Fall break, Thanksgiving and Remembering Why You Chose to Study Abroad

By Imogen Henry-Campbell, Case Western Reserve University, USA

As the end of the semester approaches, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would reflect on the incredible experiences I have gained from studying abroad.

It is easy to forget why you chose to study abroad when you doing the third round of midterms and have spent endless evenings in the library. I was feeling slightly lost, terribly homesick and unmotivated until I realized how lucky I am to have experienced new things and to have travelled around the world.

Over the last month alone I have managed to travel to Toronto, see Niagara Falls, experience a traditional American Thanksgiving and walk around downtown Chicago. I will try to share some of the incredible things I have done and encourage people to make the most of studying abroad:

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Thanksgiving Travels (or the real reason I went on study abroad in the first place)

By Elizabeth Pace (Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

So here it is. After 13 weeks, 8 midterms, 9 lab reports and countless homeworks and surprise quizzes we finally got a week off. Thanksgiving break; the first decent length of time I’ve had to escape Illinois and actually see some of the country I’ve been living in for the past three months. As any of you who are friends with me on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat will know I definitely made the most of the (much needed) time off as me and a couple of other fellow Brits set off on an East coast adventure I like to call “One Week, Four Cities”.

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Thanksgiving in NY

By Helen Sheldon (Stony Brook University, New York, USA).

Many times during my time studying abroad, people have invited me to their homes and have treated me like a close friend of years. My time in the USA has opened my eyes to the kindness of people who are not necessarily close to you, and the ease at which they accept you into their homes and do everything they can to help you feel comfortable and settled whilst living away from home in a different country.

One family in particular accepted me into their home this Thanksgiving. I was fortunate enough to spend the 5 day holiday at one of my lovely American friend Kate’s house in Wantagh, NY. Everybody talked about the Thanksgiving break as a time to relax and spend time with family and friends, much similar to Christmas time however without the presents and decorations! It turned out to be the most relaxing and enjoyable time spending the days eating, drinking, chatting and relaxing the time away.

I think it is important I provide a low down on thanksgiving day itself, for it was the day when I ate so much that I had to physically lie down because my body couldn’t handle the amount of food I had eaten..

Here are a few pictures of Kate’s house, the Thanksgiving table setting, and a snippet of the food that was simply amazing..

Thanksgiving, Wantagh NY

Kate’s gorgeous house in Wantagh on a cold and crisp sunny day.

Table Setting

The fall/autumn table decorations on the thanksgiving dinner table.


Raising a glass to the thanksgiving holiday and the start of a fabulous day. On the left is my friend Kate, whose house we were invited to, and to my right are my two friends who are also students studying abroad at Stony Brook University from Australia and Japan.


Kate’s parents catered for 18 people on Thanksgiving, the turkey was huge! I didn’t manage to get a picture before it was carved though.. Each person there was absolutely lovely and made me feel welcome from the moment I met them all.


And now for the food.. This is the main dish, served after lots of appetisers which were so tasty I ate far too many and so the main meal was a struggle. But, of course, I managed to eat it all because it was so yummy.. You can see on the photo carved turkey, mashed potato, vegetable casserole, cranberry sauce, corn, stuffing, and finally my two favourite things – the bread roll was sweet and called a biscuit (a bizzare concept to those who consider a biscuit to be a rich-tea or a hobnob) and mashed sweet potato with marshmallows melted on top. Now, that sounds bizarre but it was delicious, I suggest you try it!! For dessert there was apple pie, cheesecake and pumpkin pie.. I had never eaten pumpkin pie before, however I can now confidently say I have eaten enough slices of it to account for two whole pies. So, that’s a success in my eyes!

During dinner Kate’s younger cousin had an idea that we were all to take turns in saying what we were grateful for this Thanksgiving. This was a lovely touch to the day where people thanked their friends and family, I thanked the kindness and generosity of Kate’s family for inviting me to experience my first Thanksgiving, and then there were the ones who made a joke and said they were thankful for Game of Thrones..

All in all the day was amazing and one I will never forget! I hope to return to the US in the future over the Thanksgiving holiday, however next time I will try not to eat as much to the point where I can no longer function..

Thanksgiving in Montreal

By Lisa Scott (Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada).

Thanksgiving weekend in Canada is an opportunity for people to gather with their families and celebrate their good fortune. Traditionally most of the students from Queens University will head back to their home town, visit family and eat a thanksgiving dinner which must involve turkey. As an exchange student at Queens University ready to encounter my first Thanksgiving weekend (England doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving), I opted for a long weekend away in Montreal.

I started the weekend along with thirteen of my friends by walking up Mount Royal to reach a viewing platform which over looked the entire of Montreal. The view was amazing and all the autumn leaves falling from the tree’s made it the perfect photo opportunity. Ready to explore some of the sights we had observed from the top of the mountain we visited the Olympic stadium which was used in the 1976 Summer Olympics. After a long day of being tourists we headed to one of the student districts of Montréal for a few drinks and to gather with some of the locals.

The following two days we carried on exploring the beautiful city by visiting all the quirky shops in Old Montreal, looking around Notre-Damn Basilica and eating famous Montréal food amongst over things. The weekend was perfect and even though this was my first Canadian Thanksgiving, I definitely hope it won’t be the last.