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'Friendsgiving' warms up an on-campus holiday

Spending Thanksgiving on campus can sound like a lonely affair, but colleges across the country are doing their best to warm up the holiday for students.

At colleges across the country, dinner with other campus-bound students is a warm option for celebrating Thanksgiving. At colleges across the country, dinner with other campus-bound students is a warm option for celebrating Thanksgiving.

Being home for the holidays is a nice thought – usually – but to many, it’s nothing more than a wish. Not every student can make the trek back home for turkey, instead having to settle for a lonely dorm room dinner. Many campuses, though, are becoming more involved with students’ holiday plans and have made an effort to bring the comforts of the season to students' home away from home. Whether it's attending a professor’s dinner, creating your own potluck with other campus-bound friends or getting a start on holiday shopping, a cold turkey sandwich is not the only option for students staying at school.

At St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, students are often invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with faculty. “We have a small campus and a close community,” explains Joseph Horton, vice president for student affairs. “Any student who can’t make it home, we try to connect with faculty and staff.” What about the international students who wouldn’t normally celebrate the holiday? “We invite them to sit at our table and join in our tradition,” he says.

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Horton also mentioned that some students choose to take the opportunity of the long weekend to travel together, visiting New York or Boston. Erica Peryga, dean of students at Post University in Connecticut, said she encourages her students to take such journeys. “I recommend to my students that they consider traveling with friends during this time of year. If you cannot be home with family, but still have freedom to travel, consider visiting a place you have never been before.”

There’s always the option to volunteer on Thanksgiving, too. Faculty and students do it as a group at Eckerd College in Florida. “On Thanksgiving Day, Eckerd students, faculty, and staff – led by adult students from our Program for Experienced Learners – will be preparing and serving Thanksgiving dinner to 300 persons in need,” says Jim Annarelli, dean of students. And to keep everyone busy during the rest of the week, Annarelli says, “we are scheduling special shopping shuttles for students, holding board game nights in our main student lounge and distributing free movie passes.”

Make it a Friendsgiving

Don’t overlook the significance of a "Friendsgiving" and the chance to begin new traditions. “Students remaining on campus during Thanksgiving break have the unique opportunity to create and celebrate new traditions with their friends,” explains Peryga. “'Friendsgiving' has become very popular in recent years among students and young professionals who have to be away from their families during the holiday. The great thing about Friendsgiving is that it can take place before Thanksgiving, on the holiday itself, or after.”

 
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