My UK Christmas, by Lordina from Ghana
‘At home in Ghana, Christmas means the aroma from boiling chicken, turkey or goat meat, pepper soup and the thumping sound of the pestle and mortar as families prepare the Christmas Day meal. In the UK, that becomes the aroma of Christmas pudding and a mouthwatering roast turkey as it wafts through the chimney of my college pantry...’
Will you be spending the holiday season in the UK? Whether you’ll be celebrating with friends, exploring the UK or experiencing UK Christmas traditions with a local family, there’s a lot of festive fun to be had!
But don’t just take our word for it – find out what it’s really like as Education UK student ambassador Lordina Arthur, from Ghana, shares her advice...
'Christmas holds a special place in my heart, first because I am a Christian, but second – and almost as important – because it’s a season for family reunion and reaffirming those shared emotional bonds.
'Last Christmas was my first away from my friends and family in Ghana… and also my first with my international student family here in the UK!
'For me, it was a great chance to take some well-earned time away from studying, to catch up with friends and to share in the joy and warmth that such unions bring. Here are my tips for anyone spending the holiday in the UK.'
Get a taste of home – and of the UK!
'I am a member of a church in the UK. They organised a "home away from home" event where we cooked all our traditional meals – those from the UK such as carrots, potatoes and turkey, as well as our Ghanaian spicy hot fried chicken, vegetable rice and potato salad.
'It was very easy to get the right ingredients for a traditional Ghanaian "fufu meal" (Christmas dinner) – yet another reason why the UK is a home for all international students.'
Stay with a British family
'In the early days preceding Christmas, you could register with the international students’ committee of your university because some arrange with British families to host international students. You could be hosted by a wonderful British family where you can polish your English and learn all about "being British".'
Admiring the roast turkey, as Lordina joins friends for a traditional Christmas dinner (Photo ©Lordina Arthur)
Explore the UK
'Last Christmas I visited Cumberland Lodge, a country house in Windsor Great Park. It was awesomely beautiful. I enjoyed the huge rolling green park and found out about the history of the land and the rangers who have looked after it over the centuries. Near to Cumberland Lodge is Windsor Castle and the Windsor Castle church, where the royal family sometimes worship. Students are given a discounted rate at both the Lodge and the Castle. The Lodge is also an educational centre, where you can join in discussions about issues facing students.'
Debates and entertainment at Cumberland Lodge (Photo ©Lordina Arthur)
Take some time out
'The winter break is also a great opportunity for some quiet time – a chance to buy or rent a movie that illustrates the magical spirit of the season, or pick up an interesting novel, then cuddle up under a warm duvet with a mug of hot chocolate.'
Send love home
'If you want to send home an inexpensive gift then I’d advise you to unleash your creative skills. Take a picture of yourself and friends having fun, then grab some scissors and glue and create a simple card, write a personalised message and post it for a couple of pounds. Or you could buy a postcard of an interesting place you visited this festive season and post that for a similar amount. Nothing sends the warmth of your love better than a personalised picture message of you having fun.'
Lordina and friends pose in the grounds of Cumberland Lodge (Photo ©Lordina Arthur)
The best bit about Christmas in the UK?
'When all your friends and colleagues who have gone home come rushing back after the holidays!'