Since Christmas arrives right in the middle of the winter in the UK, it provides a welcome relief in the midst of all the cold, short days and dark evenings!
There’s something really magical about the way the “Christmas Spirit” can uplift people, help them spread joy and show gratitude to their loved ones.
But if you’re an international student, you might feel like a little bit of an outsider, and may even begin to feel a little bit lonely over Christmas. After all, most British students will head back to their families, and the student accommodation can become much quieter than usual.
But fear not! You can still make the best of Christmas as an international student in the UK. We’ve come up with some easy to follow tips to help you have a Merry Christmas this year!
While we have you, you might also want to check out our guide to spending the holidays away from home (or alone).
Okay, let’s get you prepared to spend Christmas in the UK!
9 tips to spending Christmas as an international student in the UK
- Find your “Christmas family”
- Play Secret Santa
- Decorate your Christmas tree to get in the spirit
- Check out the winter markets
- Share your own cultural traditions
- Eat, eat, eat!
- Rest, rest, rest!
- Do some charity work
- Stay in touch with loved ones back home
Just because you’re away from your real family this Christmas, that doesn’t mean you can’t find the perfect people to spend the holidays with. Check in with any international student societies at your university, or simply ask around your classes to find out what other international students’ Christmas plans are! You may be surprised at how many people will also be searching for company through the holidays.
Christmas is a time for spreading joy and showing gratitude, which is why we usually give and receive gifts. But we understand that as a student, you may not have such a high budget! This is where Secret Santa – a practice that’s quickly becoming a tradition – comes in perfectly.
Allow us to explain if you don’t already know. With your friends, or “Christmas Family”, each of you will secretly be assigned one other person in the group that you have to buy a gift for. You should agree on a maximum price for the gift so that all things remain fair! Then on Christmas day you can all open your gifts together, and maybe even try to guess who bought yours for you!
Simple and effective. If you want to do something fun with your friends to get in that Christmas Spirit, why not put up and decorate your Christmas tree together?
Buy a small one if you don’t have the space, and spend some quality time together dressing it up in fairy lights, baubles, perhaps even some decorations you make yourself!
And when you’re done, leave those Secret Santa gifts underneath to be opened on Christmas Day!
Pretty much every major town and city in the UK plays host to some kind of winter market or Christmas market for a few weeks around December. These are a great way to soak up the holiday atmosphere. Drink a little mulled wine or eggnog (traditional winter drinks), shop from local and international craftspeople, listen to live music, and try all manner of food from around the globe.
Just because you’re spending Christmas in the UK, it doesn’t mean that you have to do everything the British way! Make time and space to honour your own traditions – songs, games, meals from back home – that kind of thing!
Better yet, it would be great if you could share these traditions with locals to help them broaden their own horizons a little!
If there’s one thing just about everybody gets excited about at Christmas in the UK, it’s Christmas lunch. Families usually make a huge roast turkey (or maybe even a more traditional goose), while dishes like honey-roast ham and roast beef are also popular. Besides that, there’s heaps of mashed and roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, stuffing, gravy, and even that most divisive of foods – brussel sprouts!
So get cooking and get eating! And when you’re all full up, go take a long nap!
Come to think of it, there may be nothing as traditional for Christmas in the UK as the post-lunch snooze. Once you’ve eaten yourself to a standstill, don’t feel bad at all about laying on the couch, watching movies and slowly drifting off to sleep for a few hours.
But beyond Christmas Day itself, remember that you’re on holiday from your studies, so make sure and take the time to rest up. After all, once the new year arrives, you’ll be full steam ahead again.
Christmas is a time for showing that you care, and for spreading some joy. With that in mind, it’s important to remember those who are less fortunate at this time of year. A quick Google search, or a simple enquiry at your Student Union, will let you know where you could volunteer some time and effort to help out the poor, the homeless, or the elderly. Perhaps you and your friends could spend the day at a shelter feeding those who are in need? It would be a wonderful way to give back to the community.
Even if you follow all these tips, it’s totally okay if you still get a little homesick or miss your friends and family back home. It’s natural, and it shows that you care. And even if you’re having too much fun to miss them, one thing that’s for sure is that they’ll be missing you. So stay in touch with them. Give them a video call and maybe even send them an old fashioned postcard from your city or town. Let them know that you’re thinking of them, and allow them to see how well you’re doing on your own. They’ll be so proud of you!
So you’re thinking of studying abroad in the UK? 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!