It goes without saying really, but the 4th of July abroad is just the 4th of July--the day between the 3rd and the 5th. This year, it landed on a Monday so I chose not to even try to host a party. On my very first 4th of July in the UK, I had a BBQ in the park near campus with a very mixed international group of friends (but no other Americans--my American coursemates all happened to be back in the States at the time). It was great--I baked chocolate chip cookies and we had hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob, etc. I never drink it, but I bought some Budweiser just for the occasion. I wore my Bruce Springsteen t-shirt with the "Born in the U.S.A." album cover on it. That day, surrounded by friends from India, China, Venezuela, Libya and Britain, all wishing me a happy Independence Day--well, it was awesome.
It was a perfect example of cultural mediation in educational exchange, too: sharing your cultural traditions with other international students. They asked me questions about typical Independence Day celebrations and I learned about their national days. It's all about the 2-way exchange, communicating and working towards mutual understanding--getting some empathy established between people of different cultural backgrounds.
This year, being a Monday, we just went to T.G.I.Friday's for an American dinner. I didn't feel nearly as patriotic as I usually do on the 4th, but it was nice to have a taste of home. Spending Independence Day in Britain always feels a bit like I'm fraternising with the enemy, though...What would our founding fathers think?