Perspective, OR How to Spend Thanksgiving Overseas

Sitting in one’s dorm room for roughly 20 hours out of 24, writing a paper, and seeing the sun go down before 4 pm is already a pretty depressing situation on its own.

Combine that with the fact that my Facebook news feed is currently fit to burst with people’s declarations of “glad to be home” and Instagrammed photos of Thanksgiving dinners, and my situation in London becomes excruciating, to say the least.

Earlier today, I was feeling bucketloads of self-pity (as per usual, I guess). I’d just finished writing 2 papers in less than 2 days, had a printing crisis during which every single computer cluster on campus decided to shut me out of the print queue, and went out in the rain and cold to see a horrifically violent dark comedy (this one).

But as I was crossing Embankment Bridge on my way to the National Film Theatre for that BFI screening, I ran into this:

A Christmas market! People were selling street food, licorice, hot chocolate, Peruvian ponchos (bit random but darling), waffles…it smelled divine and it was all lit up like a little winter village.

And in an instant it hit me that my occasional professed misery here is really just a matter of perspective. Yes, it gets dark early; yes, I’m writing a lot of papers in a very short time; yes, living expenses are high; yes, nothing is really all that convenient; yes, it’s freezing cold and damp.

But I shouldn’t forget where I am. I’d wanted to visit London for something like nine years, and the first time I got to set foot in the country — the first time I set foot in Europe, for that matter — was this time, a full three months’ worth of time to study, get intimate with the city, try the lifestyle, and really get a feel for what it means to live in England, as opposed to the alternative (whizzing through a week of tourist activities and going straight home). It’s absolutely incredible to have been given this chance, and papers aside, weather aside, troublesome hallmates aside, I have even more to be thankful for this year than in recent years past.

I’m thankful for:
– my family, and for the fact that they let me embark on this adventure
– my friends back home, to whom I’m excited to return in mid-January
– the friends I’ve gotten to know over here, all of whom are fun, quirky people
– the books on my shelves, because it really is a wonder to have such easy access to so many ideas
– my English seminar professor, because we could not have asked for a better JP advisor (and friend, even)
– the internet, for keeping me connected to the people I need
– and Royal Mail, for fulfilling my romanticized dreams of sending postcards overseas.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans — both at home and abroad.

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BFI-sponsored Q&A with the director and stars. Quite blurry — it was actually too dark in the theatre for photos.

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And don’t forget: take a minute to remind yourself of the darker side of Thanksgiving and what it means for Native American culture. As always, check your privilege. Think about where it comes from. Be sensitive. And think profoundly about the ways in which you’ve been handed so many things in life. It’s good to see things from many sides.

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The Thames at night.

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Last night, I went with my seminar classmates and professor to have a British-style dinner for Thanksgiving at Great Queen Street in Holborn. It was candlelit, hearty, and very, very British — I had the partridge with barley and mushrooms. Several of my classmates shared enormous chicken pies. We passed wine around and delightedly commented on how very Victorian our meal looked. A+, would celebrate again~

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On heavy rotation: “All the Rowboats” by Regina Spektor (discovered while browsing the giant Topshop at Oxford Circus). “Underwater” by MIKA. “Take a Walk” by Passion Pit.

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