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The NewSLU

Students in Madrid Give Thanks for ‘Friendsgiving’

Far from family, students abroad hunt for cans of cranberry sauce and whip up feasts of comfort food to celebrate turkey day with their buddies
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Friendsgiving has taken the younger generations by storm, providing students with the ability to have all the fun of Thanksgiving beyond their family circles with those many call their “found family.”

“I don’t usually celebrate Thanksgiving, but I have many American friends,” says Lara Mitchell Guirao, a junior from England at Saint Louis University Madrid. “The holiday gives us an excuse to all come together and have a special night with friends.”

It’s that time of the school year when many students from the U.S. reminisce about green bean casseroles and pumpkin pie, but others feel nostalgia for unique twists to the traditional celebration.

Our family makes a Coca-Cola ham every year,” says Thomas Baker Dusseau, a junior at SLU-Madrid from Seattle, Washington. “It’s to die for.”

Whether students spend all four years of their undergraduate degree in Madrid or just studying in Spain for the semester, they face the same struggle: Thanksgiving is not celebrated outside of the United States. But that does not stop Saint Louis University-Madrid students from creating their makeshift holiday, however. Many students host or attend a Friendsgiving dinner, compensating for the fact they are celebrating thousands of miles away from their own families or as a good reason to get together with all of their friends in Madrid.

“I had a big dinner through my host program, Marli House. Getting to eat comfort food and do something familiar was very relaxing,” says Anna Godlewski, a study abroad student from Saint Louis University’s home campus in Missouri. “We had traditional American food and it was awesome.”

Homesickness plagues American students around Thanksgiving time, making it hard to watch their families gather around for the holidays from thousands of miles away. “I’m not typically a big holiday person but I did feel a little homesick seeing my friends and family all together back home,” says Godlewski.

Homesickness isn’t strictly limited to the study-abroad students at Saint Louis University. Several permanent students, such as Thomas Baker Dusseau also experience the same yearning for home and normalcy during this time of year.

“It makes me a bit homesick staying away from home, so [Friendsgiving is] a great way to feel close to other people from my country and have a community,” says Baker Dusseau. “It was kind of weird going to school on Thanksgiving day, though.”

Homesickness and unfamiliarity of living in a new country aside, the essence of Thanksgiving knows no borders, even for students who aren’t American. As Lara Mitchell Guirao puts it, Thanksgiving celebrations past and present are all “a part of making the evening a time to enjoy, appreciate, and to be thankful!”

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About the Contributor
Amelie Van Hess
Amelie Van Hess, Staff Writer and Staff Photographer
Amelie Van Hess, a junior, majors in communication with a minor in Spanish and Marketing. She has taken every journalism course offered at SLU Madrid.

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