Updated: Feb 1
The fact that I’ll be spending this Thanksgiving far away from home feels weird.
The fact that I’ll be spending it in Rome feels even weirder.
That fact honestly just epitomizes the fact that I have much to be thankful for.
This semester, I’ve had some extreme highs and lows. There have been times where I’ve thought no one could be luckier than I am and times where I’ve felt too stressed or angsty or exhausted or self-centered to realize how lucky I truly am.
Actually, as I’m writing this now on the evening before Thanksgiving, I feel grouchy, incredibly sluggish, and tired. I haven’t gotten much sleep these past few days cramming for assignments, interviewing for internships, and catching up with other work; I ate too much at Friendsgiving last night and can still barely move; and I’m quite homesick.
Thankfully, I can easily turn each of those around and say: I’m only busy during the weeks because I spend my weekends hiking the Italian coast (this past weekend) and attending Slovenian wine festivals (two weekends ago); I’m only physically incapacitated (lol) because I was able to thoroughly enjoy a relaxing Thanksgiving meal with friends (chicken stuffed with thyme, garlic, onions, and rosemary; mashed potatoes and gravy; pasta with mushrooms and squash; buttered broccoli, carrots, and onions; and almond apple pie!); and I’m only homesick because I’m here instead, exploring and learning about Europe on my own for fifteen consecutive weeks.
So there we have it. Each of my complaints is really just another reason for me to feel extra thankful this Thanksgiving. As I reflect on the places and people that have shaped me this semester, I hope I can replace any feelings of anxiety and sadness with feelings of genuine gratitude and appreciation.
Austria: Mozart concert, Holiday Inn bonding, Sound of Music scenery.
Spain: the beach, the tapas, the parks, the singing fountains, the warm weather.
Germany: English Gardens, pianist Ralph Kiefer, Oktoberfest.
Italy: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso. Hiking the five towns of Cinque Terre with Jesse from sunrise to sunset, eating the freshest seafood, lying in the gardens under a blanket of stars. One of the most breathtaking (literally) trips of my lifetime. And this weekend, so excited to finally live my middle school Latin dreams in Rome and Florence.
Poland: pierogis, salt mines, Caitlyn, and most importantly, a powerful critique of humanity at Auschwitz.
Slovenia: taking a solo trip was one of the best decisions I’ve made. The sweetest honey, the most sophisticated wine, the kindest people, the greenest city…all to myself.
Czech Republic: NYU, Old Town, Petrin Tower, Prague Castle, cheap food, Amber, Charles Bridge, Retro, the nicest dorm of my life, Namesti Miru, the clean subway systems…I could go on forever.
Netherlands: so many great food puns in Amsterdam. also the best Cheese Museum. Van Gogh Museum. Albert Market. Biking. Oh, and can’t forget that 2.5-hour, cross-country road trip to Eindhoven just for Taco Bell. Makes for too good of a story.
Belgium: as my previous blog post says–Belg(YUM). So much good food.
France. Date with Kelly. Moulin Rouge, baguettes and escargot and cheese and macarons. Amber again!
Hungary: hungry for Budapest this coming weekend. With Caitlyn!
Wes and John, for always being here for me even when I forget you are. Also for calling the ambulance when I almost died on day 1.
Kelly and Victor, for being selfless always and making me take life a little slower.
Jesse, for always planning everything and sharing food with me and hiking the Cinque Terre with me and dealing with all my random singing and weird quirks.
Ashley, for being the most chill roommate and for dealing with my weird habits and random sessions of Just Dance and Blogilates. Let’s do more butt workouts soon.
Winston and Vivian, for being couple goals and for letting me crash your couple goals in every class and group project.
Squad. I miss you all like nothing else. Cannot wait to see you all again over break.
Gabe, for always being here for me even though we haven’t seen each other in way too long. Mario Party, Huynh, and Fat Cat when I’m back.
Mrs. Malek, for always texting me and keeping me in the loop of Houston festivities and the Malek family. And for being a dear friend in general.
Lauren, Chris, Natasha, Kara, and every other SJS person who’s kept in touch with me. Also, all the SJS teachers who taught me (and continue to teach me via texts and e-mails and funny Facebook posts) so much about myself and life.
Dance friends who have kept in touch with me from NYC and NYU friends who have kept in touch with me from NYC and Florence, Madrid, and London.
My mentors and friends from Girls Who Invest: all Wonder Womans who make me feel like I can do anything in the world.
Stephen and Ben, for being my favorite Foodstagram foodie friends.
Myself, for being productive and for feeling more confident in my work, my relationships, and my traveling. For sending postcards to my family. For not dying even though I’ve left the country almost every weekend since I’ve been here. And for being able to go from rampant over-packer to 4-day hiker with only one pair of pants.
Family. I think about you every day and every moment I am traveling. I definitely talk about you to my friends way more than they would probably like to hear. Nothing would make me happier than if I could take you all on every one of my adventures again. Thanks for not getting too mad when I accidentally text you at 3am and for always responding to my incessant WeChat video call requests and for always looking out for my happiness, health, and safety. I love you, and see you in 22 days!
Elaine. OH MY GOD I CAN’T WAIT TO SQUEEZE THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF YOU WHEN I’M BACK AND GROSS YOU OUT WITH ALL OF MY SAPPINESS AND TERRIBLE STORYTELLING GET READYYYYY. Also can’t wait to eat home food and at every good Houston and Chinatown food place ever with you and finally beat Skyward Sword and talk about life and boys and med school and Europe and team up against mom and dad in WiiSports etc. etc. You are my favorite person in the world.
Honestly, these lists could go on and on. There’s something to be thankful for in about every single place or person with whom I’ve interacted. Which in itself worth being thankful for. But enough sap for one day (or year, even). I’ll end the post here to just say:
I hope you all stuff yourselves with warm food and love this year.