It’s time for another moving abroad post and this one is very dear to my heart. Perhaps you’re not a big fan of Christmas, perhaps you don’t celebrate it at all, but as the big day is less than a week away, I figured I’d write about how to survive the holidays as an expat.
Embrace calling it ‘the holidays’ – love it or loathe it but in England, there is an official religion, namely the Church of England. This isn’t the case in the USA, so ‘the holidays’ is a respectful catch-all when talking about this time of year. At first it felt unnatural to say and I had to catch myself when asking about other people’s Christmas plans, but the best way is to roll with it and enjoy no longer being restricted to Santa and robin-based greeting cards.
Cook your favourite festive treats – for me, food is a huge part of any celebration. Moving to another country can present some challenges when looking for exact ingredients or types of food (mince pies? Not a thing here) but it’s worth seeking them out, asking for family recipes and making whatever food makes you feel festive.
Plan ahead for homesickness – we may curse the extended family get-togethers and endless holiday parties when in the thick of it, but if you’re used to being surrounded by loved ones at this time of year, accept that you might feel a tad homesick when living abroad. One of the best ways to alleviate this is to start or replicate family traditions, indulge in your favourite festive foods and…
… Schedule a Skype ‘sesh – no, it’s not quite the same as being there in person, but knowing when you’re next going to speak to your bestie, shout ’thanks for the gift’ to your partially deaf grandparents or get motion sickness as your father takes you on a tour through half the house to see the Christmas decorations, can help.
Say yes – this applies to so many aspects of moving abroad, but saying yes can be a great way to be part of festive traditions you haven’t experienced before. Sign up to the work potluck, take part in the Christmas bar crawl and make a wintery wreath – you never know who you’ll meet in the process.
If you have more tips on surviving this time of year, regardless of where you’re living, let me know. Oh, and Happy Holidays!