"Christmas time means a roller coaster of emotions for me."

Another year, Another Christmas.

Christmas time means a roller coaster of emotions for me. It is the time of year when I am reminded that my family is far away. Christmas in Peru meant a massive Christmas tree and tons of beautifully-wrapped gifts underneath it. We would start celebrating Christmas on the 24th and start eating our Christmas dinner at midnight. The gifts are opened either before dinner or after dinner (if you can keep the children away from them!). I celebrated my last Christmas in Peru 3 years ago and I am going to see my family again this coming January (so exciting!). 

If you are an international student, you must understand how it feels when the Christmas lights are turned on and the carols are sung everywhere. If you are lucky enough, you will be travelling home to be with your family, but for many of us, we will spend it far from home. However, I don’t want you to lose hope! Christmas is also that season when the UK shows its best colours to the world, and you will see how welcoming and magical Christmas can be in the UK!

There may be Christmas events in your city or town that you absolutely must try! Here, are a few ideas of what could be happening in your city…

Christmas Carols

Wherever you are in the UK, you’ll see churches around the city providing amazing and really good quality Christmas Carols. My church in Glasgow is really busy for Christmas and makes everybody feel welcome. Christmas services happen as well, where you can hear a talk about the meaning of Christmas and a lovely encouragement for the coming New Year.

Christmas Dinner with a British Host

Friends International provides an amazing opportunity to link up with a local host for Christmas. They provide you with a delicious and traditional Christmas meal and their company. I have shared one dinner with my friend from Hong Kong and a British family and was such a sweet experience. Please download the app "Friends International" and see “Find a host”. I am going to spend this Christmas with my British family and I can’t wait!

Christmas Events at International Cafés

International Cafés will be organising lots of Christmas events in your town. Look on the Friends International app where your closest International Café is for you and enjoy an amazing time with other international students and more lovely people.

Christmas Markets

Food stands, hot drinks and lots of people with big smiles. Glasgow has a great Christmas market in the middle of George Square that really steals my heart! It is not massive but the atmosphere just screams “Christmas is here”! And if you are not scared of heights, you can give the big wheel a shot! 

Christmas Dinner with Friends

A very easy way to get to know your classmates or friends much better is hosting a Christmas dinner yourself. If not, helping to organise one! Why don’t you gather a group of people you are friendly with and organise to have dinner in someone’s flat? You don’t need to do something fancy, even a hot chocolate evening with Christmas dinner would be fantastic.

Secret Santa

Another bonding activity to do with your friends is to do a Secret Santa. It consists of gathering a group of friends and writing down all your names on a piece of paper and folding them and putting them in a hat or container. Everybody withdraws a name and nobody is allowed to say which name they have. Set a date (it can be at your Christmas dinner) and you are going to bring a little gift (doesn’t need to be more than £5-gift, you can agree on a maximum price). Everybody sits in a circle and you start sharing your gifts. It is so much fun and memorable. The funnier the gifts, the better.

Friends International and I wish you a very joyful and full of love Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

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