International students discover… Thanksgiving

Christina Stavale

As Thanksgiving fast approaches, most students are preparing to go home and spend time with family and friends. However, when home is across the ocean, that isn’t so easy to do.

International students, such as Megumi Mukai, freshman English major from Japan, are hearing about the holiday for the first time and making alternative plans for the upcoming break.

Mukai said she has been in the United States for two months and first heard about Thanksgiving from her American friends at Kent State, but knows very little about it.

“I just know it is a holiday,” she said.

Krittika Chatterjee, sophomore broadcast journalism major from India, said she, too, heard about Thanksgiving for the first time when she began attending Kent State.

“My friends were talking about Thanksgiving break, and I just thought ‘what is Thanksgiving?'” she said.

Chatterjee said she has learned more about Thanksgiving in the past year, and she knows it involves saying thank you, eating turkey and celebrating the beginning of the country.

“India has no celebrations like it,” she said. “We don’t even eat turkey back home.”

Sophomore English major Takeshi Soragouchi, also from Japan, and Mukai both said Thanksgiving reminds them of the Japanese celebration of Golden Week.

Soragouchi said Golden Week is a week in May where the Japanese celebrate the post-war Constitution, the environment and children. He said his city of Hiroshima has a parade in honor of the holiday, but cities in Japan celebrate differently.

Mukai said the holiday does not involve a lot of food like Thanksgiving does, but a lot of decorations, especially the hanging of carp streamers on Children’s Day. The idea, however, is the same.

While the residence halls remain open for students who wish to stay on campus for break, many international students have plans to go elsewhere to experience American culture during Thanksgiving break.

Soragouchi and Mukai said they plan to visit New York City during Thanksgiving.

“We will be doing sight-seeing and shopping,” Soragouchi said.

Mukai said she is also excited to see the parade.

Chie Kondo, sophomore English major from Japan as well, said she will be celebrating Thanksgiving with an American family. She said she plans to go home with a friend who lives in Columbus and celebrate with his family. It will be her second time staying with an American family.

“We are going to eat turkey, shop and go to the zoo,” she said. “I am very excited.”

Contact features correspondent Christina Stavale at [email protected].