There are a lot of things I love about living overseas. I get to experience new cultures, explore more of the world, and learn new things about myself in the process. However, whenever the holidays roll around, feelings of nostalgia and homesickness tend to come right along with them. No matter how many years you live abroad, it’s unlikely you’ll ever completely get used to having to spend the occasional holiday season far away from the people you love back in your home country. Still, it doesn’t have to be a bummer, check out a few good ways to deal with the holiday blues while living far from home!
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I spent my first Christmas overseas was to think that not celebrating at all would be the best way to ease the pain. I discovered that this is a huge mistake. You can pretend to ignore the holidays, but somewhere at the back of your mind they are still going to nag at you and keeping yourself in denial doesn’t make it easier. Since then, whenever I am abroad during Christmas, I throw a party. Most of my friends are from countries where Christmas isn’t a celebrated part of their culture, but that’s okay. It’s become almost a tradition for me to cook up a storm and have everyone over to experience what Christmas is like for me. I love introducing people to my customs and it makes the holiday season much more pleasant!
Taking a trip during your holiday season can be a great way to hold off the feelings of isolation that can inevitably accompany being far from home during certain times of year. You may not be able to afford to fly all the way home, but perhaps you can splurge on a train ticket to a nearby town so you can explore more of the country you’re living in. I always try to make it a point to spend my New Year’s in a completely new place. Most jobs give you a couple days off during that time of the year, so you should take advantage of that and go experience celebrating in a novel location! If you can’t find anyone to go with you, don’t sweat it. Solo travel is a very freeing experience and you’ll have the opportunity to do things when and how you want, which can be a way to spoil yourself a little during the tough holiday season.
Trying to keep your customs while living overseas can be tough, but it’s extremely rewarding as well because it offers you a connection to your family. Just the idea that somewhere on the other side of the world my mom is baking chocolate-chip cookies at Christmas like me is a very comforting idea. I have friends who go all out and bake traditional meals for Diwali and set out their lamps while their parents and family are doing the same back in India. I know people who get together to cook tamales or exchange gifts for Three Kings Day. The important thing is that, no matter where you go in the world, you always keep a part of your culture with you. Creating around specific customs you’ve had since you were a child can be a comforting thing and an excellent way to celebrate where you came from – even as life abroad is a constant celebration of where you are going!
Do you have any tips for how to deal with holidays when you can’t make it home? Sharing is caring!