How international students do Thanksgiving break

During Thanksgiving break, international students get to experience the holiday in all the traditional ways.


Photo courtesy of Ximena Macher.

Kizzy Azcarate, Entertainment Editor

As finals loom around the corner, Thanksgiving break is the last breath of fresh air before students bury themselves in textbooks, PDF files, and Quizlet. Students take the four-day break to unite with their families and hometown friends, leaving the campus deserted aside from the international students who may not celebrate the holiday.

Peruvian native, Ximena Macher, was able to receive her Florida residency the year before entering college, making her an in-state student rather than international. Nevertheless, Macher, a graphic design major, has a different experience with Thanksgiving than most.

“Our [Peruvian family’s] concept of Thanksgiving is different. For the longest time, we would celebrate it to the extent of just having dinner. My mom makes turkey because it’s tradition in America, but that’s probably the only American food we’ll have,” Macher said. “I’m Russian and German on my father’s side so we’ll make a kind of potato salad that’s with apples, radishes, and mayo.”

What Macher looks forward to most during Thanksgiving break is Black Friday. Prior to the pandemic, Macher would meet with all her friends at the designated house before the mall’s doors opened at 11 p.m.

While they caught before the spending began, Macher sought out any remaining food from dinner.

“Normally, they would have leftovers and dessert. One of my favorite things is apple pie; besides the turkey and the mashed potatoes, the apple pie is the best,” Macher said.

Macher didn’t understand why some foods had a place on the Thanksgiving table, specifically the cranberry sauce that looked “strange” because it came out of a can.

The central aspect of Thanksgiving Macher enjoys is finding the gratitude and appreciation for family coming together to be thankful for each other.

For Neil Strauber, goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team and an international student from Tel Aviv, Israel, his main focus during the interview was on the University of Kentucky game before he set any concrete plans.

“If you would have asked me a week ago, I would say I’d probably plan a trip somewhere,” said Strauber.

In the U.S. since 2018, Strauber doesn’t partake in Thanksgiving but Friendsgiving, the rebranded holiday that is centered around friends coming together in the same way people would for Thanksgiving.

However, he finds Thanksgiving to be a time that is well-spent with family.

“The tradition of it, I love it [Thanksgiving], regardless of if it’s a Jewish, Christian, or Muslim holiday. It’s a nice tradition,” says Strauber.

One thing he doesn’t understand about Thanksgiving is stuffing.

“I don’t understand why they stuff the turkey. I’m not a big fan but I’ll try anything, I love food,” said Strauber.

When asked about what Israeli food he’d bring to Thanksgiving, he said, “Wow… I think I’d bring the Challah bread, it’s the most significant kind of thing and everybody likes it. It’s a crowd pleaser and everybody loves bread!”

For students who aren’t able to make it home to be with their families or friends, Connected Life Christian Church is planning their second annual free Thanksgiving lunch for students who will remain on campus, Nov. 25 at 12 p.m.

“We promote this event each year it is being offered as the international students greatly appreciate the opportunity to experience and learn more about a holiday that only a select number of countries celebrate,” said Jennifer Szekeres, the associate director of International Student Services.

Kizzy Azcarate is the Entertainment Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, tweet her @Kizzy_kinz or [email protected]