University of Haifa International School Student Blog
For the first time in 20 years (aka my life), I was not home for Thanksgiving. As an American, I look forward to Thanksgiving because it means spending quality time with family, friends, food, and of course, FOOTBALL! It was so weird not being home and being in the kitchen while my dad was preparing the turkey and the stuffing and everything else that was going to be on the table (aside from what people were bringing) and not getting yelled at for sticking my fork in the stuffing before dinner a thousand times. The international school held a Thanksgiving dinner for about 100 people and it was really nice; there were friends, food, wine, laughter and sufganyot for dessert (because it is also the first time in I don’t know how many years that Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlapped). It was great sitting with friends eating, laughing, and sharing Thanksgiving stories from home and trying to explain why it’s such a big deal to non-Americans.
The next night, I went to a cousin’s house and had Thanksgiving with family. There is something about being in the kitchen or in the house when the turkey is cooking in the oven that just can’t be replaced. I probably went over to the oven every 5 minutes to see how it was cooking and how crispy the skin was getting. And we had pumpkin pie. In my opinion, pumpkin pie is wonderful and really makes it feel like Fall. Pumpkin pie is not a thing in Israel and from what I have learned from others, Israelis and Europeans don’t understand why it’s such a big deal and think we Americans are crazy for making such a big deal out of it.
But celebrating Thanksgiving in Israel for the first time while celebrating Chanukah in Israel for the second time is huge for me. When is the next time I will be able to go to Israel for Thanksgivvuakah? Not for a lifetime.
This year I really reflected at what blessings I have to be thankful for this year. If it wasn’t for my parents support, I would not be in Israel right now. I wouldn’t have met some of the most incredible and hilarious people and I would not have really connected with cousins that I was always told about when I was younger. My Grandpa used to say “When you go to Israel, you will have so many cousins that will help take care of you” and he was right. It has truly been a blessing being here and getting to know cousins through different dinners, adventures in September, phone calls, and weekends. It is also a blessing for me to be here at the University of Haifa. Taking classes I wouldn’t have available at Elon (the specific courses not general subjects) and being able to intern with the International School’s Marketing department has been wonderful. My courses and opportunities have really taught me a lot about Israel and it’s fun being an international student. My internship has been extremely positive and has provided me with new skills and new ideas about what I might want to do when I grow up (graduate). I have also reconnected with friends that I grew up with that I haven’t seen since high school. It’s funny how meeting in Israel lets us just pick up where we left off, catch up, and make new memories together.
Celebrating Thanksgivvukah back to back nights has been fun and so has celebrating Chanukah. It’s crazy to think that I only have a month left. But I am happy for the once in a life time opportunities that I have had.