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A Brandeis Thanksgiving: Emma Russell

By Polina Potochevska

Section: Features

December 2, 2016

While many students fly, drive or take the train to visit their families for Thanksgiving break, there is a group of students who chose to stay at Brandeis during the long weekend. Emma Russell ’19, originally from San Antonio, TX, stayed on campus for Thanksgiving and made the most of the experience.

Russell invited two friends from her hometown who also go to colleges nearby in the Northeast to visit her at Brandeis, as it is much closer and less expensive than flying to Texas. She and a group of 15 people—both Brandeis students and their friends who were visiting—“took over all of the kitchens in Polaris and Gordon” in North Quad and spent Thursday cooking a Thanksgiving meal for the group.

In addition to the traditional Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, mashed potatoes and plenty of roasted vegetables, the students also cooked some “untraditional” Thanksgiving foods such as Asian-inspired noodle dishes and pupusas, a Salvadoran dish. “I think it’s representative of Brandeis,” Russell said when describing her eclectic meal, alluding to the mix of cultures that are prevalent at the university and in their dinner.

Normally, Russell is home with her family for Thanksgiving. To bring a piece of her home into the holiday spent at Brandeis this year, she was determined to make the apple pie that her mom makes, to carry on a family tradition with “my Brandeis family.” According to her friends, her efforts paid off.

In addition to continuing a family tradition, the group of students introduced Thanksgiving dinners to students from Israel who were experiencing their first Thanksgiving, in true Brandeisian style.

After a successful Thanksgiving dinner, Russell spent the rest of her break with her friends from her hometown. She took them to Newbury Street on the afternoon of Black Friday to experience the bustle of Boston on one of America’s most commercialized days. Russell then took them to Georgetown Cupcakes, one of her favorite spots on Newbury, to have a special treat.

On Saturday, Russell showed her friends around Main Street and Moody Street in Waltham and had brunch. To reach their destinations, they had to either get an Uber or walk, because there were no shuttles or BranVans running on campus.

“Brandeis was like a ghost town,” Russell said. Although she had spent time at Brandeis last year during spring break when many students went home, she mentioned that for Thanksgiving the campus felt “especially empty,” possibly due to the gloomy weather. However, Russell actually “really liked it,” because there was less bustle and it felt more relaxing. She also said that the campus “felt a lot bigger without its students.”

Russell finally mentioned some minor downfalls about celebrating a major holiday while being at college, such as the lack of transportation and the closed dining halls, which meant there was “no convenient way to get food.” In spite of this, Russell and her friends “made it work” and had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Brandeis this year. And the best part? “Our fridge is still full of leftovers!” Russell exclaimed.

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