International students come to Oswego State from all over the world to experience American education and culture. Thanksgiving and Christmas are in the near future and are recognized by many American families. For many students, they are learning and celebrating these holidays for the first time.
While domestic students generally travel home for the holidays, international students find new, American experiences during the breaks. These students are far away from their country and are not permitted to stay in the dorms throughout the holiday breaks in order for the hall directors and resident assistants to spend quality time with their loved ones.
“They usually travel somewhere in the U.S. during the holiday breaks,” says Joanne Richardson from the International Education department on campus. “Washington D.C. and New York City are popular visitation spots for many International students. Most of the time they try to explore the country or if they have the time, they go back home.”
Eyub Yegen, a student from Germany, said that he will be spending his Thanksgiving break traveling to Chicago with friends or visiting Colorado Springs.
“I did not know much about Thanksgiving prior to coming here and I do not know much now. I only know that a lot of movies come out around Thanksgiving,” he said. Yegen plans to accompany his friend on a vacation to Dubai during winter break because it gives him more time to enjoy himself overseas without being rushed back to Oswego.
Another international student, Mohammed Rahman, plans to visit Chicago as well. He transferred as a graduate student from Dubai to Oswego in the spring of 2010 to further his education and to travel the world.
“I’ve noticed that Americans like to plan before they travel, especially around Thanksgiving and that’s a problem for me because I’ve always traveled last minute. The dormitory’s want us out of the building by eight o’clock so it becomes difficult because my home is not close by,” Rahman said.
This year, Rahman will be celebrating his first Christmas with his friend’s family in Syracuse. “We know a lot about Christmas at home but I have never celebrated it before.”
In regards to Thanksgiving, he has learned an immense amount of information about the holiday. “After I came here I took a history class in which I learned more about American culture and Thanksgiving. I also heard a lot about it from my friends. I don’t see Thanksgiving as a very popular holiday because some people say its fun and others do not.”
Asano Aoshima, a freshman from Japan, will also be spending a holiday in the U.S. with a friend.
“I’m going to my friend’s house in Rochester for Thanksgiving. I haven’t experienced the holiday yet, but it seems important,” Aoshima said. Prior to coming to Oswego State, she had heard that Thanksgiving was about spending time with family.
“We celebrate Christmas at my house but we decorate the Christmas tree differently and we do not use real trees,” Aoshima said. “I feel like Christmas is extremely popular here but New Year’s is the most celebrated holiday in Japan.” This year, she will be traveling to London during Christmas break to visit a family she had lived with before attending Oswego State.
Over 130 international students enroll every year and celebrate holidays the “American” way for the first time. Whether these students travel the county, visit a friend’s house or go home, they always occupy themselves during Oswego State’s breaks.