Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Home away from home: international students spend Thanksgiving with friends

Students who don’t go home for Thanksgiving have limited food options as the Atlantic Dining Hall and Breezeway dining locations are closed through Sunday.
Kim Nguyen
FAU Center for Global Engagement

Thanksgiving break is needed downtime for many students to visit home and/or relax before finals in December. However, international students have a different experience. 

Sabrina Islam, the risk management officer of the Bangladeshi Students’ Association (BSA), explains how difficult it is to travel home during the five-day break.

“In my perspective, the Thanksgiving break is insufficient for a trip back to my home country,” Islam wrote in an email. “The journey to my country would take around 22-30 hours, making it not worthwhile for the duration of this break. Opting to go home at this time could also result in missing classes. From what I observed, international students choose not to return home during this period.”

Sheikh Muhammad Habib Abdullah, the treasurer of BSA, shares his plans for the holiday by attending Thanksgiving events organized by BSA.

“As an international student, it is difficult to celebrate this holiday properly but in some instances, yes, I do celebrate this Holiday time… a part of it will be devoted to my study preparation. Besides, I am planning to join a one-night campfire in Florida, a small potluck with friends and family, and maybe a Turkey B-B-Q. And definitely an unofficial BSA Thanksgiving hangout,” wrote Abdullah in an email. 

Islam explains that even though Thanksgiving is a new festivity for her, she tries to celebrate it as an international student. 

“I spend time with friends since my family lives in Bangladesh. Typically, we organize an evening one-dish party or we go to restaurants or other places for socializing. On the day, I connect with my family through video calls, as I cannot be physically present with them,” wrote Islam.

Antara Anika Piya, a doctoral computer science student and member of BSA, shares her sentiments on a holiday that is new to her. 

“As an international student who has grown up into a very different culture, I must say I have never explicitly celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday. However, I enjoy the festive vibe of the holiday, and I would usually use this break to either relax at home… Sometimes, I would also explore and attend Thanksgiving events organized by the local mosque or church near my home,” wrote Piya in an email.

Student resources like the Wimberly Library are closed from Wednesday to Saturday. However, their online services and resources will still be available via Lib2Go and their website. The Dining Hall will be closed from Wednesday to Sunday and all Breezeway locations will be closed from Tuesday at 3 p.m. until Sunday. 

International Student Services recommends a Free Thanksgiving Lunch for College students at Connected Life Christian Church in Boca. The event is scheduled from 12 to 2 p.m. on November 23. A sign-up is required.

The availability of resources during the break will not affect students who live off-campus, like Islam, Abdullah, or Piya. For on-campus students, Subway will be open from Friday to Sunday. Piya details her observations of the situation. 

“I personally do not live on campus. But I have heard from students who live on campus that during Thanksgiving they order food from outside because the dining hall is closed. As for the library being closed, I do not think it would affect much because the duration of the break is relatively short,” said Piya.

However, Piya believes that FAU should improve the resources and services offered to international students as she feels that international students are incredibly isolated during the holiday.

 “Unfortunately, I have not found any useful resources, especially for the international students, that might help us not to feel excluded during the Thanksgiving break… I believe if any such events could be organized… international students or any students staying on campus may feel more included,” she wrote.

Both Abdullah and Islam highlight that increased funding for international student organizations like BSA would be helpful. 

“Student associations are valuable assets for international students, facilitating connections with various cultures and promoting diversity through ongoing communication. Consequently, it is essential to host cultural programs and festivals more frequently. An increase in financial allocation from the university would contribute to effectively organizing these programs,” wrote Islam. 

When feeling homesick, time with friends, especially those from BSA, makes Abdullah feel.

“BSA is a big part of my FAU life. I feel that all the members of this organization are my friends, and every event BSA arranged keeps me refreshed for the next event. BSA means a lot to me. BSA is my family,” wrote Abdullah.

Piya describes BSA as giving her a “slice of home” every now and then. These types of student-run organizations give students a space and an opportunity to celebrate their culture. Islam explains that BSA is a place to connect with others and enhances “the overall enjoyment of student life… In a sentence, BSA keeps us together.”

African Student Association, Pakistani Student Association, Nepali Student Association, Indian Student Association, Jamaican Student Association, Konbit Kreyol, Fanm Kreyol, and Neg Kreyol did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

Kim Nguyen is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact her at [email protected].

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