Every Thanksgiving, Americans around the world are asked to practice gratitude and thankfulness. For me, this was the first Thanksgiving I was not celebrating with my family. It was easy to wish to be back at home, among the delicious fare my family whips up. But I found myself in London, thousands of miles away from our bustling kitchen. Nonetheless, I have quite a bit to be grateful for. While I could ramble on forever, I think a list of ten items will suffice.

  1. My parents. Without them I could not be studying abroad. It may sound cliché, but they have supported me throughout this adventure in ways I doubt I will ever be able to repay. I may be out here traveling the world, but my parents are the backbone of my experience.
  2. The IES office staff. These are the people who show up every day with smiles on their faces as us students trudge into our classes. They are always organizing trips and events for us, and consistently make this city feel more like home.
  3. My professors. Going to class your senior year is not much fun. You can see that the end is in sight, and waking up to go to a two-and-a-half hour lecture is not at the top of your bucket list! But, my professors make it worth it. Even though the long classes can be tough, I always find myself laughing, or learning something new. The snacks they bring in help too ; )
  4. The people who have stayed in touch. Being abroad can honestly be a little lonely. You see all the fun things that are happening back at Hope, and you can’t help but want to be back with your friends. The people who FaceTime with you, send you messages, or send you mail are the ones you want to hang on to.
  5. Transportation for London (TfL). Londoners are spoiled when it comes to public transportation. The trains are clean and comfortable, the announcements are loud and clear, and getting around London is a piece of cake. I am going to sincerely miss TfL when I get back to the States.
  6. The cleaning staff at my dormitory. These people are rockstars. Not only do they keep the kitchens clean, they also come to clean the floors and bathrooms in every room. With all the traveling I have been doing, along with my classes and homework, it has been very nice to not have to worry about cleaning away the dirt and grime.
  7. The sunshine. Here in London, the sun has been rising around 8AM and setting by 4:30PM. I will be so glad to have an extra hour or two of sun when I get back home!
  8. Grocery stores. Here in London the grocery stores can be pretty tiny. I’m so thankful that the USA is blessed with massive grocery stores full of every kind of food you could ever imagine.
  9. Theatre. I have been so lucky to be able to see so much theatre while I’ve been in London. I think at this point, I’ve seen over twenty productions! I will definitely miss being able to snag last minute tickets to a show whenever I please.
  10. Hope College. You don’t realize how lucky you are to attend Hope until you’ve moved away. London is one of my favorite places in the world, but so is Hope. As the semester winds down, I know that leaving the UK will be bittersweet.

Some of the things I am thankful for are cliché, others seem silly, but I really am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had while studying abroad. Here’s to another year of wonderful adventures! Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Published by Kathryn Joachim

Class of 2020 IES Abroad London, United Kingdom Theatre, Creative Writing

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