Thanksgiving with my Trojan Family

Celebrating a win over UCLA was the best way to spend Thanksgiving weekend. Photo contributed by Alina Tang | Daily Trojan

Celebrating a win over UCLA was the best way to spend Thanksgiving weekend. Photo contributed by Alina Tang | Daily Trojan

This Thanksgiving, I chose to stay in Los Angeles instead of going home to Seattle. Though it would have been amazing to see my family and sleep in my own bed for a few days, I felt like I just had to soak up my senior year and experience “College Friendsgiving” for the first and last time.

My Thanksgiving break started out with an impromptu trip to San Diego with a few friends. We got up early Thursday morning to beat the traffic and arrived in Old Town for lunch. By noon, we were seated in Café Coyote, which we later found out was voted The Best Mexican Restaurant in San Diego for the last 15 years. Now I am no food connoisseur, but I can definitely vouch for Café Coyote’s fish tacos, and I recommend it to anyone else visiting the area.

After lunch, my friends and I ventured to La Jolla and enjoyed the light breeze and ocean views. We even walked up to some seals that looked like they were also recovering from a huge meal of fish tacos. I don’t think I have ever stood that close to so many seals. At one point I actually thought one of them would slap me. It was a treat to see them all sprawled together over the rocks, as if they were enjoying the holiday with their family and friends too.

The day concluded with us rushing back to Los Angeles so we could celebrate Thanksgiving properly with a home-cooked meal. We all chipped in and whipped up our best dishes. I baked a salmon using a special recipe my Mom always prepares back home, and my friend, who is a much better cook than I, roasted a turkey and made mashed potatoes. Though the turkey ended up taking four hours, and we didn’t eat it until 11 p.m., I would say it was still a very successful Friendsgiving after all.

However, the best part of my Thanksgiving break came on Saturday at my last undergraduate game day. Since I’ve been in college, USC has not been able to beat UCLA in football. More than ever before, I wanted the Victory Bell to return to where it belongs. So this year, I decided I had to witness the game firsthand. Despite going to a concert the night before, my friends and I dragged ourselves up at 10 a.m. to enjoy our last tailgate on campus. We stopped at multiple tents, caught up with familiar faces and stocked up on as many drinks and snacks before the game started.

Around noon, we spilled into the stadium and snagged a prime location to watch kickoff. The next few hours were incredible, with a bunch of us on the edge of our seats and some of us standing and cheering the whole time. Every time we scored a touchdown, I leapt up and high-fived everyone around me, even strangers. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited and giddy, especially around the end of third quarter when we had a significant lead. It started to hit me that we might actually take the win, so my friends and I moved down a few rows in case we were able to storm the field.

When we finally made our last touchdown in the fourth quarter, I knew we had the game in the bag. I could feel my heart swelling with pride and everyone around me feeling the same way. For USC, this season has been anything but smooth, but amid all the detours and setbacks, our team has pulled through. It’s been a crazy roller coaster — a whirlwind of a ride — but the last touchdown was the exhilarating drop that sealed the deal. I feel so blessed to have witnessed such an amazing game with my closest friends — people I’ve known since my freshman year. Though I was hundreds of miles away from home, I’m grateful I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving this way and spend the holiday with my second family — my Trojan family.