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How to spend Christmas as an international student in Canada

Sean Campbell
Last Updated: 27 December 2021 • 4 min read

If you’re spending Christmas this year in Canada, consider yourself pretty lucky! A winter wonderland, a bright social scene and famously friendly people all await you. 

As an international student though, you might feel like a little bit of an outsider at Christmas, but you know what? That’s okay. It’s no cause for sadness, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the holiday season. 

To help you have a really great time in Canada this Christmas, we’ve come up with some solid and easy-to-do tips!

You should be able to apply these whether you’re spending the holidays with friends or housemates, or indeed if you’re going to be alone. That said, we’ve got another guide to spending the holidays away from home or alone which you can check out after! 

And for some light trivia reading, you might want to check out this article on some Festive traditions at universities around the world. 

Anyway, let’s start!

7 tips to spending Christmas as an international student in Canada

  1. Find company you can relate to
  2. Seek out the festivities
  3. Share your own cultural traditions
  4. Get out in the snow (but not for long!)
  5. Give back to the community
  6. Go on vacation if you can
  7. Stay in touch with loved ones back home


1. Find company you can relate to

First things first: Find your gang! There’s little to no chance that you’ll be the only international student, or indeed the only student from your country, staying in Canada for Christmas. One of the very best things you can do is to find some company to spend the holidays around. If you’ve made good friends with some Canadians, let them know you’ll be there for the holidays and that you’d appreciate the company. As one of the world’s friendliest places (Vancouver has been voted the world’s friendliest city in fact), you could find yourself getting invited to some pretty cool events. 

2. Seek out the festivities

No matter where you’re based in Canada -- Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or any smaller city or town, there’ll definitely be some kind of Christmas event going on. Parades, light shows, street decorations, festivals, you’ll be spoiled for choice!

The true magic of Christmas is to be found in that spirit of joy, gratitude and love. So find out what’s going on near you, head outside and join in the festive fun. It’ll be a cultural experience if nothing else!

3.  Share your own cultural traditions

Just because you’re spending Christmas in Canada, you don’t necessarily have to have a 100% Canadian Christmas. You could use this time to do some cultural exchanges, with either Canadian friends or your own international student peers. 

Maybe make a special meal from back home, teach them a song, play a game they’ll enjoy. As well as being a bit of light-hearted fun, it could help cure any homesickness you may be feeling!

4. Get out in the snow (but not for long)

Think of the quintessential Christmas image and there’s snow involved. Santas Claus, reindeer, gifts, Christmas trees, but always, always snow. There’s something magic about snowfall during the Christmas season, so get out and enjoy it! Get your gloves, scarf, hat and boots on and maybe even build a snowman with your friends. 

But be careful! Temperatures in the Canadian winter can drop far below zero degrees Celsius, so don’t spend too long outside!

5. Give back to the community   

If there’s one thing everyone should do at Christmas time, it's to help someone, or at the very least, make them feel a little better about themselves. It’s a time for giving and sharing after all. Consider volunteering for a morning or a day at a shelter for the homeless or a food kitchen, or perhaps ask at your university about any local charity that could use your help. 

6. Go on vacation if you can

Why not seek out a new environment for Christmas? With most people leaving campus to head back home to their families, you’ve got the perfect excuse to go explore some more of Canada! Go check out another city and revel in the Christmas-spirit-fuelled nightlife, or head for the countryside to take some time to rest and unwind. 

It’s your vacation, so do what makes you happy! 

7. Stay in touch with loved ones back home

This tip isn’t just for international students in Canada, it’s for anyone spending Christmas away from home. 

Give your family and friends a video call, tell them how you’re spending Christmas, ask them how they are. If you miss them, tell them! They’ll be missing you too, but they’ll also be proud of you and so glad to catch up on Christmas Day!

So you’re thinking of studying abroad in Canada? That’s an amazing idea. Edvoy is here to help make the whole process so much easier for you. Check out our related articles below, and when you’re ready to look for the right university or course!

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Sean Campbell
Written By
Sean Campbell

Sean is a writer, copywriter & editor from Ireland.

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