International students find stand-in homes for the holidays
3 mins read

International students find stand-in homes for the holidays

Thousands of miles from home, some students spend Thanksgiving at their second home, USD. Many students go home for the holidays but international students are accustomed to spending the holidays away from their families.

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in other countries around the world, so many international students aren’t familiar with the food and family-filled holiday. But there are many opportunities around the community for international students to celebrate this American tradition.

Anita Shrestha, a third-year graduate student from Nepal, has spent several Thanksgivings away from her family.

Shrestha said although it’s difficult to be far away, being in the U.S. for holidays like Thanksgiving has been an enlightening experience.

“We don’t have Thanksgiving back home, so it was a new thing,” Shrestha said. “I’ve heard about Thanksgiving but I had never experienced it.”

Aside from spending the holiday with friends, many community members and professors open up their homes to international students for Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year, senior international office secretary Patty Lase decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for international students at her house.

Lase said the holidays can be a difficult time for international students, so she decided to give them a place to be with family and friends.

“Some of the international students don’t get the opportunity to experience a family, especially during the holidays,” Lase said. “Last year, I had a student tell me, ‘I just want to spend Thanksgiving with a family’ and it just kind of resonated with me how important inclusion is.”

Alice Lunardelli, a sophomore business marketing major, from Italy. Like Shrestha, she doesn’t have the chance to travel home for Thanksgiving, but said she is grateful for the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with her friends at USD.

“Thanksgiving can suddenly become sad, because if you don’t have any plans, you will find yourself stuck in your room with nothing to do since campus is closed and there are no classes and no friends around,” she said.

Lase and her husband hosted 41 international students, as well as many of their friends and family members, at last year’s Thanksgiving celebration. Lase said she will continue this tradition for as long as she works at USD.

“ students] need to know that there are people here that care for them,” Lase said.  “It’s important for them to see our culture. There doesn’t have to be politics, there’s doesn’t have to be religion. We can just get together and visit and have a good time. We put aside a lot of things and gather as family and friends.”

Shrestha spent Thanksgiving at Lase’s house last year and is planning to do the same this year. She said enjoys being a part of this new holiday tradition.

“It’s the holiday season and just to be invited and be with a family to share food is special,” Shrestha said. “I really enjoy it, I feel so loved.”