Far from home: International students celebrate together this Festive Season

"Christmas abroad can seem daunting, but as an international uni we rally around each other and make it work" says Master of Science student Samantha Mylocopos.


By Samantha Mylocopos
Student of the MSc in International Tourism Management at MODUL University Vienna


It is that time of the year again, the holiday season is upon us. From Krampus to kinara, latkes to gingerbread cookies, dreidels to carolling; our traditions may vary but one thing has always remained true, this is the time of the year that we spend with our loved ones. However, this isn’t always the case whilst living abroad, away from our families and friends back home. This doesn’t mean that we must spend the holidays alone. One of the amazing things about attending an international university is that many of the students find themselves in the same boat. I am one of these students.

This will be my second year celebrating Christmas without my family since I moved to Vienna back in September 2017. I was quite nervous and scared at the prospect of being alone during the holidays when I first moved, but I learned rather quickly that I wasn’t the only one. Last year, a dozen of us Modulians got together and had a potluck. Each of us brought a different dish and we all ate dinner together. I am pretty sure that that was the first time I ever ate Perogies for a holiday dinner. This year, we decided to do a secret Santa exchange. For those who don’t know what it is, secret Santa is a gift exchange activity. All participants write their name on a piece of paper and place it in a hat. Each person then draws one name, and that is the person they buy a gift for. It’s a lot of fun and it’s affordable – perfect for any student budget. My friend suggested a small twist to the traditional gift-giving portion of the evening: we had to act out the person we had for Secret Santa and everyone would have to guess who it was before that person could collect their gift. It is fair to say that we have gotten to know each other fairly well after two and half semesters together. The end result was hilarious; you could hear our laughter from a mile away.

Every year, groups of students come together to celebrate their various traditions and customs together. It is not only a time of joy and festivities, but an incredible opportunity to learn about how others celebrate. It was Edna Buchanan, an American journalist and writer who said “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” Modul University has always been and continues to be a community in which students from around the world create and develop lifelong friendships.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!


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