Exchanging cultural traditions: Thanksgiving and the World Cup

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In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been feeling very thankful to experience a new culture here, while also offering my own, these last two weeks. On Thanksgiving, my flatmates and I got together and each made a dish for dinner, though none of them had celebrated it before. It’s been strange to not have a Thanksgiving break, and definitely even stranger to not be able to go home, so it was so nice to celebrate with my flatmates and experience having a hearty meal with friends. I got to introduce them to classic Thanksgiving foods such as stuffing, sweet potatoes, corns, peas, and apple pie, and they got to share with me some of their favorite foods from their home countries such as tteotbokki and teriyaki chicken. It was a great way to exchange our cultures and help me combat some of my homesickness. I realized that there are a lot of ways to bring your home with you, no matter where you go, and sometimes making a simple meal is all it takes.

That weekend, I also went to Paris with my sister, getting to see her for the first time since I left America. It was lovely to catch up with her and do some sightseeing together! It also meant a lot to be with even one family member during the Thanksgiving weekend. While in Paris, we also watched some matches of the World Cup on the television. I have fond memories of watching the World Cup with my dad growing up, so it was another way to make me feel at home. I’m very excited to be in Europe during this season! The World Cup here is what the Super Bowl is to Americans, and it’s an infectious energy that I really enjoyed being surrounded by in France. When I got back to London, my friends and I went to a pub to watch the England vs. Wales match. The energy was incredible. I felt myself getting into the patriotic spirit as I rooted for England, and it was honestly the most engaged I’ve ever been during a sporting event.

When studying abroad, there is a constant exchange of cultures happening, even when you’re not thinking about it. Just sharing with someone an anecdote about something you do back home is a cultural exchange. I’ve experienced this the most with my flatmates, though none of them are from the UK. We talk about which pop songs were trending for us when we were in middle school, share with each other the childhood hand-clapping games we learned, and compare the political situations in our countries. It’s something I take for granted back home, how similar yet different my friends’ lived experiences are from mine. When I go back, I want to continue engaging in the conversations and experiences I’ve had with my friends here, learning about how something as simple as a childhood game or comfort food varies from country to country, even state to state.

Photos: me and my sister in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Thanksigving dinner I made with my flatmates