Monday, November 17, 2014

Holidays Abroad

With the holiday season coming up, I thought it would be a good time to talk about holidays abroad. Holidays are commonly associated with family gatherings and food, so it can be a little weird to be in a different country during these events. It is definitely a time where you might be more prone to experiencing homesickness.

Mystery Inc for Halloween!
If you count Halloween as a holiday, I was abroad for that. Halloween is not as big a deal in Australia as in the US, but my housemates jumped right on board when I talked about Halloween, and we all dressed up and invited their friends over and all the exchange students over. There were several people who had never dressed up for Halloween before since that is not part of their culture, so it was nice that my housemates were willing to help it seem more like home. Even though I am not someone who is big into Halloween, it was still nice to see the effort my housemates went through to make sure the exchange students and I could have a traditional American Halloween. 

The only major holiday (well, holiday that I consider major) I was away for was Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday. I was initially very sad to be missing Thanksgiving at home because that is the only time each year I get to see the people I spend Thanksgiving with. However, I ended up thoroughly enjoying my Thanksgiving in Australia, and it is honestly probably my favorite Thanksgiving ever. Some of my friends and I decided to make all the traditional Thanksgiving foods and have our own Thanksgiving with my American friends. We also invited our Australian friends so they could see what the holiday was all about and take part in an American Thanksgiving. It was a GREAT time by all, and we got to celebrate a holiday with our new families we made abroad, and introduce Thanksgiving to our Australians. While we enjoyed our delicious turkey, we watched a game of Cricket, and the Australians explained what was happening in said game. Now, I still can’t say I understand Cricket, but it was cool to have both cultures mix and be learning from each other!

Part of our Thanksgiving feast!
The thing that made this my favorite Thanksgiving was that even though I wasn’t around the usual people, my friends abroad were seriously a family to me.  We went through so much together, which is only natural whenever you move across the world from everyone you know. Even now, part of me wishes that I could re-live my Thanksgiving in Australia. I would give a lot to have my group altogether again and just be our ridiculous selves around each other. They made being away from real family not so hard. They made life a blast for those 5 months. They changed my life in so many ways, and some of those ways, I am still realizing. 

So, what is my advice to get through the holiday season abroad? 

1) The biggest thing I can say is still find a way to celebrate, especially if it is a big holiday to you or one of your favorites.

2) Gather your friends from your host country or other friends you’ve made who are not used to celebrating that holiday and invite them to celebrate with you! Teach them about your home culture and make it an opportunity to learn from each other. 

3) Make time to talk to your family that day. I Skyped my family on Thanksgiving, and even though I was left staring at a blank wall because they were all cooking and left the room at the same time, it was nice to hear from them and have a few minutes to catch up.

4) It might be different than what you are used to, but remember you will likely never be with the people you are with while abroad for holidays again. Enjoy spending that one year with new people and remind yourself that you will see your family again! 

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