Happy belated Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate!
So, Thanksgiving was a couple of days ago. In South Korea, Chuseok is kind of the Korean version of what I am used to calling Thanksgiving and is celebrated in September instead of November.
Being in a foreign country for the holidays is quite strange. First of all, I did not have a day off since Thanksgiving falls on a weekday so it was literally just a normal day. This felt very weird for me especially when the Happy Thanksgiving texts started coming in from my friends and family. It felt very strange not seeing anyone for the holidays and being able to tell them in person how thankful I am for them and the support they have given me throughout my life. Trying to put all of my feelings into a short text paragraph was quite overwhelming.
Despite the unfamiliarity and adjustments I had to make, I was still able to celebrate and enjoy my Thanksgiving! Many substitutions were made, but it was still an amazing night!
Thankfully in my time here in Korea I was able to meet a couple of Americans who also had no idea what to do for Thanksgiving. We decided to all meet up and invite some of our other friends to come enjoy the holiday with us. Our Korean friends found a really nice Korean barbeque restaurant downtown to take us to. One thing about Korea is that turkey is basically non-existent and ham in the way we are used to is very hard to come by. Even if I was able to find some, my apartment does not have an oven so I would have a very hard time cooking it.
However, the Korean BBQ was absolutely delicious and our friends cooked everything for us. It was a very relaxing evening after a long day of work. We just ate, talked about our days, struggles, our families and things that we are grateful for in our lives. After finishing the food we went to a 24 hour cafe to enjoy some pecan pie that my korean friend was able to find from a bakery an hour away. Another rarity in Korea is pie. Most dessert places and cafes serve cake and muffins not pie, so we were very thankful to our friend for doing some research to make this Thanksgiving as close to home as possible. (So, if you ever find yourself in Ulsan head to Samsan for some pie from Walnut Bakery!!)
Overall, I would say that it was a successful Thanksgiving abroad. I know it may seem lonely and alienating to spend a holiday away from home, but my main tip is to find people that make you feel happy. Find people who understand you and focus on making those relationships long lasting so that you can enjoy life abroad to the max. Shallow friendships are great for having a good time, but when the holidays come around it’s good to have people you can turn to who are open to your traditions.
What’s something you are thankful for? Reach out to my instagram and let me know! I’d love to hear from some of you guys! (kyleah_parr)