International students discuss Thanksgiving plans

While many Youngstown State University students will spend Thanksgiving with their families, some, like Mohammed Alhwiti, will stay behind.

Alhwiti, a Saudi Arabian student studying at YSU’s English Language Institute, said he is looking forward to spending a few days away from the books.

“I’ll watch movies and go with friends to visit American friends to practice English,” Alhwiti said.

Alhwiti said he and other ELI students “suffer problems practicing English in such a small city.”

“Sometimes, I’ll go to a bar because I want to hear English. We want to get Arabic and American [students together] to talk,” Alhwiti said.

Alhwiti said he is unfamiliar with the traditions associated with Thanksgiving. “I’ve been here seven months,” Alhwiti said. “I don’t know the traditions. For me, it’s just the schedule.”

Overall, Alhwiti said he likes being in the U.S.

“I like America. It’s a good country here. I’m happy here,” he said.

Thamer Sakher, an ELI student from Jordan, has been at YSU for only two months. He said he’s using Thanksgiving break to visit Columbus and do some sightseeing with friends.

Sakher said he might also use the few days off of school to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo. One of the highlights of the weekend, he said, will be watching the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I love the Steelers,” Sakher said. “I’ve been a fan for months.”

Ayed Alshammari, an ELI student from Saudi Arabia, said he plans to visit Columbus with his friends, too.

Ethel Koney, a graduate student from Ghana who is studying social work, has lived in the U.S. for just three months, but she already has plans for Thanksgiving.

“I’m going to Iowa to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family,” Koney said.

Koney’s boyfriend and his family are Ghanaian, too, but they’ve lived in Iowa for a long time. They have plans for a traditional Thanksgiving with all the trimmings.

“I think we are having the turkey and everything else. It will be a Ghanaian family doing it the American way,” Koney said.

Rebecca Stafford, a freshman from Australia, is on the YSU diving team. Like Koney, Stafford has lived in the U.S. for three months. She’s planning to spend Thanksgiving with the family of Monica Sincel, one of her teammates.

“It will be … interesting, experiencing my first Thanksgiving,” Stafford said.

“She has a pretty big family. We’re going to her mum’s and her dad’s, seeing the whole family.”

Sincel added that both she and Stafford will “be back for practice on Monday.”