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Thanksgiving Break Survival Guide

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TSA’s invasive new security pat-downs are causing plenty of people to think twice about flying during the holidays, but thousands of college students across the country are preparing to head home for Thanksgiving break. Others are sticking it out at school and waiting until winter break to go home.

You’re not alone if you’re feeling nervous about your family’s Turkey Day festivities and you’re not alone if you’re feeling kind of funny about staying on campus during a holiday.

Our quick and easy Thanksgiving Break Survival Guide should help you make it through it all in one piece!

If You’re Heading Home for Thanksgiving Break …

  • Pack wisely. Even if you want to do laundry during your trip home, cramming your suitcase full of dirty clothes isn’t the best idea in the world. You might go shopping during Thanksgiving break (hello, Black Friday bargains!) and then you’ll have even more stuff to bring back to campus than you brought home. Those extra fees for luggage that’s too heavy can add up quickly.
  • Be realistic when it comes to studying and homework. You might not want to stuff half a dozen heavy textbooks into your suitcase, either. Even if you have the best of intentions, it’s a safe bet that you won’t do very much studying during Thanksgiving break. It’s okay to bring a bit of schoolwork home with you, but be realistic about how much you’ll actually accomplish. Remember to bring your books back to campus!
  • Behave around your parents. After spending a few months away at college, it’s probably going to be weird sleeping in your bedroom at home and being around your parents again. They may want to impose curfews when you go out or be incredibly curious as to your whereabouts. Try to behave around your parents. If it’s driving you nuts, remind yourself that you’ll be back at school in a few days.
  • Get ready to talk about your major- a lot! If you have a big extended family that you’ll see on Thanksgiving Day, they are going to be incredibly interested in what you have to say about college. They’ll want to ask if you’ve declared a major and why you chose it. If you don’t yet have a major, they’ll want to recommend some or tell you what they studied when they were in college. Try to talk to groups or people at once so you won’t have to tell the same story eight times. It might be annoying, but you’ll survive, and don’t worry—you’ll do the same thing to younger relatives when you’re their age!
  • Realize that your old friends have changed, and so have you. Being around your high school friends might seem awkward because everyone has changed a lot in such a short period of time. So many long distance couples break up over Thanksgiving that a phrase has been coined: the Turkey Dump.

If You’re Staying on Campus for Thanksgiving Break …

  • Let your school know that you won’t be heading home for Thanksgiving. If your college or university allows students to stay in their dorms during Thanksgiving break—some schools don’t—you may have to pay extra fees to remain on campus during a holiday break. You may also have to make special arrangements for meals because dining halls won’t be open as often as usual. Find out all the details and take care of them ahead of time to avoid problems once Thanksgiving break arrives.
  • Use your “alone time” to study and catch up on homework. Having the room all to yourself sounds great when your irritating roommate is constantly around, but it will probably feel funny being alone for five or six days. Spend some time cracking the books and get a head start on papers that will be due a few days after break.
  • Find something fun to do, too. Go off campus and see a movie that you’ve been meaning to see or visit a bookstore to browse, look at magazines and get some coffee. Catch up on your scrapbooking, organize your iTunes music library, or read a book that has nothing to do with school. Have some fun because final exams will be here before you know it!
  • Consider volunteering for a few hours on Thanksgiving Day. It’s common for local churches and shelters to offer meals for the less fortunate on Thanksgiving. Not only will you get off campus for awhile, your time will be appreciated and you’ll feel a sense of empathy for those who have less than you do.

Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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