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Hello guys and happiest (late) Thanksgiving! 

 I am writing to you as I sit cozily wrapped up on my roommate's bed in Los Angeles, California. Yes, finals are well past me. All the amazing people I have met in Dartmouth, some of whom I've been so thankful to call my dearest friends and my many firsts at college (and life in general!) made my first term at Dartmouth definitely one to remember.  

Our first photo in Los Angeles!
Coming from Myanmar, I have never celebrated Thanksgiving before. I mean, through binge-watching Friends, my knowledge of Thanksgiving consisted of a big, juicy turkey, an assortment of pies, and of course, a lot of happiness being in each other's company. This year, because I am not returning home for the winter break, one of my roommates invited me over to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family — all the way in Los Angeles, California! How could I say no? As soon as I finished my last final, I jumped on the bus to Boston Logan Airport and then took the 6 hr and 45 minute flight to sunny, sunny LA…

Or so I thought. It was drizzling in Los Angeles and there was a slight breeze, much to my surprise. I felt thankful for having spent 2 months building my tolerance for the cold in Hanover! My roommate picked me up at the airport and we drove to her house. I was going to spend five nights in LA with her family. In the car, I remember Shallow was playing on the radio. Even though I have been in the US for a little over four months, I am still not accustomed to the radio that plays American songs and the announcers that make casual conversation in English. 

Christmas comes early! Setting up and decorating the Christmas tree with my friend's family~
My roommate is Hispanic, and she told me that Thanksgiving at her home is "not like the typical Thanksgiving dinner." The night before the big celebration, my roommate, her older sister, her mother, her childhood friend, and I set up the Christmas tree together. I've never celebrated Christmas before either, but I delighted in hanging up the little bells and the "Christmas bubbles" on the tree with people whom I just met but were starting to feel like family.  

My friend's family trying to find Myanmar from the map, so adorable!!!
On the morning of the 28th, I woke up to the smell of steaming pozole, Mexican stewed meat with chili. By 4 p.m., we were all starting to get ready for the feast and setting out the tables and chairs. Neighbors, cousins, and friends started to arrive one after the other, and I mastered how to say "Hola!" and "Muchas gracias!" through meeting everyone. Although there was a language barrier between some of them and me, I felt that we communicated through shared tacit nods and glances that spoke way louder. 

One by one, we lined up to fill our plates — there was sliced ham, steamed chicken in barbeque sauce, turkey, stuffing (my favorite!), broccoli casserole, and pasta marinara. Dessert consisted of pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie (a close second!), traditional Mexican chips, and sweet cranberry juice. I haven't had such a huge meal since I left Myanmar and was immensely grateful for having such good food amidst even better company. 

Probably my 4th slice of sweet potato pie! It wass AMMAAZINGG!
After dinner, we all danced to Mexican songs and I even learned the choreography to Macarena and Caballo Dorado. I'm pretty sure I looked funny trying to catch up, but I couldn't care less and the cheers that rang from my roommate's family told me that they didn't mind either. I grew up as an only child in my family so being around so many people was a new culture. But I remember thinking through the conversations and the laughs we shared that night that this was definitely something I wouldn't mind getting used to.  

This was how I spent my first Thanksgiving, guys! How did you spend yours? I hope it was every little bit as heartwarming and lovely as mine was. Have an amazing start to December! 

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