Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are just around the corner, and for those of you who are abroad, it’s a bit bittersweet to be away from home during this time of year. For me this was the hardest time of my study abroad experience and when the homesickness really set in, so here’s some tips on how to still celebrate the holidays away from home. Thanksgiving is typically a time to spend with friends and family, so surround yourself with new friends and celebrate an awesome “Friendsgiving” by cooking, holding a get together, or take it as a chance to have a new experience!
- Get cooking: Gather up some friends and head to someone’s kitchen and fix enough food could last you through ‘til New Years. Even if your friends don’t typically celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s still a fun excuse to get a group together and cook a bunch of food. A couple of my friends and I rented space in the dorm kitchen and made a bunch of food, and while we were in there we invited everyone who drifted in to stick around and eat with us. We ended up meeting and hanging out with a lot of new students!
- Get creative: While turkey and mashed potatoes are typically the go-to for Thanksgiving, you might be in a place where those things aren’t as readily available. My Thanksgiving abroad was fun because everyone pitched in with what they could, so we had an assortment of food from all over the world.
- Go explore: For some, this will be the hardest time of the semester, so if you want to do something a little different, consider taking a day trip or visiting a part of the city that you’ve never seen before. Some people took the holiday to start new traditions and went out to enjoy the local culture, and I think the change in scenery will get your mind off of being home.
- Check in back home: There’s no reason you can’t celebrate where you are and pop in on your friends and family back home to see how they’re celebrating. Skyping helped me stay in the loop and made me feel like I was still able to celebrate, even away from home.
Whether it’s exploring, cooking with your friends, starting new traditions, or Skyping back home, there are a lot of ways you could spend the holiday! Happy Thanksgiving!
Jillian is a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in International Studies, focusing on the culture and arts of Asia. In the fall of 2015 she studied abroad at Akita International University in Akita, Japan.