Holiday Season With a New Kind of Family

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Holiday season is already here and for the semester study abroad students, like myself, Halloween and Thanksgiving are the only two holidays we will experience away from our families back home. That being said, I think it’s more difficult for those staying for an academic year or longer. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, etc. are all days one usually spends with their family or significant other, but what if they’re over 6000 miles away? How do you cope with such a dilemma?

I asked some TUJ students, ranging from semester study abroad to Japanese Admission about how they feel being away from home during the holidays and their celebration plans.

Students, Shanice, Jennifer, and Jordan have become a TUJ family and cherish their time together.

Students, Shanice, Jennifer, and Jordan have become a TUJ family and cherish their time together.

“For Thanksgiving, I’ll be celebrating it with fellow Americans for dinner. It’ll be like a family dinner, but without my actual family.”—Shanice (Semester Study Abroad)

“I am a little sad about not being able to spend time with my family during Thanksgiving. But when I am at college in the US, I usually can’t go home for Thanksgiving anyway because it costs too much to go from San Francisco to Georgia. So it’s not that bad. I can’t wait to see them for Christmas though. I’m so excited!”—Jordan (Semester Study Abroad)

“Christmas is going to be a little tough for me. I miss the smell of the fresh Christmas tree in my living room and the sweat and tears I put into decorating it. I still miss my family but I’ve decided to do a home stay during winter break so in a sense I will gain another family. As for celebrating, there’s plenty of activities to do during the holidays. I went out for Halloween and got to carve a pumpkin at TUJ the Wednesday before that. I’m also going to a Thanksgiving dinner party later this month. I’m still participating in the holiday traditions I’m familiar with. I’m not just sitting around watching the days go by. What good does that do?”—Jennifer (Academic Year Study Abroad)

Jennifer reminds us that even in Japan, Jack Skellington is always ready for Halloween and Christmas.

Jennifer carved this to reminds us that even in Japan, Jack Skellington is always ready for Halloween and Christmas.

Now, you may be wondering, “But what about you, Tiara? What do you plan to do for the holidays?” As for myself, the thought had crossed my mind to Skype with my family for Thanksgiving. By Skype with them I mean for them to have a laptop on the table, where I would theoretically be sitting, and that would be just as good. I wouldn’t be able eat a nice helping of my mother’s delicious lasagna or have a slice of my sister’s delectable pumpkin pie but it’s the thought that counts. But at the end of the day, I side with Shanice and believe that surrounding myself with a solid group of friends while here has proven to have given me a second family away from home. Thanksgiving is two weeks away and about 12 students (Jennifer, Shanice, and myself included) plan to attend a student-organized Thanksgiving dinner that Friday. We may be away from our own families, but it doesn’t mean we can’t spend this time with the families we’ve created at TUJ.

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