Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sharing Christmas Traditions

Hi everyone!

Today I want to tell you about the special opportunity I had this Christmas.  As you may know, I am one of the founders of P.A.L.S (Partners Applying Language Socially) which pairs international students and four-year American students together based on similar interests to enrich the college experience for both partners. My P.A.L. Suyeon (from South Korea) and I have become GREAT friends, and I consider our friendship one of the many success stories we've had with P.A.L.S. so far.  Before the holiday break, Suyeon and I were sharing stories about our different holiday traditions.  This was when Suyeon told me that she had never had a real Christmas, which had always been a wish of hers.  Suyeon said it was because her family was not religious, so her parents never felt the need to celebrate Christmas.  This left Suyeon to have little celebrations with her friends, including decorating a mini-tree and exchanging presents.

So, my family and I made it our mission to give Suyeon her first real Christmas - an American Christmas! My family invited her home with us for about two weeks, and she became practically another member of our family.  Though Christmas activities were spread out over the two weeks, we still kept ourselves busy! Not only did we go Christmas shopping to find presents for family members, but we also...

Putting the first ornament on the tree! 


Me and Suyeon in front of the finished tree :) 

Making paper snowflakes!
Oooh how fancy! 

Our "special" snowflakes.

Homemade chocolate chip cookies before the oven...

...and after the oven. We didn't add enough flour, but they tasted pretty darn good! 
Decorating Christmas cookies :)  
Aunt Jackie helps out! 

Suyeon got to keep the first ornament she put on the tree! 
 Suyeon even came with my family and me to a Catholic mass on Christmas eve, and then to my aunt's house for a pre-Christmas gathering.  On Christmas morning, she got to share in the excitement of opening gifts, eating Christmas dinner, and spending quality time with the family.

Christmas morning! 

Christmas break wasn't all Christmas preparations though.  We also attended my sister's high school's production of A Christmas Carol and visited the fourth grade classroom in which my mom is a paraprofessional.  Suyeon is an English and Education major, so she told me it was really interesting to visit an American classroom.  The fourth graders were able to ask Suyeon about South Korea and her experiences in the US so far.  Suyeon didn't think the children would ask so many questions, but they really knew nothing about South Korea so they were very curious. Does Korea have television?.... Did you drive here?... Can you say something in Korean?  It was all very interesting to watch and listen to Suyeon's reaction afterward.

The best part of Suyeon's visit was the little things – the inside jokes, learning Korean, trying to find English subtitles for movies, trying out a Korean aloe face mask.  That is only the short version of the many memories though – there are too many to count! We both had so much fun together, and I think I can speak for Suyeon when I say she gained an American family.

Asian pose :) 

Me, Suyeon, John and Katie.

Suyeon and Dad.

Suyeon and Mom.

Uncle Tim, Suyeon and Aunt Jackie when we dropped Suyeon back off at SMC!
If you have any questions about my life as a student at Saint Michael's College, do not hesitate to contact me via email (, Twitter (@LizMurraySMC) or formspring (lizmurray3).



  1. Your tree is beautiful!!! I hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas! Happy New Year! :)

    1. Thanks Jess!!! We did!! Happy New Year to you too!