Christmas is typically a time of year that we spend with family and friends, relaxing, unwinding and eating lots of food. And for most of us, it will be spent at home with our families. However, for some students, it isn’t possible to travel home for Christmas, and if you’re one of these students – try not to panic! I spoke to Rosnah Shik, 3rd year English Literature and Creative Writing student from Malaysia about her experiences in Bangor last Christmas.
What made you decide to stay in Bangor for Christmas last year? I stayed mainly due to financial reasons as it would be very expensive to fly home for every university holiday, and usually my family fly over to visit me.
How does life in halls at Christmas compare to halls during term time? Halls were very quiet, and with me being the only person left in my flat, at times it could be a bit lonely. I tried to walk into town often and get out and about as much as I could.
What types of things did you get up to over the break? I used the free time to work on my assignments and revise for my exams. I also spent a lot of time with friends who didn’t go home either, especially the other Malaysian students who I celebrated Christmas Day with.
What did you do to overcome loneliness? My family came to visit me for a bit, so when they were around things didn’t feel so lonely. When they left, I kept myself busy working on my assignments, but also taking regular breaks to talk to my friends that were in Bangor, and also calling my friends and family who were in Malaysia. I also have a friend who lives locally in Bangor so I would visit her and her family quite often.
What advice do you have for students who will be in Bangor over the Christmas holidays? Keep yourself busy – maybe try to get together with some other friends and take a mini trip somewhere? Also, enquire about what’s going on at the International Centre because they often have activities and events for international students who aren’t going home. Campus Life has events on until mid-December too. Also, I would say take the opportunity to revise and finish work early, and just enjoy the peace and quiet and time to relax!
Here are some ideas of things you can do over the Christmas holidays that will help you feel productive, healthy and happy:
- Set yourself goals – write down a list of things you want to achieve over the holiday like completing certain pieces of work, or going to the gym so many times each week. Make your goals achievable but also slightly challenging – this will help you stay motivated and give you a purpose for each day.
- Stick to a routine – try to sleep, eat and study at similar times each day so you don’t lose track of your sleeping schedule and end up slothing for a few weeks. Sleep is important for both your physical and mental health, so try to get a good amount of it each night!
- Meet up with friends – before the holiday begins, establish who will be here and make some plans to see them. You could also try arrange to visit your friends in their hometowns, giving you the opportunity to see other parts of the UK, as well as not feeling stuck in Bangor for the whole holiday. If you don’t know many people here, then this might be the perfect time to meet some new people. Through mutual friends you could find out about other people who will be here, get in touch with them and maybe meet for a coffee in town?
- Stay in contact – call, text or FaceTime your friends and family from home often. They will be missing you too and will also want to make sure you are happy and safe.
- Stay warm – keep your heating on and stay wrapped up. You don’t want to end up spending the whole holiday ill in bed! I also suggest you get a flu vaccination too!
- Keep your cupboards full – you never know when the weather could turn, and you don’t want to be venturing out in heavy snow and having to carry heavy shopping bags back as you’ve got nothing to eat! Treat yourself to your favourite foods on Christmas day, or get together with some friends and cook a roast dinner.
- Smash your Uni work – get ahead of your assignments and do some revision. Revising little and often over the weeks off is much more effective than cramming everything in the last few days. This time off is the perfect chance to get ahead with work, so make the most of it.
- Be active – maybe aim to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, or make the most of your gym membership and attend some exercise classes. As well as improve your body and health, exercise increases your levels of happiness. Taking part in exercise classes is also a good way to meet new people and make friends.
- Do some local site seeing – the time off is the perfect opportunity to explore the local area, even if you’re doing it alone. North Wales is beautiful (especially in the snow!) and you can discover different buses and train routes to see places.
- Get a job – lots of local shops and restaurants will be looking for Christmas staff, especially as many of their student’s workers will be at home. Enquire with local businesses whether there is any work available. Some of my best Christmases and New Years have been spent working behind a bar or waitressing, as people are really friendly and happy at Christmas, and the tips are fab.
- Volunteer your time – See if there are any local volunteering projects, like befriending the elderly or serving Christmas lunch to the homeless. Helping others will make you feel more fulfilled.