Coming to America, I knew that Thanksgiving was a festive tradition that brought families together to show appreciation for the freedom and liberties they enjoyed. Many international MMS students were invited to celebrate the holiday with American classmates and their families. As good as this sounds, especially the delicious, perfectly grilled stuffed turkey, I made other plans. We had a few days off from school because of the holiday, and I didn’t want to waste the opportunity to do some traveling. So along with a few other MMSers, we put a twist on Thanksgiving and made a 4-hour roadtrip to one of America’s most historic cities: Charleston, South Carolina.

horse-drawn carriage
Horse-drawn carriages share King Street with cars in historic, downtown Charleston.

Welcome to Charleston

One of the first things we did in Charleston was take a guided horse-drawn carriage tour around the city center. It felt like we were transported back in time to the 18th century colonial era. We went around the historical areas, and the city has done an immaculate job at maintaining the traditional colonial architecture. The tour guide also did a great job putting things in perspective for us, describing the history behind the city and even pointing out the finer details such as cannonball dents in houses that were created during the Civil War. Today, many of the houses around the city center are owned by wealthy families and used as summerhouses.

Rainbow Row: A historic and colorful street in Charleston.
Rainbow Row is a colorful and quaint historic street.

Learning some American History

Another significant chapter in Charleston’s history was its service as a major slave port during the transatlantic slave trade with almost half of all the slaves from Africa going though Charleston. There are a number of plantations that used to rely on slave labor that have been converted into museums and are open on weekdays to the public. Sadly, these are closed during public holidays, but I would highly recommend visiting one of these as it provides a rare glimpse into American socio-cultural history.

folly beach
A beautiful, sunny day on Folly Beach.

Charleston is also home to several pristine beaches and to wrap up the trip, we took the opportunity to visit one of the more popular ones, Folly Beach. As I walked down the beach, I looked out to the Atlantic Ocean and imagined English settlers reaching the beautiful shores. I suddenly realized why the English decided to settle here — it’s an irresistible location.

While we didn’t get the opportunity to sit down for a traditional American Thanksgiving meal, we did use the holiday weekend to learn more about America’s colonial roots. And without the colonists or pilgrims, I guess there would be no Thanksgiving…