22 Dec, 2017
10 : 00
For international school students in Beijing, there’s many reasons to be excited each day. Living in a city with 20 million people, 3,000 years of history, fabulous food and cultural sites – there’s always something fresh for students to find and discover.
At the same time, however, Beijing may not be the place that students most associate with the word “home”. Hailing from regions all over the world, they leave behind family, friends, and a familiarity with what the day ahead will hold.
During the holidays, expat students may become especially prone to feeling of homesick. Even if families have plans to return to their home country during the break, much of the holiday fun is in the weeks of anticipation before the actual day – when the holiday spirit permeates the community.
Hayley Edge, Humanities teacher at Yew Chung International School of Beijing, offers ideas and advice to help students ward off the potential for homesickness and to celebrate the holidays in full during their time abroad.
Volunteering: An Outward Outlook
Volunteering is a wonderful way for students to embrace in the holiday spirit of giving. Through participation in the International BaccalaureateCAS Programme, YCIS Beijing students work with charities towards providing food, healthcare and education to people in need. Working with charities such as Starfish Project and Dew Drop Little Flower, students remain engaged in service-based activities throughout the holiday season.
Other options for students include raising money for Yew Chung Foundation’s own Seeds of Hope Charity through projects such as a Christmas Bazaar. With each of these projects, students focus less on the aspects of the holiday that they’re missing, and more on bringing to life the holiday spirit of giving.
Deck the Halls
In students’ home countries, the entire community transforms during the holiday season through decoration, food and music. While living abroad, however, the environment offers little reminder of the big day ahead.
Yet because of the importance of the environment in stirring up holiday spirit, expat families can pay special attention towards making their own living space overflow with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes from back home. Decorate every room. Play holiday music for the family to enjoy. Bake traditional snacks and watch holidays movies regularly during the weeks before the event.
Though there may be little reminder when walking outside, upon stepping back inside your house or apartment, you can immerse yourself and your family in the holiday spirit.
Sometimes, the best medicine for homesickness is to share with others what you miss about home. Ask yourself, what are the traditions that makes the holiday season special? What are my favourite activities to do during this time of year? And then share these traditions and activities with friends who’ve never experienced them.
Invite classmates over to your home and immerse them as well in the holiday atmosphere. Offer them the foods, music, and movies that makes the holiday so special. And in doing so, you can experience the holiday again afresh, through their eyes.