How to Celebrate the Holidays as an International Student
The holiday break between semesters when you're studying abroad can be a challenging time for an international student. Flying home to visit family and friends isn't always a possibility due to time and money constraints, which means you might have to find ways to celebrate the holidays in your new home.
Celebrating the holidays as an international student can be a great way to take advantage of your new city and build stronger relationship with other international students. Here are 4 awesome ways to celebrate the Christmas and New Year's holiday if you can't make it home.
1. Host a Holiday Dorm Dinner
Bet you didn't think you could whip up a whole meal in your dorm room using a portable stove top and a microwave, right? Actually, it's not only possible, it's pretty easy. Find some easy DIY recipes like these suggestions from BuzzFeed and Brit+Co, which cover everything from microwave risotto and salmon to a chocolate chip cookie cake that can be whipped up in a microwave. Invite other friends who aren't going home for the holidays and stream Christmas movies on Netflix, like the 1947 classic "Miracle on 34th Street" and Christmas comedies like "Elf".
2. Celebrate with Local Community Groups
Many large cities and university towns across the world have neighborhoods that cater to specific nationalities. Communities like Chinatown in San Francisco, and Little Italy in New York, offer restaurants that serve native cuisine; stores that sell locally made products; and organizations that can provide a taste of home if you're feeling homesick.
3. Brush Up on New Skills
Depending on how long your school's winter break is, you can spend some time brushing up on new skills and taking short-term classes that your normal semester schedule may not allow for. Many cities offer 2-4 week language classes, which can help you brush up on language skills over the holidays. Or, look for interesting courses doing things that you wouldn't normally do during the semester, like ice skating lessons or art classes. Local community and recreation centers are a great place to find low-cost and free classes in your city.
4. Organize a Road Trip to do Some Local Exploring
The holidays are a great time to rent a car or hop on a bus and do some local exploring and sightseeing in nearby towns. During the semester, it can be difficult to find time to get away and do some traveling, but with a few weeks of available time over winter break, you can find plenty of nearby places to travel to without spending a lot of money. Transportation companies like MegaBus operate in the UK, the US, Canada, and all over Europe and frequently offer fantastic deals for local travel - sometimes tickets are as low as $1. Other local companies, like BoltBus, offer low-cost travel options along the west coast of the US. If you can't find any local hostels to stay in, try services like CouchSurfing which helps students and solo travelers find local hosts to stay with - free of charge. They even host hundreds of local events each week to help members network and meet new people.
There are plenty of ways to take advantage of winter break if you can't go home for the holidays. Whether you're hosting an event of your own or setting out on a local adventure, these tips can help make the holidays at school feel more like home.