Merci-giving

At first glance, this year’s Thanksgiving was a tiny bit weird for me. Unlike other American festivities that have found their way to Europe (Halloween, Katy Perry dance parties, etc.), Thanksgiving has remained in its country of origin. Nobody quite understands the tradition or knows how to make a paper turkey by tracing their hand. Add that to France’s lack of cranberries and you are going to find that Thanksgiving celebrated in France turns out to be kind of funky.

I had two “Thanksgiving” meals this year – lunch and dinner on the 22nd. For lunch, I had a couple of my EAP pals come over to have lunch with my visiting parents (whom I am very thankful for, without which this Thanksgiving would have been unrecognizable). We had a lovely meal where we all said our thanks and ate roast chicken, unmashed potatoes, salad, and a dessert of chocolate cake, which tasted nothing like the pumpkin pie that I’m used to but was still really delicious. It was fab to have my parents with me just like every other Thanksgiving, and adding in some new friends was an absolute treat.

The same friends and I also went to an EAP dinner that evening at a restaurant in Lyon. Every year, our program director organizes a little soiree where us California kids can get together with each other and (attempt to) have a Thanksgiving meal. Even though we were stuffed from lunch, my friends and I were super excited to taste a French restaurant’s interpretation of our beloved American holiday. And let me say I was very thankful that I had eaten so much the meal before, because a French Thanksgiving is much less gluttonous than an American one. We ate a light dinner of soup, a few bits of (very expensive and apparently imported? turkey), three different kinds of mashed vegetables (none of which were yams), and apple tart for dessert. It was tasty, but all of our stomach’s were yearning for green bean casserole and stuffing.

Still, despite a confusing meal, we all agreed that we had a great Thanksgiving because we were spending it in France, having a good time,  and hanging out with a bunch of friendly UCers. I won’t say that I want to spend all of my Thanksgivings the same way, but having the holiday in France showed me what it is really about – being surrounded by good people and being grateful for that. Sure, I missed out on cranberry sauce, but I will be having lots of the yummy American Thanksgiving food in years to come, and when I do I will be ever so thankful.

Thanksgiving Break

 

After making it through lab until five on Wednesday, I ventured ten miles across town to my mother’s house. This was my first year not driving to Northern California, so the significantly shorter drive was fantastic. Of course, being in Los Angeles, I decided to go on a flash card making binge after lab to avoid traffic.

The break was nice to catch up on sleep, but also comes at the beginning of a stressful time for us Bruins. Finals are quickly approaching and I certainly began feeling the crunch over the holidays. Glycolysis, the Citric Acid Cycle, Enzyme mechanisms, so much to learn, so little time! It is somewhat comforting knowing that in a week it will be finished.

My thanksgiving dinner had a special guest. This half of the quarter consists mostly of bones and muscles for my physiological science class. Naturally, I borrowed a skeleton from my friend to practice outside of lab. The skeleton is named Bones and is missing the screws that keep the legs in, but he/she successfully served its purpose!

Go Bruins!

Thanksgiving Break

I have just had a stellar Thanksgiving break. Literally, I ate turkey among the stars. Kidding. I did have a ton of fun, though.

The weekend began early because my only class on Wednesday was more of a fun hang-out sesh with the professor than a strict lecture, and the rest of my day included watching Grey’s Anatomy and doing minimal packing. My so-cal friends that I was driving home with got stuck in traffic and didn’t make it to UCLA until around 4:30. Our late start and numerous breaks for food once we got on the road (not to mention the horrendous LA traffic) meant that our arrival time in the bay area was around 12:30. My mom was already in her PJs and my dad was fast asleep (when I went in to say hello and goodnight, he said, “hi, Charles!” but in a voice that sounded kind of underwater and kind of like it had been squeakified by helium).

On Thanksgiving day (which coincidentally is the same day I arrived home), I got up at a very comfortable ten in the morning, had a delicious bowl of fruity pebbles with legit soymilk (no offense, De Neve dining hall), and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies – I had been deprived of baking. The night’s festivities were wonderful as was the green bean casserole.

But break did not stop after that meal! On Friday, I went to Downtown Ice – an ice skating rink in the middle of downtown San Jose. My friends and I played skate-tag and took pictures and laughed laughed laughed the night long. The next day, I decided to do some shopping because I figured the Black Friday crowds must have died down. My friends and I went to the mall and shopped until our arms were full of bags and our wallets were full of nothing. Afterwords, we saw The Muppets (which everyone MUST SEE; it’s fantastic).

All of these fun times kind of had me experiencing deja vu (as does writing this blog post, I’ve written a similar one – Momma’s Boy). I feel as if I have done similar things or at least have had the chance to at or around UCLA. And certainly I have!

Last Monday, I went to see Alicia Silverstone speak. She played Cher in the movie Clueless and is now a vegan activist. At the event, attendees got to feast on superb vegan Thanksgiving food that was provided by Native Foods, a restaurant in Westwood. I ate a Thanksgiving meal at home and one at school!

I mentioned that I ice-skated. Well, there is outdoor ice-skating right in Santa Monica, just a bus-ride away from UCLA. It’s just called ICE though, there isn’t a “Downtown” in front of it.

As for shopping…. Well, this goes without saying, but UCLA is located in Los Angeles. I mean, we have an Urban Outfitters just down the street.

Finally, The Muppets. Yes, it is playing in theaters around the LA area, but The Muppets was also shown for free on UCLA’s campus by the Campus Events Commission.

Basically, even though I am on break and I have access to all these great things (like a car and an oven) I am still doing things that I can do at school. And I have been doing school-stuff at home since I got to UCLA. How very fun!

The Holidays

The Holidays are upon us which means finals are coming up! These times call for great gratitude and appreciation. I am such a happier person during these times. I am a happy person in general. But super duper happy during Thanksgiving and Christmas. This upcoming week brings Thanksgiving which makes me so thankful to celebrate these times with my family once again. This blog post will bring out the appreciative side of me. I’m so thankful to live each and every single day. I’m thankful to be accepted for who I am. I’m thankful for my friends, my family, my two jobs, the people I meet every single day, those who make my days, those who challenge me and make me a better person, the love I take in and give out, music that makes me happy, music that makes me think, the ability to go to college, the ability to reach out to others in my community, and to be able to live each and every single day fabulously. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without EVERY SINGLE experience I’ve been through. Today marks the completion of a full circle in being able to express who I am to my ENTIRE family.

It brings me great joy and happiness to be able to live life every day as the person that I am.. As obstacles are placed in front of us, it is an opportunity to turn it around with our strength and will and make the BEST out of those obstacles. This year, has been a year of growth for me as a person. This upcoming Thanksgiving is such a special one because I can finally go into the Holiday confidently and ever so happily.

Bless each and every single one of you guys during these special times. I am so thankful to be able to reach out to all of you guys through this blog. Be happy, be joyous, and be fabulous!

Halloween Treats

This Halloween season I decided to put to test one of my favorite things to do- bake. Along with my sister’s help, I baked brownies and a cake cut into bat pieces. I put them together in a goodie bag along with several chocolates. Baking helps me release stress and allows me to be creative with food. To me, baking is like an art. It helps relieve my stress and allows me to be creative with what I’m going to bake. To spread the Halloween spirit, I decided to give out Halloween treats to the best people I know at UCLA! This is one of my favorite times of year because I get to spend quality time with my family and friends. Can’t wait to start baking for Thanksgiving and Christmas!!!! YAY!