Friendsgiving in Boston

Category Student Voices


College student, Cayla
Cayla Lee Class of '21
Authored on November 29, 2018


Here are my favorite moments from Thanksgiving Recess and a glimpse of what it’s like to spend holidays at Harvard!

Every year for 5 days, Harvard students experience a taste of winter break before being prematurely thrown back into the realities of papers and final exams. These 5 days of ephemeral bliss are what Harvard calls “Thanksgiving Recess.” While many take this as an opportunity to go back home and enjoy time with family, many others (like me) for whom home is too far away and too expensive to get to (I’m from Seattle) or whose families don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, this break can also be a chance to enjoy the quietude of an empty campus, to reflect, and to recover and heal a bit from the burn-out that inevitably comes after a long semester.

I’m a sophomore, so I’ve spent two Thanksgivings at Harvard so far, both of which have been great. My closest friends from high school (who also go to college on the east coast) come to Boston, and we spend Friendsgiving Day together. Here are some of my favorite memories from this year’s Thanksgiving Recess on campus, heavily featuring my friends Crystal and Patrick.

Hot Pot Outing with the Asian American Women’s Association (AAWA)

There’s a place called Spring Shabu-Shabu that opened recently in Allston (right across the river from Harvard), so eight of us from AAWA decided to make an outing there for lunch on Wednesday! The fact that we had to wait over an hour to get in is beside the point, because the food was SO GOOD (and unlimited, which is key).

two photos side by side, 1 of students at a restaurant, 2 of students on the subway

Me and Ivy with our best friend, hot pot.

Journey to Annenberg

On Thanksgiving day this year, it was very very cold (around 15 degrees?). It took a lot out of me, Crystal and Patrick to step out of the well-heated haven of my dorm room to get to Annenberg, which was the only dining hall open that day. On the way there, we saw wild turkey roaming around campus, which was exciting, but also sad and ironic on Thanksgiving Day. The long 15-minute journey was worth it, though, since I got to eat my favorite HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) dish, sweet potato souffle, which is definitely better and more beautiful than what it looks like in the picture below.

(From the left) two students, 3 wild turkeys, Annenberg with Thanksgiving decor, students eating souffle.

(From the left) Crystal and Patrick, 3 wild turkeys, Annenberg with Thanksgiving decor, me and Crystal with THE sweet potato souffle.


Boston’s Chinatown is open and bustling on Thanksgiving Day (and all the time, in general). We decided to have our Friendsgiving dinner there. We also thought karaoke would be fun, so that happened too. I ate a lot of good food, drank a lot of bubble tea, and lost my voice. We ended up going back a few times over the break, just to drink even more bubble tea.

collage of photos of students Chinatown trip in Boston

Chinatown is amazing!

More Food

Homemade curry (courtesy of my friend Andrew, the only one of us who can cook), Vietnamese food at Le’s (which is in Harvard Square and on the more affordable side), and pie. Lots of pie. Wednesday night, Anne and John, who are the Faculty Deans of Pforzheimer House, had an astonishing amount of apple, pumpkin, pecan, and cranberry crumble pie, along with ice cream, cider, and a well-lit fireplace. Truly ideal.

three photos side by side of curry, soup bowls on a table, and a student with pie.

(From the left) Curry, lunch at Le's, and Anne with pie!

I hope this gave you a good glimpse of what it’s like to be on campus during a holiday break! Even while many people aren’t on campus, there’s always a wealth of things to do, food to eat, and ways to have fun! Staying at Harvard during Thanksgiving has certainly been a way of giving myself space and time to think, heal, and rejuvenate with people I love.


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Cayla Lee Class of '21

Hello! I'm Cayla, and I'm a junior living in Pforzheimer. My home is Bellevue, Washington, which is about 15 minutes away from the amazing city of Seattle.

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College student, Cayla