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Christmas abroad – celebrating as an expat

Christmas is a time for family and tradition, so it can be a challenging period for expats who are a long way from home. If it’s your first Christmas away from your home comforts and loved ones it can be quite a difficult time. And that’s without considering the change in culture. If you’re used to a white Christmas, a holiday season spent barbecuing on the beach in Australia can be a complete culture shock. Luckily, this guide is here to highlight some of the biggest challenges, as well as suggest some solutions.

Dealing with differences

One of the hardest things to deal with can be the differences in traditions between the old and new. Although some will try to ‘make do’ and create a Christmas as close to one they are used to, this can be tricky due to a lack of available resources. You could waste a lot of time trying to track down that exact brand of chocolate from your hometown, or spend way too much money having it all shipped over! Why not embrace the change and totally immerse yourself in Christmas as celebrated in your new home? Try to get an invite to a local’s house or spend it with native friends and start making new traditions. Who knows, you could even prefer them?

Sending gifts

Gifting from abroad can be daunting, but it’s completely doable and can be really enjoyable. Just make sure that you know how long before Christmas you will need to ship your gifts, as well as postal fees and any restrictions on what is allowed to travel overseas. Shopping online in stores that deliver or are from your home country can alleviate a lot of these issues, and many online suppliers can even gift wrap for you. Shopping for loved ones can be a great way to feel connected. And why not video call them while they open their gifts too?

Connecting with family and friends

Ultimately, the festive season is about spending time with friends and family. If you have moved to your new country with relatives or have made a good circle of friends, then spending as much time with them can help create a sense of community at Christmas time.

If you do not have that big of a support network yet, then the internet is your new best friend! Using a video calling software like Skype or Facetime, you can digitally be there as those near and dear to you open their presents or share a meal. Organising and meeting up with other expats can also be a great cure to homesickness and start you on the path to making some new friends!

Cancel Christmas

For some new expats the best solution to Christmas abroad is to have no Christmas. And while this can seem like a drastic measure, it can also be a really great way of taking the pressure off at a stressful time. If you decide that this sounds right for you, there are some exciting and beneficial things you can do to fill the time and enjoy the festive period without celebrating Christmas.

The holiday period can be a great time to get your affairs in order and have a good sort out, making your home and mind feel more organised. It can also offer up a bit of free time in which to get outside and explore or even take a trip to somewhere in your new country or a holiday elsewhere. And if you’re a film buff, it’s a great time to catch up on any films your missing – take a full day to watch back to back movies at your local cinema!

It can also be the perfect time to reach out to volunteer organisations in your new area and get stuck into giving back. Not only is volunteering an excellent use of spare time, a way to help and benefit others and meet new people, it is also a great way to combat expat blues.

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