Prior to this weekend, one of my largest regrets with deciding to study abroad was that I would miss Thanksgiving and the lead up to Christmas festivities. Personally, although the summer is by far my favorite season, Thanksgiving and Christmas are undoubtedly the most special calendar days of the year. In many ways, successive celebrations on these dates have imprinted consistent feelings of joy, community and nostalgia whenever the holiday season rolls around. However, in terms of temporal positioning and the communal aspects associated with the holiday, Thanksgiving has always held a particularly larger significance in my life. Thanksgiving break seems as if it is strategically positioned to occur just when you are at the most tiresome point in the school year and in life. Additionally, from my personal experiences, Thanksgiving celebrations are unique in the fact that those invited come to the festivity bearing food that is either complimentary to the meal or unusual in its own right.
Given the overwhelming distance between Sydney and the permanent residences of the study abroad students, Thanksgiving Day was viewed as a way to retain an element of consistency that was experienced throughout the first 20 or so years in our lives. Of the NYU Sydney group, eleven of us got together nearly 2 weeks in advance and started planning our Thanksgiving Day celebration. We discussed how a large a turkey would be necessary, if we should cook one or two ducks, and who could provide the plethora of sides and desserts that are necessary for a Thanksgiving feast.
Part of the fun of Thanksgiving is simply in regard to the time spent on preparation. Although many of us had classes and or work on Thanksgiving Day, we all made time to whip up something for everyone to enjoy. Each of us put forth our best efforts as there is a certain sense of pride in contributing a dish to the Thanksgiving feast. In the end, we had a tray of grilled vegetables, a platter of mashed potatoes, cornbread casserole, two types of stuffing (one I made), turkey, duck, chicken, gravy, cranberry sauce and more.
However, although my account of the lead up and beginning of the Thanksgiving meal may sound like it was a normal occasion, the second half of our meal took a turn for the worse. As we sat in the courtyard of our dorm building enjoying our meal, we were startled when an egg came flying from above and cracked just to the left of where we were sitting. Over the next half an hour, four other eggs would follow the first, as we were bombarded from students on one of the upper floors of our building.
Although I was fairly upset by these circumstances, the overall mood did not feel like Thanksgiving when some of our students got up and began shouting and cursing at the students from the upper floors. The remainder of the Thanksgiving Day feast was spent crammed together under a covering in the courtyard to shield ourselves from any further egging.
Despite the unfortunate egging incident, collectively, our communal Thanksgiving celebration was fantastic; the food turned out delicious, and we have enjoyed our leftovers tremendously over the past few days. In many ways, this Thanksgiving celebration has reminded me that my time in Sydney is coming to a close. Leaving New Jersey in August with summer still in full swing and coming to Sydney with its warm fall weather, has created an almost never ending summer in my mind. Although I don’t like the cold weather I will find back home, returning to experience the holiday season with my family will certainly make up for my inability to spend glorious days at Sydney’s beaches.