While many students vacated their dorms and headed home for Thanksgiving dinner, Saaim A. Khan ’25 opted to hang back on campus and enjoy the quiet.
“It was nice to feel that sense of calm and peace over Cambridge, but I also definitely missed the presence of my friends and people just being around,” Khan said.
Khan was one of many undergraduates who remained at Harvard over the College’s five-day Thanksgiving break. Some cited long and costly flights as deterrents to returning home, while others said they used the break to complete schoolwork and spend time with friends.
Students on campus enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving meal held in Annenberg Hall on Thursday.
“Thanks should be given to the HUDS workers for making it still feel like I was part of a community and part of a family,” said Hea Pushpraj ’25.
Upperclassman houses and student organizations — including Harvard College Queer Students and Allies — also hosted Friendsgiving dinners and outings for undergraduates on campus.
QSA board member Anna L. Betancourt ’25 said break can be “a really lonely experience.”
“It can be something that’s really hard to watch people leave, because this is kind of our new home here. And it's kind of confusing in that way, especially if this is your only home where you’re accepted,” Betancourt said. “That's just even the more reason why we wanted to create the space for everyone that was still here.”
QSA President Atlas Sanogo ’24, an international student from Canada said they wanted to ensure queer people knew they had a “home” and “chosen family” on campus.
“It can feel very isolating for a lot of queer and trans people who don't have that same ability to go home or just that same welcoming home to go to,” they said. “So, QSA really wanted to step in and make sure that there was something that was happening on campus for people who were around.”
Pushpraj said she chose to spend Thanksgiving at Harvard because the recess was “such a short break.”
“We don’t get the full week off, we only get the end of the week,” said Pushpraj, a Crimson Editorial editor. “It just didn’t make sense dedicating two whole days to travel — both to and from — only to spend three days at home.”
Thanksgiving break comes a few days after the annual Harvard-Yale football game, held this year on Nov. 19. While Yale students are on break for the entire week, Harvard students’ recess did not begin until Wednesday.
“If we had had officially the whole week off, I think that might have changed things in terms of whether or not I would have gone home,” Khan said. “It’s just honestly kind of frustrating that we have school right after Harvard-Yale.”
“It just seems like that even students especially are pretty checked out on Monday, Tuesday of that week,” he said.
Several international students who remained on campus said the five-day break was too short to justify an international flight home.
“Flights are mostly really expensive, and I would say that the break is too short for one to go home,” said Ričards Umbraško ’25, who hails from Latvia. “I would not have the opportunity to spend that much time with my family, and also Thanksgiving is not celebrated back home.”
“Thanksgiving break might be especially tough for international students just because you're so far removed from home at a time when everyone else is going back,” he added.
For Labiba Uddin ’25, staying on campus was “not a big deal” because she plans to return home during winter break in three weeks.
“Most of that was spent studying, but I had a good time,” said Uddin, a Crimson Editorial editor. “I miss my family, of course, but it was still a nice Thanksgiving.”
—Staff writer Vivi E. Lu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @vivielu_.
—Staff writer Dekyi T. Tsotsong can be reached at email@example.com.