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FunTimes Magazine

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas: How To Enjoy The Holiday Season As An International Student In A Foreign Country

Dec 25, 2023 12:00PM ● By Gift Joe

Image by prostooleh on Freepik

Christmas is a holiday often spent with family and loved ones. It’s one of the best times of the year when people enjoy mouthwatering meals and share goodies with their loved ones. However, for students studying abroad who can’t travel back home because of finances, immigration status, or other reasons, it can be a lonely period as they are thousands of miles away from their family. You may miss the traditions and the warmth back home, but you do not have to cuddle up in bed and feel sorry for yourself.

We have some great tips to help make your Christmas away from home a delightful and memorable one.

Hangout With Other International Students

You are not alone. There will be others who will be spending Christmas away from their family for different reasons. Try connecting with them. You can organize house parties, watch movies, or other fun activities. All it takes is a few friends to come together to have a good time, making the holiday feel less lonely.

Share Your Home Traditions With New Friends

People have different Christmas traditions, from gift exchange and movie marathons to special recipes. You may be wondering what’s Christmas without all the family traditions you are used to and feeling like you’re missing out on all the fun back home. How about sharing these traditions with your new friends? You could also start some new traditions with your friends and make new memories.


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Make the Most of Technology

Thanks to technology, our family and friends are never too far away. With a little time zone coordination and planning, you can see your loved ones who are far away face to face via Skype, WhatsApp video call, and others. Catching up with your family and friends can help ease any homesickness you may be feeling. Even if you’re thousands of kilometers apart, you can still enjoy each other’s company.

Learn New Traditions

Every country has unique twists and different traditions. Be open to learning how Christmas is celebrated in your new country. The streets of the UK, the USA, Canada, and other countries come alive during the holidays and there’s plenty to discover. From Christmas markets to Christmas parades and ice skating, explore the culture, traditions, and surroundings. Get out there, meet the locals, and make some new holiday friends. No matter where you find yourself, there will always be people celebrating the holidays around you, don’t be an island.

Christmas Market in Germany. Photo by Peter Hauschild

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Create a Home Away From Home

Consider decorating your space just like you do back home. Surrounding yourself with familiar holiday decorations may enhance your sense of belonging, while also serving as a reminder of your cultural background.

Be Open to New Things

Don’t be stuck on just your way of doing things. Be open to trying new recipes and participating in different traditions.

Attend University Events

The season always comes with lots of holiday-themed events. Your university may be organizing different ones. Make time to participate. This is an opportunity to connect with professors and other students in a relaxed setting.

Explore Religious Celebrations

Christmas isn’t just a time for family, it’s a time for community. Instead of staying locked up in your room and feeling lonely, go enjoy the religious services or events around you.


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Host a Holiday Party

Why wait for someone to invite you to a party when you can organize one yourself? It does not need to be expensive. You can just gather a few friends for finger foods and drinks, play some fun games, and exchange stories. You can ask your friends to come along with food, snacks or drinks. You can also play the Secret Santa game where you and your friends will be exchanging gifts with one another.


There is this joy that comes with helping others. Instead of doing nothing just because you are away from your family, consider volunteering in the local church. If you enjoy cooking or wrapping gifts, you can volunteer to help others do this. That way, you are putting a smile on their faces and doing something that gives you joy. These acts of kindness will go a long way in making your holiday season more meaningful. 

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