Celebrating Holidays Abroad

Elden Winkelman 4

If you choose to do a semester long or year- long program you may find yourself celebrating the holidays away from home. Of course you don’t have to spend that time alone! Here are a few ideas to keep yourself from getting lonely during the holidays in a new country:

  • Celebrate with friends! This may seem obvious, but often times people won’t or don’t know how to ask friends to spend time with them for more important occasions. Make it as similar to your home experience as you like. Exchange gifts, no matter how large or small, cook together, and go to holiday events together. These activities can make great memories.
  • If a holiday is happening that you have never experienced before or that you have never heard of, talk to any friends you have that are locals. Ask them what they are doing. Some people may be willing to invite you into their home to see how they celebrate. Don’t invite yourself in, but show interest in their culture.
  • Take advantage of the things that may be happening around your city. Go to Christmas markets, take part in Carnival parades and celebrations, or celebrate independence days of the country you’re in with the locals. Often, holidays are a huge part of a culture. Go out and experience it!
  • The most important thing is to be proactive. If you sit at home hoping for someone to invite you somewhere, it may never happen. Also, don’t say no – even if it doesn’t seem interesting or important to you. You could gain a lot from taking part. You never know what you will enjoy until you try it.

Photo courtesy of Elden Winkelman.


Elden Winkelman is a senior at the University of Kentucky studying Foreign Language (German) & International Economics. Elden participated in a academic year-long Exchange program in Heidelberg, Germany in 2014-2015.