The first Thanksgiving

Foreign exchange student’s thoughts on her first Thanksgiving


Submitted photo

Story by Maryam Kulaib, staff writer

One of the biggest advantages of being an exchange student is to get a lot of knowledge and experience, learn new traditions and try new things. I have already understood that the cultural difference between Azerbaijan and America is more than I could have imagined. For the first time in my life, I am celebrating the American holidays, and I like it a lot because it’s not like any holiday in my country. It is more interesting, more fun, and also Americans have got a lot of holidays, and everyone takes it seriously.

In Azerbaijan, I was also very interested in Thanksgiving because in Azerbaijan there are a lot of holidays like Thanksgiving. For example, we have Kurban Bayram, where there is a sacrifice of an animal, such as cows, goats and sheep. On Kurban Bayram, everyone gathers with their families and spends time together. Talking a lot, telling new things that we have done, and in Kurban Bayram, we eat a lot. We eat our country’s traditional foods.

Another example is Nowruz. Nowruz is the traditional Iranian festival and it is considered the start of the New Year among Iranians. The name comes from Avestan meaning “new day/daylight”. And as in Kurban Bayrami, we also spend time together with the whole family in Novruz Bayrami. Eating a lot, talking and laughing.

I am very happy and feel incredibly lucky because I had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving like a real American.”

— Maryam Kulaib

I used to think that Thanksgiving is one of the simplest holidays in America, but everyone is very serious about it. The whole family gathers in the same house and spend a great time together.

My first Thanksgiving, in one word, was amazing. Of course, thanks to my host family, I spent the perfect time and the perfect Thanksgiving day. The best part was to sit down at the table and eat with the whole family, share stories, then play “Five Crowns.” I did not think that it would be so much fun. I was very excited when I learned that one of their old exchange students would come to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.

I thought that on Thanksgiving, people were sitting at the table eating turkey for dinner and that’s it, but everything is more interesting and fun. I hope this Thanksgiving will not be my last. 

America continues to amaze me every day, at the same number thanksgiving. Every day new things, new experiences, I want to learn more and more about this country, and he never stops to surprise me. I already know that this year going to be the best year of my life.

I am very grateful that I had a chance to live a whole school year here in America and learn a lot of new things that I could never have thought of.