How To Beat The Expat Holiday Blues

12 December 2013



The Holidays is one of the worst seasons in the expat lifestyle. This is the time to be surrounded by loved ones and family traditions and other holiday cheers that connects to home and here we are, miles away in a country with a whole different culture for the Holidays.


Given that not all expats would be able to come home every Holiday season, fighting off the holiday blues abroad is part of the expat experience, but that shouldn’t mean that all you need to do is accept that and wallow in sadness. While homesickness comes with the expat package whether we like it or not, there are still a few things you can do to fight the blues and turn it into a wonderful experience. Here are some tips you can follow to keep you from having a cold Christmas abroad.


Keep Yourself Busy


Plan your evenings and days off! As much as possible, avoid activities that would make you feel alone. Plan a fun getaway to a nearby tourist spot or book a spa trip for yourself or with friends. You can also keep it simple like a shopping trip or a walk around your city.


Another thing you can do to keep yourself occupied is to sign up for charity work. Volunteer in a soup kitchen or an organization that gives out presents for the needy during Christmas time. This way, you’d be able to genuinely feel the Christmas spirit of giving and you would be able to give a good Christmas to those less fortunate as well.




If you are unable to go home to your real family, get together with your expat family and enjoy their company. You are not alone in the expat boat, there must be other people who are also unable to go home to their families for the Holidays. Plan a get together, maybe even a Christmas party for all your other expat friends or even local friends in the country. Surround yourself with people who are going through the same experience.


If all of your friends are unavailable, try to socialize and go to Holiday events. Go online and check out big parties where you can meet new people and even gain some new connections. You can even check in at local hostels that are sure to throw Christmas parties for Holiday tourists. Take this opportunity to expand your social circle in your current country of residence.


Embrace The New While Keeping The Old


Christmas is a season built upon tradition. While these traditions may vary because of culture, religious and personal influences, the back bone of any type of holiday celebration is tradition. This is also one of the main causes of homesickness when you are spending the holidays abroad and it’s just not possible for you to follow through your old traditions in your new place of residence.


When this happens, you can turn it around by embracing the culture and traditions of your home away from home. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have and can’t do during the holidays because you’re abroad, try to look at it as an opportunity to try out what you can get and what you can do now that you are in a different place. As we have shown in last week’s blog post, there are so many interesting Holiday traditions all around the world. Try out all of these amusing things and find out what the rest of the world has to offer for Christmas.


While it is very advisable to embrace new traditions, it is also good to keep a few of the old ones to yourself. You can pick out your most favourite Christmas traditions and improvise on a way to follow through with it even though you are in a foreign country. It could be as simple as wearing a Christmas sweater (even if it’s just inside your own flat) while opening presents, or as simple as putting together your own traditional meal. You can plan all these ahead, if you are short on ingredients or items, you can research ahead of time to make your traditions happen. This way, you would be merging local traditions with your old traditions and together, they will be your own new expat holiday tradition to remember this experience by.


Keep A Positive Outlook


Do not wallow in self-pity. You are not alone; there are many ways that you can enjoy the Holidays while you are abroad. Whenever you start to feel sad, turn it around by thinking about the silver lining of your situation. Think of all the things you are thankful for and all of the things that you can do to turn your blues around. Don’t focus on the sadness, Christmas is just a day and if you don’t get to spend it with your loved ones this time, there are more days in the future where you can spend time with them. Don’t allow yourself to be taken over by negative thoughts.


You can take a lot of positive things from this situation. Take advantage of the chances you get from this and learn from it. Enjoy the experience and you might find that this experience is something that you can take with you for the rest of your life.


Make Time To Get In Touch With Your Loved Ones


Make some time in your Holiday calendar to get in touch with your loved ones at home. It could be as simple as a phone call or even do a Skype session with your closest friends and family. Tell them about your plans for your holiday abroad and share the new traditions that you’ve learned from your current country of residence.


While it is advisable to get in touch with your loved ones, you don’t want to overdo it as well. If you do a long conversation to the point where you eat Christmas dinner together via skype you will invite more chances to feel homesick because you will be seeing more of the things that you are missing instead of spending time looking at things that you can be experiencing. The holidays of course is all about family and love so making sure that they are ok and sending your love through the phone, video conference or even sending heartfelt Christmas cards and presents would be good, you just have to set a limit so as not to set yourself up for a recipe for homesickness as well.


There are so many things you can do to keep yourself busy and avoid all the negativity and loneliness that comes with the expat experience during the holidays. Remember, people experience Holiday blues even when they are spending it at home with loved ones, this doesn’t mean that you need to dwell on what you can’t have, instead take this opportunity to explore new things and make new traditions for yourself.