This year, Sydney Slocum spent Thanksgiving in her West Campus apartment, eating turkey from Luby’s and gluten-free pies with her roommates.
Slocum was supposed to spend Thanksgiving with her mother’s side of the family in New Mexico, but on Nov. 20, hours before she was planning to leave Austin, one of Slocum’s roommates tested positive for COVID-19.
“We all realized we have to quarantine and self-isolate,” biology sophomore Slocum said. “We were like, ‘I guess we’re just staying here, then.’”
In light of COVID-19, Slocum and other students studying far from their hometowns stayed in Austin this Thanksgiving.
A few days before Thanksgiving, Slocum and her two other roommates also tested positive for COVID-19. Even though one of her roommates couldn’t taste or smell, they still wanted a traditional dinner.
“No one really wanted to cook that turkey, so we just ordered in,” Slocum said. “One of my roommates whose parents live in Austin dropped the food off for us.”
They ate a full Thanksgiving spread in their living room of turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, yams, rolls and stuffing. After their meal, they solved puzzles together and finished off the night watching “Freaky Friday” and “The Parent Trap.”
“It’s definitely a Thanksgiving that none of us will forget, but we made the most of it,” Slocum said.
Slocum wasn’t the only student who spent Thanksgiving far from her family. Going home wasn’t an option for many international students.
Accounting junior Iris Liu, an international student from China, said it is too difficult for her to travel.
“Right now, there’s a lot of regulation from the Chinese government,” Liu said. “We have to have two tests within 48 hours before our flight, and the price of the ticket is so expensive.”
While she wasn’t able to see her family on Thanksgiving, Liu didn’t spend the holiday alone. She stayed with a friend’s family for Thanksgiving.
“She has a really big family, so we just hung out in her room,” Liu said.
They ordered Chinese and Korean food, including fried chicken and hot pots. Liu said they played poker, Mahjong and entertained their friend’s 4-month-old Shiba Inu puppy.
Even though she said it’s hard knowing she won’t be able to see her family until the summer, Liu said being with her friends helps.
“The only thing we can do to deal with homesickness is spending time with our friends,” Liu said. “Friends are like family members for us here.”
Urban studies junior Kit Hagin said keeping himself and his girlfriend safe was a large factor in his decision to stay home.
“My sister was positive (for COVID-19) a couple of weeks ago, and (my family) is gathering, but I just didn’t feel comfortable going,” Hagin said. “I have mixed feelings, and I want to be going, but at the same time, I want to hold myself accountable.”
Instead of going to see his family who live in Austin, Hagin spent Thanksgiving with his girlfriend in their apartment playing with their cat and eating mac and cheese and pumpkin pie.
Now, Hagin and his girlfriend are planning on making meals to donate to the Austin Free Fridge Project every week until Christmas, a tradition he grew up with. He said although it’s hard to be away from his family during the holidays, it’s worth it to keep everyone safe.
“I want to be able to go to next Thanksgiving, and it takes sacrifices like this,” Hagin said.