Well last week marks the first time I have ever had class on Thanksgiving. Yes, the school I attend in Florence, Italy is made up of mostly Americans, but it is an Italian school so of course they wouldn’t give us a break. We don’t really think of it when we are cloistered in the states, but *newsflash* Thanksgiving is purely an American holiday and no one else in the world really cares about it or even has a concept of it. I mean Thanksgiving for us originated from a mix of European and Native traditions, but abroad they have no reason to really celebrate it unless they are directly catering to Americans. I quickly discovered that most people do not even know what a Native American is..I mean please imagine me using Pocahontas as an example and having my Italian friend, Lorenzo, come back with the argument that Pocahontas is Asian..painful exchange of words if you can imagine.
Obviously I am loving being in Italy, but it did break my heart a little reading everyone’s statuses on facebook about returning home for huge feasts, football, time spent with family, and fun with high school friends. I mean I could have survived without these American traditions, but I was definitely glad to have at least a little taste of all four of these things in Italy last week. First of all, my parents decided to skip across the pond to visit me for the week, which counts for the family aspect of the holiday. It was probably the best thing I could ever ask for- I mean how exciting to host two people in a city that you have made your own- especially when they haven’t even been to Europe before! Also, having their presence and budget over here resulted in A LOT of good eating, which definitely did not have me complaining! Of course we didn’t go out of our way to find a big turkey meal with pumpkin pie and such, but a never-ending pasta supply was definitely a good substitute for a Thanksgiving dinner. We even managed to stumble across a pumpkin lasagna the following day..yeah, I am pretty sure my mouth was introduced to a little slice of heaven that day. So good! Another aspect of Thanksgiving that we fit into our holiday was some good old American football..yes, indeed I was watching the Packers the same exact time you were on Thanksgiving day. To further add to all this excitement was that fact that I was lucky enough to have two of my guy friends from high school living on my couches for these couple of days too. I think a lot of times we underestimate how good it is to spend some quality time with old friends- being able to joke around with them and relate things back to home made for a pretty good time. Overall, having some guys from home around, family, sharing of food, and football definitely gave me breath of fresh air and familiarity this past week that I didn’t even realize I needed. I think life will find us in a lot of new places along the way, but I believe that those familiar things that link us to the past and those traditions that have made us who we are today will always bring us joy.
Casey Olson is studying abroad at Florence University of the Arts in Florence, Italy.