Hello again, everyone! A week ago, I spent my second Thanksgiving away from home. Thanksgiving in Chinese is 感恩节 (găn’ēn jié), if you were curious.
It’s really easy to write about homesickness and how amplified it becomes around holidays (I usually celebrate Thanksgiving and my birthday with my family over the holiday weekend, so it’s a double-whammy for me). However, I am choosing to write about the abundance of kindness I felt this year.
As you know, or could have guessed, China doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I also don’t live in a major city with a lot of expats, so I didn’t have a Thanksgiving party or dinner I could buy myself a plate at.
With all that said, my school was kind enough to take us all out for a nice dinner on Thursday. The dean of the Foreign Language College and the dean of the Foreign Trade College treated us to a very fancy meal.
I love the tables at these types of places because they automatically turn. I also hate these tables because it puts my chopstick-skills to the test; a test that if I fail means I do not eat, haha.
The food was delicious – I could tell that they were trying to be kind and didn’t order that many spicy dishes or obscure proteins. When you attend a dinner like this, it is expected that you go around the table and clink glasses with everyone (and usually say something nice or thank them for their help in your life). This part was very “Thanksgiving-y” to me because we were able to one-by-one tell these people how thankful we were for their help since arriving in China.
Fast forward to Saturday night. All of us here at 涉外 ([shèwài] the nickname for our university) were very fortunate to meet two other foreign teachers at our neighboring school, Yitong (not sure on the characters for this school). The boys and I were invited over to their dean, Gwen’s apartment for another Thanksgiving dinner. We all brought dishes we made (Anthony and I found Kraft Stove Top stuffing mix off the internet), wine to share, and there was even a cake! We had just met these people very recently, but it felt exactly like Thanksgiving back home. The conversation was natural and just hilarious, there was music in the background, and a celebrity-look-alike contest. We even had mashed potatoes.
They sang happy birthday and I got to blow out my candles; it was all very warm and fuzzy.
Huge shout out to Rachel, Clive and Gwen for hosting us!
I feel very lucky right now, even if I miss home a lot. It’s easy to slip into that dark place while abroad – the place where you notice everything wrong and different. As corny as it is, it’s important to remember all the good in your life and the decisions that brought you to where you are. If you’re abroad for the holidays, find good people to surround yourself with and make a call home! It’s okay to be homesick, just don’t wallow in it. (I do still miss pumpkin pie, though.)
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about my life here in China, feel free to shoot. I eventually want to put together a FAQs from my friends and family. 😊