Happy Thanksgiving to my loyal readers! It’s a bit sad to miss out on this holiday with my family, but my American friends and I made the most of it and celebrated ourselves potluck style. And to get me even more in the spirit, my school celebrated Thanksgiving this year (or at least tried). Every year the school celebrates an American holiday (although last year was “pancakes” so not sure what holiday that is and they actually made crepes…). So the past week I spent a lot of time making turkeys (which about half of the kids called chickens), tracing hands, explaining what it means to be thankful, and attempting to impart a little bit of knowledge about Pilgrims and Indians. I gave 8 presentations from ages 4 to 12. My 5th graders had a particularly fun time making a Thanksgiving Madlib and everyone loved this goofy video of hamsters, mice, and rabbits eating miniature Thanksgiving food. And of course, how could I forget the “famous” Turkey Pokey song AKA the Hokey Pokey modified for Thanksgiving. It had basically been playing on a loop the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and thanks to that, I don’t think it will ever leave my head. Today, we were going to have the actual Thanksgiving festival as an entire school, but because of rain, it’s been postponed. The kids seemed more confused than disappointed.
For my share of the Thanksgiving dinner, I made apple pie (making mom proud!) and rolls. Eight of us had dinner, and together we made a very traditional and filling Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, cranberries, mulled wine, rolls, apple pie, and pumpkin bread. Props to the 20-something-year-olds for cranking out this great dinner! It was also nice to spend this time with some new friends and share some laughs about our teaching experiences. Additionally, I faced my most stressful metro experience thus far complete with many stairs and also many stares in a crowded car full of people very confused about why I was carrying food around.
So to end this post, as we should all do on Thanksgiving, I’d like to say what I’m thankful for which is even more apparent since I’ve moved to another country.
1) My family (and dog). How can you leave this one out? It can be difficult to keep up with my family because of the time difference, but the little texts throughout my day always cheer me up. I can only imagine what it was like years ago when international phone calls were extremely expensive or nonexistent. I’m very thankful that my entire family was very supportive of my decision to move to Spain, and I’ve had nothing but positive, encouraging comments, emails, and texts. Even a simple, “We’re so proud of you!” warms my heart. And of course, I miss my little dog every day, especially when I see little Yorkies on the streets in sweaters.
2) My friends. Another obvious but true gift to be thankful for. I left college with some very close friends that I soon had to leave and the same when my family moved to California. It was tough (and still is) having to make new friends. I think everyone makes friends at different paces, some latch on immediately and others are slower to warm up. I usually fall into the latter category, but the friends I have made are some of my favorite people in the world. I’m thankful for their continued friendship and all the laughs they have given me. I’ll be very excited to finally see them in person again! Here’s hoping some of them decide to come here first 🙂
3) Grocery stores. Those in the U.S. that is. This one is a bit more materialistic. Granted, I’m not used to city grocery stores in general, so shopping here is already limited because of that. But I’m also limited just because I don’t have easy access to things I used to buy that just don’t exist in Spain (or possibly Europe). I have a feeling I will come back to the U.S. and realize just how easy it is to hop in my car, go to Target, pick up just about anything I need, and use my debit card without going through a long process. I’m also very thankful for my mom’s kitchen supply, which I was really wishing I had today. Can you believe a KitchenAid mixer here is 599€ (that’s $750)?!
4) My body. A lot of us (myself included) spend a lot of time complaining about exercising or climbing up all those stairs. I try to tell myself every time I climb the 70ish stairs up to my apartment that I should be thankful I have the ability to go up these stairs. I see many people here of all ages walking with canes or crutches, and in a large city it can be a disaster to deal with physical disabilities.
5) That English is my first language. This is such a struggle for some people, especially if they started learning English at an older age. If you’re reading this with ease right now, BE THANKFUL. English can be a tough language to learn even with its similarities to other romance languages. I know how tough Spanish is to learn, but English is becoming more and more of a universal language and for some people, it can mean a job advancement or simply fulfilling a lifelong dream of being a fluent English speaker. I’m very happy its my first language, but I encourage everyone to give another language a shot. I feel I am very patient with those trying to learn English because I myself have struggled with Spanish. Be kind to those trying, be cautious of how you speak and phrase things, don’t dumb things down, give them plenty of time to think, and smile! Many times people here do none of this for me, and it can be very discouraging. Luckily, my roommate is much more helpful, especially since I return the favor!
6) My three day weekends. Oh yeah, you read that right. I have every Monday off, and it is the best thing in the world! I finally feel like I can relax on Sundays (not cram all of my errands and homework into it) and ease my way into the week. Unfortunately, this won’t be my reality once I head back to the U.S. so I’m enjoying it while I can. It gives me time to travel, walk around the city, meet up with friends, sleep in, and run errands. And four days with crazy kids is enough (we’ll see how I handle 5 later on…).
7) You! Yes, you. The person reading this blog right now. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to catch up on my life and for your helpful, encouraging, insightful, and funny comments. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and eat an extra slice of pie for me!