A Guide to Surviving Christmas

As second semester draws to a drizzly close, most students are more than ready to revel in the luxury of central heating at home for the Christmas holidays. By now deadlines have killed any will to leave bed, the kitchen has become a site of major health concern and having spent your entire first loan installment on fancy dress and glitter bombs, you’d really just like a home cooked meal and some sleep. Returning home for the holidays isn’t all free food and presents however. As joyous as the comforts of home can be, readjusting to being part of the family after independent living means even the most festive Christmas spirit can take a knocking. Concrete is here to provide you with some tips to make sure you’re less Grinch, more Buddy the Elf this holiday season.


Heading home for Christmas means the independence of university can feel suddenly revoked. Saturday nights no longer find you stuck to the LCR floors, but wrapping up a sensible scarf for your grandma whilst your Dad wrestles with some fairy lights. No longer can you party till the early hours without dropping Mum a text when you get home and neither can you exist purely on a diet of Nutella and chicken nuggets. This new lack of independence can feel seriously frustrating as the adult life you’ve grown accustomed to over term time is replaced by old routines of rules and curfews. Try to have a conversation with your parents before you travel home for the holidays about how you’d like to be treated upon your return. Outline, in the most positive way possible, how well you are doing with independent living, and how much you’re looking forward to demonstrating this new found independence when you get home. Having a discussion beforehand, about how you want certain routines or curfews to change or readjust, can save a lot of bickering down the line.

A major concern for any budget conscious student can be the cost of Christmas gifts. Having by now exhausted your student loan, expensive gift options can begin to seem bleak and an optimistic trip to Pound Land more and more inviting. The trick is to manage thoughtful, appropriate gifts without restricting yourself to a diet of Alphabetti Spaghetti for the entire next term. Making sure you get people just the right present needn’t be expensive. Homemade gifts are a student standard and family will appreciate them all the more for the effort you’ve put into their creation. If you’re a crafty type try knitting up a scarf for an Uncle, if you like baking, make some Christmas treats for younger cousins or if neither of these appeal, try compiling some CDs of your favourite songs from the previous year; it might even get Cliff Richard off the stereo for an hour or two.

As the big day itself rolls around, it’s time to prepare your winning Miss Universe answers to that annually dreaded question; “what’s the plan after your degree then?” The key is to prepare an answer early, and stick to that answer. You will be asked this at least twice by every relative you see and preparation is crucial to avoid the blind panic that will otherwise ensue and the resulting answers that somehow bear no resemblance to your actual plans – professional turkey farmer anyone? Get back in touch with friends. They will be a vital part of offsetting the stress of family members who want to know your ten year life plan, how studying is going and the minute details of your love life. The friends you spent all summer with are crucial to surviving a family heavy Christmas so make sure you get in touch early and plan away early for the holidays.

With a little preparation, lots of patience and a determination to be full of festive spirit, the transition from university to home needn’t be the Nightmare before Christmas. So dig out your mixing bowl, give the parents a call and make sure your calendar is stuffed full of plans with friends: after all, when the stresses of festivities subside, it’s only a week until New Year’s Eve. God bless us, every one.


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September 2021
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

If you would like to get in touch, email the Editor on Concrete.Editor@uea.ac.uk. Follow us at @ConcreteUEA.