Celebrating American Holidays as an International Student

It’s super weird to live alone on a holiday. You would generally expect the first great holiday in a new place away from home it to be happy and exciting, but it’s actually sad and lonely. Your roommates, suitemates, floormates and everyone around you leaves. The excitement starts a week early when everyone starts to pack and plan their journey back home. You’re excited too, you’re friends are going back for Thanksgiving, but what is that? Why is it so important to go all the way back home –even take six-hour flights for some people– to see their families for just less than a week instead of preparing for finals? And even before everyone is back from Thanksgiving, you see people getting excited to celebrate Christmas. Why are these holidays so important?

As international students, it’s hard to understand American holidays, especially when you have never celebrated them before. Typically you have to spend those days alone on campus because it is too expensive to take a long flight back home for just a few days. Just to think that all my friends have the chance to see the people they grew up with in school, hug their siblings and their parents, and play with their pets when you’re thousands of miles away from your loved ones, is heartbreaking. Nonetheless, these are the sacrifices you make when get armed with the courage to go study abroad.

However, transitioning into a new holiday culture can be an absolute fun experience. After all, there is a lot to be thankful for. A new place, a new life, new friends, and amazing opportunities. If you’re curious to see how Americans live these beautiful holidays of togetherness and thankfulness, don’t be afraid to accept your friend’s offer of spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with their family. You can also ask a close friend to introduce you to the American holiday traditions and try the delicious food and season’s drinks. If your case is that you don’t have any offers, get together with all of your international friends and do a little exploring in the city, go to holiday festivals, Christmas villages and make it homely adding all your diverse, yummy food from your countries or attempt to do it American style. After all, you’re living in a new place a there is a lot to be excited about. You achieved to go study in your dream country in such a good school, you have a ton of amazing opportunities and have met a ton of incredible people. No matter where or who you spend the Holidays with, you can still be thankful for achieving your dream of being here.


Image courtesy of The Washington Post