By Lingfeng Ge, PhD Chemistry
The Croft // If you're in Bristol for the Christmas holidays – whether it's your first time or your third – you might be worried about feeling lonely over the next few weeks. Lingfeng offers some advice on staying in touch with friends and looking after yourself over the festive period.
I have already spent three Christmas breaks in Bristol, and now I’m getting ready to spend my fourth one here again. Let me share my experiences and provide a few tips on how to reduce loneliness if you’re spending the Christmas break alone:
Meet with your friends before they go home for Christmas
You know you can’t meet with your friends during the Christmas break if they’re all going home, so why not catch up with them before they’re gone? In previous years, I would attend several Christmas dinner parties with friends and also had some movie nights with them before they went home.
After such intensive socialising before Christmas, I always felt exhausted and like I’d run out of my desire to socialise, so spending the Christmas break alone felt more like recharging my batteries than a period of loneliness.
Although this year the pandemic means I am unable to socialise like I did before, I met each of my friends for a walk in Bristol before they went home for Christmas. If they are still around, try to arrange walks with your friends before they go and I believe this will help you feel less lonely too.
Video call your friends during the Christmas break
Although I hardly felt lonely during previous Christmas breaks, I can foresee myself feeling a bit isolated and bored during this coming Christmas as lockdown rules are likely to remain in place.
As I was thinking about how I would deal with this, a friend messaged me on Facebook offering to video call me during the Christmas break. Immediately I got inspired – I not only said that I would video call her, but also asked other friends if I could call them over Christmas too. Fortunately, most of them said yes!
Asking your friends early on if you can video call them over Christmas means you’re more likely to stay in touch properly over the holidays!
Reach out to the international students’ community
I’m an international student myself, and as far as I know, many international students tend to spend the Christmas period here in Bristol. If you know some international students, you could ask them if they’re staying here too. If they are, ask if you can spend some time together during Christmas. But don’t forget we all need to be careful of coronavirus, so you’d better propose some outdoor activities rather than indoor ones.
However, if you don’t know any international students personally but would like to connect with some, you can contact BISC (the charity Bristol International Student Centre), which organises online and offline events for international students. Even if you’re not an international student yourself, BISC will also be happy for you to join their events over the Christmas break.
BISC is running a Boxing Day walk which you can get a free ticket for here.
Prepare lots of food
Despite the fact that there is still a pandemic, we are not going to be short of food and we can easily find a variety of Christmas food at any supermarket.
Once you start feeling a bit lonely or bored, roast a turkey, bake some Yorkshire puddings, cut a slice of Yule log, or simply put a piece of chocolate in your mouth, and you’ll immediately feel happier and more energetic!
The only thing you need to make sure of is that you buy enough food on 23rd Dec – don’t forget lots of shops are closed from the evening of 24th to 25th Dec.
I wish you a not-at-all-lonely-but-rather-happy Christmas in Bristol!
Featured image: Epigram / Lingfeng Ge
What advice do you have for students staying in Bristol over Christmas?