It’s the 2nd of December and although it’s a little different this year the Christmas Season is definitely still out in force! Being away from home during this time of year, with friends and family posting updates of all kinds of holiday fun, that you’d usually be included in, can be a recipe for homesickness.
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that I am Christmas mad! The lights, decorations and celebrations fill me with the most ridiculous amount of happiness and excitement, not to mention how much I love giving gifts! So when I made the decision to move to China back in 2018 the thought of spending my favourite holiday abroad had me feeling a bit down. In the end it turned out to be a great Christmas, completely different to what I was used to but not lacking the Christmas spirit that I was so afraid would be missing. This is now my third Christmas away from home and the following tips and tricks are why I believe I’ve successfully avoided holiday homesickness since living and working abroad!
1. Be Organised
You might not be able to be there in person but you can still send a card or a gift through the post! One of my favourite things about Christmas is choosing the perfect gift, wrapping it up and putting it under the tree! The first year I was away I found Christmas cards in my local supermarket in China and sent them home to my family, this is a great option but you need to be organised as the world wide postal service can take weeks to deliver a letter. More recently I have been using sites like Funky Pigeon and Moonpig (you’ll need a vpn to use Moonpig) and they are great for sending loved ones personalised cards and gifts while living abroad. You don’t have to worry about them arriving late as you can choose a delivery date and they have so many card and gift options to choose from! Another site I have more recently discovered is Bloom & Wild which have the most beautiful selection of flowers and plants that can also be delivered on a chosen date.
This may sound obvious but decorating for Christmas will instantly boost your spirit. Last year I lived alone and no one was going to see the inside of my tiny studio apartment but I still decorated it because the Christmas tree and twinkly lights made me happy! In both China and Myanmar I’ve been able to find Christmas and Halloween decorations in the supermarket! It’s also worth checking out local small businesses in the area you live as you may just find some unique decorations that will serve as a treasured memory of your Christmas abroad for years to come!
3. Get Crafty
Even if you’re not able to find the traditional decorations you would have back home, that doesn’t mean you can’t decorate! Remember making paper chains in primary school? Grab yourself a pack of coloured paper and get crafty. Having a craft project to focus on will distract you from the feeling that you are missing out on something. If you have flatmates get them involved too, or if you are able to safely invite a friend over then plan an afternoon of Christmas music, wine and creating. If you are teaching abroad then bring these crafts into your classroom and give your students a fun If a Christmas crafts afternoon doesn’t get you in the spirit then what else will!?
4. Share Your Culture and Traditions
One of the best things about living in another country is getting to learn about the local festivals and traditions! Whichever special holiday you celebrate sharing it with friends who are interested in learning about your culture too is a great way to talk about all the things you might be missing. Even better invite them to join in the celebrations; putting the Christmas tree up, making paper chains or eating traditional foods! Part of the joy of Christmas is sharing it with others and it can be really interesting for students and local friends to learn about all the little traditions that they might not have seen in films and on TV. Before you plan a Christmas lesson, double check with your school that you are allowed to talk to the students about Christmas; last year my school in China said I could do a Christmas lesson with my Grade Ones which I planned and taught to about two classes when the head of Grade One told me that the Headmaster was strictly against celebrating Christmas which was a bit of a pain (didn’t stop me wearing my Christmas jumper though)!
5. Watch Your Favourite Holiday Movies
I couldn’t live without my Netflix account and that is never more true than during the festive season. It might be 30 degrees outside but I’m just one click away from all the Christmas cheese I could ever ask for! It is also worth checking YouTube for some of the classics like The Snowman or Father Christmas, I even found an old ITV panto on there which I showed my Myanmar flatmate after honestly weeks of me talking about how much I love the panto and trying to explain the whole thing! Showing is definitely more effective than explaining when it comes to the Christmas panto…
I hope these tips help you to celebrate Christmas away from your home country! Let me know how you celebrate Christmas in the comments. If you don’t celebrate Christmas then I hope some of these tips can be applied to your special holiday and help you to celebrate in your own way wherever you are in the world!
Some other Holiday related posts: