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I know Thanksgiving was a week ago, but my fellow American students and I just had time to celebrate the holiday in the last couple of days. Although Thanksgiving is not a holiday that Greece celebrates (seeing as it’s an American holiday), they seem to understand the sentiment–being thankful for not only what has happened in the past but also the present, too.
To celebrate, me and the 8 other students in the Greece study abroad program went over to our resident director’s apartment for dinner. To make us feel at home, our RD pulled out all the stops, cooking the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, gravy, and bread. She even managed to find cranberry sauce which is no small feat here! (It took us almost a month just to find super expensive maple syrup when we first got here. We only splurged once.) All of it was delicious and we were all reminded of our family Thanksgivings back home.
For some of us, it was our first Thanksgiving away from home while for others being away from family wasn’t anything new. I’d been away from my family for Thanksgiving before, but being away from any kind of family, whether a friend’s or otherwise, still felt a little strange. Despite any homesickness that may have arose, we all made the best of the meal. There were happy dinner conversations, loud moments of laughter, and even a well-phrased, heartfelt prayer to start off the meal. After we were all stuffed, we just sat around talking and enjoying each others’ company. It almost felt like we were home.
Although Greece doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (which I knew going in because that would be just silly if I thought otherwise) and we did get our fill of Thanksgiving cheer and tradition, I couldn’t help but notice a number of similarities between Greece and the U.S. at this time of year.
Around this time of year in the states, Christmas decorations start appearing, lights go up, it gets chillier and people start to look cozier and cozier as they bundle up. Well the same thing happens here too! The weekend leading up to Thanksgiving, there was an explosion of Christmas in the shopping areas here. Stores were working on their window displays, icicle lights hang from all the shop entrances, strands of evergreen branches laced with holly line the windows. The Christmas season arrived without us even realizing it. (It really did happen over night almost. One day, nothing. The next, Christmas was everywhere.)
I am absolutely loving my time here (though it’s a little more stressful now that I have a number of papers to write), but with only a little over two weeks left, it’s hard not to imagine going home. You get so used to what it’s like wherever you are, that when it’s time for it to change, you have to force yourself to remember how things were. I’m thankful that I am studying abroad this semester because I get to go home during Christmas. I get to connect how it’s celebrated in Greece with how it’s done back home. I get to transition home during one of the happiest times of the year, though summer is a pretty good rival time period. I’m also hoping Bethel will get some snow before interterm in January because the campus is enchanting when it’s blanketed in snow. What better way to come back to my second home in the U.S.?
Having my Greek Thanksgiving has made me realize just how thankful I am for this experience and that even though I must say goodbye soon, there is so much my two beautiful countries share in common and that if I miss one and feel it fading away, I need only look for the similarities.
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