Center for International Programs

Thanksgiving, for most of the world, is simply Thursday. Maribella Gaetani '24 was happy to immerse herself in French customs, but she was slightly concerned about missing a favorite holiday. So, her family brought Thanksgiving to France. Sort of. 

Turkeys are ubiquitous in the United States in mid-November. In Lyon, France, though, Thanksgiving's main event is hard to come by. Maribella and her family were able to piece together the rest of the traditional meal with corn, mashed potatoes, and green beans. But the turkey on the plate, below, is not really turkey. It's chicken, disguised under a few spoonfuls of gravy.

"It was definitely weird waking up on Thanksgiving knowing that holiday feeling didn't exist in the country. But we made the most of the meal, and we were able to FaceTime with family back home. We even watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on my laptop.  

Maribella insisted on a piece of America on Thanksgiving, but every other day of the semester was about diving into French culture and cuisine. So, with her family in town, they spent a night in Paris, and Maribella booked a reservation at a restaurant with rave reviews. Turns out, Lapérouse is one of the oldest restaurants in Paris and the first to be awarded three Michelin stars back in 1933.

"It was an elegant dining experience. We ate escargot and foie gras. As it turns out, I'm not a fan of duck liver. It was gross."

Maribella didn't mind trying something new and not liking it. The point is trying something new. She missed the turkey on Thanksgiving and she missed her iced coffee from Starbucks on Thanksgiving and literally every other day, but the sacrifices were more than worth it.

"I created a relationship with a foreign city. I learned how to navigate the subway. Back home, it's school and work. There's not much variety to my day. But here, I've developed an immense understanding of a different culture. I live on my own. I cook for myself. You really grow up a lot in four months. It'll be weird dropping this side of me that I've learned to use and love."

Maribella called the final days of her semester abroad "bittersweet," but before she left, she was already plotting a Starbucks run on the ride home from the airport.