Long and lonely Christmas abroad…

It’s Christmas time! Time to tell your grandparents how you are doing, play football with your nephew and board games with your siblings. But what if you are studying abroad and your family is on the other side of the world?

Are you going to celebrate Christmas with friends or just with the cat? (Photos: Roos van Tongeren)

You would expect the international associations to organize a range of events for international students, but no. The international office of the TU isn’t organizing anything this year, nor is the Latin American association, the Indian association or the Erasmus association ESN. “Normally, we would do something, but this year we are going on holiday with the whole board,” said Mina Kocaman, secretary of ESN Delft. “We did some Christmas things, like Christmas drinks, a Christmas party and a gala together with ESN Leiden.” Kocaman celebrates Christmas in Turkey, where nothing special happens on the birthday of Jesus Christ. “We celebrate Christmas on New Year’s Eve. Santa visits on the first of January. It might seem a bit weird, but we are a Muslim country, so it doesn’t have anything to do with Christ.”

Not sure what to do for Christmas? See what these Architecture students are doing and get inspired.



Alan comes from India and is staying in Delft

“I’m a Christian, so I’m going to celebrate it in the Franciscus and Clara Church behind the main train station. Around 25 international students go to that church, there is an Indian pastor and more younger people. We will have dinner and a night service.”

“In India, we traditionally go around the houses in a group that can add up to fifty people. We sing carols and collect all the people to go to the night service. The next day, everyone comes to church and helps with preparing dinner. You can collect vegetables from the garden, cook, or give money. At the end of the day we have a big feast for everyone.”

Anubhuti comes from India and will travel through Europe

“This will be my first real Christmas. One time I celebrated it in a Portuguese city. There was a midnight prayer, but everyone was dressed up for the party after the midnight prayer. I liked it. In India we don’t celebrate it, because we are Hindu, we only have three small churches in our city. We see it as a regular holiday.”

“I will go to Berlin and visit Christmas markets with a friend. After that, we will travel through Germany to see the architecture of the country. I’ve heard good stories about it.”


Kim comes from South Korea and is staying in the Netherlands

“I have no plans for Christmas. I think I will go to Amsterdam and do a small road trip through the Netherlands, because I haven’t seen a lot of cities yet. Most of my friends will go home, but I am not. In South Korea, Christmas is not as widespread as in the Netherlands. People celebrate it by having dinner together and a day off, but not everyone has a tree or gives presents. I’m not sad about spending Christmas alone. We have a lot of group activities in the faculty, and it’s nice to have some time for myself.”


Kasperi comes from Finland and will go back home

“I’m going home to celebrate a traditional Christmas. Before Christmas I will spend some time with friends in a summer cottage. I will spend December 24 and 25 with my family and see my grandparents at a traditional dinner. On December 26, it’s tapaninpaiva, which translates to something like “John’s Day”. That day you spend with friends, because you have had enough time with family during the preceding days. One of my friends is throwing a party. In the two weeks I am spending in Finland, I hope I can play ice hockey on one of the frozen football fields.”

“Santa’s home is situated in Finland. Small children believe he really exists. On the 24th of December, he will go around the houses to give children presents. Families can hire someone to play Santa, like a student in a Santa suit, or they can dress up someone familiar, like an uncle. So no socks on the chimney mantelpiece in Finland!”


Subhranshu comes from India and will travel through Europe

“With five Indian students, we will go on a European trip. We’ll visit Munich and Innsbruck. After that we will go to Cologne and celebrate New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam. In my region, we don’t really celebrate Christmas. We used to do Secret Santa. You pick a name out of a hat, and you have to buy a present for that person. In the Master course we are now doing a project with 78 people. This Thursday, we will do Secret Santa with all of us. That will be great!”

“A lot of Europeans will go home to celebrate Christmas. But why spend money going home, if you can travel around Europe?”

Still not sure what to do with the happiest time of the year? Read these articles for more ideas!

Roos van Tongeren / Redacteur

Editor Redactie

Do you have a question or comment about this article?

Comments are closed.