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Christmas can be fun even when you’re away from home, especially with tips from the Teachers For Asia Team on how to make the most of the festive season in Asia!

It’s almost Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year. Admittedly Christmas can be tough when you are far away from home and loved ones. It can be especially hard in Asia, where it is not always widely celebrated. But all is not lost – there are lots of wonderful, alternative ways to spend your holidays. We, the festive folk at Teachers For Asia, are here to steer you in the right direction with lots of fun filled Christmas suggestions – a “Christmas Survival Guide” if you will. We challenge you to do anything suggested on our list and not have fun! (Excluding all Grinches – you guys are on your own).

  1. Create your own Christmas cheer and decorate your house, room or apartment. A trip to your local bargain store will see you on your way and won’t break the bank. The trip is worth it if only to enjoy the random Christmas tack you can find along the aisles of these stores in the run up to Christmas.
  2. Harass families and friends back home for care packages filled with delicious treats. Given the time of year it shouldn’t be too hard to persuade them, then share your loot with friends of other nationalities. It’s a great way to learn more about how your ex-pat mates spend Christmas at home; I for one am a better person for trying a “turtle” (ask the Canadians).
  3. Invite your friends round to your newly decorated abode for a Christmas movie-watching session. Whilst munching on your supplies sent from home you can watch Elf, Miracle on 34th Street or Scrooged. Add a sense of occasion with your goofiest Christmas jumper.
  4. Check with local expat bars to see if they are hosting festive pot-lucks or movie nights, if they are not – suggest it! Most bars and pubs are more than happy to facilitate event evenings if it means they get bums on seats.
  5. Embrace your inner child with a working Christmas in school. I know I was disappointed when I heard that I’d be working my first Christmas Eve ever, that was until I discovered that Santa Claus was coming to visit us and we would be spending the afternoon exchanging presents and watching HOME ALONE. Trying to explain to Asian six years olds how the McCallisters managed to leave their child home alone is an entertaining and heart-warming Christmas experience.
  6. Drop by a western brand coffee shop for a festive beverage. For all their shortcomings and commercialism, Starbucks and The Coffee Bean one hundred percent get on the Christmas train and if a peppermint mocha or egg nog frappachino while listening to “White Christmas” is not your thing, they are sure to have mince pies or Christmas cookies.
  7. Set aside a day to go shopping for gifts. The larger department stores usually have wonderful displays and you’ll be sure to pick up some Christmas specials. Picking out gifts for family and friends is a lovely way to spend your time and will certainly help you feel more part of the collective Christmas fever.
  8. Go to a local Church for a carol service. Most Catholic or Christian churches will have Midnight Mass or a service on Christmas Day. Even if it is not your faith – go along, sing along to the carols – what do we travel for, if not to broaden the mind.
  9. Check with your local embassy to see if they are they marking the occasion in any way. You will be surprised, most do and they are usually open to all citizens. This one is an added benefit as it’s also an excellent way to meet fellow countrymen.
  10. A final suggestion and perhaps the most important one, is to find a way to do something for those less fortunate. Volunteer at the local orphanage or animal shelter. An extra pair of hands will always be appreciated and being beaten at Monopoly by a seven year old or playing with a puppy in the snow should bring all your happy Christmas memories flooding back.

So although home is where the heart is, spending the holidays away does not need to be lonesome and sad. There’s no need to sink into depression or feel homesick. Yes, you would be happier at home but if time and circumstances do not allow it – enjoy your time in an alternative way.

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