First holidays for foreign exchange student


Eating copious amounts of turkey. The scent of delicious, homemade confections. Waking up at 2 a.m. for the best Black Friday deals the day after Thanksgiving.

All of these things come to mind when thinking about the way Americans celebrate the holidays.

These are all moments that families can laugh over for the years to come. These are moments that solidify traditions.

These moments, though, aren’t as commonplace for an outsider, especially one visiting from another country.

Marco Tognazzi is a 16-year-old exchange student from Breccia, Italy.

He is currently staying at with my family, and has never experienced the American holiday season. The celebrations of this year are all brand new to him.

Tognazzi wanted nothing more than to be fully immersed into our American culture.

Halloween was the holiday Tognazzi was most excited for.

His reason was simple.

“Zombies. I cannot wait,” he said.

The look on his zombified face that night was almost as satisfying as the disgusted look he made a few nights before when we were carving pumpkins as he stuck his hand into a pumpkin for the first time.

After Halloween ends, it seems like all the stores immediately set up large Christmas displays before Thanksgiving can even get a chance.

What Tognazzi looks forward to most about these holidays is the food.

“I have never eaten turkey before, and I can’t wait to try it,” he said.

As families sit at the table together devouring giant plates of food coated in gravy, most people take turns telling what they are most thankful for.

What I am thankful for is the perspective into the traditions usually taken for granted.

This holiday season, I’m seeing seeing everything in a new perspective.

My holidays are now being discovered through foreign eyes, coated with a sense of wonderment and magic at the changing festive atmosphere around town.

“I am excited to see the Christmas spirit. I want to see the houses all decorated with all the lights,” said Tognazzi.

This next month is going to be crammed with midterms, finals, insane amounts of people shopping everywhere, and a lot of stressful cleaning, hosting and cooking.

Just remember to enjoy the small moments of whimsy that the holidays can infused into these cold autumn days.