Last Updated on March 11, 2020 by AIFS Abroad
The only downside to studying abroad in the fall? Missing Thanksgiving, of course. The upside? Making new memories, having a new and different experience, and sharing your culture with others. We asked our Alumni Ambassadors about some of their favorite memories from the fall semester, and Rachel shared the story of her Italian Thanksgivings.
It’s no secret that Americans love food. Therefore, it’s no real surprise that for many Americans, Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday. I’m no exception.
Studying abroad in Rome, Italy was thrilling for me. There, my love of food was shared by the locals, considering food is a major aspect of their diverse culture. One big downside of studying abroad during the fall semester was that I would miss my favorite American holiday. Luckily, I got the experience to have not one, but two Thanksgivings in Italy.
The first was a dinner put on by AIFS. All of the students, faculty, and staff got dressed up and went to a beautiful hotel in the heart of Rome. Although the food wasn’t a typical Thanksgiving feast, the Italians took each of the main American dishes and gave them their own twist. The whole night was so unique and special, and helped us get to know the people we see everyday outside of the classroom. My favorite part of the night was hanging out with my professor’s 7-year-old daughter. I think she spoke better English than I did, and she enjoyed making fun of my poor Italian skills. After dinner, we had a dance party and handed out superlatives. (I got “Most Likely to Win Miss America.” I’m not sure why, but I’ll take it!)
The next day, four of us hopped on a train to visit a family friend who lives just north of Milan. Knowing she had four Americans coming to visit, the woman we stayed with, Chiara, decided to throw her own Thanksgiving for us, inviting all of her family and friends. She worked so hard to make sure the dinner was as authentic as possible, constantly asking questions about our own traditions and customs. As her friends arrived for dinner, they each brought two or three bottles of wine. In true Italian fashion, everyone was more concerned about not having enough wine rather than running out of food! Dinner was delicious with plenty of mashed potatoes to go around. Also, I can now say I’ve had olives included in my Thanksgiving lineup. The Italians taught us how to play a couple of games, while we taught them how to properly pile their plates with gravy covering everything, of course!
Overall, my Thanksgiving feasts were definitely ones to remember. While I wasn’t able to spend the holiday with my family in America, I shared it with two of my new families in Italy, which made it that much more special!