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Working Abroad Over Christmas and Other Holidays

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 28 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Abroad Christmas Holidays Religious

The first and most important thing to bear in mind when dealing with your first Christmas and other holidays when living and working abroad is to accept that it will be different.

Your First Christmas Abroad

Even if you try to recreate a little bit of ‘home’, unless you are in an area heavily populated by expats you’ll probably not be able to buy all the things you want. And even then if you can get hold of parsnips, crackers and Christmas pudding, you won’t have all the other stuff you take for granted as part of Christmas in the UK, like songs you know on the radio and watching the Queen’s speech.

So accepting that this year will be different is the first step, and then you can on with the important business of enjoying your first Christmas abroad.

Part of accepting the difference of your first Christmas abroad is embracing the new culture that you are now a part of, with all the exciting opportunities that brings. It can really help you to stave off homesickness if you’re doing what the people around you are doing, rather than weeping because you ‘should’ be watching a Bond film on TV now.

So if people in your new country enjoy a special meal on Christmas Eve rather than turkey and all the trimmings on the 25th, why not do that? Or if visiting a Christmas market full of mulled wine and wooden toys is the order of the day, what’s to stop you from getting into the spirit of things that way instead? You could even involve your not-so-nearest but still dearest in your new culture, but perhaps sending local treats or sending them pictures of the exotic festivities.

Once you’ve got over your first Christmas abroad, you’ll have a sort of blueprint for dealing with other important holidays as that is the time that most of us feel the most homesick.

Other Religious Holidays

That said, certain holidays can be hard to deal with if there is no reference to them in your new country. This is particularly true for religious holidays that differ depending on where you are – you may be used to celebrating Easter in the UK, but if you are in a Muslim country this will not happen. Why not embrace your new home by learning about the holidays they celebrate? It will certainly help to meet new people and it will also add a rewarding dimension to your overseas experience.

Treat Yourself

Whenever you find yourself looking at the calendar and realising that most people you know and love are celebrating a certain special day hundreds of miles away and you have to work instead, cut yourself some slack and make your own little celebration. You may not be able to do what you would do if you were back in the UK, but you can certainly treat yourself somehow. Whether that’s just taking five minutes to think about the significance of the date, or cooking a feast and speaking to all your family on a video conference call, don’t just let the day pass.

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