If you’re abroad over the Christmas period it can feel as though you’re missing out on all the fun. This can be particularly true if you’re in a country that doesn’t celebrate the festive season in the same way as back home.
In this post, we look at a number of ways that you can keep the yuletide cheer and enjoy a very merry Christmas far from home. If you’ve recently become an Expat, you’ll find plenty of other useful information in our free eBook The New Expat.
Keeping in touch with loved ones
Christmas is all about family and one of the best ways that Expats can celebrate the season is by keeping in touch. With the technology now available, almost everyone can see loved ones on Christmas Day.
So what’s the best way to connect? Skype is perfect for the big ‘family table’ experience, as you can arrange a time to sit around a laptop and share festive greetings. In the same way, Google Hangouts can give you a casual way to catch up, where anyone who uses the Google+ social network can opt to ‘hangout’ with you at any time throughout the day – perfect for friends you’d like to see over Christmas. If you’d prefer to send a greeting to a larger number of people, you could also use YouTube to send your own video Christmas card. In a similar way, Flickr lets any number of friends enjoy your Christmas pictures.
Keeping up with Christmas traditions abroad is not necessarily as difficult as it seems. Depending on where you are in the world you’ll often find celebrations are taking place in some form or another. A good tip is to head to the largest mall in the vicinity, particularly if it’s an international chain, as shopping outlets often have Christmas decorations or even a Santa’s grotto. In Hong Kong an entire Christmas village is built annually in the center, complete with a wishing wall on which anyone can write their requests. Whilst Singapore’s famous Orchard Road lights up its many malls with incredible festive illuminations.
If you find yourself missing holiday television too, you don’t necessarily have to rely on DVDs. For example, if you’re a Brit, you can watch the Queen’s Speech on You Tube from 3pm UK time on Christmas Day. The BBC also has an international version of its iPlayer service, which is available in countries like Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg The Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland, which you can subscribe to for a fee.
For most of us, Christmas dinner is one of the highlights of the day. However, this can also be one of the hardest traditions to replicate overseas.
The good news is that most large cities have outlets that sell food for homesick Expats and many seasonal items usually make it onto their shelves. Marks & Spencer now have food outlets in most major European, Middle East and Asian cities and larger branches offer many Christmas favourites– right down to the sprouts. Food halls in shopping malls can also offer festive treats.
If all else fails, most parts of the traditional Christmas dinner, from stuffing mix to gravy granules can be substituted for fresh ingredients, so you might find a shortage brings out your inner chef. At least dessert is easy to arrange, as Christmas puddings can be ordered from abroad and stored for months.
More on life as an expat
For more on living and working abroad, don’t forget to download our free eBook The New Expat which covers family matters, accommodation issues, financial arrangements, medical considerations and much more.
Merry Christmas from everyone here at Now Health.