Thanksgiving Abroad

If I were in the United States at this time of year I’d be spending this week curled up in my parent’s living room, spending time with my friends and family, and helping (or hindering) my parents as they prepare for the event of the month: Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving in the United States, despite its problematic background, is a time for families to come together, share thanks, and eat copious amounts of food. While I don’t have a large family outside of my parents and brother, I have grown up using this holiday as a time to reconnect with friends new and old, and now that I’ve moved halfway across the country for college that time is even more important to me. However, this year is different. Instead of traveling from Denver to Vermont for Thanksgiving, I’ll be spending the week in Aix en Provence!

While it can be hard to be away from my family home on Thanksgiving, I’m lucky to be able to have my family visit me during the holiday week. My mom, dad, and brother all arrived on Monday to spend the holiday with me and my friends, bringing a piece of the holiday to me! While they spent much of their week here taking in France and enjoying their holiday, their visit for me was about connecting with and spending time with my family. Rather than a turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and typical Thanksgiving side dishes, my family enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner of steak tartare, escargot, and charcuterie…. maybe not traditional, but certainly no complaints.

Although my 2022 Thanksgiving experience was a far cry from the typical American Thanksgiving, it could only be considered more special for it being celebrated in France and still surrounded by the people I love the most. However, holidays abroad can be challenging for many reasons, and there were still many things to miss about the classic American experience.

Although I had my family with me, this was the first time in a decade that I had not celebrated Thanksgiving with my close family friends. Since leaving for college, spending time with the people closest to me has become rarer and rarer. Missing one of the only times of year that we can all be together makes the distance feel farther, and I’m sure many other students abroad are feeling the same thing. Not being in your family home for a holiday can increase feelings of homesickness, especially so late in the semester.

No matter how you spent your Thanksgiving this year, whether it was home or abroad, with family or friends, eating turkey or not, it is a time to be grateful for the good that we have. This year I’m grateful for my family, my friends (near or far), and especially for this amazing experience that I will never forget. With that, I wish you all the happiest Thanksgiving and start to the holiday season!

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