Thanksgiving 2017: What I’m Thankful For

As another Thanksgiving as an expat abroad approaches, I wanted to take the time to just state the fact that I’m ever so thankful for still being here. This will be my fourth one here, albeit I haven’t properly celebrated since the first year.  Having said that, there are some things I wanted to take the time to acknowledge.

First and foremost, I want to thank my family, colleagues, and friends for continuing to make my time here in Russia as fantastic as it has been. I say this every year but it never is not true: you all have given me all the support and friendship I could ever ask for. I’ve been with my awesome company for almost a year and a half, and it’s been an absolutely blast ever since I came aboard! While I think at this point, my parents understand that I like what I do, I know that back home there’s some remnants of concern about my well-being. Despite having spent the last three years getting adjusted to life without me at home, I know they’re still very much worried on my behalf, and I love them because they still look out for me!

To my fellow expats, thank you for giving me your friendship. Sure, it may sound corny, but at the end of the day, having people in the same boat as me whom I can talk with has done wonders; this applies to my own sanity and for my annual decision of if I’m staying or not. (Spoiler alert: I plan to stay here for a while; I’ve essentially settled down, plus it’s just cozy here. Sorry mom and dad.) A special nod goes out to my friend/colleague/fellow American Keith, because he, in the relatively short time I’ve known him, has easily become one of my best friends here. We’ve spent a lot of time trading knowledge about military stuff (he was a linguist in the Air Force), sports, and other miscellaneous topics over beers and food. God bless you Keith, you’re the man.

Sports has played a big factor in my stint here in Moscow, and this year is no exception. Playing Australian rules football and even delving Gaelic football, plus having started to play on a great hockey team in a cool league, has given me something to look forward to every weekend. It’s entirely fair to say that breaking a sweat is my therapy, and doing so with some of the most amicable group of expats and locals alike makes it all the more sweeter. Even if there is the inevitable hiccup in communication, the camaraderie is well worth all the bungling. Hey, it’s a way to bond!

Learning Russian hasn’t just been one of my goals prior to arriving, but it’s also a method to ingrain myself into the local culture. Yeah, my overall level is still sadly rather weak, but I couldn’t have made progress without the aid my fantastic, patient teachers (of which I’ve had several; all have done wonders for me). Seriously, I cannot thank them enough for putting up with my efforts to learn their language. While they’ve constantly reassured that I’m doing fine and that Russian is hard, especially for foreigners, I feel that I should be further along with my progress. After all, I see, hear, and speak the language on a daily basis! No but seriously, each of them offers an invaluable aspect which I need (i.e. colloquialisms, grammar, and speaking). I shudder to think what would happen if I didn’t have them as teachers. Also, I’ve recently started to learn Portuguese, so I’d like to thank Natasha for being a wonderful teacher who’s helped me start from scratch. Obrigado você!

Russia’s capital itself deserves a mention. The reason being is that over three full years of living here, I still am in love and awe with it to this day. I’ve actually been going out more to see new things (i.e art galleries and markets) and this has made me realize just how special the city is.  The beauty of living here is that I can choose to be a bum to recharge my batteries, or I can engage in a wide variety of athletic, cultural, and social endeavors-there’s something for everyone! As I’m fond of telling people, Moscow never ceases to surprise me, which is why it has become my home away from home. Therefore, I am so incredibly thankful that I’ve been able to experience life here!

My life as an expat in the ever sunny capital of the Russian Federation has given me quite a bit to be thankful for, but I understand that these things may vary from person to person. So, I want to know what you guys are thankful for!

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