Not being with the people you love during the holidays is difficult. After all isn’t family, love and happiness the true essence of the holidays? However, not everyone can afford to go back home to see their beloved ones which makes it harder to handle the holiday blues. And it doesn’t help that it’s getting colder outside. Research shows that cold weather impacts your mood negatively: it makes you tired, sleepy and can even make you depressed.
The holidays are about good will and cheer yet it can bring all sorts of emotions about the previous year or your past that can make you feel extremely lonely and vulnerable.
This post is dedicated to all the International Students who are living abroad, alone and far away from family. I am thinking of you as I write this and I empathize with you on so many levels about being far away from family.
I only get to see my family once a year and my friends who live here get to see their parents often. I hate to say it but I am envious of my friends who get to go back home every now and then. Going back to Vietnam is not a 6 hour drive. It is a 17 hour flight. It is tedious, draining and exhausting.
Feeling isolated, sad and vulnerable when the people all around you feel joyous and happy is not the best feeling in the entire world. But like you, there are others out there who have no friends, family nearby or feel disconnected, estranged from the people around them. It is difficult but you have to eventually learn how to cope with it because this is the only way for you to SURVIVE AND THRIVE in a foreign country.
If I kept comparing myself to my peers and kept isolating myself I wouldn’t be here today. Engaging in negative talk is emotionally draining and detrimental to your emotional wellbeing. That sounds silly but I am serious. You need to take care of yourself and muster up the courage to have a healthy mentality in order for you to survive and excel in a foreign country.
To keep myself sane I always tell myself every year that the holidays is a time for me to celebrate how far I’ve made it to America. I came here alone. My family had no clue how to emotionally support me so I had to figure everything out by myself. They didn’t even want me to come to America in the beginning. They wanted me to stay in Vietnam. I love my country but I also acknowledge that there are not a lot of opportunities compared to America.
I wanted to achieve bigger things in my life and I knew Los Angeles the city of entertainment was going to allow me to network and find jobs that would ultimately make me satisfied.
Anyways going back to my topic about dealing with christmas alone I want to tell you that it will take some time for you to cope with being lonely but you will also find out to your surprise that the more time you spend alone, the more you appreciate your own company. You will also learn to become more independent and start going out alone and not caring what people think of you. Back in Vietnam, I was so used to going shopping, eating and doing almost everything with my friends. When I came to America, I started becoming more independent and doing things on my own.
Being self-reliant is a rewarding experience.
Surviving Christmas alone doesn’t have to be dreadful. All you need is a good mentality and be kind to yourself during this time. Don’t look at others and compare yourself to them. Create your own definition of Christmas.
While no advice can take away the pain here are a few tips to beat the holiday blues
#1 Volunteer: Do some research and you will find that there are plenty of organizations that do food drives, donations and other projects for you to participate if you want to give back to the community.
#2 Get Active: While everyone is on holiday wouldn’t it be nice to get a head start? Makes goals and get active whether that’s walking, jogging or going to the gym. Endorphins make you happy and you will feel proud of yourself for doing so.
#3 Dig in a good book: Our lives are so congested with social media and technology that we often forget the more simpler activities in life like reading a book and not going online constantly. Take the break to read some of your favorite books. One of my past time hobbies is searching random books on Amazon because they have plenty of books to choose from and it’s cheap. If you don’t want to spend money, take a trip to Barnes and Noble. In the past, when I was bored all I did was go to Barnes and Noble and read. I spent so much time there, I was literally reading books for free 😛
#4 Plan time in the kitchen: Cooking is often seen as a chore and something we all tend to avoid when we are busy. Well, no more excuses during this Winter break. Take this time to make use of this wonderful life skill. Both men and women should know how to cook. This is a great survival skill and will actually help you save money in the long run and allow you to know what goes in your food. Thanks to cooking I’ve appreciated more home cook meals. I don’t like eating out as much and I like knowing where my food came from or what is it in 🙂
#5 Find someone else that will be alone too: You’d be surprise how many people do not go home during the Winter break. Ask your close friends and see if they have any friends that are staying local. Do a meet up, excursion and get to network while you can.
#6 Get ahead start with school: Holidays go by very fast. If you’re feeling ambitious and ready to make a start I suggest renting/buying your textbooks once you’ve registered for your new classes. Start by reading your textbooks over the holidays. I used to do this for my difficult classes so when school started I would already know what material was going to be covered in class. By reading ahead I felt less stressed and had more time for other things like going the gym :p
#7 Look for internships: Finding internships is a tedious process. Make a plan during the holidays to go on LinkedIn to look for internships and update your profile while you’re at it. You can look through your university alumni to see where they have worked previously. If you are interested in that field or job set up an informational interview. LMU actually provides some tips for students regarding job search and internships here.
#8 Binge watch Netflix: And if all else fails and you are feeling extra lazy… binge watch Netflix! Nothing more relaxing than that. I am so obsessed with AGENTS OF SHIELD. I can’t wait for the holidays to watch more episodes.
No matter what age you are there is nothing wrong with wanting to bring back the magic of being a kid at Christmas even when you are living abroad and alone. But, remember keep things in perspective. Soon all the decorations come down and stores will start preparing for something else.
I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving break. I spent it in bed with a lot of ice packs because I just got a Fraxel dual procedure done to help my acne scarring.
Two more weeks left and my first semester at LMU will be over. I can’t believe it! I survived my first semester and it went well 🙂 Whew!
I hope you all have a great week.