After speaking with a friend I realized this was the first year I have ever spent Thanksgiving away from my family. I felt okay about it…until I began scrolling past Facebook and Instagram photos of friends comfortably snuggled in their parents’ homes eating enormously juicy turkeys and garlic mashed potatoes. Sigh. That certainly made the Black Friday I spent at the office feel a little bit longer. Luckily, my expat friends felt the same pain and we all gathered on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to celebrate. We even ordered a turkey which was about $128 USD.
The men trying to strategize the turkey carving
Although nine of the 14 friends attending were either from Europe or Asia, they knew just how to contribute to the holiday. I can honestly say this was the most stuffed full of food I have ever been on Thanksgiving!
I am by no means a history buff, but I got really excited this past weekend when some friends and I planned to celebrate a birthday at Fubar, which was a restaurant/bar modeled after a speakeasy.
The exciting part was being able to explain the American history that inspired replication of the kind of bar that was illegal during Prohibition in the 1920s. I found it interesting that I had to explain it even to my roommate from the U.S. This bar wasn’t mafia themed on the inside, but had the allure of a speakeasy due to its hidden entryway. A large brick wall disguised the door. In order to enter the bar you had to flip a light switch, causing the brick wall to slide away, revealing the entrance.
My admiration for this bar grew from love to slight obsession as I realized you could purchase a large, porcelain Buddha to drink from. Of course I had to buy him, even though the Buddha is heavy and will be cumbersome to take back to the U.S. with me. For now, he’ll sit on my desk and may or may not be used to hold an everyday drink when I need a giggle.
It’s bizarre being in a country that has such a different outlook on elections and government from the United States during this presidential election. I am decidedly not a political person, which I attribute to my mom and dad for never revealing their voting preferences when I was a young and impressionable kid. But for some reason it just feels appropriate to be sitting in the office in the middle of a hutong in Beijing listening to NPR updates and refreshing Huffington Post’s election results page with a few fellow American colleagues.
There are plenty of things I miss about the U.S. like hamburgers, a good cup of coffee, and, most of all, cheese. I’ve also come to appreciate things that I took advantage of such as the ability to speak freely in a forum environment about political thoughts and issues. This appreciation stems from an incident where I had to remove a tweet for the company for which I work because someone saw two words related to a hot-button issue here. It’s quite an eye-opening contrast.
I’m excited to see what these next four years will bring for the U.S.