Setting table

Christmas can be a difficult time for international students, especially those from a non-Christian country. Stuck abroad and far from home, it can feel like the world is celebrating without you. But your options might be better than you think.

Don’t do a Scrooge this Christmas – get involved!

Go native

Nobody’s suggesting that you turn up on a doorstep unannounced on December 25th. But Christmas is a time for giving and sharing; most Americans and Europeans will be shocked to hear you don’t have somewhere to go. And, among friends, this could well turn into an official Xmas lunch invitation.

Should you accept? If you’re culturally curious and from a non-Christian country, yes. Christmas is a fun day whatever your beliefs, filled with tasty food, goodwill and traditions. And most families will be overjoyed to have a festive newbie about; it’ll supply a good talking point, as well as help stave off the annual argument.

Birds of a feather

If crashing the cool kids’ party isn’t an option, why not hold your own? Sift through any fellow expats you know and suggest a gathering. There are bound to be others with nowhere to go on Christmas Day, and it’ll be easier to beat the winter blues with a cohort of comrades around you.

You can either replicate local traditions – mulled wine and a turkey roast isn’t such a challenge – or go for something closer to home. Whatever it is, make it a communal effort for maximum Xmas points.

Explore the ghost town

Live in a tourist trap like London? The streets will empty in the days leading up to Christmas, leaving you free to roam the city at will.

Not everywhere will be closed, either. Although it’s a national holiday in most places, Chinese restaurants and cinemas typically stay open on December 25th, as do many tourist-aimed attractions. Go for a meal and movie, or use these peaceful hours to see the sights you couldn’t get round to in term time.

Outside during winter

Go full hygge

We all need a little alone time every now and then. Whether you can’t celebrate Xmas for cultural reasons or just feel like a quiet one, pulling a duvet day is always an option.

Hygge, pronounced ‘hue-gah’, is the Danish art of barring yourself in, cosying up and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. The buzzword of the year, make it work for you this Christmas. All you need is a good blanket, a glass of wine and an excellent book/film/Netflix series to get you through the day. For bonus marks, choose a Christmas classic; from It’s A Wonderful Life to Will Ferrell’s Elf, there’s something for everyone.

So when the carols commence and the world goes silent, don’t be afraid to get involved. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, and nobody should feel left behind this December.


Susanna Quirke writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.

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