(Written November 26, 2013)
Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year (besides my birthday, of course). I love getting together with my family, eating the most delicious food of the year, not having school, and the fall season in general. So I was a bit apprehensive of this day in Oman, knowing that it won’t be a typical Thanksgiving for me and that I will probably get a bit homesick. Well, I was a bit homesick, but not too much since I had one of my coolest Thanksgiving meals yet (of course, seeing my friends’ pictures on Instagram and Facebook of their holiday reunions didn’t help!).
Yeah, I know it isn’t Thanksgiving yet, but I’m going to have a holiday for National Day starting on November 27 until November 30, so our celebrations had to take place prior to the vacation. So Thanksgiving on a Tuesday it is! And I didn’t even miss out on turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, because I celebrated my Thanksgiving at the house of the Ambassador of the US, which is not something one does everyday. We got a formal invitation which certainly made us even more excited. Except for the part where we were told to dress “smart casual”. Who even says that?
All of the NSLIY and YES girls were invited to the dinner as were two members of each of our host families. In addition, our teachers and AMIDEAST staff were invited as well as some people who work in the embassy. Of course the Ambassador was there, and I am so thankful that she held this event for us. Her house is huge (she lives there by herself since her family lives in the US—so lonely!) and is located on Embassy Road, so it is surrounded by other ambassadors’ houses and various embassies. Not bad.
The dinner was lovely. We sat in her garden (there were many round tables set up) and at one end was a covered buffet area. Small lights decorated the area and American music was playing in the background. Waiters walked around with trays of juice and everyone was dressed up. My host parents were the first to arrive and I got a bit frantic: do I sit with them or do I hang out with my friends (like I would in the US)? I decided to sit with them and a few of my NSLIY friends came with me. Soon, other parents came and it became less awkward. We ate dinner (all the Thanksgiving usuals: turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, green beans, bread, cranberry sauce, dressing, salad, apple pie, and pumpkin pie). It was not as good as my family’s cooking, but hey, not going to complain, I’m eating Thanksgiving dinner in Oman at the Ambassador’s house. And I thought I wasn’t even going to have Thanksgiving food this year!
The Ambassador came around to greet everyone (she hugged us!) and then a few people went to the front to give short speeches. I also got to meet everyone’s host family, which was exciting.
One of the highlights of my night? Kirby and I had to use the bathroom, so we used that as a way to get into the Ambassador’s house! It is beautiful, but looks as though no one lives there as everything is so perfectly placed. We only saw two rooms but the rooms were very fancy!
Then we went to take group photos with the Ambassador before going home with our host families.
Get ready for my inevitable cheesiness: this was certainly the most interesting, awkward, and exciting Thanksgiving I have had yet! Even though I do miss my family at home and most of all, the familiarity of being with my real family, I am so thankful for the experience I had tonight. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in Oman and learn Arabic. I am grateful that I have such a welcoming and kind host family (my host mother put her arm around me for a picture and called me her daughter—definitely the highlight of the night). I am grateful for my amazing Arabic and history teachers who make school fun here. And finally, I am so grateful for the other NSLIY girls who have helped me so much so far and have made the past 2.5 months so amazing. So though I am going to be a bit homesick, I’m glad that tonight allowed me to reflect on how lucky I am and what an amazing experience this is. And I’m so glad that I was able to share some of my culture with my host family.