By Ann-Sophie Vermeersch
During the past week, I have had a few experiences that made me feel very grateful for the opportunities I have been given as a student in Boston. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but hey, if we can’t be corny during Thanksgiving, when can we?
I attended a lecture by Senator Bernie Sanders. I have no intention at all to write political posts, so I am not going to discuss the content of his speech. However, I think that you all understand how incredibly cool it was to see someone who ran for president give a speech. I also think it’s needless to say how interesting it was to listen to what he had to say given the outcome of the November 8th election. I found remarkable the solidarity of the people attending the event. It was something I noticed not only during Senator Sanders’ speech, but also in the aftermath of the election day. No matter what political party you might support, I think it is extremely fascinating how all the people stand united behind their party and act as if they are one huge group of friends.
At the end of the event everyone got a copy of Senator Sanders’ book. When I got on the train, I noticed that people started talking to each other because they had all been to the lecture. Witnessing people feeling so strongly about a politician is quite new for me. In Belgium, we don’t get so passionate about the elections, mostly because we have a coalition government. The fact that I could witness how people feel and how they team-up because of politics, is a fascinating experience one can’t acquire by just reading articles on the elections.
The other phenomenal experience I had this week was my first American Thanksgiving. Full disclosure: I did not have a Thanksgiving in the traditional sense of the word, but I did have two very nice ‘friendsgivings’. The first one was the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I was invited to a friend’s house and we all had to bring some food. Since I don’t know how to cook, I took care of the wine. I was lucky the other guests were excellent chefs, so the dinner table was stacked with all the traditional Thanksgiving food: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, and stuffing. At the same time, a few international students brought some of their traditional holiday food. Thus, we had a delightful mix of a traditional American dinner with some Indian and Chinese additives.
One of the American guests explained the story behind the holiday, and before we ate, we all shared what we were thankful for this year. I really liked being surrounded by all these different, interesting and friendly people, and I felt very welcome here in Boston.
On Thursday, I had a less traditional Thanksgiving meal with my roommate. We made pasta. However, we also shared what we were thankful for. Afterwards we went for a drink downtown, but not before we admired the beautiful Christmas tree near Faneuil Hall.
As you can see, I had some very enriching experiences last week on all levels: intellectual, cultural and social. I enjoyed having such a good week before going into social isolation with final exams coming up.
A late happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and good luck with the finals!
Ann-Sophie Vermeersch is a graduate student in the Master of Public Policy. However, you won’t see her around during the spring semester. She is here as an exchange student, and she'll return to Belgium after the final exams. In Belgium, she obtained a Master’s Degree in History, and she is in the process of obtaining a Master’s in Public Policy, which she is deepening at Northeastern. She's interested in how policy deals with climate change and crises. Within those areas, she is particularly keen on finding out how citizens can be involved in the policy process. In her free time, she likes to go for a run, read some books, or have a drink and meet new people. Ann-Sophie can be reached at email@example.com, or via Facebook.