Christmas in the States

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Study abroad experiences

ACU Law and Global Studies student Jarrod Growse gives us the inside word on Christmas in America.

As the leaves turn orange, the weather gets colder and thanksgiving draws to a close all of the Christmas decorations start to appear. I’m personally against premature Christmas decorating but when they are as lavish as they are here I can’t complain.

For me Christmas is a time for family. Christmas is when the weather is hot and I get woken up by my younger sister’s excitement, spend the day surrounded by my loved ones and listen to Michael Bublé’s Christmas album. We do the same thing every year, its tradition and I love it. Thus when thinking about being so far from home on Christmas day I become relatively distressed.

However, I am so quickly comforted by the thought that I won’t really be without my family this Christmas. I’ll have my newly formed American family; a special group of friends I have made here at college that have treated me nothing short of like family. They are both the best medicine for homesickness and easily the best part of my study abroad experience.

I am studying at Georgia College in the US. My semester of classes is finishing in a couple of days’ time, so I have been busy making arrangements to stay with different families over their Winter Break.

My friends here and their parents have been so welcoming and willing to accommodate me. A sense of community is something that I’ve found very common in Southern Georgia; families are very supportive and loyal to the college community.

Over a few previous weekends throughout the semester I have travelled home with friends to see where they grew up and explore more of the state and their families have always been so hospitable.

Learning about another culture and its traditions in my opinion is so important. It provides perspective and understanding, and so much enjoyment. Although the American culture isn’t too far different to that of Australia I have had the opportunity to watch a very different presidential election, celebrate Thanksgiving and really take part in Halloween.

I am now looking forward to and excited for a White Christmas in the states.

The Christmas period is celebrated in the states very similarly to how it is at home. Christmas carols begin playing everywhere, Christmas trees go up, and families put lights and decorations in their front yard.

However like everything in the US it is bigger and better.

On every street you will find Christmas decorative lights and structures. Most fences and benches have wreathes wrapped around them with red ribbons and gold bells. There is an inflatable Santa, snowman or reindeer on every block. With Christmas trees put up in most homes decorated with baubles and other pretty ornaments.

On Christmas Day families get together to eat an exuberant amount of food; there is broccoli casserole, green bean casserole, corn bread dressing, turkey ham, corn casserole, sweet potato soufflé, cranberry sauce, mac and cheese, apple pie, pecan pie, cookies, monkey bread, pumpkin bread, poppy seed bread and so much more.

Unlike our four-month long break American’s only have four weeks, with Christmas happening right in the middle of their academic year.

For almost the entirety of that time there are TV channels dedicated to showing Christmas themed movies. Many attend church over the festive period, with a majority of the Georgian population being Christian or Catholic.

There are extravagant parades, events surrounding the lighting of the town Christmas tree and most restaurants and bars advertising Christmas specials.

Each day spent studying abroad has presented a new opportunity or experience that has made me feel more and more lucky. I couldn’t be more appreciative of and excited for the Winter Break and spending time with my American family.

If you would like to see more about what Jarrod is getting up to while his study abroad you can follow his journey on Instagram.

Find out more about study abroad opportunities at ACU.