Rachel Furtado/Courtesy Photo

Thanksgiving is the time of year to gather around the table with loved ones to take in the savory scents of turkey and gravy.

It’s a time for students to visit family and high school friends.

It’s a time for home-cooked meals and a chance to relax before heading back to school to finish the quarter.

It’s a holiday filled with quality family time and long-practiced traditions.

But for some students at Cal Poly, these traditions have changed and they aren’t planning to go home for the holiday.

Graphic by Trevor Melody

For kinesiology senior and Seattle native Camille Gix, Thanksgiving was the first family tradition that went out the window when she went off to college.

“I have never gone home for any of the Thanksgiving holidays since I left for school,” Gix said. “Flights are really expensive so it’s not really worth it, especially since Thanksgiving break is a couple of weeks before winter break.”

Last year, Gix’s parents flew to San Francisco from her hometown of Seattle to visit her and her younger brother, who was a freshman at Cal Poly. This year, Gix plans on going camping in Death Valley with her close friend and roommate for Thanksgiving break. 

Graphic by Rachel Furtado

Expensive flights and distance are also problems architecture senior Aleksei Horn knows all too well. Horn is from Minturn, Colorado. He typically spends Thanksgiving with friends in the San Luis Obispo area and catches up on school work.

“Thanksgiving is nice because you can usually go to a get-together somewhere, but the rest of the week gets a little lonely sometimes. I try not to get too sad,” Horn said.

Though he doesn’t go home for Thanksgiving, his mother, Kristen Horn, makes sure the family puts Aleksei on speaker phone at the dinner table.

“Thanksgiving is super low-key for us so we don’t feel like he is missing out terribly, we just hope he is having a good turkey-fest with his friends,” Kristen said.

Aleksei plans to do just that. This year, he will go to Santa Barbara to join his friend’s family for Thanksgiving and take the opportunity to surf.

“It always feels nice when my friends invite me to their Thanksgiving celebrations,” Aleksei said.

Graphic by Rachel Furtado

Wine and viticulture senior Esther Klin has spent every Thanksgiving with friends because her family does not participate in the holiday. Klin’s father is from the Netherlands and her mother is from Thailand. Her family first moved to Cupertino, California from Thailand six years ago and got a taste for what the holiday was all about.

“My parents know what Thanksgiving is now, but we never do a big dinner or anything, it is just like every other day,” Klin said. “My parents think of Thanksgiving as a holiday just like Christmas but without the presents.”  

Klin plans to stay in San Luis Obispo and go to her friend’s grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. She’s happy about the amount of holiday dinner invitations she’s received from friends.

“I think I will continue to celebrate Thanksgiving if people close to me celebrate it,” she said.

Graphic by Rachel Furtado

Some students, like Horn, use the Thanksgiving break to catch up in classes.

“Honestly it’s not that big of a deal for me to miss Thanksgiving; it’s just extra time for me to catch up on some school work,” Horn said.

Psychology professor Lisa Sweatt thinks there are different reasons students may not go home for Thanksgiving, whether it is financial or academic.

“I think being conscious that there is not always a choice for students to go home to be with family is important,” Sweatt said.

Graphic by Rachel Furtado

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