The holiday season, at the end of the year, is a great time to relax with family and friends. However, for students studying abroad, the holiday season can be challenging. Seeing your domestic peers going home to celebrate with their loved ones can make you lonely and homesick.
It would be great to travel back home for the season. However, flight tickets don’t come cheap. The reality is that most international students cannot afford to travel back and forth to celebrate holidays with their families.
But the holidays don’t have to be a dreary season for you. Here are a few ways you can navigate the holidays and feel more connected while you’re away from home:
Stay in Touch With Loved Ones
Thanks to technology, you can easily and cheaply stay in touch with your loved ones back home. In the past, it was very costly to make international calls.
Make full use of video chat apps such as Zoom, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Google Meet to stay connected with your family. You don’t have to pay anything to use these apps.
You can also use WhatsApp and Telegram phone calls to stay connected and share in holiday traditions.
Connect With Other Students
It’s unlikely that you’re the only student in your campus facing the holiday season predicament. Consider getting other international students together to celebrate the holidays. Here are some ideas for to have a fun holiday with other students:
- Have a potluck dinner
- Organize a Secret Santa gift exchange
- Go out to a restaurant together
- Watch movies together
- Organize volunteering activities
Your school might also have holiday events organized for foreign students. Many colleges and universities host holiday events such as tree lightings or holiday markets. Attending these events is a great way to meet other students and get into the holiday spirit.
Join Local Holiday Traditions
Consider immersing yourself in the local culture and participating in holiday traditions in your host country. Doing so is an excellent way to feel more connected to your new home while studying abroad.
Look for events or activities that are open to the public such as:
- Tree lightings
- Religious services
- Tree lightings
If you’ve made some local friends, don’t be shy about asking if you can join them in their celebrations. Many people are happy to extend the holiday cheer to a friend in need
However, before you participate in local holiday traditions, do some online research. It can save you from culture shock and committing a faux paus.
Don’t Forget Self Care
The holiday season is stressful for many international students. Take it as a cue to give yourself some TLC.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and finding time for activities that bring you joy. In addition, if you like gifts, feel free to spoil yourself.
If you’re feeling particularly lonely or homesick, don’t be afraid to seek support from your study abroad program or a counselor. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
With a little effort and self-care, you can navigate the holidays and find ways to feel connected and supported.