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HC WashU International Edition: How To Avoid the Thanksgiving Blues While Abroad

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and for most of us, it is the wonderful day where we get together with our whole family and stuff ourselves with turkey and starchy goodness. However, many are unable to celebrate the holiday traditionally because they are abroad or otherwise unable to trek homewards. For those of us stuck in a foreign place where when you say Thanksgiving you get blank stares ( or worse) here are a few tips and anecdotes from fellow HC readers about how they dealt with Thanksgiving away from home. 

1.      If you can’t go it to your family, get your family to come to you!
Even if you are in a faraway place and can’t have the traditional turkey dinner, having your family there will make all the difference. Alana Rosenberg (WashU ’14) recounts her story of Thanksgiving in Paris: “Luckily my brothers came to visit me…instead of half-a**ing the holiday, [we] went to a restaurant and ordered escargot. It was super satisfying because it was still a part of French culture.”
On the other hand, the full Thanksgiving dinner and family in a foreign place doesn’t sound too bad either. Catherine Krabbenschmidt (University of Pennsylvania ’12) recalls Thanksgiving in Cairo with her family: “I had a very Western thanksgiving because the hotel was American – but there was no stuffing and I was devastated. It was funny though, because they had all the American food labeled as ‘American Thanksgiving’ and then hardcore Egyptian foods. Having my whole family there was great!”

2.      If your family can’t come to you, do not despair!
Why not improvise with your own homemade Thanksgiving dinner? Emma Jesberg (Trinity College ’13) did, cooking for 50 people in Viterbo, Italy during her high school Junior Year Abroad. “The whole Thanksgiving (or “giorno di reingraziamento”) was something that most of these host families has done with their host students in the past but it was definitely not expected of us, they asked us if we were interested in doing it and several of us were so we decided to take on the challenge! It was super fun, but definitely a lot of work! We made three huge turkeys, and I was in charge of five apple pies and SO many mashed potatoes. It was really nice to celebrate Thanksgiving because it is such an important time for families to come together so I really felt that I bonded with my host family during that time. It made me sad not to be with my American family and eating all the delish food, but celebrating in Italy was a good substitute!”

3.      When all else fails, do your own thing!
 You aren’t in America so why get hung up on American holidays? Plan a trip with friends or do something fun where you are studying that you have been meaning to do. The traditional dinner isn’t everything. Despite the success of her Italian Thanksgiving, Emma is going a different route this year during her semester abroad in Paris: “I am going to Istanbul for Thanksgiving this year and don’t have any plans to celebrate, so being in Europe for Thanksgiving this [time] will be very different and I am sure I will miss it!” It might be a little lonely, and Catherine has some advice about that, “ I think that it’s hard because that day is usually spent with your family, but at the same time it is also when you realize that you have under a month left before you go back to America.”
 As for me, I am trying to throw together a little dinner with some friends here in London, but even if the turkey doesn’t come through, it certainly won’t ruin my semester. Though some pumpkin pie wouldn’t hurt either…
Image Credit: http://www.someecards.com/

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