Christmas break is the most anticipated time of year for most college students. The holiday coincides with a worldwide sigh of relief as students everywhere place their concluding final onto their professor’s desk or upload that last paper.
The semester’s stress vanishes, and the weight of school-related troubles transforms from overwhelming to practically nonexistent. For most, Christmas break offers a few weeks of solace and replenishment, and venturing back to your old stomping grounds is almost expected.
You get to bask in the comfort of your childhood bedroom, enjoy your mom’s home-cooked meals and reconnect with hometown friends; it’s the ease of cozy indulgence exemplified by the general warmth that comes from the Christmas season.
Sadly, this is not the case for all students. Whether by choice — or lack thereof — not all college students return home for Christmas. Staying on campus through the break might be considered a last resort by most, but abandoning one’s university to make cookies for Santa Claus is admittedly not for everyone.
For a college student, filling your well-deserved break with great company, food, drinks and reflection does not necessarily have to be accompanied by a plane ticket back home or catching up with relatives. Skip the intoxicated uncle, winter travel, excessive gift buying and the judgment regarding your major. Here are all the alternative options things you could do rather than go home for Christmas.
1. Tropical Vacation
This is a great alternative to your typical Christmas holiday even if the option is typically accompanied by family, which is completely reasonable if that’s something you’re interested in partaking in.
Switch your eggnog to piña coladas, winter parkas for bathing suits and sledding for swimming. Instead of spending time and money with your family, in ways you have likely done many times before, dive into fresh experiences in a foreign locale together. Or, simply bask in the sun in silence.
Then again, you do not need necessarily family for this type of occasion. Go alone, go with fellow friends also craving an escape or run away on a romantic spontaneous getaway with a partner.
Sometimes known as an “orphan Christmas,” Friendsmas gifts students with an alternative holiday option when it is too expensive to get home or you have no desire to see your family at all.
Maybe your college home is your new home. Regardless of the reasoning, hosting Friendsmas is more common than it appears to be. Although loneliness might accompany the lack of a home filled with Christmas traditions and the smell of fresh baked cookies, orphan Christmases are the types of celebrations that can be the most fun.
To start, you can create your own traditions. With unexplored territory comes the opportunity for endless possibilities. Less expectations equal more freedom. Organize a potluck, arrange a Christmas gift exchange and meet like-minded students stuck on campus for Christmas break.
Plus, if you do not have friends staying onsite for the holidays, in most towns and cities, families, organizations and even restaurants invite “orphans” to enjoy Christmas dinner alongside them. Locating an organization that serves Christmas dinner might convert the loneliest time of year into a remarkable memory. If anything represents Christmas, it is kindness, sharing and giving, so feel free to find that with strangers, acquaintances and friends alike.
3. Save The Money And Spend It On Yourself
If there is one advantage to staying at your university for Christmas, it means that you get to save your money and spend it on whatever you like. In all honesty, countless students forget to prioritize self-care during their college and university days, and after a grueling semester, kick-starting a hobby, budgeting for a trip or buying a sleek pair of shoes might be what you need to avoid the winter blues.
Treat yourself for a spa day, take your friends out for that nice dinner or sign up for that piano lesson. Or, you might want to simply save the extra cash for a rainy day when you are feeling extra burnt-out next semester.
4. Explore Your Community
If you are a freshman or recently enrolled at your university, your studies usually consume the entirety of your free time, so expand your horizons beyond the campus. Discover what your community, city or state has to offer. Explore beyond your familiar route to class and go to that restaurant on the other side of campus.
Sign up for a club that is not related to your degree. It’s difficult to capitalize on the freedom of the college experience when you have a myriad of school-related priorities, but you are more than just a student. I know. It’s shocking, right? Use the winter break as a time of self-discovery.
“Wait, what? Work during the holiday break? Are you crazy?” Before you make any hasty judgments, hear me out.
To start, work might be the reason that you cannot go home in the first place, and that’s understandable. You need to provide for yourself, and your place of employment is vital to that. So, mix work with funding an orphan Christmas, saving money for yourself and working suddenly turns into a valid holiday option.
Be proud of yourself for working so hard, and if staying trapped at your job means that Christmas is ruined this year, meditate on how investing in yourself at this moment will benefit your future.
Every year, Christmas comes prepackaged with expectations. Just because you might have to stray away from the expected normalities of the holiday season does not mean you cannot enjoy it. Regardless of your situation, Christmas break is well-deserved; it’s a time designed for enjoyment, rejuvenation and fun for you, whatever that possibly entails. Spend the holiday wherever you might call home and never forget the reason for the season.