International Students House
Students taking photos at a Christmas Day lunch at ISH
Blog London Life Student Life Student Tips

Finding a Community During the Holiday Season

While some students get to go home to spend the holidays with friends and family, expensive travel costs mean that international students often end up spending Christmas at their university or in their student accommodation. This can be a lonely time so it’s important to try and find a community to spend the holiday with.

Create a Holiday Family

Build friendships with students in the same boat as you. If there are some students who, like you, can’t go home for the holidays or don’t celebrate the festive season, you could create your own holiday family.  Reach out to fellow students and make plans together for holidays like Christmas.  Everyone needs a support network and it’s a great way to be there for each other.

Two friends laughing in the snow with blankets around them
Photo by Genessa Panainte on Unsplash

Check out University Events

Some universities organize events, meetups, or meals for international students staying over the holidays. It’s worth checking out if anything is happening on your campus. This is a great way to have a unique Christmas and meet new people from your university! Also, charities like International Students House provide a great Christmas Day program with international students at the heart of it. Book a ticket for yourself and spend Christmas with peers from different universities and different countries.

A group of students having fun outside
Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Look for Groups From Your Country

Perhaps the UK isn’t your home turf and travelling home isn’t possible at this time of year. Look for groups and events associated with your nationality and try to join or attend an event. You can create your own ‘National-style’ Christmas or even take a weekend trip away with your fellow nationals. Each of you will understand the difficulties and emotions of having Christmas away from home, and it’s a perfect time to bond and support one another.

Volunteer and help local communities

Immerse yourself in the local community if you’re finding uni life challenging. At Christmas time, charities are often understaffed as people are off for the holidays, so try volunteering at a local dog rescue or home for the elderly. You’ll be preoccupied with a new purpose and can connect with a whole new friendship group – plus enjoy a Christmas outing with plenty of new people!

If you are interested in volunteering over the holidays here are some good options for you:

Help Out a Food Bank

There are people in our communities who struggle to feed their families all year round, and Christmas in particular is a time when people feel the pinch. If you’re lucky enough to have plenty to eat already this year, why not donate some extra food or a few hours of your time? Both could make a big difference. Putting together a reverse advent calendar is also a great idea. Check out The Trussell Trust’s list of food banks to find one nearby you could help.

People giving food packages to people
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Good Gym

If you like exercising and sports this might be a great option for you. Good Gym brings people together to stay fit whilst doing something good in their community, whether it’s gardening at a community centre or repainting a retirement home. Click here to learn more about Good Gym.

A woman in the distance working out
Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

Crisis at Christmas

Crisis, the national charity for the homeless, is running its annual campaign to make Christmas a reality for those without a roof over their heads. From helping with collections to cooking up a mean Christmas feast, or even throwing a party, there are tons of ways to get involved! Find out more here.

A man looking up at the ceiling with a Christmas Tree
Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

Have you also read these articles?

Spending Christmas in The UK as an International Student

Holiday Shopping Guide: Gifts to get your Friends and Family this Christmas!

Related posts

Saving Energy and Water – advice from Alun Wood

International Students House

The Pursuit of Mental Well-being

International Students House

Career Highlights with Rosaly Lopes – ISH Alumni

Catalina Sanchez