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Lauren Hawley

Cultural Activities This Season!

Share your holiday traditions and customs with a student from a different country. This is a great way to expand your knowledge and understanding of how other countries celebrate.

On December 25th, over 2 billion people (over a third of the world’s population) will celebrate Christmas Day! People celebrate Christmas Day in many ways. It is often combined with customs from pre-Christian winter celebrations. Many people decorate their homes, visit family or friends and exchange gifts. In the days or even weeks before Christmas Day, many people decorate their homes and gardens with lights, Christmas trees and much more.

It is common to organize a special meal, often consisting of turkey and a lot of other festive foods, for family or friends and exchange gifts with them. Children, in particular, often receive a lot of gifts from their parents and other relatives and the mythical figure Santa Claus. This has led to Christmas Day becoming an increasingly commercialized holiday, with a lot of families spending a large part of their income on gifts and food.

Many Sunday schools, churches and communities organize special events. These can include decorating the neighborhood or a shopping mall, putting up a Christmas tree and planning a Nativity display, concert or performance. A lot of plays and songs have an aspect of Christmas as a theme. Some groups arrange meals, shelter or charitable projects for people without a home or with very little money.

Things you can do to celebrate the holidays in America and share with an exchange visitor!

  1. Make a holiday decoration: paper snowflakes, green & red paper chain, or garland out of popcorn!
  2. Watch a holiday classic like Elf or How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  3. Send holiday cards to nursing homes or troops overseas to let them know they’re remembered at Christmas
  4. Visit outdoor displays of Christmas lights and decorations with a cup a hot chocolate and marshmallows

Learn more about cultural exchange and the benefits at http://saeglobal.org/

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Coping with Holidays Abroad

The holidays can be a joyful time for many of us. Students may look forward to gift giving and having time off from school… But as we all know, the holidays are also a time when a student will be prone to homesickness and other stressors. By remembering why we love traveling abroad and not forgetting about home, we can cope with the holidays while we’re abroad.

Remember the many benefits travel provides. There’s a reason so many working professionals are shifting their attitudes toward remote working and bargaining for more paid time off or a few work-from-home days each week. Seeing the world doesn’t just teach you about what you’re made of as you race to make trains and use Google Translate to figure out what you’re buying at the grocery store, but O’Leary says traveling is soul-fulfilling.

Acknowledge your emotions. “It can be hard to handle the changes and transitions that accompany frequent moves and relocations. While it’s great to see new places, there’s also a lot to be said for settling into some consistency,” O’Leary said. But the first step to handling the weeks and the days is admitting and accepting those feelings of sadness. “If you acknowledge the fact that there will be things you’ll miss and things you’re happy to do without, you’ll set yourself up for success and avoid being blindsided by your emotions.”

Make time to talk with loved ones. Since most places of the world will offer some sort of internet connectivity, there’s no better time than when you’re feeling down scrolling through Facebook of family photos than to upgrade to the high-speed option and chat with your fam. Even if you can’t pass them the eggnog or throw a football with your brothers, you can be part of their celebrations digitally.
Creating that feeling of connection is a smart, healthy way to make the most out of your nomadic lifestyle, while also having the space you need to explore, according to O’Leary. “Reaching out to family members allows you to keep up with personal details and also share in memories that are important to you,” she added.

Send holiday cards or letters from wherever you are. You might also opt to write a holiday card list this year — and OK, check it twice if you have time before boarding for a last-minute side trip to Bali. “Writing letters is a fantastic way to organize your thoughts and create a meaningful connection. While it may be hard for you to receive mail if your address is changing frequently, the simple act of sending letters helps you focus on what’s important to you despite the distance,” O’Leary said. After all, you don’t need Santa’s sleigh to make it around the world — a festive stamp on a postcard will ring in the season just fine, no matter where your reindeer, err, next adventure, takes you.

Original article by Travel and Leisure Blog Writer Lindsay Tigar

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