As lovely as it would be to always be able to go home for Christmas, unfortunately for many students (myself included) it’s not always possible given financial constraints or even insane deadlines. So for many, Christmas is going to be spent at university and I won’t lie to you – spending the holidays away from your family and friends, on an almost deserted campus is far from enjoyable. However, having experienced it myself, I compiled a few tips that can help make the season a lot more bearable….maybe even a little enjoyable 🙂
Tip 1: Keep yourself busy
My number one tip for the holiday season is to keep yourself occupied! The Christmas season is the one season that truly celebrates family and togetherness, so it’s completely understandable that it’s really difficult to enjoy it whilst away from home. Honestly, the best way to make it through the holiday season is to distract yourself. When I was stuck on campus I spent a lot of time in the library working on my thesis, popped in to the gym four times per week (bonus: it’s empty at Christmas), attended Christmas shows and even just wandered around London taking in the sights. Based on my experience, it’s really important to fill your days so that you don’t have time to focus on missing home so much.
Tip 2: Reach out to people
If your friends are staying on or around campus for the holidays – count yourself lucky! However, if they head home, you can use the holiday period as an opportunity to expand your social circle. Trust me when I say everyone who is away from their family, friends and hometowns feels a little vulnerable and to be honest, a bit lonely, so they are often more willing than usual to meet new people and develop new relationships. So try talking to the girl in the next flat or chatting with a stranger while waiting at the bus stop. Even if you don’t click and become friends, sometimes it’s just nice to have a face-to-face conversation and have a bit of a laugh or a moan, especially on a semi-deserted campus.
Tip 3: Embrace the cultural festive activities
A good way to keep busy is to participate in the Christmas festivities that take place in your hometown or nearby cities. If you’re an international student like I was, you really have an opportunity to see and celebrate Christmas in a new and fresh way. I was studying in the UK, and nobody does Christmas quite like London, which has too many Christmas activities to count (Click here for a list of 101 Christmas activities). Even if you’re not near London, you can pop over to some of the other large cities e.g. Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh for some festive cheer. Being from the Caribbean I really wanted to embrace British culture and take advantage of the opportunity to try new activities and I had an absolute blast trying skating, visiting Christmas markets, browsing the shopping malls and of course checking out the Christmas lights.
Tip 4: Make Christmas day plans
For many, the hardest part of spending Christmas on campus is undoubtedly Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. What’s worse is that in the UK a lot of public transport systems shut down on Christmas Day so that even bustling cities can seem like ghost towns. So it’s really important that you make plans for Christmas Day so that you won’t feel too homesick. The best case scenario is that you have friends or flatmates that you can share a holiday meal with so the day is more festive. However, this isn’t always the case and if you’re going to be alone I recommend that you go shopping, splurge on the premium food range and cook yourself a great holiday feast while catching up on any TV series or movies you’ve been dying to see. You can also schedule various Skype dates with your family and friends back home so that you have people to interact with during the day and celebrate the season with even if it’s from a distance.
Tip 5: Shift your mindset
As clichéd as it may sound – your attitude really can transform your day-to-day life. I honestly never understood this more than when I had to spend Christmas on campus and was faced with a deserted campus and very an empty house. However, it must be said that I quickly realised that there were some small advantages to being on an empty campus. For example, I had the library all to myself (no jostling to reserve a computer), no rush for the evening bus and best yet no line in the coffee shop! My point is that while being on campus for the holidays is less than ideal (read: kind of gloomy) it helps to take advantage of the emptiness and sort of re-train your mind to see the mini-benefits of the situation.
I hope all of these tips help you to get through the Christmas break! Also, please do drop any of your own tips down in the comments section!
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