I’m going to be around campus for the Thanksgiving holiday. This is my first year at Cal and away from home. What should I expect? What is there to do?
Hi there! Unfortunately, I’m a Bay Area native so I’ve never had to spend a thanksgiving/winter/spring break on campus. However, I’ve had a lot of out-of-state friends or even friends from SoCal who chose to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at Cal!
From their experiences I can tell you to expect a couple of things.
First, be prepared for most campus-related places to be closed on Thanksgiving Day itself. The dining halls, certain classrooms and libraries, etc. Make sure before you go somewhere that the location will be open. And that goes for non-campus related places too! Don’t go all the way to a certain bookstore in SF or a cool cafe in San Jose just to realize that it’s closed!
Second, make sure you find out who else is staying on campus! No one wants to spend the entire break alone. Sure, sleeping in and watching TV in your quiet dorm/apartment may be fun the first two days, but use the free time you’ll have to hang out with someone else you know is staying in Berkeley.
Also, from growing up around the Bay I know that there will be plenty to do! Almost every county in the Bay has at least one Turkey Trot 5K going on. If you’re interested in fitness or if you just want to burn some calories before feasting that night, then try to sign up for one of those runs. Also, Black Friday has become a huge deal around America and plenty of malls will be having sales right here in the Bay, too. Bay Street in Emeryville, Westfield in SF, Stoneridge in Pleasanton, and Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek are all relatively close shopping centers you may want to visit! No matter what you decide to do or where you decide to go, remember to be safe.
I’m sorry you’re unable to spend Thanksgiving away from family. I know it’s hard but hold on! This year, my family is traveling abroad, so I’m stuck in Berkeley, too. At first, I felt down because I had realized it was my first Thanksgiving away from home as well, but I decided I would make the best of it.
I took it upon myself to invite people that are also staying in Berkeley to have a Friendsgiving. Thanksgiving is the time of year where you’re not only thankful for family, but also the amazing people in your community! Due to the costly airplane tickets and sold-out bus rides, there are quite a good number of people staying near campus this year. Perhaps, you could plan your own Friendsgiving! :) Invite a few people over that are in the same situation as you. Expect Berkeley to be a tad quiet, but the Thanksgiving feels will still be present! There might be fewer cars and students j-walking on the streets. Most of the shops might be closed on Thanksgiving Day, so if you’re planning to cook up a feast, make sure you buy the food beforehand! Other than that, it will still be the same ol’ Berkeley.
Some things you can do include:
1) Pay It Forward: Volunteer to serve an amazing dinner to those that are in worse situations than we are. They have open soup kitchens in the Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco area.
2) There is a Cirque du Soleil show taking place at AT&T park in San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day. Grab a friend or two and head out for a fun show!
3) Go on a hike to the Fire Trails: With everyone out (or in) for the holidays, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of the free.
Make this Thanksgiving worthwhile despite not being able to spend it with your family