Christmas away from home

It’s coming up to our second Christmas in Korea. Christmas has always been the time of year I looked forward to the most. It’s magical warmth creeping up around us for the last couple of months of the year. I’ve always loved the preparations; making the Christmas cake months in advance, baking mince pies and buying presents for people in enough time to get them something you know they’ll love (I love those perfect Christmas presents you find in July and spend the next 5 months looking forward to delivering them!). Making and hoarding special food and drink and waiting impatiently for the time when you’re allowed to get stuck into them; and of course, when the time comes to buy the Christmas tree, that wonderful Christmassy smell every time you open the front door or come downstairs in the morning.

Our one and only Christmas decoration, courtesy of Andy's mum. Thanks!

Well… this will be the second Christmas we’ll have spent away from home and the usual wonderful build up to the festive period has been non-existent both years. Korea doesn’t really “do” Christmas, at least not on the scale we do in the UK. I can genuinely say that I’ve only just realised that it’s Christmas day in 3 days time, which is so ridiculously unusual for me! We’ve been playing Christmas songs and watching Christmas films for the last couple of weeks, but it’s only just really registered that it’s actually THIS weekend! However, although Christmas away from our family just isn’t the same, what we have managed to do is find the best ways to make the most of Christmas away from home:

 1.    Don’t be alone!
Find someone to spend the day with (anyone, even if it’s the weirdo next door, you MUST drink and be merry!). Last year we travelled 2 hours north of our hometown here to spend Christmas with a group of our good friends. It was great fun to spend the day with our ‘family’ in Korea. We made a cardboard tree, went out for a nice meal, drank wine and played games. We’ll be doing the same this weekend!

 2.    Have something to open on Christmas day.
Whether it’s a package from home, a Secret Santa with your friends or even just your Christmas cards, save it for Christmas day! It just makes it that little bit better! We did a Secret Santa last year, which was extremely amusing and this year we’re doing the same with a twist. It’s called “White Elephant.” Each person places their gift under the ‘tree’. Then everyone takes a number. Each person chooses a gift in order according to their number. BUT the next player can choose to open a new present or steal from a previous person. That person can then choose another present to unwrap.

The same present can be ‘stolen’ 3 times and then it’s locked. The process continues until all the presents are chosen.

 3.    Speak to family and friends at home.
We spoke to our family on Skype last year and although it’s not the same as being together on Christmas day, it was so lovely to see them. Even if it’s the middle of the night for you, it’s well worth the effort, for both you and your family.

 4.    Make your own travelling Christmas traditions!
Visit somewhere special, maybe plan a special break/vacation (we’re going to Thailand just after Christmas which is really exciting and keeping us happy!), create your own Christmas dish or game. Be creative, but do it with friends!

Christmas goodies from home cheered us up loads!

I haven’t felt particularly homesick while we’ve been away, but I definitely feel it a bit at Christmas, because it’s a time I associate with happy times with my friends and family at home. Hopefully, homesickness won’t hit you at Christmas while you’re travelling, but if it does, make sure you spend it with friends, try to be a bit creative and hopefully you’ll have a wonderful time. Remember you have the rest of your life for Christmas at home, try to relish the different Christmas experience!

Merry Christmas everyone! X

Almost the only evidence of Christmas in Sunchang at the church.

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5 Responses to “Christmas away from home”

  1. Jenna Hadley says:

    We miss you guys! xx

  2. Tate says:

    yeah this is great advice. We are here in Yeosu and not many of us are teaching on this side of Korea so we all have plans to rent a cabin and do a secret santa like our families did back home. Should be fun.

    • Ruth says:

      Sounds like fun Tate, I love Secret Santa! We have other friends who are planning to spend Christmas in a cabin, I’m kind of jealous, it sounds so festive! I’m looking forward to our Christmas though, we had a great time last year. I hope you have a fantastic weekend, Merry Christmas!

  3. Daniela Scholz says:

    Love this site.
    Love all your stories.
    Merry Christmas, you guys !!!

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