Thanksgiving in the UK

As an American sojourning in a foreign land, I felt that it was my personal responsibility to introduce my fellow students to the happiness and joy that a genuine spirit of thankfulness can bring to a person (especially when that spirit of thankfulness is expressed in a large turkey!) In other words, I really wanted to cook a whole bunch of food for my friends over here, and let them know what a real American Thanksgiving is like!

It makes sense that they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here. After, Thanksgiving is a celebration of a first harvest in the new world, and Scotland is certainly part of the old world. It’s a little more surprising that none of them seem to know what Thanksgiving is about, and many seem to guess that is has something to do with Lincoln. (A fact that I find quite interesting, Lincoln was the first to declare Thanksgiving a national holidays, but US citizens are more likely to think of pilgrims.) What really got me, though, was my friend Rachel declaring that she had never even heard of Thanksgiving! I wondered to myself, what do they DO in Northern Ireland??

Every Thursday evening here in St. Andrews, I take part in a wonderful small group with some of the best people I have met here in Scotland. The group is diverse; we have two Americans, one person from Singapore, three Northern Irish, as well as a healthy blend of Scottish and English students! 🙂 And of course, because small group occurs every Thursday, the two Americans (Vannah and I) realized fairly early on in the term that we needed to introduce our small group to a proper Thanksgiving!

Our Thanksgiving actually happened the day before Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving eve. Vannah was super amazing, she was the one who really made it happened and organized everyone! She invited all of the guests: all I had to do was show up and help prepare. She and I spent almost the entire day in the kitchen! We made homemade pies, chickens (since most people don’t like turkey 😦 ), green bean casserole, dressing, and sweet tea. The kitchen was exploding with ingredients! I think the best way to describe to you how messy our kitchen was is to tell you there was a point where we LOST an ENTIRE CASSEROLE! That’s when we knew we needed to think about straightening up! J

The most hilarious thing was watching all of the British students see all of our food for the first time. None of them had ever had green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, or even heard of dressing (stuffing!) They wondered at sweet tea and asked if they were supposed to add milk, or if it was alcoholic. They stared at their plates and made comments about how they had never had so many strange foods on their plate at the same time! It was basically hilarious! J  One of the best parts of the evening occurred at the end, when everyone around the table shared what they were most thankful for! It is always amazing to take time to give thanks to the Lord for all of His amazing blessings, and I certainly know I have MANY things to be grateful for!

A wonderful meal with wonderful friends! :)

A wonderful meal with wonderful friends! 🙂

Only at Erskine…

So i just got back in from having lunch with a friend from Erskine. And you know what? I had such a great time.

I know Erskine is small. It’s in the middle of what seems like nowhere. People know all your business…BUT the kind of friendships you can build at a school like Erskine is truly something special. I thank God for the wonderful people I’ve been able to meet through Erskine. Today’s lunch date definitely reminded me to be thankful for those relationships and to make sure I don’t take them for advantage.

I know it seems like your life revolves around your usual circle of friends in high school, but to be honest I only talk to about 3 people from my high school on a regular basis and I went to a small private high school. Not to say that friendships from high school don’t matter, but once you’re older and all of you are separated that’s when the test of true friendship occurs. Even though some friendships from high school didn’t last, I’m extremely grateful for the new ones that I’ve made.

It’s easy to take the little things in life like having running water, being able to get around, knowing how to read, for granted, but don’t take people for granted. Friendships aren’t litte things. God created us as social beings and He knew we would need each other to make it trough this crazy thing called life.

So stop whatever you’re doing right now and take time to tell your friends and loved ones that you appreciate them being in your life.

My last 3 days…

I felt time winding down as graduation inched closer and closer. Finishing this chapter in my life didn’t bring tears or sadness, but energy and excitement! I have called Erskine/Due West my home over the past 2 years but I didn’t shed a single tear my last 3 days. Why? As the seniors wrap up their undergrad everything seems so rewarding. Ranging from awards, no final exams, senior activities, beautiful whether, graduation gifts, etc the past 4 years of working hard has paid off! Also, being surrounded by so many people I cared about, sadness didn’t have the opportunity to set in. My mom and 2 sisters were down for graduation and I spent time with friends I had grown so close to, what more could I want!

The 4 Albers girls spent a fun and relaxing day in the neat and beautiful city, Greenville. They fell in love with the artsy atmosphere of neat shops. On this particular weekend, talented artists took over Main Street to show off their art for Artisphere. We simply took free ganders at the masterpieces and took home the insight it gave us. Among the artsy city, tranquility lines the streets. The sidewalks are creatively lined with quotes to ponder as you roam the city. Also, the Reedy river and park runs free in the heart of the town giving a place for families, like my own, to enjoy nature right in the midst of a large city! We all agreed that we have never been to a city like Greenville. I am so glad my family was able to enjoy one of the neatest cities in South Carolina.

awards banquet

Volleyball gave me a sense of identy for 10 plus years. In return, I was molded into the individual I am today because of the family we became.

The graduation festivities continued after graduation as well. I was extremely happy that I was able to say goodbye to my volleyball team over a meaningful farewell dinner. Looking down the table at all the girls, I saw young ladies, scholars, collegiate athletes and fellow members of the Erskine community. They all have developed so much in each one of those roles over the past 2 years. I am excited to see what time brings for these energy-filled, genuine individuals.

The past 3 days has told me that I have so much to be thankful for. And tears were shed because of that as I was homebound. Along with my team, I developed so many skills, befriended lifelong companions and had an experience unable to be replicated by another individual. So my challenge to you is to embrace all you have. Seek what interests you, act with a strong drive and love like you won’t have a heart tomorrow. So when you have just 3 days left of high school, college, the week or a vacation, you can wear a smile tagged with pride of who and where you have been!