A Home Away From Home

You never really realize how much you miss home until a family orientated public holiday rolls around. There is something about spending your first holiday alone as a 20-something year old (though I bet it’s the same at any age), that really gets to you. After having spent 21 Thanksgivings at home with my family in Chicago, it was an entirely different feeling to have to celebrate one without them all. Even relatively newer traditions, like the one I have with my best friends from elementary school (#Cantysquad), I find myself missing immensely. Even though I had considered I would be spending the holidays without my family before I came, I never could have predicted how hard it would hit me until the day I skyped my family on Thanksgiving while they were all around the dinner table and I was at work. Something about that seemed entirely too surreal, not being able to be by the people you love most and the people you have spent all of your major holidays with.

Halloween was possibly the easiest to handle. Having spent the last four years partying studying diligently at UIUC, Halloween was a holiday to be reckoned with. While I knew I wouldn’t exactly miss my family back at home for this, I didn’t expect missing a whole other kind of family; the ones I made for myself at school. The people who were there for me everyday for four years slowly but surely became my second family; people I could rely on no matter what happened. So coming up on a holiday like Halloween, which UIUC and my college family does to perfection, I couldn’t help but think Hong Kong had no way of competing. Between the frat parties our freshman year to the late nights on tables in bars our senior year- UIUC won Halloween. There was also something great about having people to do costumes with- something that made it entirely too easy and fun. From freshman year slutty occupations to cowgirls and cabaret girls to gangsters with toy guns to tigers (and leaving a trail of orange body paint that is probably still all over that apartment to this day)… you could say we had Halloween in the bag.

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To be honest, I thought there was no way Hong Kong could even compare to those times. Sure, it is an incredibly city, but so was Chicago and as well as Champaign, with the right people. So here comes this holiday that I genuinely love, and I was dreading it. I was dreading coming up with a costume, figuring out what to do and especially, figuring out how it would be without the main people I have shared it with for the past 4 years of my life. I had this idea in my head that it had no way of comparing… and boy was I wrong. Halloween in HK is something everyone should experience in their lifetime.

I decided I wanted to go as piñata. Partially because I really had no idea what else to be and also because pinterest kept throwing the idea back to me. So I bought a cheap dress from H&M (basically my go-to store here— the amount of things in my closet from there is ridiculous) and started gluing on streamer pieces. I had it stretched over a chair…. but forgot to stretch the top part as I was gluing. Thank goodness for an incredible roommate who is willing to reach up into your dress and pull it down to make everything fit as it is supposed to. Being a piñata was probably the most fun I have had with a costume. Although I started off the night like this:

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By the end I was just in a dress with little pieces of fabric here and there. I didn’t really take into consideration what dancing would do to my dress… nor did I consider that people would pull the streamers off for fun. For anyone who wants to try the piñata costume, it is a lot of work but definitely well worth it. Somehow, I still managed to keep the hat on, by some miracle:

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Halloween in Hong Kong was an absolute blast, and even that is putting it lightly. Almost everyone I worked with was out in LKF, basically this large area that has a ton of bars, and drinking and having a great time with one another. Everyone genuinely loved being together, and that made the experience that much better. We danced, we laughed, we made fools of ourselves, and it was fantastic. The amount of ridiculous photos I have from that night still make me laugh to this day, and I can’t help but be grateful for this incredible experience in this city that I was starting to doubt just a little bit.

That doubt and homesickness slowly crept in again this past week.

I have never been a person to stay put in one place for long. I absolutely love the thrill of the adventure. There is something about going to a new place that makes me incredibly happy. My mother will be the first to tell you that staying put has never been my forte. Which is why a year in Hong Kong didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Sure I would miss a few holidays, but it would be fine. We all have to grow up sometime right?

Apparently, my brain had an entirely different idea. All day Thursday, more anything, I wanted to somehow develop the ability to teleport home so I could just go and be with my family for Thanksgiving. I never even thought it would be a holiday I would miss that much, until it was something that only a few people here really heard of/participated in. Everyone usually associates Christmas and such with the image of a big happy holiday that is so family orientated, and up until this Thanksgiving, I had the same idea. It wasn’t until I could’t be there with my family that it really hit me how much Thanksgiving actually meant.

That’s why I can’t help but be incredibly grateful for the people I have met here and who came together to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Most of them had never celebrated, and some had never even seen a turkey that large before (basically the size of a standard turkey that we have every year). We catered a meal (this whole no oven thing is really getting to me), rented out my buildings clubhouse, and spent Thanksgiving together. Between the absolutely amazing food, the incredible company, and of course the stellar karaoke (if you haven’t seen my snap story yet, do yourself a favor and watch it), it actually became one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to be able to see my family and close friends from home, but apart from them not being there, it was a pretty damn near perfect Thanksgiving; I don’t think anyone could have found better company for Thanksgiving.

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My super cheesy update comes to an end with just a big thank you for the wonderful people I have in my life- both in Hong Kong and back home; people who make spending holidays away from home a lot easier and who make karaoke way cooler than it will ever be :P.

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