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November 29, 2020

Students Look Forward to Staying in Hyde Park over Thanksgiving Break, End of Fall Quarter

Looking north from 55th Street at Hyde Park and the South Side, with the Loop in the distance.

Looking north from 55th Street at Hyde Park and the South Side, with the Loop in the distance.

Oren Oppenheim / The Chicago Maroon

As students head home for Thanksgiving, some decided to spend the break on campus. The University policy for this quarter allows students living in on-campus housing to stay until the end of autumn quarter, if they don’t leave the Chicago area for Thanksgiving break.

First-year Madhav Vats from California will stay on campus for academic reasons. “I want to be able to finish finals here without having to worry about being distracted by friends and family back at home. I’m also hoping to see some snow and witness the Chicago holiday season,” he said.

Third-year Susie Brustin expressed concern about traveling during the holiday season. “I am staying in Chicago because I am nervous about traveling through major airports during the Thanksgiving rush, so I’m gonna wait it out,” she said. “My usual extended family Thanksgiving is also obviously not taking place this year so I don’t have much reason to go home anyways.”

Brustin also shared Vats’s concern about finishing the quarter from home. “Another motivating factor is that I could absolutely not do finals at home,” she said.

First-year Jasper Koota will also be finishing the quarter on campus. “The main reason, at least the reason I told my family, was that I have finals, and I need to do finals here and study for finals,” he said. But “the biggest reason,” Jasper added, “is to spend time with the news friends I made here because I met some pretty awesome people, and I want to hang out with them.”

Students made the decision to stay for Thanksgiving at various points during the quarter. First-year Anusha Gupta remembers changing her mind as she spent more time on campus. “When I came in this quarter I didn’t think I was staying,” she said. “I thought I would go home for Thanksgiving. And then after the first few weeks…I realized at home it was going to be a lot harder to study.”

Some students knew they would stay in Hyde Park over the break from the moment they discovered it was an option. “The second I found out it was a thing you could do I was like, yeah, I want to stay,” Koota said.

Second-year Kayla Luu said the decision to stay was based on what her friends were doing. “If all of them went home, I probably would have just left before Thanksgiving,” she said.

Despite the stay-at-home order, many are excited about spending break in Hyde Park. “I think the Point is a reasonable place to go within the restrictions. So as long as you’re being careful, social-distancing, and wearing masks, I think that’s a great activity to have a bonfire with your friends,” Gupta said. “There’s these fake ski places around Illinois that you can go ski for a day, and I would really like to do that…if that’s a possibility within the COVID restrictions.”

From the students interviewed, Friendsgiving seems to be the most popular activity planned for break. First-year Joshua Ahn from Evanston, Illinois, said he looked forward to Thanksgiving food preparation. “The apartment that I’m friends with is going to throw it down in the kitchen—like, make some really good food,” he said.

Luu’s plans were similar. “I’m just going to cook a meal with my roommates to celebrate,” she said.

Still, some students may struggle to cobble together a Thanksgiving meal with their friends. “A couple of my friends have talked about putting together a Friendsgiving, so I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to be set up. Because not only am I a terrible cook, but I don’t know where I would cook,” Koota said. “I might bring some raisin bran to Thanksgiving—I think that might bring together the vibes.”

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