Thanskgiving in Spain

Marissa Talcott
November 29, 2021

One of the most rewarding experiences about studying abroad is getting to learn about and experience the cultures and customs of another country. Here in Granada, I’ve loved trying new Spanish foods, learning about Spanish pop culture, and just adapting to daily life in Spain. But, as Thanksgiving week started, I felt a strong longing for home. I realized this would be my first Thanksgiving without my family, and was hit with a wave of homesickness as I reminisced about baking pies with my mom, playing games with my brother, and of course, getting to eat all of the mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and pecan pie I could ever want. The fact that I had class on Thanksgiving day only worsened my longing to be home enjoying my family’s typical Thanksgiving traditions. 

Despite my homesickness, I ended up having a pretty amazing, though untraditional, Thanksgiving weekend. Although we had to spend the day in class, IES Abroad made up for this unfestive start to the day by organizing a Thanksgiving dinner at a nearby restaurant. After getting dressed up for the occasion, my friends and I walked to the restaurant, and I immediately felt the familiar sense of community and warmth that I associate with spending the holiday at home with my family. Our whole program, including our professors came together to toast our experience this semester and even carve a roasted turkey. Although none of the dishes were exactly like what I normally eat on Thanksgiving, they were filled with fall flavors, including a tasty pumpkin soup, a sweet potato pastry, and some delicious carrot cake. 

But the Thanksgiving festivities didn’t end there; the next day I fulfilled all of my needs for traditional Thanksgiving food by helping to cook a meal for my residence hall. All of the American students in the residence worked together to create our favorite Thanksgiving staples, from green bean casserole to mac and cheese to, of course, mashed potatoes. Although we had to do some improvising (we couldn’t find cranberries or canned pumpkin), we ended up making a version of almost every typical Thanksgiving dish, including some surprisingly delicious blueberry sauce to substitute for the traditional cranberry sauce. Our day of cooking was much like the typical chaos my family experiences each year- we started early at 10am, broke a few dishes, organized a detailed schedule for oven use, and of course put on some early 2000s throwbacks to sing along to. After a long day of cooking, we pushed all of the tables in our residence hall into one giant table, and got to introduce our American dishes to the Spanish students. 

The meal was a hit, to say the least. American staples like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes were completely unfamiliar to the Spanish students, and it felt nice to be able to share an aspect of American food and culture with them, after having learned so much about Spanish culture. In the end, my Thanksgiving ended up embodying exactly what the holiday is supposed to represent- coming together and sharing a meal. Even though I was away from home and my family, I was happily surprised about how comfortable and at home I felt in my residence hall, as we all ate at the same table.

I know it sounds cheesy, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I felt a strong sense of gratitude for my time abroad, the people I’ve met in Spain, and the ways I’ve grown and learned over the past semester.

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Marissa Talcott

<p>I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and am currently attending school at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California. As someone who loves the outdoors, I am excited to explore the natural surroundings of Granada, Spain. I enjoy writing, learning about history and politics, traveling, and meeting new people. I can't wait to try the food and see the historic, cultural, and natural sites of Spain.</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Claremont McKenna College
Portland, OR
Political Science
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