(Kevin John Siazon)

The Thanksgiving long weekend can be a lonely one for the many university students who aren’t able to travel home.

It can also be tough on students when there are no parents or relatives to fill their stomachs with turkey and love.

Iulia Larca, a fourth-year creative industries student, said her first year spending the holiday away from her family wasn’t that bad. Larca couldn’t visit her family in Dubai, and instead went for dinner with some other international students who lived on the same floor as her.

“At first, we wanted to cook dinner,” she said. “But as it got closer, it turns out they weren’t that into it.”

Since then, Larca has let the Thanksgiving holiday pass as just another day. “It never bummed me out,” she said. “It wasn’t one of those North American experiences I thought I had to have since I didn’t grow up celebrating it.”

‘All about family’

Unlike Larca, Sabrina Bertsch is a self-proclaimed Thanksgiving lover. On exchange in Denmark for the semester, the third-year media production student is spending her first Thanksgiving away from her family.

To Bertsch, it’s all about family.

In an email interview, she said, “It’s about arguing [over] who’s going to set the table and what’s on the menu. It’s about living off leftovers for weeks and never wanting to see a turkey again. It’s about promising not to talk about politics at the table and doing it anyways.” That’s what she loves most about the holiday, added Bertsch.

In lieu of physically being at the dinner table, Bertsch said she’s going to try and call her Toronto family during meals via Skype. Because of the time difference  and her class schedule, however, she said she’ll only be able to call “for a little bit.”

Bertsch said she’s planning on putting together a Thanksgiving dinner with her dorm mates. “It may or may not work out,” she said. “[My dorm mates] seem more excited about it than me.”

Cooking yourself a feast

For other students, like Annie Lee, her first Thanksgiving away from home was a much different experience. Before transferring to Ryerson, she spent her first year of university in a small town in B.C. and was left alone at the dorms for the holiday weekend.

Coming from a family that didn’t do a lot for the holiday, Lee took this opportunity to cook herself a feast, using the dorm’s shared kitchen.

“I had the whole dorm room to myself. I baked myself ribs and scallops wrapped in bacon,” she said with a laugh. “It was awesome. If I did spend time with my family during that time, they probably would not have let me cook something so elaborate.”

The feast was done in typical dorm room fashion. Lee, now a third-year hospitality and tourism management student at Ryerson, ate her ribs right off the baking tray and used tupperware for the scallops, instead of a plate.

Whether it’s spending Thanksgiving alone, with friends, or family, Ryerson students can all be thankful for the fall reading week, which other schools, like the University of Toronto, don’t have.

Watch the video below for a quick recipe that can be made even in a student kitchen. Add some cranberry sauce to this turkey meatloaf and it’s a Thanksgiving feast fit for one.



For meat loaf:

  • 2 packs ground turkey (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • large egg
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp ketchup (to mix into loaf)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (to coat top of loaf)

For mashed potatoes:

  • 2 cans diced potatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tbsp black pepper

For green beans:

  • 1 can green beans


  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. In a large bowl, combine all meat loaf ingredients except the 1/4 cup of ketchup.
  2. Form the meat into a loaf on a baking and cover using the leftover 1/4 cup of ketchup.
  3. Bake until cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes.
  4. Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with cold water until potatoes are covered by 1 inch of water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients and mash to the desired consistency.
  5. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the green beans. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Salt to taste.

Recipe adapted from

Kevin John Siazon is a Southern California-transplant living in Toronto. A self-proclaimed dabbler, he enjoys trying new things. You'll often find him somewhere in the city eating some sort of Asian food or editing a friend's essay.

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