With PCR tests and self-quarantine travel rules reinstated, traveling home for Christmas is going to be more difficult for those living abroad meaning more expats will be facing a Christmas away from home.
Christmas is all about tradition and spending time with friends and family, so for expats living overseas, the festive period can be a very difficult time. Often in a completely different culture, who may not celebrate the holiday at all, Christmas can be an unusual experience for expats.
The experts at William Russell have given us their top tips for expats over the Christmas period:
Embrace the local culture
“One great way to prevent homesickness is to get stuck into local cultural experiences and take advantage of the different ways people celebrate the holiday period while also sharing with new friends how you would celebrate back home.
Whether they simply celebrate in a different way or don’t celebrate Christmas at all, take it all as a learning opportunity and a chance to experience new traditions! Check out what events might be going on around you and get stuck in.
Spend the day with other expats
“If you’re an expat there will no doubt be many other expatriates around you who may also be feeling a little lonely at the prospect of spending Christmas day alone, so why not organise to spend it together! This is a great way to keep busy on the day and even make new friends if you ask your friends to invite other expats they know to come along to join the fun.
Do things to remind you of home
“While it’s always a good idea to immerse yourself in local culture, there is nothing wrong with continuing your Christmas traditions in a new country. Whether it’s going on a Christmas day walk or cooking Christmas dinner, continue your celebrations to make you feel more at home. Be flexible though and don’t assume you will simply be able to pop out and get everything you want.
And don’t forget to call or video call with your friends and family on the big day, it will help you feel more connected with what’s going on at home.
Buy yourself a gift
“Treat yourself to a nice gift, it is Christmas after all! Maybe get yourself something you can do on the day and give yourself the time to relax and enjoy the day. Why not even wrap it up and open with your family on facetime so you don’t feel as though you are missing out!
“Volunteering at a local homeless shelter, care home or even animal shelter can be a great way to keep busy while giving back to your new community. Check out what’s in your local area and if any groups need help.
Michael Lewars, Director, at William Russell commented:
“Whether it’s your first Christmas away from home or you have been doing it for years, the holiday period can be an especially tough time for expats. Being away from friends and family, often in a completely different culture that celebrates the festive season in an entirely different way, or not at all, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out.
People living and working outside of the UK will also be faced with negotiating unfamiliar health systems, especially in winter. Having international health insurance can give expats the reassurance of access to private hospitals and clinics, with English speaking practitioners, over the busy Christmas period.
However, there are some things you can do to help you feel more at home over the festive season.