I’m an international student and I don’t understand Thanksgiving

So… why is it turkey again?

Thanksgiving can be a very strange time for international students in American colleges.

This is the time of year when the hype of going home for the weekend is circling, with almost every other person asking, “So, are you going home for Thanksgiving?”

As an international student myself, I must admit to falling for the preconceived notion this holiday is an excuse to gorge yourself to your heart’s content (and spend quality time with family and friends, too).

Thanksgiving can be a strange time

The thing is, many international kids don’t even know of Thanksgiving before setting foot in this country. So from the moment Halloween ends, it’s the buzzword ringing in our ears, the meaning of which we discretely have to learn.

The bottom line is that it’s a time to be thankful for all the good things in our lives, stemming from a story involving pilgrims and Native Americans. Seems about right… Right?

And let’s not even get into what Black Friday does to an innocent soul. Again, another excuse to unleash one’s consumerist lust and even trample a person or two to buy that last TV. As one Singaporean student said: “I’ve been warned to avoid Macy’s at all costs.”

So, when asking other NYU internationals about their thoughts on the holiday, here’s what some had to say.

There’s the large number of kids who simply don’t see the sense to it: “What is it for? To me, it just seems like an excuse to stuff yourself.”

Others wonder about the choice of food: “Why turkey? I thought that was for Christmas, where did Thanksgiving come into the turkey scene?”

Also, as one student from Brazil said: “I think they call it stuffing to perfectly describe the theme of the day: stuffing yourself.”

Then there are those who secretly wish they could have the classic American experience, as one Dutch student who said: “This is the awkward time when everyone goes home for the holiday and then there’s the international kids left behind at the dorm contemplating which dining hall to have lunch at…” (Yes, it’s sad, we know).

So unless you didn’t get the memo early enough, I would say the mission for internationals in the first few months of the school year is to get close to an American, and who knows, you might get lucky enough to be given the golden ticket to Turkey day.

Otherwise, stay in New York and be thankful for yet another few days off. Forget the turkey, brunch anyone?

From my thanksgiving meal to yours (Thank you, Jack’s Wife Freda)

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