Christmas might be one of the best (and most underrated) times to be an international student in Ireland. Why? It’s hard to say, but Ireland is just one of those places where Christmas hits differently.
Maybe it’s the way the festive season brightens up the long cold winter, or maybe it’s the joy and laughter that emanates from cozy pubs and cafes, or perhaps it’s the magical way the winter mist clings to trees and street lights creating a fairytale picture.
Then there’s the fact that the campus gets all quiet and peaceful as students head back to their families. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t be sad about spending Christmas as an international student in Ireland. There’s plenty to do in the lead-up to the big day, and then when everything quietens down, all you have to know is how to spend your time.
That’s where this article comes in! Check out our top tips for international students spending Christmas in Ireland!
Oh and if you’re away from home for the first time or you’re going to be alone this holiday season, check out Your guide to spending the holidays away from home (or alone).
And if you’re still only considering heading to Ireland for university, check out these 6 reasons to study abroad in Ireland!
Tips for spending Christmas as an international student in Ireland
- Find out who else is staying
- Spend time in town and soak up the atmosphere
- Check out the Christmas markets
- Go see Ireland’s beautiful countryside
- Keep in touch
- Honor your own traditions
- Do some charity work
- Cook and eat!
- Rest up!
First things first – find your Christmas “family”! That is if you want to…
Being overseas and alone at Christmas is okay (I know because I’ve done it before), but being with good people is great too. But if you are facing the prospect of being alone and would appreciate some company then make an attempt before the holidays to find your tribe.
While the majority of the Irish students will be heading home or on holiday with their families, it’s pretty likely that there are plenty of other international students sticking around. Ask around your classes, put in a word with any international student societies and the student union – before you know it you could be making new friends!
Though pretty much everything is shut on Christmas Day itself in Ireland (December 25, FYI), the few weeks build-up beforehand are magic. No matter what town or city you study in, be it Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, or further afield, there’ll be a festive vibe in town.
Christmas lights and trees all around, people hustling and bustling out of shops, pubs, and cafes, wishing each other well and spreading a little bit of laughter and joy. Just head to town, mingle around and feel it all out. Soak up that atmosphere and get in the Christmas Spirit!
If you get tired just standing around and people watching, most major towns and cities in Ireland host a Christmas Market for a few weeks in the run-up to Christmas. They’ve become more and more popular over the last decade, and it’s easy to see why – dozens of little market stalls selling delicatessens, snacks, drinks, and craft clothing.
They make a great place for an evening out and some last-minute Christmas shopping, so pull in for a night!
If the hubbub of the city gets too much, the winter season makes a wonderful time to do a spot of tourism in the Irish countryside. Head to the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast, check out a few of the country’s amazing mountain hikes and forest walks, or even check out some of Ireland’s ancient castles – some of which date back as many as 1,000 years!
Your family and friends back home will be missing you as much, if not more, than you’re missing them! Make sure to set aside some time to give them a call every few days – especially on Christmas Day. Check-in and let them know what you’ve been up to! They’ll be very proud of you for heading out to the world to gain both academic knowledge and real-life experience!
Plus, getting a little bit homesick is completely normal. And one of the best ways to aid it is to simply call home and catch up with all the people you miss.
Just because you’re spending Christmas in Ireland, you don’t have to have a 100% Irish Christmas. Cook a meal from home, maybe even hold a dinner party with other international and local students to share your traditions with each other! It’ll be a fantastic cultural learning experience!
It’s important to remember that not everyone gets to have a very merry Christmas. But with your help, the less fortunate in our society can have a warm, safe, and well-fed one.
Have a look online or ask at your Student Union about any charities or NGOs that would welcome volunteers for a few days or hours this Christmas. You’ll be giving back to the community, making people’s lives better, and making really good use of your time and energy.
If you’re going to carry out just one Christmas tradition in Ireland, make sure it’s the famous Christmas dinner (or lunch). For most, that’s roast turkey, honey and mustard roasted gammon, loads of potatoes (mashed and roasted… of course), and even some Brussel sprouts and stuffing!
You may be scared of cooking, but it’s easier than you think! Just check out some recipes and video guides online, and you’ll be serving up a feast in no time.
And don’t forget the mince pies and Christmas crackers either!
After eating all that food you’ll be tuckered out and in need of a nice nap, but make it one of many naps you’ll take this holiday season. It’s your school holiday, and soon you’ll be studying for exams and back to class, so make sure to take the time to rest up and recharge!
Don’t feel bad about reading everything on the bookshelf, bingeing on Netflix, or laying in bed an extra hour or two. You’re on holiday – Enjoy it!
So you’re thinking of studying abroad in Ireland? 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, click here to get started with Edvoy!