As anyone attending university away from home knows, it is natural to build a new family of close friends in your new city. For many out-of-state UC Berkeley students, Thanksgiving is often shared with the “families” they have built. For I-House’s international residents, roommates are usually key members of these make-shift families. However, despite the increasing portion of the UC Berkeley population that is made up of students from outside California, there are still many people for whom going “home” is an achievable and perhaps frequented train, car or bus ride away. Inviting your roommate to Thanksgiving is a great way to share your family’s traditions while spreading I-House’s mission of intercultural exchange and friendship.
Two years ago, I brought my roommate June home to Sacramento for the first time. Having carefully planned everything so that June would get as much out of her Thanksgiving as possible, she was able to participate in my family’s traditions and see my favorite parts of my hometown, and I was able to introduce her to my extended family members who had never met someone from South Korea.
Leaving from Berkeley, we rode BART to my grandparents’ house in Pleasant Hill with our friends Renee and Jing where my car was stored and then drove through Sacramento to El Dorado Hills where Renee lives. While there we stopped at Apple Hill, a popular landmark known for apple picking and delicious apple treats like apple donuts, apple pie, and apple cider.
After dropping Renee and Jing at Renee’s house, we drove back down to Sacramento. The next morning, we woke up early and toured my “best of” Sacramento, like William Land Park and the State Capitol. Later we helped my mom with last minute Thanksgiving dinner preparations while we waited for my extended family to arrive. After dinner, we stayed up playing Risk with my boyfriend and sister until midnight when we went out with my friends for middle of the night Black Friday shopping.
June woke up the next morning with my cat sleeping on her chest. If we were close before, spending the Thanksgiving holiday together only made us more like family than we could have imagined.