How to celebrate your first Thanksgiving away from home

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With Thanksgiving so close to other holidays and the end of the semester, it’s hard for some students to make it home.

Between missing your family traditions and not seeing your hometown friends, it can be tough to face celebrating it in a new place with new people. The good news is that you’re not alone. There are a lot of students that can’t afford to go home or have obligations that keep them from going home as well.

It’s pretty common for students to stick around. So much so that University campuses and communities often go out of their way to have events that make these students feel less alone. 

If you’re not able to go home this year, but want a little bit of the tradition in your life, here are some things to get involved in.

University and community events

Check with your administrative office or university website to see what kind of events they’re holding for the holiday. Many colleges offer fun dinners or gatherings that you can join in on.

This isn’t only a chance to get a little bit of holiday spirit in, but it’s a great way to meet fellow students that might be in the same position next year. Building relationships is what college is all about, after all. 

Throw your own Friendsgiving

You’ve probably already heard the term Friendsgiving. College is your chance to start your own tradition of Friendsgiving. Whether you throw it in a dorm or your apartment, having friends over to start your own Thanksgiving traditions will take the weight of missing your family off your shoulders.

For many college students, Friendsgiving is a fact of life. Have everyone pitch in to bring some food, congregate in one space, and have a good time. By the end of the night, you probably won’t miss your crazy Uncle as much as you thought you would. 

Donate your time to those in need

Being alone on Thanksgiving isn’t a good feeling, but donating your time can help you feel a little bit better. 

Do some research and find soup kitchens or homeless shelters in your area that might be looking for Thanksgiving volunteers. It will give you something positive to focus on while you’re missing your family, while also helping those that don’t have anywhere or anyone to spend the day with. 

Go to another family Thanksgiving with your friends

Have a friend that lives locally? If they invited you to their Thanksgiving, you should take them up on it. Being accepted into another family’s holiday time means you get to experience Thanksgiving in a whole new light.

While it won’t be the family celebration you’re used to, it’s a great way to build a closer bond with your friend and keep your thoughts off being without your family. Who knows? It could turn into one of your new Thanksgiving traditions. 

Accept other Thanksgiving invitations

It’s easy to feel like you’re burdening a group when they invite you to their gathering — but don’t worry about it. So many people who can’t go home for Thanksgiving find solace being surrounded by new people and experiencing new traditions. Sometimes it can even end up better than your family thanksgiving would have. 

If you get invited to a gathering, jump at the chance People don’t typically toss around invites without being absolutely sure they want you there. Sometimes, those new people turn into the group you’ll do Friendsgiving with over the next few years. 

Get some work done

With the dorms quiet and the library empty, you have quality time to get work done.

Study for your exams, finish a paper early or just get ahead on some of your reading. Use this time with little distractions to your advantage. 

Think of it this way. Going back home for break usually means seeing a bunch of friends and making tons of plans. While it sucks to miss out on that, you can use the alone time to your advantage.

Reframe the fact that you can’t go home into something positive. While Thanksgiving might seem like a big deal, this is probably just one of the first of many Thanksgivings you’ll be missing throughout your life. Trying to make the best of it and have a good time will put you in a much better space mentally.

And if that doesn’t help, just think about how close you are to finishing up this semester and going home for a nice, long break.