Tips for feeling less alone during winter break – from an international student

By Olista Naurallegra, 2nd year Psychology student

Spending winter break in a country where I have only lived for a few months with different cultures and weather is not easy- having to deal with the fact that I will be spending the festive period and new year thousands of miles away from my family is hard to deal with. The inevitable anxious thoughts about the loneliness and emptiness I will face during the winter break always make me feel low. I long to see my friends and family, go for some really fun barbeques, fireworks, and probably some entertaining karaoke session at the granny’s house too. Christmas and the new year are always for the merriment, but for students like me who won’t be returning home, what can we do to cope? Here are my tips:

  1. Be an Early Riser

I know that waking up in the morning during holidays might feel like a task because we we want to make the most of our sleeping time during these days. But, based on my experience seeing the sun more really helps me to feel less alone. I tried waking up early during winter to catch the sun rising and trying to be more productive in the early hours, it feels fantastic! Since the sun also sets pretty early, seeing the sun as much as I can is really helpful for my mental wellbeing, it makes me feel warmer, and it gives me a sense of having more time to manage my day and make it my day.

  1. Always be up for invitation! (online or offline)

Get connected! I know turning up to things when you’re not feeling great can be hard sometimes but trust me, it’s worth the effort! I usually invite my friend back home for a zoom meeting and watch a movie together, another option can be; Teleparty! You and your friends can watch a movie together as long as everyone owns a Netflix account! You can invite your international friends who are also not returning home during this period! Sharing some relatable thoughts and feelings can be such a help too. I usually invite some of my native friends to cook our traditional food, a taste of home always makes everything a little bit better, right? If friends also invite you to spend Christmas or new year with their family, accept the invitation it’ll be such an exciting and memorable experience for you!

  1. A cup of happiness

Be good to yourself! Grab your favourite warm beverage, your favourite boots, and your Airpods/Earphones and be in the moment. Plan a simple day for yourself and take this day for you. Take a stroll to the arboretum or any of your favourite places! Going for a walk can help your mental wellbeing and help to untangle those thoughts. Play your favourite album, for me it’s the 10 minutes version of All Too Well by Taylor Swift – oh and don’t forget your red scarf! And the most important thing for me – affirmations! Feel your best energy and try and tell yourself that you’ve got this! Setting your day to whatever tone you want really helps. Just make it your day. 

Those are the things that helped me get through my winter break alone as an international student, I hope you will find this helpful too. I also tried to rethink my expectations during the holiday, even though it takes me a while, now I found that it was an excellent decision to lessen my expectations. I thought to myself that this winter break might be different from what I wanted, I’ll have most of my time alone, but this can be a good thing and is totally okay because we’re in this together.

You got this!

Our Student Support will still be here to support you during the winter break for more information on support and services available to NTU students over the winter break head to the Student Hub

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.


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