The Christmas break is fast approaching for those at university – Georgia Webb quizzes students on how they will be using their upcoming free time, and what difficulties they may face during the celebrations.
With Christmas just around the corner, students like me, cannot wait to pack up their suitcases and enjoy a long break full of family, friends and festivities. With each of us having our own plans, not everyone will be travelling home this Christmas. Nevertheless, I decided to investigate what some students are actually doing with their time over the Christmas holidays.
As expected, perhaps, most students I spoke to have nothing planned apart from lounging on the sofa and glued to the TV for hours on end, stuffing their faces with whatever they can find in the cupboards. However, Neelam Mattu, an LSBU student, will be preparing for her exams in January instead. “The Christmas break is the perfect time to actually get some work done where there are no distractions from my friends and I can just be focused”, she said. With this being said using your time wisely is very important. Neelam also goes on to say: “Creating a balance of my social life and doing my work is key to keep on top of things and if you can do it then you will be stress free like me”.
The cost of living in London can be quite high at times especially when you are a student. This is why a lot of students have to take up a part-time job. A survey conducted in 2015 indicated that nearly eight out of ten students (approximately 77%), have jobs and are now working part-time to help fund their studies – just like Darvinder Kaur. She works a minimum of 25 hours a week alongside working up to her degree. So with the commitment to her work place, this means she has to work over the Christmas period and will travel home to Birmingham on Christmas Eve after a 10-hour shift. “It’s hard to see my family as I have to work a lot to support myself, it’s even harder when it comes to this festive time of year as I want to spend as much time as I possibly can with my family, but I can’t.”
8 out of 10 students have a part-time time job in order to support their studies
Whilst most students are going home to see their families, the Christmas holidays can be quite unsettling for those who can’t go home. The thought of staying in halls is really not ideal, but many universities make sure students from abroad are looked after. There are around 440,000 international students in the UK, so it is essential that they aren’t forgotten about during the festive season.
London South Bank University has a special department called the International Students’ House to aid with homesickness. Their aim is to create a home away from home, and to form a community in London. They host events that aim to help students socialise with people in the same position as themselves. International LSBU student, Solen Ali, is an active member: “Students’ House really helped me get through the last 2 years at LSBU, as I met many other students who were like me when they first came to London. A lot of those people I can now call my friends for life.”
Not only South Bank offers these services – for example, De Montfort University organises a free dinner on Christmas day and day trips during the holidays. The University of Worcester makes arrangements for students to have a meal with a local family at Christmas and go to church if they’d like to. Durham University offers 200 international students the chance to eat christmas dinner in the Great Hall at Durham Castle.
According to Temi Ahmadu, the president of the Students’ Union at South Bank, staying in halls during the Christmas period is becoming more and more popular to a lot more students. She says: “Staying on campus has become a trend as students are discovering great opportunities, such as volunteer work within the local community.”
Even though not everyone has their ideal situation and ideal plans this Christmas, everyone should still have someone to celebrate with – no matter their location. Whether that be at home or in a home away from home, students also still learn a lot during the holidays about family, values and traditions. It also gives them life experience and makes them value not only family but friends a lot more, and create new memories they will hopefully never forget. So no matter where you are, or what you are doing this Christmas, have an amazing one!