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Plantains, laundry, and skiing: Students look forward to Thanksgiving

Ocean Kenfack, a third-year pharmacy major, will spend Thanksgiving at home in Maryland. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Toting an overstuffed backpack and a sturdy wheeled suitcase, pharmacy major Ocean Kenfack had little time to chat.

She had to get going to celebrate Thanksgiving at her home in Maryland. She hasn’t seen her family since June. And her mother can hardly wait for Kenfack’s return.

“My mom literally couldn’t stop calling me. She’s like, ‘What do you want me to make? What do you want me to make?’ I told her she doesn’t have to make anything. I just want to go home,” said Kenfack, a third-year student at Northeastern.

So what special dish did Kenfack finally ask for?

“I couldn’t decide. I like plantains,” she said before heading toward the Ruggles subway station on Northeastern’s Boston campus. “I’m just excited to go home.”

Brandt Barbera-Hwang, a second-year environmental engineering major, packs up the car yesterday before heading home to Connecticut. Twins Chris and Benjamin Lam, both first year students, were traveling home to Cranston, Rhode Island for Thanksgiving. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Several students, carrying duffle bags and laptops, simply could not stop to talk as they scrambled to make flights, bus rides and train trips home. But running late for a flight or dealing with packed highways is nothing compared to last year, when COVID-19 precautions meant many students either couldn’t go home or dealt with strict regulations during the four-day Thanksgiving celebration.

Brandt Barbera-Hwang, a second-year environmental engineering major, faced myriad  restrictions and concerns when he returned home for the holiday in Connecticut last year.

“I was pretty lucky to be able to go back,” said Barbera-Hwang, who this year carried a mesh bag of dirty laundry clearly earmarked for the free washing machine at home. “I was really worried last year about getting COVID before I went home, and then when I got back I had to deal with a two-week quarantine, which is always fun. It’s nice that I’m not dealing with that this year.”

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Many of the roughly 1,300 international students enrolled at Northeastern’s Boston campus will be staying there during the break. Northeastern’s Silicon Valley campus held a “Friendsgiving” earlier this month on Nov. 19, and the Office of Global Services offered other ways to connect Tuesday during its “Thanksgiving Day Games and Gratitude” event.

Beijing native Yuehao Gao, a combined computer science and music major, said he might take a quick skiing trip with friends during the four-day break.

“I am not sure yet. I’m not that far from graduation, I have a lot of work in and outside of classes, and Thanksgiving break is a good time to spend on that work,” said Gao, who said he plans to give his family a call.

Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

And while many students started leaving campus yesterday, one family from Charlottesville, Virginia, decided it was a good week to tour the university. Sara Daniels walked around the Boston campus Tuesday with her husband, her daughter and her son Knox, who is a senior in high school and interested in Northeastern. 

“We’re off this week, and it’s really the only time we could fit a trip like this into our schedules,” said Daniels. The family will be home in time for Thursday’s traditional turkey dinner, and the trip has been a fun change of pace, she said.

“It’s been so much fun to be in a big city because Charlottesville is such a tiny little city,” said Daniels.

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