Whether you are a freshman and away from home for the first time or an upper classman, you are probably starting to think about Thanksgiving Day. I was one of the lucky ones who were able to go home for the holiday, but others are not so lucky. The timing and cost can make traveling home for the holiday not possible for many students. Do not worry; staying on campus is not bad. Here are some tips to make the most of your weekend.
1) Enjoy the peace and quiet: The majority of your peers will be gone so take this time to enjoy the peace and quiet. Catch up on any missed sleep, clean your room, get lost in a book, watch your favorite show on the community TV, do laundry, etc. There will be few times where the campus will be this quiet or empty, so take advantage of it.
2) Find other students: Chances are you will not be the only person who is on campus over the holiday, so reach out and meet someone. Ask around and see if anyone on your floor or in your building is staying on campus over the holidays. Social media can be a great tool to meet friends of friends who are not traveling home for the long weekend. Who knows, you may be able to keep each other company for a few days, instead of being alone. At the very least it is nice to have someone check in on you now and then, but it could also lead to a new friendship.
3) Make Thanksgiving Dinner Plans: Some schools will have an organized dinner for students who are on campus, so check with your dining hall services. Other options would be to organize a potluck dinner in your building and invite anyone who is around to come as long as they contribute. This is a great way to meet new people and not spend the day alone. Again, using social media is a great way to organize and plan a potluck dinner. See if any of your friends that live close by are having dinner with their families and would not mind an extra. I would start this one early by dropping hints that you have no plans for dinner and would love to have a home cooked meal. My parents were always open to having friends over for dinner, so it did not take many hints to get an invite for me. Don’t be too upset if it does not happen, though—people need a break from school and love their family time. Last, it does not have to be a traditional turkey dinner to count. Some restaurants are open on Thanksgiving, so you can always get a group together and go to a Turkey Day dinner somewhere. The best thing here is no work and no clean up. You can even do something a little off-the-wall like ordering pizzas and watching a movie marathon or the football games. As long as you get together and dine, enjoy the company of others and remember to be thankful, it counts.
4) Volunteer: This one is often overlooked, but there are plenty of places that serve the needy and they can always use help over the holidays. So why not spend the day volunteering to help those in need? Many organizations will have some sort of a Thanksgiving Day meal planned, but do not limit yourself to just that. There could be fundraisers, a clothing drive, or even a Habitat build. Find an organization or a cause that you are passionate about and see what they have planned and how you can participate.
5) Day trip: You may not be able to go home, but you might be able to get away for a day. If you are new to the area, see if there are some cool towns close by that you could visit. You can spend the day sightseeing, taking in some local history, hiking, biking, etc. If you have your own car, it is pretty easy. If not, check to see if there is a bus or train that can get you there and back. If you can get a group of friends together, you could split the cost of a rental car for the day. Make sure you know what will be open on Turkey day before you head out. Do some research on the Internet and see if you can find some interesting or quirky things in the city to see. Like an infamous graffiti wall or weird building. Plan out a route and go on a picture scavenger hunt. Your time on campus will fly by and this would be a neat way to make some memories.
As you can see, there are several activities that you can do if you are not able to travel home for Thanksgiving Day. Now that I live away from my family, I do not get to spend the holidays with them like I did when I was in school. What I have found is that, with a little effort and creativity, you can still have a fun and meaningful day with friends. This year, I am thinking about trying the picture scavenger hunt idea with a close friend who will be visiting me from home. I hope this list is helpful and that you have a great Thanksgiving’s Day! Does anyone else have any great tips or ideas they would like to share?