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Thanksgiving: An American tradition no other country understands

December 9, 2019

Lucas Draper ’23

As an international student, I knew only of Thanksgiving from American movies and other pop culture, and I was incredibly excited to experience the event for myself. I had a very nice teammate on the swim team invite me to spend the holiday with her family in New Jersey, and I gladly took her up on the offer. 

I really enjoyed my time with her family. Although I did still have a lot of homework that I needed to do (finals were only weeks away, gotta get that study grind happening), I enjoyed getting to meet her extended family and was welcomed into the fold like a long-lost cousin. 

We began our Thanksgiving trip with a 13-hour Greyhound bus journey. Now, hats off to those bus drivers because that bus ride was loooonnnngggg! I had never ridden on a bus overnight before, and I was a little hesitant to begin our journey as I do not sleep well anywhere besides in a bed, but I was excited for the new experience. I did not get very much sleep on the bus, and I didn't really enjoy the experience of the bus, but it is definitely something I can tick off my bucket list. 

We arrived on Thanksgiving Day, and her mom came to fetch us from Port Authority in New York. I very much commend her mom, because New York traffic and drivers, in general, are crazy, so navigating that was stressful from the back seat and I can't imagine what it was like from the front. We got back to her house and got settled and then headed to her great-aunt's house for the festivities.

Thanksgiving in their family isn't really what I was expecting. To be honest, I don't really know what I was expecting, but I guess the movies kind of made Thanksgiving out to be this big thing, whereas it is really just a big meal, where you spend time with family you haven't seen in a while. I enjoyed getting to meet my teammate's extended family and eating turkey for the first time. I also got to play baseball with her cousins outside for a while which was really enjoyable. 

Jelly Jars
Just some of our hard work.

The other main highlight of my thanksgiving trip was making jelly with her family. Now, for those of you who are international, I will clarify. For me, Jelly means that stuff that Americans refer to as Jell-O. So I was a little confused when I first heard we were making jelly to give away as gifts. It was exciting to learn to make jelly (what I would call jam) and we spent most of the day making tins upon tins of jelly. 

Overall, Thanksgiving was a fun experience and I am so glad that my teammate let me come to stay with her family. I have definitely learnt that the movies are not always as accurate as you would think when it comes to portraying American culture. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving next year, wherever I end up spending it. 

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