Have you thought about what you will be doing over Christmas? Will you be going home? Or are you planning to stay in the UK?
There are over two thousand international students who represent 100 countries at University of Central Lancashire.
True, not all of us celebrate Christmas, some come from cultures that celebrate Christmas in different ways while for others Christmas is not celebrated at all. Whatever it maybe it is hard not to experience some element of Christmas as the holidays approach.
Shopping windows filled with Christmas decorations and unbelievably attractive sales find students queuing up to buy their presents for Christmas or something special for their loved ones back home.
But some students aren’t as fortunate to return home for the holidays. Students who can’t go home at Christmas can find themselves in a difficult place without friends or support structures around.
Thirty three year old Jude Nwagbara, who is pursuing his postgraduate studies in Human Resource Management said he won’t be going back home in Nigeria this Christmas due to financial constraints.
“Home is far from here, it isn’t easy going back and forth whenever you want to. I will be spending my holidays in Preston. I think it should be fun as long as I my friends to celebrate with.” he said.
But most of the international students have agreed that they would love to know and experience how Christmas is celebrated in Britain.
First year International Journalism students, Pang Yanrong and Kerstin Tschernigg excitedly quip that they love learning about the culture here as it is wonderful how various people celebrate Christmas differently.
“I am going to buy a plastic Christmas tree and decorate it and sing carols in different languages!” said Kerstin.
They plan to have a mini Christmas celebration in advance before they part ways for the holidays.
Kerstin Tschernigg said she will spend ‘actual Christmas’ back home in Austria. “I am going back to my home country and plan to celebrate Christmas traditionally with my family. I will go to church at 10pm. Before that we'll exchange gifts, sing under the Christmas tree and have dinner together.” she entailed.
While, Pang Yanrong won’t be going back home to Singapore but instead will be heading to Munich for Christmas to visit her cousin who is studying there. “I don’t think it is worth the price of the flight to fly back to Singapore for a week or so and back again.”
Uzondu Izidoro, Business student from Nigeria said he is most likely to stay back in Preston as well. But he did go on to add that no matter where they celebrate it Christmas is a time for families and friends to celebrate the holidays and share memories of warm celebrations and delicious food.
If you wish to experience a traditional Christmas with an English family, you can. Christmas Hospitality is an organization that allows you to spend the festivity with a Christian family who are willing to share their traditional Christmas day: a time of festivity, celebration, family times, and the remembrance of a very special birth.
This is open to all international students of any or no religion and there is no charge involved. The scheme has been running since 2004 and the feedback from students has all been positive. To register log on www.christmashospitality.com. Although, numbers may be limited by the numbers of host families available and the places will be allocated in the order in which registrations are made.
If you are planning on staying on-campus over Christmas then you must look at the recommended list of events lined up for you this Christmas.
But no matter where you are, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous year.
(This feature was originally published in PR1 Magazine on 29th November 2010)
PR1 is University of Central Lancashire's Student Magazine.
To read issue: http://issuu.com/jamesbutlin/docs/pr1issue61