How Do You Cope With Missing Holidays/Celebrations While Living Abroad?
How do I cope with missing holidays/celebrations whilst living abroad? Well aside from walking around on an Easter egg hunt singing Christmas carols, doused in tinsel, with baubles hanging from my ears carrying a birthday cake, I try to first breathe and think about the long run.
It has not been easy; in fact it has been pretty darn difficult. I came to Taiwan at probably the worst time for not being around in Britain’s great historical social calendar. I arrived and missed the royal wedding of Kate and Wills, I kicked myself for that one, thousands upon thousands took to the streets waving the good old red white and blues to commiserate the darling royals. Where was I? Throwing a sticky ball at a target on a white board. Hoorah!
I mean that was bad enough right? Wrong! My timing added a rock of sea salt to my open British wound as I managed to be teaching in Taiwan during the whole of the Olympics! Yes, that event that only comes to a country once every I-don’t-even-know-how-many years decided to grace the British Isles with its presence as I was out here, playing teacher says (If only they knew what teacher was really saying under his breath). There were only so many Olympics themed classes that the school wanted to throw at me that I could take.
Aside from these events there are the regular birthdays, Christmas’s, funerals and weddings that you miss, each one pulling tighter on that invisible home country umbilical cord pulling you back. So how do you cope?
Skype becomes your best friend and savior
Ah Skype, how I love thee and your magical ways of connecting loved ones across the globe. If you are an expat and you don’t have Skype then you must be either oblivious to this magical creation or seriously upset with your family.
It is such an essential tool for keeping in touch, particularly over Christmas time, which I think is the hardest period for an expat to miss. For me, Christmas time is family time, where we all sit down and argue at the dinner table, get the latest gossip on extended family members, and get very very merry; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Which is the exact reason why I Skype my family when they are eating Christmas dinner and sit with them through the whole circus that is Christmas dinner in my family. In a sense I’m there, I’m involved, and that’s good enough for me.
The essential expats
Of course don’t keep your mind entirely focused on home during these periods, try to find other expats that share your countries traditions and recreate them where you are. Better yet why not find different expats with different traditions and throw them all in a bag together and shake.
I have a British friend here in Taiwan who I absolutely adore because he reminds me so much of home, he’s my British anchor in this Taiwan Sea of stinky Tofu, temples, and hello (god damn) kitty.
Think of the future
In times of longing for home I always ask myself, is it going anywhere? Britain will still be Britain when I go home, albeit with a new look, but the zeitgeist of the country will remain ever present; sarcasm will still be rife, drinking will still be number one priority and people will still be complaining about the weather (whether hot or cold, or even just right).
So I try to get into the mindset of thinking that once I am back home for good, amidst the arguments at the Christmas dinner table, I am going to have all of these amazing memories and stories about where I was a few Christmas’s ago, and how amazing is that!