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Though planes, trains and automobiles were full of Penn students last week as residents headed home to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, the campus was not deserted.

Most college houses hosted Thanksgiving dinners, Director of College Houses and Academic Services Philip Nichols said.

Sixteen students attended the dinner at Hill College House, Graduate Associate Tiffany Fujioka said.

The food came from Boston Market and Superfresh, a local grocery store.

"It was very casual," she said. "Just something for everyone to do on Thanksgiving so we didn't feel alone."

And it seems as though that objective was met.

Hill resident Virgilio Aquino stayed on campus because his family was traveling for the holiday.

"You know, you thought you were going to be alone at Hill, and you weren't going to have Thanksgiving," he said. But "it wasn't just like any old dinner. It was actually very good."

Students ate "turkey and mashed potatoes -- the good ol' stuff," he added.

"We did a lot of hanging out," Fujioka said.

Still, a lot of the students who were around for the weekend took advantage of the quiet campus to study, she said.

In addition to hosting dinners, some houses went to the movies or ventured downtown over the weekend, Nichols said.

Other groups got together to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade, which Nichols said "was quite interesting for some of our international students."

Their reactions ranged from "dismay" to "curiosity," he added, noting their deepened understanding for "how meaningful Thanksgiving is in the United States."

In fact, International House organized its own Thanksgiving dinner with "all the traditional food," which 40 to 50 people attended, School of Dental Medicine student Falguni Patel said.

For a number of international students, this was "their first real turkey dinner," Nichols said. While Americans grow accustomed to the traditions of the holiday, the international students "seemed really impressed," he added.

"It was really refreshing."

Additionally, International House organized families in the local community to act as hosts for some students.

Though there were a fair number of students on campus, Nichols said it seems as though "more people stay for winter." It is more feasible, he said, for students to bring friends home with them over the short Thanksgiving break than during the winter holiday.

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