Thanksgiving: An American tradition no other country understands
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.
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.