Since I moved here, I only felt homesick once, maybe twice, but I definitely felt a sense of homesickness on October 13, 2014. As of yesterday (or today, depending on which timezone you’re in), I had my first Thanksgiving Dinner away from home. I realize prior to moving here that I would definitely be celebrating a number of family oriented holidays away from home (i.e. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Family Day – yes, we have a day such as this in Canada, even Canada Day) and silly me thought I wouldn’t feel any sort of homesickness whatsoever.
I was never so wrong in my life.
I did feel homesick. I knew that during this time of year, the leaves on the trees are falling to the sound of the breezes that blow (anyone notice my reference to Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’? Anyone? No? Ok…. I’ll just nerd out somewhere else then), and see the wonderful colour change in nature. Autumn in Canada is simply a beautiful time of year and it’s also a season for family oriented holidays.
And this is where Thanksgiving comes in. Unlike the US, our version of Thanksgiving happens on October 13 (or around this date), a lot earlier than our American counterpart. In my family, we would travel to one of our relatives’ homes, see a ton of food just waiting to be eaten, say what we’re thankful for, and then eat to the point where there is no food left on the table. The amount of food prepared and eaten is taken on a whole new level in Filipino culture. First thing anyone learns: if you don’t eat all the food, you are insulting the people who made it and will be subjected to being told to eat more, if you refuse, you will be shunned.
Last Thanksgiving, it was pretty similar to what I described, only throw in a TV and a couple episodes of ‘The Voice’, then you get my family’s thanksgiving dinner. That’s what was going on through my mind when it finally hit me that I was going to be spending Thanksgiving away from home for the first time. And seeing the Facebook photos of people already having their thanksgiving dinner with their families, friends, saying what they’re thankful for, etc., didn’t really help either. So me, being me, I sent a text message to the only other Canadian I know in Melbourne: a wonderful young woman from Quebec who I met in one of my classes last semester, and I suggested we have a Thanksgiving dinner this year, and she agreed (just on a side note, I never felt so relieved that I’m not spending this holiday by myself).
Reflecting on my thanksgiving dinner last night (and technically, it still is thanksgiving from my part of the globe), I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for: my mom, my family (both the ones I know of and the ones I have yet to meet), my friends in Australia, my friends in Canada, for the amazing opportunity of living abroad, for having some sort of independence, for learning to find my own way in the world, for experiencing things that would help me in life, for turkey (man, that bird is good!), for hockey, for books, the wonderfully creative authors behind those books and for just so many other things in general. It made me realize that my mind shouldn’t be focused on the trivial things in life, and that I should be thankful with the people (and occasional materialistic object that reminds me of people) that makes me happy. After all happiness is the key to a longer life, eh?
I am also thankful for my improved ability to make new friends no matter the age. I’m only 18 and I can proudly say that I have friends in their 30s, while most people I know would shy away from attempting to create any sort of friendship 10 years their senior. I am thankful for the friends I already made prior to my first Thanksgiving away from home, because they helped me make Australia my second home.
Speaking of home, it should be obvious that I really do miss my home in Canada. I miss my friends and family, I certainly miss my cat and dog, and I’m thankful that I have friends and family that supported me and my decision to study abroad. It’s something that I really do appreciate and I am now more determined then ever to get the grades I know I’m capable of attaining (still working on the laziness that comes with uni student life) just to make everyone proud.
Just to end things off, I am sure that this is just the first of many holidays where I will be reminded of why I’m here in Australia, how much I miss the Motherland when I’m not overwhelmed with school work, and just how thankful I am to have the opportunity to actually live in another country for a good chunk of time.