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The end of the term is nigh: Surviving going home for Christmas

Man with a sign saying The End is Nigh

The end of the term is nigh! Especially if you're a fresher at the end of your very first term, you're probably looking forward to going home, chilling out and relaxing at Hotel Mum and Dad. With just a week or so to go, it's time to hand in the last few essays and assignments and begin winding down, with carols and Christmas socials and packing up your stuff.

But for freshers, returning home at Christmas can bring unexpected challenges. As you will probably have discovered if you have visited home during the term, your new experiences have changed you. You have stepped into a new era of independence, so returning to the nest can lead to ruffled feathers. Some parents struggle to adjust to the idea that you are no longer just their little child. You might find that your relationship with friends has also changed, especially friends who didn’t go to university, instead starting work, for example.

How can you make sure that you enjoy the Christmas break?

Renegotiate boundaries

As a student, you’ve probably got used to coming and going as you please. Your parents might still be expecting to know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and so on. Don’t get upset if you feel they have unreasonable explanations, but try to negotiate calmly on what you can expect of each other.

Be helpful

As tempting as it is to roll up with a  bag of laundry and slump in front of the telly without a word, if you treat home as halls of residence with better furniture and staff, you’ll get pretty short shrift! It’s easy to revert to slobby teenage habits, but if you act a bit more like a guest and offer to help with the dishes and so on, you’ll probably get a bit more respect in return.

Plan your time

The weeks you have at home will go quicker than you expect. Make time for catching up with friends, partying at New Year’s and so on. But also think ahead to your exams – make sure you know when your deadlines are. If you make a plan, you can chill out over Christmas itself knowing you’re on top of things, but procrastinating just builds up stress and worry.

Talk about university

Mum and Dad will want to know what you’ve been up to. If you’ve not got a very conversational relationship with your parents, now is a good time to open up a bit and relate on a more adult level. If you get on well with them and are already a chatterbox, you’ll probably do this naturally, in which case…

Don’t talk too much!

Whether you’re having the time of your life at university, or you are finding it hell on earth, you are likely to end up talking about what has been happening to you. A lot. And while people might be interested to hear what you have to say to a point, when you launch into a story with “At university, I…” for the umpteenth time, they might get fed up! Pace yourself.

Choose you topics wisely

Tailor the stories you share to your audience. When talking to your parents, tell them a bit about all the wonderful things you’re learning, to show off all the hard work you’re putting in (ahem). With your mates, they probably don’t want to know the intricacies of Quantum Mechanics or Medieval Literature, but might appreciate that hilarious incident with the traffic cone.

Christmas presentsTake an interest in what’s been happening at home

You might now think that the small village where you grew up is Dullsville, Snoozeshire, population: Boring. And you may well be right. But if your Mum tries to share with you the exciting and thrilling story of how the neighbour’s cat went missing and was found a few hours later, at least try to nod and smile politely. And even if nothing has happened news-wise, every person has stories and feelings of their own. Take a genuine interest!

Have fun and relax!

As Dorothy once said, “There’s no place like home”. No-one has a perfect family, but most of us can find something to enjoy in going home for Christmas! Enjoy catching up, swapping presents, seeing friends, eating, drinking and being merry!

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