Living Abroad During Christmas: How I Cope.

The holiday time is a very important time for many countries and cultures. If you’re living abroad, especially for the first time, you might be feeling a bit sad and like you’re missing out. It’s hard to imagine holidays like Christmas without your family and friends.

I’m here to tell you that it can be done, but it’s not easy.

Being away from you support system during a very social and family-oriented time of the year can make you feel isolated and give you a big case of FOMO. Here are some things to try if your Holiday cheer is running on low.

Call Your Friends:

I’m not saying that you have to spill your guts and tell everyone everything that you’re feeling. That might be good advice, but it is not advice that I take often, so I’d feel weird about also recommending it.

Call them to hear about their christmas activities. I know, this might sound a bit counter-intuitive.

“Won’t this make me miss home even more?”

Maybe, at first. But, for me, it brings me joy to hear people that I care about and miss having a good time. I want to hear about the christmas market they went to and reminisce about when we went to one. I want to hear about the snow, hear them complain about their hands freezing, talk about all the good and the bad that comes with winter in the other hemisphere.

This will help you stay connected to those that are so far away and give force you to give some of that festive spirit to the ones you love. If you aren’t gassing up your friends, are you even friends?

“Damn, Stacey, that Ugly Christmas sweater is lit!” (as the youths say)

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, sometimes it’s blue. I get to walk along beaches and get tan while my friends are freezing their tooshies over in Germany. I still miss Germany, but it makes me appreciate the positive sides of Christmas here more.

Yeah, there were tons of good things that you remember about christmas back home, but we have a tendency of forgetting the bad and holding onto the good. Instead, think about all the things that you didn’t like about the holiday season back home and hold on to the thought that you get to avoid those things now that you’re abroad. (like having to go Black Friday shopping with a billion other people at midnight, no thanks, Satan!) 🙂 <– this saved me.

Blog About It:

I’m not saying that you have to share it with the world. Set up a free blog site that is private or even just open a word document and VENT. Just throw everything you’re feeling out there onto that electronic notepad. When I started doing this, it cleared up SOOO much space in my brain. I didn’t know how much emotion I was holding onto until I started just spilling it in my computer.

When you move abroad, it will take a while to find your ‘squad’. You’re going to have all these thoughts and feeling and your friends and family might be on a different time zone. They wont be able to be there like they were before, so you’re need a new (and cheap) way to let off a bit of steam to keep you from being brought down by “travel blues” (as I call it).

Write and don’t stop until you can breathe easy again. Then. you can just delete it. Easy as pumpkin pie.

Keep Yourself Busy:

There is nothing worse, when you are having a crap mental day, than time. Time and space. Normally, I’m a lover of both of these things, but when I am at my weakest, my demons come for me.

If I try to go to bed before I am zombie-state tired, I lay there for a few minutes…and that becomes a few minutes too long. Then, there I am sobbing into the sheets, thinking about ow I didn’t get enough presents my BF’s family, how I STILL don’t have a job, how I have cabin fever, but none of the energy to do anything about it. These thoughts just cycle until I can’t take it anymore.

So, that being said, you need to stay busy. Make a list of tasks the day before, so you have to get up at a certain time and get going. Schedule a tour of a gym nearby, go on a FB group and ask people to meet you for coffee (you don’t want to stand them up, right), sign up for a class, just do something.

Immerse Yourself In The Local Customs:

This can go hand in hand with the last recommendation. Try to immerse yourself in the customs of where you are. When I was in Germany, this meant going to christmas markets, celebrating St.Niklaustag, making lanterns for St.Martinstag and learning some german christmas songs.

I would just google,

“German christmas traditions”

I would read about all of their customs to try to get myself excited about their Christmas, rather than dwell on the fact that I was missing my own. I’m having to do that all over again now, because I learned so much about German christmas, that I’m actually missing that one more than my christmases from the states.

So far, I know that people go to the beach and some people eat seafood on christmas eve. These are all things that I can get behind.

Are you abroad for the first time during the holiday season? Are you further away from home than you have ever been? Let me know! How are you liking where you are? Is it better or worse than “home”?

I hope you are coping well, and that you are able to see the silver, red, and green lining in your current situation 🙂 until next time..

Happy Holidays!


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