Essential tips for international students spending Christmas abroad

If you’ve spent a Christmas abroad before, you’ll know exactly what you’re in for.

But if this is your first experience of a festive season overseas, you’ll probably find it all quite bizarre.

So you can enjoy the December madness to the maximum, here’s some things to remember…

The shops close on Christmas Day 

Christmas abroad

We’ll get the practicalities out of the way first so that we can move on the the fun stuff.

One or two of the small local mini markets might open for a short period on the 25th of December, but the main supermarkets, cafes and high streets are closed on this day.

Some pubs and restaurants open, but for many of them you will have to have made a prior booking to order food.

Public Transport closes down

Christmas abroad

On the 25th of December most buses, trains, and other rail services are completely closed – even in the big cities.

It’s a good idea to check out Christmas timetables in your local area to see when things will be running so that you don’t get stranded.

As do many local businesses…

…So it’s not a good time for getting your admin done, sorting out bank errands, or getting your laptop repaired.

The best thing to do is embrace the mass hibernation and enjoy relaxing for a few extra days.

A lot of tourist attractions such as museums and galleries remain open (except on the 25th and 26th of December), so it’s a good time to go exploring and soak up some culture.

Also, a lot of shops reopen on the 26th of December to launch New Year sales. So it’s a great opportunity to pick up some bargains.

On the plus side, everybody is in a great mood

It’s the traditional party season, many people will take time off work and be looking forward to spending time with their family and friends.

It’s the season of giving, so time to get generous.

The supermarkets stock really exciting food

Christmas overseas

Obviously, at INTO we advocate healthy eating for optimum brainpower.

But, during December the supermarkets are so full of delicious sweet treats and party snacks that it’s almost rude not to take advantage when spending Christmas abroad.

After all, long hours in the gym and strict detox regimes are what January is made for.

You’ll hear a lot of festive music when spending Christmas abroad

Christmas abroad

Shops, pubs, restaurants and, well, anywhere with a sound system, play jingley, upbeat, twenty-year-old pop songs about Santa, snowmen and climbing down chimneys.

This can seem quite strange and unnerving. But don’t worry, Gangnam Style will be blaring out again come January.

The shops on the high street will be crazy busy

Imagine a Saturday morning market in Delhi, an international airport on a bank holiday, or a Brazilian carnival.

Imagine those scenarios with flustered people, lots of wet umbrellas, and shopping bags bashing into your knees.

There’s just a tiny snapshot of the joys of December shopping for you.

If you spot a sprig of mistletoe, duck and cover (unless you’re standing next to someone you actually quite like)

When you spend Christmas abroad, it is really quite important that you’re aware of the baffling tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.

During the festive season you’ll see this pretty plant hanging up in the most curious of places.

The idea is that if you find yourself standing under it with somebody, you’re supposed to kiss them. So if you’re with your boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s quite a sweet tradition.

However, if you’re with your boss, your teacher or that classmate you’re not very fond of, it can be really quite awkward.

Have you spotted a strange Christmas abroad tradition? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

You may also like to read: My first Christmas in China as an international student or 3 student tips to glam up your Christmas

If you would like to find out more about INTO Study and how we can help you achieve your dreams of studying abroad, discover more on the INTO Study website by clicking here.

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