There's a very stereotypical image of American Thanksgiving: a big gathering over turkey and stuffing with all the trimmings. No school or work on Thursday, but definitely lots of football.

Thanksgiving overseas in Bonn, Germany and Shanghai, China, was quite a different story. Between scheduling, small kitchens, and poorly stocked grocery stores, my family definitely experienced our fair share of Thanksgiving adventures.

gravy, sweet, pork
Helena Lin

Grocery stores overseas don't carry turkeys on a regular basis. Our first year in Germany, my mom special-ordered a turkey from a fancy butcher. On the day we went to pick it up, we found our order had been delayed and wouldn't be ready until the next day. My mom had to go to a grocery store and buy turkey parts to create a masterpiece franken-turkey.

Along with turkey, bread crumbs are a rarity in some cities, which added a new step to stuffing creation. To deal with this, we bought loaves of bread, cubed them, and left them out until they staled, effectually making our own bread crumbs.

In addition to finding the correct ingredients, preparing them in a kitchen that definitely was not ready to handle an American-sized feast provided another challenge. The real kicker was the oven, dubbed the "easy-bake oven," which could barely fit a brownie pan. We wound up roasting the turkey on the grill (which tbh we still do today, it's pretty dang tasty).

turkey, chicken, pork, beer
Hannah Paborsky

The hardest part, however, was finding time to celebrate. In international school, we didn't have Thursday off for Thanksgiving, and my dad definitely wasn't getting off work. As a result, Thanksgiving was celebrated on Saturday. Ex-pat families in my community gathered for a big flag football game, with team names like "Globe Trotters" and "Ex-Patriots" (obviously the punnier the better).

In the details, my Thanksgivings growing up might not have been much like yours, but in the end, good food and good times were enjoyed by all.