On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday honoring the early settlers and their harvest feast. It is the time when roasted turkey, yams, and stuffing fill the table, and families and friends get together to give thanks for the good things in life. But how to celebrate Thanksgiving when you are miles away or a foreigner in the States?

Sydney Miller, an exchange student from San Diego State University, is co-hosting Thanksgiving at her apartment in Rotterdam together with an American friend. “We invited our closest friends over to bring in the holiday. We will be preparing a typical Thanksgiving meal. We pre-ordered a massive turkey, and there will be yams, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green-bean casserole, and pumpkin pie – to name a few”.

Important American holiday

Whereas most Dutch people have probably never sat around a table with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is one of the most important holidays in the States. “Thanksgiving is really a big deal here. We have a short vacation. Everyone is excited to go home, and many students are talking about shopping on Black Friday as well,” says Anne van der Pijl, a Dutch student currently on exchange in Michigan.

Thanksgiving: A little like Sinterklaas

Alexandra van Hoek, a third-year International Media and Communication (IBCoM) student also on exchange in Michigan, agrees. To her, it feels a little like the Dutch Sinterklaas. But then again, “I only knew what to expect from movies. I have to say it is a little less extreme than that – among college students at least.”

Delicious smells and foods

Either way, being a foreigner in the States does not mean that one cannot celebrate Thanksgiving. “I am definitely celebrating Thanksgiving,” says Maurice Pagano, a Dutch student on exchange in Santa Barbara, California. “We started cooking some days ago. So I have a house full of delicious smells.” NL