Although some students need to travel only a couple hours to get home for Thanksgiving, Esther John, sophomore cross-cultural service major, would have to travel 7,500 miles to get home to China.
Therefore, John and students like her will remain on campus during Thanksgiving break.
Glen Calica, a junior biblical counseling major from Canada, will stay on campus for another reason: to meet up with his sister, who is planning to visit Greenville for the holiday. Because most BJU students and professors will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday at their homes, campus will simmer down to a minimum amount of activity.
Ana Sierra, a sophomore English major originally from Honduras who stayed on campus during spring break last year, said the campus is quiet. “I hope it’s not too quiet,” Sierra said. “Hopefully there’s enough of us to not feel lonely.”
Some students, like Gu Un Chung, a sophomore interior architecture and design major from South Korea who stayed on campus last Thanksgiving, enjoy the quiet.
“I felt like I owned the campus,” Chung said. John hopes to use the quiet to rest and reflect. “Since the semester has been so crazy and I’ve been around people so much, I just want some time to reflect on myself, spend more time with God and peace for a while,” John said.
While staying on campus, students like Chung can band together with their friends to avoid loneliness. “It’s kind of a bummer that I don’t get to go home,” Chung said. “But as international students, we feel as we are like family to each other.”
Ana Sierra plans on exploring Greenville and hanging out with friends, whom she also considers her family. “Maybe [we won’t] go have a full dinner like I usually do but try to do something special with my family here,” Sierra said.
Other students often get invited to local friends’ homes or faculty members’ homes for Thanksgiving dinner or just to hang out. During his sophomore year, Calica went to a friend’s house in Rhode Island for break, and he plans on meeting up with local friends over Thanksgiving this year.
While students can have fun staying on campus during a break, some students may struggle with loneliness. “If there are people that do have some friends who are international students, it’d be great if they could invite them to their house,” Calica said.
He said that having friends who are off campus is helpful but, without them, staying on campus can be a little difficult. “They don’t even serve all the meals here,” he said.
The dining common will not be open during break, so students on campus will have to make plans for their own meals.
The International Student Organization plans to host a banquet the day after Thanksgiving on Friday, Nov. 23, for BJU, Furman and North Greenville international students at 6 p.m. in the Applied Studies building. According to Chung, the ISO’s creative director, this event will provide an opportunity for international students to experience American food and enjoy playing games together.