“Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else's fairy tale.” –Wale Ayeni
Being away from home on Thanksgiving can trigger a bout of homesickness, but enjoying it while you're studying abroad is all about perspective, surrounding yourself with friends, and reminding yourself that you can still embrace the spirit of the day no matter where you are.
Here's 10 ways to make the most of Thanksgiving while you're studying abroad:
1. ATTEND THE CAPA THANKSGIVING DINNER.
CAPA Sydney Thanksgiving celebrations
CAPA staff know how important Thanksgiving is in the US (many of them being expats who are living abroad away from family themselves) and put in their very best effort to give students a memorable evening including a feast with many of the same foods traditionally eaten on the day.
2. ORGANIZE A FRIENDSGIVING
You're not the only one missing home on Thanksgiving day, so gather your closest new study abroad friends, choose a flat and organize a dinner celebration of your own to celebrate. Have each person bring a dish, make it special with name tags for the table and a few homemade decorations and enjoy. Check out The Kitchn's 10 Commandments of Friendsgiving.
3. COOK FOR YOUR HOST FAMILY
CAPA Student Peyton Meyer's GANZO! Family enjoys a meal
If you're living with a local host family, there's a good chance they've never experienced this very American holiday! Why not offer to cook up a traditional meal and share a part of your own culture with them like they've been sharing their own culture's traditions with you this semester?
4. START NEW TRADITIONS
Irish-style Thanksgiving Dinner in CAPA Dublin
Let's face it; Thanksgiving this year will already be anything but traditional, so embrace it! Make some of your own traditions like combining your turkey and cranberry sauce with a favorite food local to your host country. Who knows - you might even bring home some new ideas to share with your family for next year.
5. SKYPE WITH FAMILY BACK HOME
Just because you're not physically in the same place doesn't mean you can't check in during Thanksgiving dinner preparations or afterward depending on your time zone and say hello to your family. They miss you too and we're thankful for the technology that makes it so easy to connect.
6. VOLUNTEER WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
CAPA students volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House
What better way to demonstrate your own gratefulness for everything you appreciate in your own life than to give back to those who are less fortunate? Speak to your Resident Director to find out if your visa allows you to volunteer while abroad and see what opportunities they might know of that would be available.
7. GO FOR AN AUTUMNAL STROLL
If you're in the northern hemisphere and your CAPA city has a pretty place to kick through the leaves, head outdoors for a reflective autumn walk, enjoy the fresh air and take some time to appreciate your life and the unforgettable adventure you're embarking on right now.
8. DECORATE YOUR FLAT
No matter where you are in the world, you can spruce up your living space and make it feel more festive. Gather your friends and color some old-school turkey hand cutouts, pin some leaves on your bulletin board and bring in all things orange, yellow, red and gold. Pinterest is your friend.
9. DONATE TO YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY
If you have the means, choose a favorite charity to support and make a small donation. It could be a local charity or one in your home town that you feel connected to. Giving to help others is a wonderful way to demonstrate your gratitude for all that you are thankful for in your own life.
10. BE THANKFUL
Above all, even if you don't do any of the other things on this list, make space for thankfulness. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and activity of studying abroad that we often forget to reflect on the wonder of the experience. It's something you can do every day, but Thanksgiving is often a trigger for us to remember to take a step back and see how lucky we really are and how grateful for the people who helped us get to where we are today.