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Thanksgiving abroad: Guacamole for gravy

Most Brown students spent their Thanksgivings eating traditional American food with family. But for students studying abroad, this was not necessarily a possibility.

Kevin Foley '12 found himself at loose ends in New Zealand for the holiday. He was hitchhiking to the northern tip of New Zealand with a Scottish friend when the "rides became fewer and far between," he wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. Just as they had resigned themselves to a night on the side of the road, they were picked up by two German girls.

"I guess we didn't look too sketchy," he wrote. They camped together and ate canned tuna, broccoli and pasta with basil pesto, which "just coincidentally felt like a Thanksgiving feast," he wrote. He explained the concept of Thanksgiving to his friends, concluding that he himself was thankful he was "not sleeping on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere," he wrote, adding that the experience "sort of fit the mold of Thanksgiving in a unique way ... and will probably be my most memorable Thanksgiving ever."

 For students studying abroad, the Office of International Programs provides guidance to those who will be away from home during the holiday season. Jessica Carnevale Forcier, a study abroad advisor said her department tries "to prepare them before they even go" for holiday homesickness. Carnevale Forcier said Brown programs host Thanksgiving dinners for students away from home.

Lissa Mazanec '12 had a very French experience during her Thanksgiving. Her program in Pont-Aven organized a "small celebration" which she described in an e-mail as "a great mix of cultures." After some wine tasting before dinner, they had turkey and mashed potatoes and enjoyed Moroccan couscous and spiced lentils with "other extremely delicious, if not customary food thrown in," Mazanec wrote.

The second course of their meal was bread, cheese and wine, followed by French desserts. After-dinner entertainment was a "local band, with our French language teacher singing lead vocals," she wrote. Mazanec and her fellow students danced enthusiastically, "due in part to our intake of good French wine," she wrote. As she explained to a friend in the United States later that day, "I didn't miss out, just celebrated a little differently," she wrote in her e-mail.

Alex Ashe '12 had a "really nice, traditional Thanksgiving meal" in Colonia, Uruguay, with guacamole taking the place of gravy, he wrote in an e-mail. Sarah Denaci's '12 host mother in Buenos Aires made roast chicken, coleslaw with raisins and potato and egg salad. "She thought it was American food," she wrote in an e-mail, but "it was Argentine food."

Leila Meglio '12, studying in Amman, Jordan was far from homesick because she "never liked the holidays anyway," she wrote in an e-mail. The students in her program made a "classic dinner" with turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Her apple pie, though, "turned out sort of strange because all of the ingredients are just slightly different," she wrote.

Instead of spending the holiday with her program, Meglio flew to Lebanon, and enjoyed a "very non-traditional meal" with her mother and family friends, she wrote. Their host was vegan, and dinner was sweet-and-sour tofu, pumpkin kibbee and hummus, with marzipan to finish. She wrote that it was as "a fairly accurate representation of my time abroad: half western and half totally foreign, with a mishmash of Arabic and English at the table."

"And you know what? I didn't miss the turkey, not even a little bit," she wrote.



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