Spending Your Holidays Away from Home

By and large, most college students head home for Thanksgiving and Christmas—particularly because most schools have a rather long holiday break.

However, depending on where you’re going to school, how far away it is from where you call home, and how much money it costs to get there, you may not have the luxury of flying home for the holidays. You might feel bummed about this, or maybe you’re actually okay with it. Either way, there are several different things you can do to get through the holidays away from home.

Consider the list below, and enjoy the holiday season!

1. Find out who else will be there

Chances are good that you’re not going to be the only one staying for the holidays. While it might be tempting to believe you are the only soul in the building or on campus, there’s bound to be at least a handful of other students hanging out over winter break. This is a great opportunity to meet someone new and maybe even make a new friend. Even it means just strolling through your dorm building’s halls and seeing who’s around, try and connect with a couple other people who you can hang out with over break.

If they seem trustworthy, exchange phone numbers and try grabbing dinner together one night or invite your new friends over for board games and popcorn. Try doing something adventurous, like winter hiking or sledding (or surfing if you’re in a warm climate). You might discover a really unexpected friendship that could last year for years to come.

2. Make plans

Staying by yourself in the dorms over the holidays could feel a bit oppressive if you’re picturing yourself literally just sitting there for weeks on end by yourself. Make some fun plans! Find out if any of your friends’ families live nearby and see if you can plan some fun outings with them over the holiday break. Use your hosting skills and plan a big party or invite some friends over to start that knitting circle your inner grandmother has always wanted to try.

Get some coffee dates on the calendar, plan some outings to the mall, or maybe schedule a hair appointment or other excursion to get pampered. Having a few things to look forward to over the holiday break will you keep busy and less focused on feeling alone.

3. Stay with friends

If you do have friends that live in the area, you might want to consider asking a roommate or friend if they would be okay with you tagging along with their family for Thanksgiving or Christmas. While it might feel like a big ask, this is a great opportunity for your friends to love you and for you both to have some solid community over the holidays. Some families really adore hosting, so don’t worry about crashing anyone’s party.

You may not have to even do the asking yourself—if your roomies or friends know that you’re not able to travel home for the holidays, they might extend the invitation to you without your even having to ask. Spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with another family might feel a little foreign, but it can be really fun to see how other families approach traditions and celebrations. Go with the flow and approach the whole thing with open hands—you’ll more than likely have a blast!

4. See if your college has a support system in place 

Many colleges and universities have a support system in place for students staying at the dorms over the holidays. They might have a mentorship program where you can connect with someone who can help you come up with a plan, especially if you don’t have a car on campus or have some other issue that isn’t easily solved. They might help you go grocery shopping, get bus tokens, etc. and make sure you’re all set before the holidays hit. Many college campuses close the cafeteria during winter break, so it’s important that you have a solid plan in place for what your meals will look like.

If you’re working a job, this could also be a good time to pick up a couple extra shifts and make a little extra cash to support yourself.