With the holidays approaching fast and people traveling home to see family and friends, some international students and faculty at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UWGB) shared their memories of the extended break.
Thanksgiving in the U.S. has just passed, and Marvin Hohl, an exchange student from Germany, shared how he spent his fall break. Hohl does not celebrate Thanksgiving back home, but he really wanted to celebrate it this year during his time in the U.S. He participated in the UWGB University Recreation (UREC) trip to Arkansas, where he spent the whole weekend climbing and canoeing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
With the semester coming to an end, Hohl looks forward to returning home to his family and friends. “On the one hand, I am really looking forward to going home on Christmas to see my family and friends again. On the opposite hand, I made many good friends and experienced a whole bunch of things out of my comfort zone, which I guess improved my self-confidence and shaped my personality,” said Hohl.
Four foreign exchange students accompanied him on this unforgettable trip. One student, in particular, Hana Aida, from Japan, joined in on the Arkansas trip, which was solely outdoors as they pitched tents and enjoyed nature. Aida liked being able to rock climb and canoe through the canyon, especially with the friends she had made during her Green Bay journey. “Sometimes I feel really sad to say farewell to this amazing place and my friends, and sometimes I can’t wait to see my family, friends, and food back home,” said Aida. She is specifically looking forward to celebrating New Year in her home city of Saitama, Japan. “Just getting together with my family and eating Japanese food is a common celebration,” said Aida.
Very similar to Japan, Dr. Joseph Yoo, a professor in Communication and Information Science at UWGB, has similar holiday traditions and will also be flying back to his home country over winter break. He is originally from Seoul, South Korea, where they celebrate New Year based on the lunar year. Unlike the U.S. celebrating on the first day of January, Asian countries will celebrate at the end of January. The Lunar New Year is determined by the moon cycles and how long it takes a cycle to experience a full year. This also determines when they have their Korean Thanksgiving. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is celebrated in November, but in Korea, it changes every year based on the lunar year and where the moon cycle falls that year. In 2022, that would have been the end of September.
This year Dr. Yoo celebrated U.S. Thanksgiving over the fall break in Chicago, Illinois, with family. His cousin is a chef and prepared traditional U.S. Thanksgiving foods. During Thanksgiving in South Korea, “Families gather together to cook traditional Korean food and eat rice cakes. They buy food from the markets and cook as a family,” said Yoo. While Yoo was not able to travel home during this short break, he looks forward to his 14-hour trip back to South Korea over winter break, where he will spend time with his family and celebrate the Lunar New Year. One tradition he looks forward to is playing Yutnori with his family. He said the celebrations for this day operate very similar to the Chinese New Year.
Whether celebrating Thanksgiving or the Lunar New Year, international students and faculty are keeping busy during fall and winter break. Some tried new things while others kept to traditions. Regardless, many international students and faculty ultimately look forward to spending time at home with family.