International students celebrate their own holidays during winter break

An illustration showing a student sharing a video call with family members. CREDIT: NINA HEPPLEWHITE
Most international students have different holidays to celebrate than the ones that are celebrated here in the winter months.

With Christmas break coming up, most students have plans to celebrate with their families. International students have a different looking break than students who have families that live closer to them. Most international students also have different holidays to celebrate than the ones that are celebrated here in the winter months. Some students take this break to travel back home and visit with their families.

Hanya Badr is an international student who is studying Film and TV Broadcast Production and is in her last year at Fanshawe. Badr is from Qatar and travels back home during the breaks.

“I do not celebrate Christmas,” Badr said. “During my winter breaks I always fly back home as soon as I can and spend time with my friends and family. Having time off of school for Christmas is great because this is around the time I get the most homesick and it gives me the opportunity to fly back home and escape this weather and be happy.”

Listen live on

Although Badr doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she does celebrate Ramadan and Eid.

“These are also very wholesome holidays and they make me feel joyous and refreshed. Gathering with friends and family and giving back to our communities during these holidays always warms my heart,” said Badr. “I think the main difference I’ve noticed with Christmas and the holidays I celebrate is that back home I get a longer time off to celebrate and really focus on the holiday. For example, Ramadan is a month long so everyone gets to leave work and school super early everyday of that month and then we get a week or two off. This happens to help us fully focus on celebrating the holiday properly and remembering why we celebrate it.”

Badr explained that living here and seeing the winter come is wonderful and is a great way to see a different culture celebrate in these months.

“Around the holiday seasons, I enjoy seeing how the city dresses itself up and the overall festivities. Since I don’t celebrate these holidays and I’m from a country that doesn’t either, it’s nice to see and experience the different culture and environment here during the winter. I think that Christmas seems like a very fun and wholesome holiday in this city and I thoroughly enjoy seeing people decorate their houses,” said Badr.

Juan Felipe Indaburu is another international student who is in his last year of school and is from Bogotá, Colombia. Indaburu celebrates Christmas but in his culture, there is a little more to Christmas than the traditional festivities. “I celebrate Christmas and all the parties involved around it. We also have ‘candle day’ on Dec. 7, which is a time to share with your family and light up a candle as a wish or something you want,” said Indaburu. “For the New Year, we have a tradition that every family should make an ‘ano viejo’ which means old year. This means with old clothes, you build a man and fill it with newspaper, clothes, and all the things you want to forget from that year and at midnight you burn it. It is a big party with fireworks and sharing with friends and family.”

Indaburu stated that being an international student can be tough around the holidays if you can’t travel back home to be with your family, but he tries his best to have a good time here and celebrate with his friends. Also, the difference with weather here compared to Columbia is a huge shock which he loves to see the snow and all the lights.

Many international students have time to go back home during the Christmas break, but many cannot afford to. With that, there are many things to do in London over the break to celebrate the holidays and spend time with friends.