For many people, Christmas is a time for heading home and seeing family and friends. This can be hard enough if your loved ones are in a different county, but when they’re in a different country things are even more complicated.
Expats heading home for Christmas face travel chaos, huge expenses and a hectic schedule. As Rebecca Hilton of Making Here Home explains;
‘Going home for Christmas can be wonderful. It’s a chance to reconnect with family and friends, to take comfort in the familiar. But it can also be a lot of hard work – long haul flights, living out of a suitcase, frantically dashing around to see everyone. Worrying first of all about how to get gifts home for everyone…and then, on the return flight, about how to avoid paying for excess baggage because your kids have been given so many presents.’
Staying where you are for the holidays can make for a much more relaxing time, and there are plenty of things you can do to minimise the feelings of homesickness and missing out.
Christmas is meant to be exciting. We may fall back on a lot of traditions and comforting routines, but there’s always an element of discovery each year, even if that’s just the mystery of what colour socks you’ll get this time.
The joy of presents is the joy of surprises and new things. What could feel fresher and more surprising at Christmas than celebrating it the way a different culture does? It doesn’t matter if you’re living somewhere where Christmas is celebrated fairly similarly to the UK, or completely differently.
As the well-travelled Sonja from Migrating Miss notes;
‘You might never have the opportunity to spend Christmas where you are again, so find out what some of the local traditions are and see if you can participate. Is there a parade? A special kind of food they eat to celebrate? Maybe Christmas Eve or some other day is the biggest holiday, in which case you can double celebrate! If you’re spending Christmas in the opposite season it might feel strange, but there are reasons to love Christmas in summer!’
Experiencing Christmas in a completely different way and trying to get your head around different traditions and routines not only expands your horizons, but also helps distract you from thinking about whether you’re missing out by not being at home.
As much as being an expat is about throwing yourself into another culture or cultures, there are some Christmas treats you just can’t live without.
Who wants to go the whole of Christmas without eating a Terry’s Chocolate Orange (which I’m definitely not doing as I write this), a tub of Quality Street (remember when they came in tins?) or sage and onion stuffing?
While you can find some of these things in the world-foods section of supermarkets and stores in some foreign countries, in others it may not be so easier to get a tub of Twiglets on your local high street.
Luckily, we live in the age of online shopping. There are many places where you can order your festive favourites and stock your cupboards with a taste of a traditional British Christmas. Think of it as an excuse to buy yourself a mountain of nostalgic little presents.
Or you could always ask friends and family back home to put together a care package of Christmas delights for you.
Christmas is an expensive time of year and having friends or family in other parts of the world could see you needing to send or receive money in currencies other than the one you use in your new home.
Considering the logistics of sending parcels overseas, your friends and family might choose to send you a monetary gift rather than a bulky present.
Or the extra expense of Christmas could prompt the need to transfer yourself some additional cash from your Sterling bank accounts back home.
Or you’ve demanded a Christmas care package from your friends (including essentials like a chocolate advent calendar, candy canes and Bisto gravy granules) and you need to pay them back.
Whatever the reason for sending money back and forth, make the process easier and more cost-effective by using the TorFX app. With the app you can make fast, free, secure transfers in just a few taps, 24/7.
Being an expat can always seem a little bit harder at those times of year when the focus is on spending time with friends and family. Going home for Christmas might seem like the best option, but there are lots of plus points to celebrating overseas.
And, as The Wander Blogger Sarah Shumate says;
‘When you become an expat, you’re essentially signing an agreement that, for however long your contract is, you’re going to be missing out on things – weddings, birthdays, new babies, Christmases – and you have to be okay with that. But the longer I am an expat, the more I’ve begun to realize that as much as this lifestyle “takes away”, it gives back so much more.’
So, wherever you celebrate it, however you celebrate it, have a very Merry Christmas.
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