In my overeagerness to get started eating, I forgot to snap a photo of the Thanksgiving dinner spread. This photo is from

A Frozen Thanksgiving in Vladivostok

Published: November 29, 2015

One of my Russian friends asked me a few weeks ago what I miss about America. As I thought about it, there were the evident reasons of family and friends, but two particular foods sprang to mind as well. Peanut butter and turkey. Although the former will have to wait until my return home, I did manage to eat some of that oh-so-delicious Turkey on the wonderful American holiday of Thanksgiving.

The current Consulate General in Vladivostok kindly opens up his home each Thanksgiving for the Americans living in the city to gather and share in excellent fellowship and food. So I set out on Thursday evening with Joshua, a fellow SRAS student, and visions of a massive dinner in my head. As we took the bus downtown, we could tell that it was going to be a windy night. But after we disembarked from the bus and set out on foot we learned the truth.

Fantastic gusts tore across the city reaching nearly 60 mph according to a report from RT. The wind, combined with the temperature hovering around 10 degrees Fahrenheit made for some pretty wild scenes. While fighting our way through the wind, Joshua and I managed to get lost for a solid 45 minutes on the way to our destination. This may or may not have had anything to do with me marking only a vague reference point on my map before I left the dorms, but that’s a mere footnote!

Anyway, when we finally arrived at the correct house, we were not disappointed. The Consulate General and his wife greeted us warmly at the door (we were in serious need of warmth by this point), and ushered us into their magnificent abode. The house had a spiral staircase going right up the center to a room with a lit fireplace and a huge table of food. The Consulate General, Mr. Erik Holm-Olsen, told us that we had managed to avoid the boring introductions, so we could start with the food straightaway. After filling my plate with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and cranberry sauce, I sat down and began to converse with the other Americans who are calling Vladivostok “home.”

It’s quite fascinating to hear some of the stories and reasons that people choose to live here. I met the coach for the American football (i.e. not soccer) team in Vladivostok, the director of the local Mormon church, a few people who teach, and a few who are students like myself.

As the night came to a close, it was definitely good to reflect and be thankful for the experiences and friendships from this fall in Vladivostok, and I have little doubt that the coming semester will be equally significant. To top off the whole evening, the Holm-Olsens even gave us leftovers to take back to the dorm. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

About the author

Jonathan Rainey

Jonathan Rainey majored in History and English at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. While at Francis Marion, he was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, National History Honors Society and worked as a reporter for The Patriot, the university's newspaper. Jonathan will be serving as an SRAS Home and Abroad Scholar in Vladivostok for the 2015-2016 school year.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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