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For the first time in my life, I worked on Thanksgiving. There was no turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, and most sadly no pumpkin pie.

Many expats host Thanksgiving dinners and even restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe cater to Americans abroad or people looking to get a taste of our holiday. Tomorrow I will be attending a Thanksgiving celebration, though there still won’t be any turkey, stuffing, gravy, etc. It’s more an excuse to get friends together for a few drinks and good times. Of course, that’s really what the holiday is about anyway. Even without all of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes I’m used to on the last Thursday of November, I still spent time thinking about what I’m thankful for this year and the list is quite long. In short:

I am thankful for this entire experience to live and work abroad, to learn about other cultures, to visit so many countries, meet great people, and experience new things.

I am thankful to my family and friends in the US who encouraged me to take this journey and who have supported me all year. I can’t tell you how much your emails, Facebook posts, tweets, and Skype calls mean to me and I can’t imagine how difficult this year would be without you and without the technology that connects us and makes the distance between us a lot less daunting.

And finally, I am thankful for the friends I have made this year. I may have arrived here alone almost a year ago, but I feel like in a short time I’ve been able to meet great people who, I hope, will be in my life for a long time to come no matter where life takes us.

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by the people you love and eating more food than you probably should have. Feel free to tell yourself you ate a little extra for me.