Ask the intern: I don’t know what to do for Christmas away from home

“Hi Fiona, this really isn’t a question necessarily related to my work life, but I was hoping you could help. I am currently three weeks into my international internship in London. I’m from the US, so I’m pretty far from home. I have a really big family and normally we spend Christmas together. This year, for the first time, I will be spending Christmas away from home. I was wondering if you had any tips or suggestions about things to do if you’re far away from home for Christmas.” – Abigail

Hi Abigail, thanks for reaching out to me. This is something that I absolutely can relate to. I am currently doing my international internship in Latin America, and this will also be my first Christmas away from home. It is quite a scary thought as Christmas is a special day dedicated to spending time at home with your family and loved ones. But in the grand scheme of things, it is only another normal day.

Saying that, it is not nice to think about being sat online. That is certainly something that scared me. There’s only so much ‘life admin’ that you can busy yourself with before you end up thinking about the rest of your family tucking into a huge Christmas meal. Just the thought of missing out on all that food is not enjoyable. So, to avoid this situation, and the ‘Christmas dinner envy’, I have compiled a few ideas of what to do if you too are spending Christmas away from home. I hope this helps.


My top tips for spending Christmas away from home (and having a great time)

1. Find out who else is around

As an intern with The Intern Group, you are surrounded by other people in exactly the same situation as you. I can almost guarantee that many of your fellow interns are also far from home, and will be spending the dreaded December 25th in the city as well. A great idea could be to get a group of people together and create a mini Christmas between yourselves. Depending on how good your cooking skills are between you, you could whip yourself up a mini roast dinner and some snacks. If a roast dinner is going to make you too nostalgic, why not get each of your fellow interns to make a traditional dish from their home country? You could have a multicultural Christmas banquet!

Another great thing to do between a group of friends is a Secret Santa. This can be a really fun way to exchange gifts without breaking the bank. All you need to do is put everyone’s names in a hat and then set a budget. Each person then picks a name and buys a present for that person. The idea is to keep the name of your person a secret, but from experience this can be the tricky part for some people.

christmas away from home

2. See if anyone from work is organizing something

As you’re interning in a leading global city, there may be many people in your office who are also international and are also away from home for Christmas. Why not have a chat to a few people in the office and see if they want to do something? It doesn’t have to be something huge, even if it’s just meeting up for a drink on Christmas Eve. It’s always nice to spend lots of time around people over the holidays.

3. Are any of your friends near you?

You may be very far from home, but it can be a very small world sometimes. A great way to spend Christmas can be visiting a friend. You can reach out and see if anyone is traveling/working/living somewhere near you. Even if they are not necessarily close, you may easily be able to get a short flight or bus to see them. Combining a visit with a friend, and not being alone on Christmas day, can be a great way to beat off any possible holiday blues.

christmas away from home

4. Travel

Ok so no one is working near you and no one is really organizing anything in your accommodation or at your internship. What do you do? Have you considered taking the trip of a lifetime? If there is somewhere that you have always wanted to go, why not use this time off to go there? Take advantage of the fact that there will be no crowds and go and tick a few things off your “must-see” list. Another great advantage of this is that if you stay in a hostel, the chances are that the people staying there will also be travelers, also away from home. I’m sure all of these people would love to get together one evening and have a mini Christmas celebration.

5. Volunteer

What’s the best way to kick any holiday blues? Do something nice for someone else. The feeling that you have really made a difference and brightened someone’s day is one of the best feelings you can imagine. If you have nothing to do for your Christmas day, why not volunteer? There are organizations in almost every country which take volunteers to work on Christmas day, giving out food, warm clothes and blankets. You could even end up helping to cook a huge meal. There are so many opportunities out there to truly make a difference. I promise you, you will love it.


Apply today for an international internship to boost your career.


Photo 1. based on Christmas tree 2010, by Rexness, CC BY -SA 2.0

Image 2. based on Christmas Tree, by Five Furlongs, CC BY -ND 2.0

Photo 3. based on Airplane wing, by thejaan, CC BY 2.0


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Fiona Johnson

Fiona studies Spanish and Italian and is currently on her year abroad in Latin America. She is working with the marketing team for The Intern Group in Santiago until January, when she hopes to travel South America before starting work in Italy. She is hoping to explore everything Chile has to offer and experience the vibrant culture, food and nightlife of Santiago.
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