You know those moments as a child in the car, when your parents are driving and you close your eyes and try to picture where you are? And how that warm feeling of familiarity wraps around you when you find the right place? Having something that reminds you of home while you're away is always a treat, especially around the holidays. And although I've fallen asleep twice on the bus back to Galway from Dublin to have the startling experience that a) I am not turning left at the red house and going home, and b) I'm on the left side of the road.
A few weeks ago the girls in my program and I decided to show our Irish friends what Thanksgiving was all about, and we debuted our results to a very excited, and hungry, crowd.
It all began Monday, which was when our dinner was. Normally Thanksgiving is on a Thursday, but two of us were traveling and would be out of the country, so we picked an earlier date that fit all of our schedules. That morning, the only song I had stuck in my head was the Lone Ranger theme song. I ran so many times between my house, campus, and the grocery store that I probably covered over five miles of extra walking. All this time, I kept wishing I could fly home for just one day to see my family, grab my grandmother's famous sweet potato and marshmallow recipe, and see the Christmas lights that would be brought down in my house. The holidays are a hard time to be away from my family, but surrounding myself with a new one made it so much easier.
Between the five of us, we only had a few kitchen disasters which was impressive. One oven stopped working halfway through cooking the turkey leaving some very surprised people opening their doors to us, I had a final essay due before I could start peeling potatoes, and the vegetables were almost forgotten, but we got everything pulled together. That was one of the best days I've had in Ireland so far and it was all because I felt like the people I had surrounded myself were my new family here. Having that kind of support is one of the most important things when you study abroad, because no one wants to be alone, especially not at the holidays.
One of the fun parts was bringing together all of our traditions and mixing it in with some Irish parts, for all of our friends wanted to help cook! We got to show off pumpkin pie, and they brought black pudding, so we were both in for a surprise. Many times, it's the little things that make it feel like home, and while it's important to have traditions that you appreciate and love, creating new ones can sometimes be just as great. This cultural swap was such an exciting thing to happen, and I will always cherish this memory. Having a holiday in a new place can be a bit intimidating with the customs that you're not used to, but this year I will miss being in Galway, so Friendsgiving was just a little taste to both the Americans and the Irish at what the holidays are all about.
Carrie Stinogel is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Galway, Ireland. She is currently a Junior year at school at Western Washington University.
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