You may already be groaning at the mention of Christmas. With Advent Calendars already in the shops, carols will no doubt soon be piping through sound systems, and toys will be crowding the shelves. Yet despite the reluctance to start thinking about the season just yet, Christmas is, for many people, a time to look forward to. Whether you think of family, friends, warm houses, big dinners, exchanging gifts, music, Father Christmas, TV or sherry, Christmas is a time that generally conjures up childhood memories, loving thoughts, and goodwill to all. Unfortunately, many adult international students studying in the UK will already be dreading the prospect of a cold holiday stuck on a university campus, with few friends, family many miles away, and little in the way of festive feeling.
HOST is a charity which offers such students in the UK the opportunity to spend a short time in a British home to promote cultural exchange and international friendship. Last year, the charity received over one thousand applications from students who hoped to spend part of the festive season in a home, where they could not only learn about how people in the UK celebrate Christmas, but so they could also experience a home-away-from-home at what can be a very lonely time of year. Unfortunately, HOST was only able to offer about half of these students a visit at Christmas or New Year due to a lack of invitations.
If you think you could give the gift of Christmas to an international student by offering an invitation to your home for a few days, or if you could offer an invitation for one of the weekends surrounding the 25th December, please get in touch with HOST. Visits throughout the year are hugely appreciated by international students, and of great enjoyment to hosts. Whether you want to teach your children another culture, prevent Christmas family-feuds, or just offer a warm welcome to a student, please think about offering an occasional invitation.
“Thanks to my hosts and their kindness, I could spend a nice Christmas here instead of staying at home alone. I am grateful for you all.” Mamiko Moda, Japanese student