International students learn idioms for the Thanksgiving holiday

International students gathered to learn about Thanksgiving terms and eat pizza in the ISSS lounge during lunchtime on Wednesday. (Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus)

What’s better than pigging out and being stuffed after a Thanksgiving meal? The International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) hosted students from various countries around the world to learn about idioms on Nov. 14 in McMahon Hall. “Let’s Talk Turkey! Learn Idioms and Expressions for Thanksgiving” gave students a friendly environment where they could mingle while learning about frequently-used idioms and their meanings.

The ISSS works to ensure the successful integration and prosperity of international students. The University of Connecticut is committed to having a diverse environment throughout campus, fostering different cultures and students from not only across the nation, but across the world. In fact, seven percent of undergraduate students and 25 percent of graduate students are international.

“(My mission) is to create a social environment where international students from all different countries and departments can come together and use our shared space and for me, it’s kind of like a distraction from studying because its light, and it’s an hour,” Sarah Manning, the international advisor, said about the event’s purpose.

Students are able to further their English in a non-traditional setting and learn phrases and informal, frequently-used sayings.

Manning, a former secondary English teacher of 15 years, coordinated the event along with the rest of the ISSS staff. Students were provided with different worksheets, as well as food and beverages, creating a warm and friendly environment.

Not only did the presentation engage participants in learning English words that may not be as common during everyday use, Manning also had students converse amongst themselves, participate by saying idioms they already knew and explaining how the idioms pertain to their own culture.

For example, the saying “tying the knot” is used to refer to wedding services in America. In India, however, husbands and wives physically tie a knot through their clothes, thus symbolizing their attachment and loyalty to each other. These moments allowed for other students to learn about various cultures and how they relate to American culture, as well as their own culture. “Let’s talk turkey,” “I just can’t quit my sugar habit cold turkey” and “Count your blessings” are only a few of the numerous idioms discussed.

The mix between undergraduate and graduate students allowed for students to discuss the different stages they were at in life. When learning, “when are you going to pop the question?” graduate students began to discuss how they recently asked their loved ones to marry them. While each asked in a different way, most students found commonality in being newlyweds.

Despite the gathering being a short hour, it provided students with a place where they could sit back and relax, take a break from studying and responsibilities and converse with peers in the same situation as them. Coming from a completely different area of the world and having to adjust to a new culture can be difficult, but it is important to remember that there are hundreds of students who are in the same situation. “Let’s Talk Turkey! Learn Idioms and Expressions for Thanksgiving” gave international students the opportunity to learn more about the English language in an entertaining and interactive way.


Jordana Castelli is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at jordana.castelli@uconn.edu.