This Thursday was the first Thanksgiving that I spent away from home.  Although I didn’t spend the holiday with my family, I still spent it with family.
This is the second time that I’ve travelled to a foreign country without my family.  The first time was in May 2012 when I went to London with 6 other students and 1 professor.  We lived, ate, learned and explored together.  We were there for 10 days and are now the closest of friends.
It is my opinion that you become closer to people you travel with faster than anyone else.  You have a short period of time in which to go through all the phases of friendship.  You meet, get to know, live with, become inseparable from and then have to leave these people all in the span of however long your trip lasts.
In the case of study abroad, you have 3 1/2 months to do all this.  When I went to college I thought I could never find friends as good as those that I had in high school.  When I came to study abroad I thought I could never get as close to anyone in 3 1/2 months as I had to my college friends.  Now, I’m lucky to have 3 amazing groups of friends.
IAU hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for us on Thursday.  Obviously nobody expected it to be as good as the meals we would have gotten at home, but we were happy to be together for the holiday.  We are completely incapable of getting everyone together at once (Gina was missing from this gathering) but most of us were there wine-ing, dining, laughing and, since we helped serve the pumpkin pie, filling up on all the slices of pie we stole.  After the meal nobody wanted to go home, so we went to a bar until Thanksgiving was over and we felt like returning home.
After the meal, we stood in a circle in a place right outside where the dinner was held and gave thanks, mostly for each other and this experience.
I’m thankful for my semester in France, the best thing that could have happened to me at this point in my life.  I’m thankful for the family that I’ve created here, who are the reason that going back will be so hard.  I’m thankful for my family, friends and all the opportunities that I have waiting for me at home that will make going back a little easier.  I’m thankful that studying abroad has been all that I was dreaming it would be since I was 12.

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