Feeling a sense of community is one way to make the holidays special abroad. Christopher talks about making memories with friends as he celebrates his birthday at the top of the Shard in London and Thanksgiving with his flatmates this holiday season.
In this week’s post I am going to be discussing how I have continued following certain holiday traditions over the past couple weeks and how my experiences of celebrating them in a different environment has created lasting memories. They will be some of the best experiences of my semester.
The first tradition I continued with celebrating was American Thanksgiving. In America, I typically celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, friends, and relatives. We watch football, each delicious food, and reconnect through conversations. However, since Thanksgiving is an American holiday I spent the day by working at my internship site for the full day, which was something I had never experienced before and was very interesting. After 5:30 came around I returned back to my flat where I then celebrated “Flatsgiving” with roughly 20 other of the people living in our building. We celebrated by having a potluck; each person cooked and brought a typical dish they have at their family Thanksgivings. It was quite pleasant sitting down together with the rest of my building hanging out, chatting and sharing experiences with each other.
Celebrating Thanksgiving (aka "Flatsgiving") with a potluck dinner and around 20 other people living in our building.
My favorite takeaway from the dinner was that it made me really feel a sense of community. Since we were all in the same position being away from home for the holiday, it allowed us to come together and really enjoy the time spent with our special study abroad family and made unique memories that I will always cherish.
After dinner and dessert, we played some fun party games. I, then, spent the rest of the night talking to family members back home via Facetime and was able to catch them at exactly the right time (when everybody woke up from their naps).
Celebrating another occasion—my birthday. We went to the top of the Shard in London.
The next tradition I celebrated abroad was my birthday, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Since my birthday is so close to Thanksgiving, I typically celebrate it with extended family members when we are together. Although I have been used to being away from home for my birthday since I’ve been at school, this was also a first experience being away from everybody back home in the US. It was very funny having people wish me birthday on various social media accounts since they couldn't send messages to my US number.
The magnificent view of London from the top of the Shard.
To celebrate, my CAPA friends and I decided that it would a fun activity if we went to the view deck from the top of the Shard. The view was magnificent, and we could see the city extend below us for miles. I could not understand just how high in the sky we were while being at the top of the building, but when we were heading back to our flat I looked up and saw the skyscraper—and I was in awe.
Looking up at the Shard from the ground.
Being able to celebrate my birthday in such a culturally rich city like London was an experience that I will always remember. Celebrating both traditions while studying abroad have enhanced my perspective and appreciation for my time while in London; they are things I will always cherish. I hope you enjoyed this week’s post and will continue reading the final blog posts as this semester comes to a close. Cheers!
Christopher's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.