Feeling lonely this Christmas? Top tips to take advantage of this time

It’s that period of the year again as things slowly wrap to a close: the final exams written, the library empties itself overnight and the busy sound of footsteps on the cobbled streets around George Square become faint, distant…

Spending the holidays away from home

As a student from overseas, the thought of being away from family and friends often plagues my mind. The festive season is a time for giving and celebration, it provides us with the time to make the sorts of memories that will go on to live in our minds for years to come (for better or worse)!  But what happens if – like myself this year – you become unable to go home for the holidays missing out on spending wintry days around the warmth of a log-fire and loved ones?

Christmas back home might be gospel for most students. I personally can’t think of another time of the year when I’m more likely to be in my hometown, but noticing the presence of others diminish around the university has opened my eyes to those who remain. 

Speaking to some other students in my department, similar stories cropped up:

“It was just too expensive to travel back.”

“I live so far away that I couldn’t justify taking the time off.”

“The part of my thesis that I’m currently working on requires me to be here”.

Christmas for students, particularly postgraduates, can be a very lonely time indeed.  When friendship circles break up to go back home, a few find themselves lost and out of routine – coffee breaks alone, lunch at one’s desk, dinner and a movie in their dorm. While it’s difficult not to focus on the fact that activities were once done with friends now consist of me, myself and I, getting used to this is simpler than one would think. This change in routine can lead you to find out more about yourself in the long-run.

Having stayed in Scotland for Christmas alone the second year in a row, I have listed my top tips to make this time meaningful:

1. Be more social! 

Go out and meet new people based on your hobbies and activities! Platforms like MeetUp can provide you with an electronic getaway to join and meet groups and like-minded people around Edinburgh.

2. Start a sport or join the gym! 

The University’s Sport & Exercise offers HUGE discounts over the festive period where you can swim, gym and go to classes.  They also have badminton courts, squash, tennis, basketball…to name a few!

3. Explore a new hobby! 

Spending hours on Instagram scrolling through beautiful craft projects?  Wish you had the time to create that?  Now you do!  Hobbycraft has every crafty material under the sun; shop to your heart’s content for a new project to keep you busy.

4. Give your food to a good cause!

Christmas volunteering has become really popular as part of the fight to end poverty.  Food donation banks are everywhere around Edinburgh and are easy to find through Google.

5. Travel!

Now that you have time to yourself – why not take a trip around Scotland? Visit other cities, castles, maybe even venture into the Highlands!

6. Read and relax! 

“Reading?! But I do that every day!” Not that type of reading – it’s so rare for researchers to wander back into the literary world and read outside of their research.  Venture into an independent bookshop (Edinburgh is full of them) and choose a book that picks your fancy!