The challenges of celebrating Christmas in another country 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. After all, if you’ve only recently left your home country – you are surely missing your creature comforts and may not yet be used to the different customs in your new country. 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 home town, 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?
Finding that perfect gift for Grandma is no easy task, but when you also have to send it to the other side of the world that task is even more daunting! You have to be very organised so that the gifts arrive in enough time for the big day, and postal fees can sometimes end up being more than the price of the present. There are also a lot of restrictions on what is allowed to travel overseas, so be sure to check that out before you send. One solution, however, is to shop online in stores in your home country. That way, your packages can be sent from the country itself, making postage cheaper and delivery dates more flexible. You just need a little helper elf to distribute and receive!
Missing family and friends
Ultimately, though, 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. Or, in this modern world, there are plenty of blogs and forums to put you in touch with other expats who may be missing a slice of home during this period. Organising a festive meet up could cure that homesickness and start you on the path to making some new friends!
It may be tough to spend celebrating Christmas in another country as an expat, but if you shake off the need for tradition, embrace your new culture and get a bit creative with the logistics, you can create that Christmas magic wherever you are! Being away from friends and family as an expat can be stressful, but relocating doesn’t have to be