.

Among the international students, Aydan Aslanova, a 20-year-old from Azerbaijan, said the holidays that she celebrates in her country are their celebration of spring and their celebration of the new year. For these holidays, there are many different traditions unique to the holiday, much like traditions unique to Thanksgiving. Specifically, for the celebration of spring, they build a fire and jump over it. Aslanova said this is a very old tradition, but it holds great meaning. 

“[Jumping over the bonfire] represented leaving all the bad things in your life behind you,” Aslanova said.

Aslanova has a host family in Florida that opens their doors for her each holiday, and she will be spending Thanksgiving Break with them, experiencing an American-style Thanksgiving.

One of the significant traditions for the Thanksgiving holiday is to have a large meal consisting of traditional foods, especially turkey. For Aslanova, the traditional holiday meal is rice and lamb. During the New Year’s celebration, the specialty is tangerines for their rareness in her country and their strong citrus smell.

Fuyuka Yuasa, a 19-year-old, is used to the traditional holiday meal of rice and soy beans back home in Japan, however, she said that she is looking forward to the traditional American turkey meal this year as she goes out of state with her roommate for the Thanksgiving break.

Although Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Japan, Mizuka Fukuo,  sophomore from Musashimurayama-Shi, Japan and a member of the exchange program from Tokyo Metropolitan University, said she celebrates other holidays when family is a large part of the tradition.

“We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but there is holidays called Golden Week in May, which is around five days, so some people travel with family,” Fukuo said. “So shopping centers and amusement parks, sightseeing areas are usually very crowded because everybody goes there at the same time.”

Although Fukuo is not able to go home over Thanksgiving Break, a friend has invited her to stay with her to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family. Fukuo said she is really looking forward to this because she will be able to celebrate a traditional American Thanksgiving.

Many students can take this holiday of spending time with family for granted said Keesha Pedigo, freshman from Morgantown, Kentucky.

“I think Thanksgiving is a family holiday.  You just want to be with them,” Pedigo said. “The quality time that you spend with your family, with everyone all together, makes you feel how much more grateful you need to be because they aren’t going to be here forever. You don’t need to take anything for granted, you need to be happy for what is going on at that time.”