My Thanksgiving Reflection

It’s a day late… but HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Everyone should be enjoying some Black Friday shopping right about now. This was the first ever Thanksgiving that I had to spend away from my family… and I didn’t know how much I’d miss them when the holiday actually came around. Every year, my entire mom’s side of the family gathers at my grandma’s (Gigi’s) house to have a proper American Thanksgiving feast with all the makings (turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, salad, bread, pies… I could go on!).

As I sat in my children’s lit class yesterday on the actual holiday, I couldn’t help but be jealous of all my friends back home spending time with family, reuniting with friends, and cuddling with beloved pets. I scrolled through my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see endless pictures of happy college kids at home as if they’ve been away forever and have never seen their pet before so they have to take a million pictures with it. Honestly, if I were home I’d do the same thing (miss you Roxie)! But it was the fact that I couldn’t which made me feel homesick for the first time since I’ve been here in London. A few days ago (Nov. 19) marked the one month countdown until I come back home to New Jersey. I do admit that when it’s time to go home I will be the happiest girl alive. But I feel like I still have a lot to do here in exploring London/other parts of England and I’m not sure if a month (with limited weekends) will be enough time for me to do it all! It’s kind of stressful when the time starts ticking for real.

I’m going to try not to stress and just do as many fun things as possible until that day (Dec. 19th) comes around and it’s time for me to board the plane. London is REALLY into the holiday season and celebrating all things Christmas, so there tons of places to go see that are elaborately decorated for the holidays. Today I’m going to see the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and the lights on Oxford Street! (pictures to come soon from this visit)

But back to Thanksgiving… while I was pretty bummed yesterday to not be home, the amount of people who took the time to reach out to me over here and say “Happy Thanksgiving” was all the cheering up I needed. There are SO many things I have to be thankful for. Being in London has completely opened my eyes to even more aspects that I should feel fortunate to have (especially in America).

Last night, however, I did get the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with some other Americans which I took advantage of. It was absolutely nothing like how I celebrate the holiday at home, but at least I got to eat a bit of the traditional Thanksgiving food. Roehampton invited the American international students to a pretty fancy Thanksgiving dinner since they knew the large majority of us won’t be going home for the holiday. I went with Raleigh and Chelsea, and was a bit disappointed to see they made an assigned seating chart which didn’t put us at the same table. However, I did have a chance to meet some people from other areas of the states and even though we were from all different parts of America (Hawaii, California, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, North Carolina), we all could come together and bond over missing home, and other aspects of American culture that England just doesn’t have… especially food!

I got to have a nice conversation with the girl from North Carolina and we bonded over missing sweet tea, southern accents, and country music. I really am beyond excited to get back to UNCW next semester! It was really nice to see other people have the same minor homesickness as I did yesterday. But we all came together for a good dinner. And the best part… it was free! The food they served us was okay… they got the turkey and stuffing right, but they had some weird mashed potatoes and included brussels sprouts and parsnips in the meal (obviously not part of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner), but at least they had some pumpkin pie to top off the meal at the end!

After my own dinner, I got to go back to my room and Skype my entire family at Gigi’s house which really put a smile on my face. Thanks for the love everyone!

I wanted to write this blog post because home means so much to me and I’ve realized it even more since living in London for over two months now. So with that being said, in honor of being thankful during this holiday, I have made my own list of a few things I’m thankful for…

The things I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving:

-Obviously my amazing family and friends who support me while I’m here in London. I can’t even begin to say how much it means to me to have people reach out to me while I’m here to say that they are thinking about me and miss me. It’s the best feeling in the world to feel loved. And I want to say that I love all my family and friends back in American unconditionally.

-My new closest friends here. They help keep me sane while I’m away from home. Specifically Raleigh, Chelsea, Sinead, Eliza, and Kelly. You all don’t know how much you have helped me through this study abroad experience by just being a friend to me here. Without all of you, I wouldn’t have wing-girls to go out with, buddies to travel with, and friends to hang out with. And I couldn’t be happier that most of you will be back in North Carolina with me next semester so we can continue our friendships there. You girls are the best.

-This study abroad experience in general. I know that by the time these three months are over I will never have appreciated America more than I did while I’m here, but living in London has opened my eyes to so many different cultural things. The accent, the food, the manners, the travelling, the fashion, the weather. I honestly don’t think my school education is what I will take away from “studying” here… it’s the fact that I was immersed in this interesting English culture for three months and how different it really is from what I’m used to in America. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have the resources to be here for the semester, and even more to travel while I’m here!

-Being an American. The dollar isn’t as expensive, we have all the best movies and songs, Kraft mac and cheese, grape jelly, big cars and parking lots… the list goes on. I never thought I’d be thankful for all of these things, but being away from everything for a few months really makes you think!

-Skype. Can’t think of a better way of keeping in touch with my friends. I get to see their faces, hear their voices, and show them how pale I’ve gotten here already!

-Good health and good fortune. No explanation really needed.

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