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Study Abroad Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Making the most of your thanksgiving abroad

Thousands of American students are away on study abroad over Thanksgiving.  For many this can be the first time that they will miss their family’s celebration.  It’s also a time when homesickness can kick in with a vengeance.  Here are some ways to celebrate the traditional American holiday while abroad.

•  Find a Phone. Call home, but don’t dwell on the fact that all of your family is together and for the first time you’re not there.  While you’ll miss your aunts ‘best ever’ pumpkin pie (as well as your family), remember that you’re current study abroad adventure is about growth and opening the world to you.  There will be other thanksgivings at home to come, while you may be missing your family now, it will become a great story in the years to come. “Remember the Thanksgiving that I…”

•  Find a Family. When you’re surrounded by other’s who are missing their families, create your own family.  Share the experience with non-Americans and Americans alike.  The beauty of Thanksgiving is that while it is essentially an American holiday, the principles behind it are not bound by religion, race or culture.  Taking time to gather with others to celebrate all you have to be thankful for is a unifying celebration.

•  Find the Time. Other countries don’t celebrate Thanksgiving so it’s work and classes as usual on Thursday.  If you don’t have the time on Thursday during the day or that night, look to a modified Thanksgiving celebration on Saturday afternoon.  Be flexible and make it work.  Whatever you’re planning will be more enjoyable if you give yourself the time to plan and prepare.

•  Find an Oven.  If you fancy cooking a turkey yourself and celebrating the holiday full throttle you are going to need some space, and an oven.  If all you have is a small dorm room, then think about teaming up with friends who have an apartment.  Offer to purchase the turkey and to cook together.  If they’re non-American they may be very eager to celebrate their first Thanksgiving, after all, study abroad is all about soaking up new cultures and experiences.

•  Find a Restaurant. If you can’t (or won’t) cook your own meal for Thanksgiving, do a little research to find a restaurant that is serving a Thanksgiving meal.  This will work best if you’re in a city that has a large American ex-pat population. Here are two suggestions but you could possibly find a restaurant near you that will fit the bill.

In London try the American Bodean’s BBQ smokehouse restaurants. They will be screening live NFL football games to complement their Thanksgiving turkey and ham sharing platter with cornbread stuffing, sandwiched between a clam chowder starter and a key lime pie dessert with the Brooklyn Brewery Pumpkin Ale available too.

In Rome try Vivi Bistrot Every year Vivi Bistrot—located on the edge the Villa Pamphili park—puts on a Thanksgiving dinner buffet. The food is American with an Italian twist—this year the menu boasts turkey cooked with chestnuts and sausage. The restaurant is laid back yet elegant — Ingresso di Via Vitellia, 102

•  Find a Flight. Forego Thanksgiving all together and hit the road.  If you don’t have classes and can spare the time, take a long weekend and see something that you haven’t seen before.  After all, you’re not on study abroad to just go to your classes, you could do that at home on your campus.   Embrace the new experiences available to you.  Book a flight, get on a train, find a hostel and see more of the world, and be thankful for the opportunities before you.  Bonus points if you go somewhere warm and work on your tan as well as broadening your horizons.

•  Find what you’re thankful for.  Even if you stay in your dorm, go to classes and have a regular study abroad day, take a moment to find what you’re thankful for in your life.

Are you away for Thanksgiving this year? Tell us your plans below, how will you be spending Thanksgiving?

College Tourist Contributor

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One response to “Study Abroad Thanksgiving Survival Guide”

  1. […] There’s nothing like a holiday to kick in the nostalgia and make you realize just how far from home you are. But don’t spend all day in your dorm room scrolling through your news feed to find pictures of your aunt’s famous sweet potato pie. You’re not missing out on the holiday so much as gaining an opportunity to make it your own. Gather your friends together to make a feast with local foods, or find a nice restaurant to try for the first time. Garner more ideas from […]

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