Photo courtesy of Flickr
By Marissa Gaston/ Contributing writer
It’s almost time for Thanksgiving, which for many students conjures up images of stuffed poultry, stuffed bellies and intrusive conversations with stuffy relatives.
But for some, it’s just another Thursday.
Be it exorbitantly priced travel fare or a demanding job that holds them back, a lot of students will be in the same spot as usual.
“Oh, I’m gonna be here,” says Loveth Odia, a 23-year-old Mass Communication major from Nigeria. She doesn’t see the point in spending a lot of money to travel home, only to have two or three days with her family. “It’s like a waste of money trying to go home. So, I’ll be here.”
In fact, many international students’ home countries do not observe Thanksgiving — at least not in the same capacity or at the same time of year.
Odia explains that Africa’s equivalent happens at the very end of the year.
Adedamola Adenjii, 21, doesn’t feel like he’s missing out. He’s also a Nigerian student, attending MTSU on a track scholarship.
“Whatever Thanksgiving is, [my friends and I] will just do that at home.”
Meanwhile, plenty of students have families nearby, but bills and jobs and responsibilities take priority over paying them a visit.
Physical education major Christian Hunt’s father and sister live in another county; he can’t spend Thanksgiving with them because he’ll have to be up early for work the next morning.
Surprisingly, he’s not spending Black Friday in a busy shopping mall working retail, but in a gym full of giddy children.
He’s a gymnastics coach at a gym on Haley Road that offers camps for children whose parents themselves couldn’t take off.
“They get to have fun, go play around the gym, play some games and stuff while the parents get to go to work and not have to worry about finding a last-minute babysitter or something,” the 20 year old says.
Because college students are at an intersection between young adulthood and freedom, some are forced to balance work, family, friends and a heavy classload on their own shoulders.
While Thanksgiving break offers a brief respite from assignments and homework, it doesn’t take away financial need. Cue employers everywhere looking for young, vibrant, college-aged bodies to brave the holiday rush and fill jobs that are uniquely busy this time of year.
Long gone are the days of making turkey puppets out of construction paper and sitting around the house watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Take, for example, 20-year-old Taylor Schiefer. The Pre-Veterinarian major won’t be visiting her mother in Johnson City, Tennessee, or her family in Florida on account of her three jobs.
“I obviously chose — well kind of chose, I need them to have money,” she says.
She works at the MTSU dairy farm and childcare center, as well as a local dog kennel; her dog kennel job does not allow its employees to take time off during the holidays or else they might face termination.
“[I] agreed to these things so it’s something that I knew in the back of my mind, that I wouldn’t be able to get off and go see family. But of course, whenever that time comes, it hits you and you realize,” she says.