Being an international zombie: Stuck on campus during holidays
While being an international student is full of terrific experiences, there can be the small issue of what to do during the holidays. Not all international students can afford to go home at the end of each term, or it just isn’t worth the trip for that space of time. Campus can feel a little too quiet, like a scene from The Walking Dead.
The majority of students will go home. It can be lonely if you don’t make plans beforehand. However, most universities will make efforts to entertain those who cannot travel home during this period. Ask around, and you’ll surely find something going on. Alternatively, if you would prefer some peace and quiet following a hectic term of work and socialising, you might welcome the break.
Below are a few ideas to keep you busy:
A slightly boring option, but a worthwhile one. If you were at home, sitting down to prepare for the following term wouldn't seem too appealing. Without housemates distracting you, you may find that you can get more work done. Use this time to experiment with your studying habits. Perhaps you feel more enthusiastic about reading in the evening, or early in the morning? You may just not know it yet. If you have a long reading list for the upcoming term, start now and do a little each day.
With options like Netflix and many TV networks streaming content, it’s easier than ever for a student to keep up to date with their favourite TV shows. Normally, we would recommend actually talking to people at university, rather than sitting on your own watching TV. Now with everyone gone, you can finally sit down and obsess over that TV show everyone on your course is talking about. TV is actually a brilliant way to start conversations with new people, across different cultures. Alternatively, ask your housemates if you can borrow some of their DVDs while they’re gone. Sit back, and immerse yourself in your new favourite TV show; you'll find that the days fly by very quickly.
You may not be able to afford to fly home for the holidays; but can you find a cheaper ticket to somewhere else? If you have friends from home who are studying abroad as well, make arrangements with them. They are probably in the same situation,and on their own. It gives you the chance to catch up with them, compare your campus to theirs and exchange stories about your experience so far.
Contribute to your CV with a two or four week internship. The weeks between terms can seem like a long time if you have nothing planned; but if you can break up the time with placements where you will learn new skills, the time will go very quickly. If you decide to remain in that country once you graduate, a recent reference from the same country will be very useful, and be further proof that you have taken steps to integrate in a new country. In fact, if you do a good job, it can be the way-in to a full-time job once you graduate.
Similar to above, this option will make you appear favourable in the eyes of prospective employers. A temporary job will show strong work ethic, and a willingness to earn your own money. It doesn't have to be particularly glamorous; just something for a little extra money, which can go towards rent for the following term, or a treat. Again, it’s an opportunity to learn new skills and gain real workplace experience.
Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.