So you've decided to study abroad fall semester. This is a fantastic idea for a number of reasons. If you're going somewhere in the southern hemisphere, it means eternal summer. If you're going to Europe, it means gorgeous fall #views and fewer tourists. But wait–what about Thanksgiving?
You can't not celebrate Thanksgiving just because you're abroad. That would be wholly un-American. But how can you do it when the rest of the world doesn't share the same fondness for marshmallows on potatoes (yes, that sounds weird to me too now that I'm writing it out)?
As somebody who has hosted their fair share of European Thanksgiving dinners, I'm here to help.
1. Let go of your expectations.
You might not be able to make everything from your classic Thanksgiving dinner, and you have to be okay with that. I have personally struggled with finding cranberries in Spain. One year I was lucky enough (although they were hideously expensive), another...Well, we didn't end up having cranberry sauce.
You're living in another country, so you're probably going to have to come to terms with the fact that you can't get everything you want and/or need to make the classic Turkey Day meal. Which leads me to my next point...
2. Get creative.
So you can't get a whole turkey? Roast a bunch of chickens (it's really a lot easier than it sounds, I promise), or buy cut up poultry at the supermarket.
When I was living in Spain, I made a point of shopping at my local mercado (basically a giant, year-round, indoor farmer's market) and making friends with the butcher. I ordered my turkey weeks in advance because whole turkey is just not A Thing there.
But when it came to buying other things, like stuffing and the aforementioned cranberries, there was nothing to be done. So I improvised, making applesauce instead of cranberry sauce and stuffing from scratch–which, incidentally, tastes way better than the bagged stuff and is absurdly easy.
3. Let other people help.
Even if you're the best cook you know, you can't cook an entire meal all by yourself for what is likely a large group of hungry kids and there's no shame in that.
Maybe the green bean casserole won't turn out exactly the way you like, and maybe you'll have to cede control of the pumpkin pie (or don't make it at all), but you also won't be frantically making gravy in a body con dress like I was during Thanksgiving 2012 before my boyfriend had to step in and take over (spoiler alert: he did an A+ job).
This goes back to my previous points about making do with what you've got. Sweet potato pie is almost indistinguishable from pumpkin, and sweet 'taters are far more widely available.
Look up recipes, email your parents, and try new things. I used Food and Wine extensively in my menu planning and was rewarded with the best dark chocolate pumpkin pie I've ever tasted, if I do say so myself.
Be willing to go outside your comfort zone. Even though Thanksgiving is a highly charged holiday that will probably make you just a little homesick, it's okay to do things differently once in awhile.
5. Relax...And make sure there's lots of booze.
It won't be perfect. The turkey might be overcooked. The pie might be a little gloopy. There may not be enough seats or you might accidentally remove a chunk of your thumb while slicing pearl onions (true story, Thanksgiving 2012). But none of this matters if you just take a deep breath and an even deeper sip of your drink.
Nobody is there to judge your cooking–this I promise you. Don't get uptight about making sure every detail is Gwyneth Paltrow-perfect. Just do your best and make sure to reward yourself with a stiff drink when it's all over (please do not cook drunk–also Thanksgiving 2012).