Graduate Blog

How to Handle Holidays Abroad


So, you’re studying abroad and loving it. You adore your new country and all the new customs that come with it. You’re making new and wonderful friends. You are living your life in a brand new way. Congratulations you! Then one day, around the first day of December, it hits you: you’re homesick. Suddenly, all you can think about is your favorite Christmas foods and traditions. You miss your mother’s cooking, going out with your old friends for a pint and snuggling in your favorite Christmas jumper. Don’t panic! This is quite normal. If you are not going home for Christmas, here are three tips to battling those holiday blues abroad. They might not be foolproof but they will help remedy some of your Christmas maladies.

1.) Skype. 

The whole world should bow down to the creators of Skype. At any point abroad, when I have felt homesick, it has come galloping to my rescue. Skype is everywhere you wish you were. So, if you haven’t downloaded it yet, do so on It is free and simple to use. You can see and hear your family and friends. Set up a tea date, sip tea together and have a proper catchup; do so in your favorite snuggly jumper.

2.) Create your own traditions.

As being an American living in Europe for the past four years, I have had to improvise on my Christmas traditions. For example, I love a drink called Eggnog. Unfortunately, this delicious concoction is only made in the U.S. of A. So, I improvised and started drinking hot mulled wine instead. It saved me on calories and was delicious. Normally I would help my mom decorate the tree with decorations I made when I was five. So, when I couldn’t do this, I hung faery lights about my house and put on my favorite Christmas music and sang with my friends.  So, in whatever country you are in, find some type of new tradition that will make you feel a bit more at home.

3.) Explore. 

I don’t know about you, but if I am sitting in my room alone, I begin to meditate and overanalyze things. This is never good around the holidays because I can become my own worst enemy. So, when I started to become homesick in Madrid, Spain, I went to go look at the lights near Banco de España and on the posh Serrano Avenue. Then, I went for delicious Indian food with a friend. This made me realize how exceptionally lucky we are to have the chance to even live in another country and meet new people. So get out, enjoy your city. Don’t concentrate on the negatives, concentrate on the positives of where you are and explore!

These are only a few tips that I found work for me. However, I guarantee if you put on your best Christmas jumper, drink some mulled wine while Skyping with your family and then go out and explore your city (and look for Christmas lights!), you are bound to feel better. Go on, try!

About the Author

Bridget Bridget

I have a B.A. in English and Spanish from Warner University and a MLitt in English Studies from Stirling University. My specialities are Spanish interpretation and translation along with Medieval literature (as I did my master's dissertation on Troilus and Criseyde by Chaucer). I speak five languages and I worked for the U.S. Embassy in the U.K. as a visa advisor. I have lived on three different continents and I have lived in the U.K. for two years. I hope to continue traveling and would love to begin a career in an editorial career or with translation.

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