At the start of last week, I had zero expectations about celebrating Thanksgiving in Spain. During my time here, I’ve celebrated some Spanish holidays, so, except for missing family a little extra, missing out on a holiday from the United States didn’t seem like a big deal (also that I missed having Thanksgiving break from classes). This being said, several events occurred and it turned out to be a really fun and special Thanksgiving week, and I’m so grateful for the wonderful people who made that happen.

120215-Spain-Thanksgiving DinnerOur ISA directors planned a special volunteer week last week in the spirit of Thanksgiving. Some of the optional volunteering activities were bringing food to a shelter and spending time at a retirement home. Due to my class schedule, I was only able to volunteer one of the days, where we went to the Ronald McDonald House in Valencia. If you aren’t familiar with Ronald McDonald Houses (and many people in Spain have never head of the foundation), they provide housing for families whose children are receiving long-term hospital treatment.  We went to hang out with kids, talk about what we do to celebrate Thanksgiving, and help decorate the house for Christmas. It was a really fun afternoon. I also thought it was interesting to tour the house, which is situated next to the newest hospital in Valencia. All of the volunteers we met were exceptionally kind. Overall, it was a really great experience, and I’m so glad our study abroad program planned it! I didn’t take many pictures except some of the decorations we made.

Another thing the program planned for all of the exchange students in our program was a fancy Thanksgiving dinner. I was told it would be “traditional Thanksgiving food,” and to my surprise it really was! Turkey, salad, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie, the whole deal. It was also fun to get dressed up and spend a night having fun and eating way too much.

The night also served as a form of goodbye. As our program is wrapping up in the next few weeks (now mine is ending in nine days!), it was a perfect opportunity to look back on all the trips and adventures from the last few months. They also gave out personality awards, which was very entertaining. I received “El más entusiasta” (the most enthusiastic). Here’s a photo of me with my three wonderful program directors in Valencia.

As if I didn’t already feel lucky enough, my host family also planned a Thanksgiving meal for me and my roommate. We did this the weekend after Thanksgiving. It was such a nice idea. The food was so delicious that we forgot to stop and take a photo of it before it was completely gone (obviously my host mom is an excellent chef). This meal was really fun, because it was all traditional dishes with a little bit of a twist. All in all, Thanksgiving week in Spain was absolute success.