Spending The Holidays Abroad: How To Cope
Coping Over F.O.M.O
This Thursday will be the start a busy holiday season in the United States. Living in Taiwan, it’s just another day. The next big holiday isn’t until February (Chinese New Year), so things are pretty calm here.
I was talking on the phone with my mother, where she told me about the family’s plans for Thanksgiving. I was so thrown off guard when she brought that up. In only four short months, I’ve been completely out of the loop with many things going on back home. I forgot all about Thanksgiving.
People who live in a countries with a very different culture than their home country are often faced with a bit of a dilemma when a big celebration at home is about occur. They will miss out on feasting with their family and friends as well as all of the traditions that occur on each respective holiday. Some may feel a bit despressed because they’re suffering from F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out). Some just feel “meh” and decide not to partake in those traditions since they are out of the country for either personal, political and/or social reasons.
I’m the latter.
Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas, New Years, Easter, and American Independence Day will just be another day to me. I was never really big on celebrating holidays from my teenage years on. To me, it was just a convenient day to spend time with family and close friends because the majority didn’t have to work. Since that’s no longer in the picture, I will just continue to work my normal day instead of just squeezing in some work before the family dinner.
I know every foreigner doesn’t share the same sentiments to me. To them, the holidays may have more significance. For those who feel this way, here are some ways to cope during holidays in your current country of residence.
#1 Call Your Family
Holidays are usually centered around family traditions. The reason many people feel sad during the holidays is because they’re not around them and feel that they are missing out. Call/Skype/text your family. They’re most likely off work, so you should be able to find a convenient time even if you live in a different timezone.
#2 Link Up With People Of Your Nationality
If there’s a community of people from your home country, hit them up! See what they’re doing. Chances are, they will have some sort of celebration on or around that holiday. In Taiwan, I know many people who are having Friendsgiving dinners over the weekend.
#3 Take A 24–48 Hour Break From Social Media
If you don’t want to suffer F.O.M.O., take a 24 to 48 hour break from social media so you’re not spending your take scrolling through all of your friends holiday pictures
#4 Share Your Culture
If you’re living in a country where people know little to zero information about holidays in your country, this would be a great time to talk about (or share) your traditions with your local friends. If you’re a teacher, maybe you can make a lesson surrounding it.
One thing I found insanely ironic about my job in Taiwan, is that I do more American holiday activities here than I did at home. For Halloween, I dressed up (that I completely finessed), created a lesson around it, and the school had an activity. For Thanksgiving, I had my students make a 3D turkey. For Christmas, there will be another activity day at the school. Last time I put this much effort in the holidays, I was a child.
#5 If You Can’t Fellowship On Your Holidays, Fellowship On Theirs
Part of moving to another country is immersing into their culture. What are the big holidays in your country of residence? There’s a very good chance that your host country, has a holiday centered around family, friends, food, fellowship, and overall good vibes. Join their celebrations and learn more about the history and meaning behind it.
Last month, I celebrated the Moon Festival in Taiwan by having dinner at my capoeira instructor’s house. There were even people in the neighborhood who put on a little fireworks show. It was very similar to celebrating Independence Day.
Do/Have you lived abroad. Did you celebrate your home country’s holidays. If so, how did you celebrate? If not, what did you do instead?