After the decision to go abroad has been made, it’s completely natural to start thinking of all the fun things you’ll be missing back home. You might convince yourself that holidays just won’t be the same if you’re away from home. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Although holidays are often steeped in tradition, and center around family and friends, spending a holiday abroad can be a great learning opportunity, and can draw you closer to those around you! Here are just a few reasons that holidays abroad can be awesome.
- You get the opportunity to educate your new friends and host family on your ‘American’ holiday. Take Thanksgiving for example. It’s so much more than just eating turkey until you feel sick, and it can be fun to explain your customs and traditions to people who might not be familiar with your culture!
- You get time to reflect on what the holiday means to you. Maybe every Independence Day you have a cookout, and you have to change your habits a bit this year. But what is the deeper meaning behind this day? More than food, fun, and friends, why do you celebrate this day? Being forced to change our patterns can help us to reflect more on the things we might normally take for granted.
- You might learn something about the holiday that you didn’t know before. It can be hard to explain an American concept in a language that’s not your own. You might have to ask a friend or do a bit of research that can lead to a learning opportunity!
- You have a chance to learn more about another culture. Sure France doesn’t celebrate the Fourth of July. They’ve been ‘independent’ for a while now. On the other hand, the French have national holidays that we don’t celebrate, like Bastille Day. How do other cultures observe their holidays? Are they centered around food? Dressing in costume? Take this chance to learn about your new surroundings; holidays can tell you a lot about a culture.
- Celebrating a holiday without your family gets you to realize that you have a larger family than you might have thought. Birthdays are awesome; you get all the attention! Your friends and family might give you presents, bake you a cake, or give you special privileges. There might be different customs surrounding a birthday in other cultures, but you’ll still be able to see that the people around you care about you. Being abroad with other students can help you to bond over a shared holiday; you might feel closer to your host family after experiencing a celebration with them, and you might really feel the love from other students at your school.
No matter what the holiday, although you didn’t get to celebrate how you might normally, being abroad for a holiday is an awesome experience.
By: Aimee Goffinet, A French & International Studies Major and Education Abroad Peer Ambassador at the University of Kentucky.
Aimee has participated on three Education Abroad programs: a winter, UK Sponsored program in India, a summer program in Paris, France with KIIS, and a semester in Grenoble, France with CEA