My first Christmas in England was amazing! I was still living in Cambridge with a mate’s family. I had the ultimate English Christmas. At the time I was also working at the Classical Faculty Library, Cambridge University, so it was an occasion of champagne receptions, dinner at King’s College and so on. For a working class girl from the islands, it was like a fairy tale. When I moved to London, life was less glitzy. I moved into a flat-share in East London. One of my flatmates kindly invited to join her for Christmas lunch at a hotel in Colchester, Essex. I can’t remember the name of the hotel but her act of kindness stayed with me. Getting through Christmas as expat requires planning, these are my four tips.

Three steps for getting through Christmas as an expat:

  • Get connected
  • Get the Grub
  • Gather your crew
  • Go underground

Get Connected- As a newbie expat Post Office phone cards were integral to keeping in touch with my family. These days there’s Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp and more cost-effective phone cards. Take the difference into consideration, plan with friends and family to call for a catch up over the holidays. It’s not the same as being together but having cyber quality time is the next best thing.

Get grub- When I left Trinidad couldn’t cook, by the time my second Christmas in London came around I was making macaroni pie, vegetable rice and chicken ( I didn’t need a Turkey). Finding out from fellow expats where to source ingredients for your dishes is in itself a treat. The sight sounds and banter is such fun. The smell of the prepared dishes is like culinary aromatherapy.

Gather your crew- Once you have grub, gather your crew.  Introduce your new friends to your culture. Host a potluck party, expats assemble. Food always brings people together, what better time than Christmas to get together.

Go underground- If all else fails, you can always go underground and hibernate.  There is no need for this to be a ‘sad’ experience. Christmas is one day. Simply stock up on your creature comforts, batten down the hatches and chill. Let the madness pass you by.

What was your first expat Christmas like? How did you get through it? I would love to hear from you?


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