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Celebrate American holidays while studying abroad

Holidays in America can be an exciting experience, especially American specific holiday’s such as 4th of July and Thanksgiving. International students should experience these holidays while they are studying abroad in American universities. However, religious holidays are a bit different depending on your religious beliefs. Christmas is a big holiday in America and you should not have a problem finding a church near you. As for other religions you will be free to observe your holidays or prayer requirements. As long as you give your professors notice and communicate with them you may get exemptions for your religious practices. Admissions, registration, class attendance, exams and assignments may be pushed back, but remember to communicate this with your professors. You will not be penalized for missed classes though you most likely will have to make up the work.

General holidays in America
Some holidays are more popular than others in the US. The 4th of July is widely celebrated with beer, barbecues and fireworks along with many events to attend that are 4th of July themed such as concerts, firework displays and sporting events. In addition to the 4th of July there is also Thanksgiving and New Year's which both feature famous parades and, for Thanksgiving, there are always football games to watch. That is if you watch American football. It is kind of a tradition in many households to watch football on Thanksgiving and there could possibly be some sort of gathering on campus somewhere to celebrate thanksgiving and watch football during your studies abroad. It is also important to mention Halloween, though it is not a holiday per se, it is an American tradition. Halloween is mostly advertised toward children and parents, however college students celebrate it as well. As an international student you should experience halloween by making or buying a costume and going to have fun in a Halloween party or parade. Other holidays such as Martin Luther King day and Columbus Day are recognized, but are not really celebrated.

Below is the list of the Federal holidays
On these days, you most likely will not have classes, and most people in America do not work on these days. Government offices will also be closed on these days:

January 1st: New years eve
January 15–21 (Floating Monday): Birthday of Martin Luther King
February 15–21 (Floating Monday): Washington’s birthday
May 25–31 (Floating Monday): Memorial Day
July 4 (Fixed): Independance Day
September 1–7 (Floating Monday): Labor Day
October 8–14 (Floating Monday): Columbus Day
November 11 (Fixed): Veterans Day
November 22–28 (Floating Thursday): Thanksgiving Day
December 25 (Fixed): Christmas Day

Religious Holidays
Depending on your religion or culture you can probably find somewhere on or off campus to celebrate it. For example most Universities have prayer facilities for all major religions, as well as religious student organizations. For example, many universities have a Hillel, which is a Jewish student center, for celebrating Jewish holidays and organizing events. If you ask around campus or look on your University’s website you will probably find a group event. Additionally, you will definitely find an event off campus and friends who observe the same religion will probably be open to inviting you to celebrate with them and/or their family.

Holidays are always an exciting time, whether they are new to you or not, especially when you have never experienced them before. Remember to find an event to go to or a group to stick with during a holiday. You will not regret it. It is also important to know that any holidays you personally celebrate, religious or not, there will be an event for you or a group of people who also celebrate the same holiday. No matter what you do, have fun and make the most of your time abroad.

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