Students, Organizations Open Their Doors To Those Who Can’t Go Home For Thanksgiving

College students who can't leave Boston for the holiday can still chow down.

Thanksgiving Photo via

Thanksgiving Photo via

Between long distance trips, expensive flights, and possibly some schoolwork to catch up on, a lot of students find themselves stuck on campus during  Thanksgiving break—a five-day period where there’s not much to do as others take off to spend time with family and friends.

But colleges and universities all around Boston offer plenty of options for those lingering at the seemingly empty dorm rooms, with many giving students a place to share a traditional meal with classmates while everyone else is away.

At Boston University, an sent out to students this week encouraged them to open their doors to anyone who may be stranded during the break.

“Thanksgiving is a time of family, friends and togetherness. Sometimes, when family is geographically far away, we turn to our friends here at the University for that feeling of support and community,” said Dexter McCoy, BU’s student body president. “I am calling on the community to consider taking in a peer who may not be able to travel to their family for the Thanksgiving break.”

While BU will be hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner on Bay State Road, from 1-3 p.m., for undergraduate students in Boston during the break, some students may still want the experience of being in someone’s home for the holiday, McCoy said.

Over at Emerson College, that’s exactly what Benjamin Halls has planned for the holiday, where he will welcome a close group of stragglers left behind by their peers.

“We’ll get a turkey, [and] people coming are providing side dishes and deserts, and we’ll cook, sit around the table, and share a meal together,” said Halls, a student from England. “We planned it because everyone we know who was going to be in Boston over the break was still really excited about Thanksgiving. A few of our American friends wanted to hold a traditional holiday meal, some of the international students have never experienced anything close to a traditional Thanksgiving, and a few friends from overseas who are using the break to visit us wanted to celebrate it.”

The dinner is organized by Halls and some of his fraternity brothers from Sigma Alpha Epsilon, he said.

“Only a tiny percentage of people don’t go home, and so that’s why we had a Thanksgiving celebration last year. I enjoyed it; it may not be ‘my’ holiday, but I had a great time,” said Halls. “I think especially when you’re separated from home for long periods of time, you really do become very close with your friends, especially those who understand what it’s like not being able to pop home once or twice a semester. It’s great to be able to spend the day with them.”

If sifting through Facebook friends to find out who is around for Thanksgiving is a problem, students can also rely on travel company Wanderu’s “Orphan” Thanksgiving meal, which is welcoming 100 students from the area to one of two feasts at Hostelling International on Stuart Street on November 28. “We hope to make a ‘home away from home’ experience for everyone,” the company said in a statement. “We understand there are many college students that don’t and can’t go home for the long weekend nor have ever celebrated Thanksgiving. Since most restaurants and shops are closed during Thanksgiving Day, [we are] giving college students staying in the city an opportunity to celebrate this holiday.”

At Northeastern University, international students who opt out of traveling abroad, or who haven’t experienced an American Thanksgiving, can celebrate early this year on November 26 at the Curry Student Center Ballroom. A meal will be provided by the International Student and Scholar Institute (ISSI), and will feature a lecture about the holiday as students chow down.

The ISSI is also matching students up with “hosts” who will welcome them to their homes to enjoy a traditional meal. Boston College has a similar program that pairs up students and staff for the holiday, giving them a place to temporarily call home. “We don’t do a dinner, but we work to ask faculty, staff, and students who live in the area to invite students home with them for the holiday. That has proven successful in the past for us,” said Jack Dunn, director of media relations at Boston College.

Across the river, events are also being planned at MIT, where the student life office will be host to the school’s annual turkey day offerings, held on campus, which in the past has featured an array of foods. A meal will be served at Baker House on Thursday from 1-4 p.m.