since Christmas is near and I remember quite clearly how it was to spend my first Christmas without my family two years ago, I wanted to collect some tips for all the people out there who are currently on exchange or away from their families for other reasons.
- Celebrate anyways: I know the temptation to just skip the holidays it definitely there. Don’t do it, it will feel wrong as well. Instead, find ways to make it a happier time for yourself.
- Don’t be alone: Find other people who won’t be around their families to celebrate. You will all feel the same melancholy/ nostalgia for Christmas with your family. Stick together! If you’re on exchange and lucky enough to have made some local friends, you should also explore the possibility to join their families for the holidays.
- Get yourself into the holiday spirit: I found that being away from home and your family and maybe living in a different climate can make it hard to get into the holiday spirit. So decorate your home, bake your favorite Christmas cookies, or make your favorite Christmas drink and get yourself in the mood.
- Talk to your family: It might make the situation harder for a moment, but I am sure you will feel better afterwards. The holidays are usually a time when we are so much closer with our loved ones. You shouldn’t miss out on that.
- Keep up your traditions: Holding on to traditions can make the situation easier. As I said earlier, make traditional food or drinks or try to go to church like you would usually do. These little things usually help.
- Be open for new traditions: Although holding on to your own traditions is important, you should also be open for new things. After all, you’re in a different country to experience a different culture. Plus learning about other people’s traditions is exciting and distracting.
- Treat yourself: The whole gift exchange might be different while you’re away from home, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself to a little something like a little spa treatment or that watch that you’ve been eyeing for months 😉
- Volunteer: Volunteering is a nice way to give back to society during the holidays and a lot of charities have special events planned during the holidays so they might need a helping hand. So you’ll get so make someone else’s day and be distracted from being away from your family. It’s a win-win.
- Take a trip: Another idea that falls into the “distract yourself” category, is taking a trip. Didn’t you go to another country to discover new things? Then why don’t you use your free days around Christmas to take a trip and see something new?
- Do what you like to do the most: It’s hard to be really sad when you’re doing your favorite thing. That was pretty much my motto for the moments of homesickness during my study abroad time. Every time I felt a little down, I just grabbed my camera and just tried to photograph my neighbourhood or the next item that I had on my “photography bucket list”. The same works of course for your favorite sport or crafts, or writing a blog, etc.
I hope I could help you a little with these tips and I hope you’re having a happy holiday season whether you’re around your family or not. And let me know, what your tips are, to avoid feeling down during the holiday season when you’re away from home (and your family).