Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Grad Student Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving as a graduate student who chose not to go to school in the same state as the one that houses their parents. It's an interesting experience.

Ever since starting graduate school I have yet to make it home for Thanksgiving despite the fact that every year prior I have spent the holiday exclusively with family. Part of this change comes from the fact that our last day of class before Thanksgiving is the day before Thanksgiving. Couple that with the choice between an 11 hour drive home (without holiday traffic) or a $500+ airplane ticket for only a few days visit, and staying at school sounds like a great idea. Besides, who has time for celebrating holidays anyway? A break means even more time to catch up on research! Right? Right?

Ha! Of course we celebrated. The first few years here I ate at a friend's house with a slew of other grad students, and this year my house hosted the party. The great thing about grad student Thanksgiving is that it's potluck. The bad thing about hosting is that it means you are in charge of the turkey!

Fortunately for us, the Internet is there to help and mothers are only a phone call away. Not only did we not set the turkey on fire, it actually turned out quite well! We (myself and the 2 housemates who were in town) also made mashed potatoes, biscuits, cranberry relish, apple pie, and stuffing. Everything was from scratch except the stuffing (because really, who can tell the difference anyway?). Everyone who came brought at least one side dish and/or drinks, and we had lots of help setting everything up just before eating. Not to mention that the first few people who arrived were put to work cutting apples for the pies!

Potluck Thanksgiving really is the best type of Thanksgiving. Not only are you not responsible for creating an entire meal in a single kitchen, but you have the chance to try food that others like and enjoy making, some of which you may have never before eaten! One of the best statistics about our group was that out of the 10 of us, only 4 were Americans! I should have invented some interesting tradition and made them all take part in it....

One of the other great things about grad student Thanksgiving is that you make the rules. It's like having family over, except that nobody fights about what to do. We decided to play Cranium, which was a blast. Although, the trivia was so incredibly simplistic that answering a red card was kin enough to cheating. Of course the foreign students had the hardest time with the game as it was all American trivia, or "act like this famous American that even some Americans don't know"...but my team (2 foreigners + me) was very proud of me when I knew that Transformers was the show were the leader was Optimus Prime! Everyone had fun despite the some of the boys being very competitive (I thought I said this was better than a family gathering??), so I would call it a hit.

I do miss spending the holiday with family, but our way is still fun. In a sense you can be even more thankful for family when they are a phone call away and not an elbow away! In all seriousness though, I hope to have Thanksgiving with my family again soon, but until then I will happily enjoy the time with my fellow academic sufferers.

Oh, and aren't you jealous that as grad students we can actually fit 10 people into our kitchen relatively comfortably along with all of the food? I knew you would be.

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