Christmas means something different to everyone – for some it’s time to spend quality time with family, for others it’s a welcome break from work or just an excuse to step up to the challenge and eat more than is humanly possible…whatever your opinion on the Christmas period, it’s undeniable that being away from home is often a big cause of homesickness.
So, if going home isn’t an option – what do you do? Here are 5 essential tips to avoid homesickness at Christmas and emerge the other side of the holiday period unscathed:
Firstly you have two approaches to Christmas – You can either embrace it or ignore it!
Bring Christmas to you. Although many non-Western countries don’t celebrate Christmas officially, many TEFL teachers have been pleasantly surprised to find that their new home has thrown in a few unexpected celebrations. Also, don’t forget why you embarked on your TEFL adventure in the first place… to try something new, to escape (?!) and to immerse yourself in a new culture. So if Christmas isn’t quite what you are used to – embrace it!
On the other hand, if Christmas isn’t the same without family, friends and too many mince pies and sub-zero temperatures then you could always pretend that it’s not even happening. This is a controversial option but the more you think about Christmas whilst you’re away the more likely you are to miss it – if you have the will power to remove yourself from festivities then you could always treat it as just another day at the office.
Once you’ve decided which type of TEFL Christmas you’re going to have, you can start to look at other ways to tackle the feeling of homesickness…
1. Get in contact
If you’ve decided to embrace Christmas in your new TEFL destination then this doesn’t mean you are committing yourself to isolation throughout December. Make sure to keep in contact with family and loved ones back home as, after all, they’ll be missing you too.
2. Don’t dwell
A little bit of homesickness over the Christmas period is completely normal, but what the most important thing to remember is to not dwell on it. The more you think about it, the more you are going to enhance your homesickness and before you know you’ll be blowing your hard-earned savings on a last minute flight home… not ideal.
3. Go somewhere
Feeling a pang of homesickness? Nip it in the bud by reminding yourself why your current location was the best decision you ever made… go and get your favourite food and sit by your favourite spot with some of your closest friends.
Girls will appreciate this one: ou know that feeling of ultimate customer satisfaction you get when you’ve bought yourself a new top or a new item for your flat? Feels good doesn’t it. This doesn’t mean to buy everything you’ve ever wanted but a nice treat from time to time won’t go a miss. Merry Christmas to YOU!
5. Seek out fellow expats
Many TEFL teachers abroad find that they’re invited to take part in local traditions by their school at Christmas time. But if this doesn’t quite do the trick, you can always create your own Christmas with your fellow expats – whether this is cooking a turkey (the closest to a turkey) and all the trimmings or having a jolly old sing-a-long.
However, the most important thing is to keep an open mind about Christmas, it’ll be different but that’s exciting!