in which we give thanks at Thanksgiving

This album has been my constant companion over the last few months, but also this past weekend in particular. It’s a free, downloadable EP of seven tracks by a friend of mine called “I AM”, Nicholas Cheung, who is a music producer from Vancouver. “Mandarin” is my current go-to track: brisk and mellow, subtly layered the same way trees along Highway 404 are turning autumn shades of reds and browns.


It's free, and it's good. 

Fall in Canada means Thanksgiving, which means a long weekend, which means turkey and family feasts, and the return of the pumpkin spiced latte.

However, being an International student during a Canadian national holiday means I face the problem of not having a family to celebrate with. I’d heard about turkey dinners and Thanksgiving before, but 2009 was the first time I encountered it in full force, as the downtown Toronto core drained out into quieter cottages and lake houses for the weekend. Public holidays are days set aside for family and friends to enjoy themselves together communally, however for a family like mine, separated by a 12-hour time zone, it can be hard to feel festive. IMG_8389

Thanksgiving Skype hangouts with the family!

I’m sure there are many of you out there who are just like me, who for whatever reason, are unable, even on publicly designated “spend-time-with-your-family” days, to be with them. In my first year, it was a rather lonely ordeal, as residence would clear out over the weekend, and I’d be left to figure out to do with the extra time – usually studying. Over the years, I began participating in the extra-curricular communities on campus and started developing relationships with many different people. We studied together, worked together, and celebrated together. Four years later, Thanksgiving for me has become eating celebrations over the weekend with communities of people I’ve come to call my family in this city. These are the people who have changed my university life in drastic ways, and are a big reason why I call Toronto a home now. IMG_8390

Celebrating with Baked Veggie Lasagna and a 20 pound honeyed ham. That's right.

People are key focal points around which our lives revolve because they have the capacity to give us immeasurable warmth and love We all belong to our own communities, big or small. I know our university is a sprawling mass of buildings in the middle of a sprawling urban center. But the campus can be more than just a series of lecture halls we move to and from. U of T is home to vibrant, and dynamic communities, full of people from all sorts of disciplines and from all over the world, connected together by skills, interests, faith, or values. IMG_8380

Went somewhere 2.5 hours away this past weekend with my faith community.

Ulife offers a comprehensive directory of groups on campus, including their contact information. If you’re looking for a place to get connected, and didn’t get around to Clubs Fair during Frosh week, this is a good place to start. If you’re an International looking to get connected, there are many groups on campus that get together to celebrate with each other in place of family at all the events. The Cumberland House just off St. George and College host different events regularly to celebrate different holidays and host conversation cafes. Every Thanksgiving, I am particularly thankful for the people who have become my family in Toronto. Who did you spend your weekend with? What were you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  

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