Holidaying alone? Here’s how I fought off homesickness

14 Dec 2021
By Mirava Y., Student at Royal Veterinary College

It was on a cool winter’s morning that I found myself sitting on an airport floor, awaiting flight announcements, munching on a homemade granola bar. No, I wasn’t going back to my home country – I was jetting off to Hamburg for a solo excursion after finding discount tickets for a bargain £20.

The three-day trip was over in a flash, and by the end of the weekend I was back in London, back on the Tube, back to my flat.

My flatmates had gone home for the holidays, leaving me as our sole resident.

Upon my arrival, the chatter of five familiar voices was noticeably absent. My flatmates had gone home for the holidays, leaving me as our sole resident. I was by myself; three days down, with 19 more lonesome days to go.

There are plenty of enemies to be made during the holidays, from seasonal affective disorder and cabin fever to vitamin D deficiency. But rather than see a series of battles, I decided to see that there were few things as liberating as having complete control over my own schedule.

With so much spare time all of a sudden, I prioritized the activities that 9-to-5 classes had prevented me from doing. First, traveling. Remarkable destinations - like Hamburg - were just a bus, train or plane journey away, and I now had the chance to get out of London for a few hours or days.

Next, cooking – hence the homemade granola bars. I took advantage of having the whole kitchen to myself and, devoid of any worry about being judged for my mess-making, I went wild with recipes. It was well worth the occasional risk of singeing myself with bubbling oil or filling the kitchen with a spicy, tear-inducing aroma.

Being the conscientious budgeter that I am, I steered clear of the usual pay-to-enter Christmas markets and bazaars. I purposely missed out on ice skating. I’m also not much of a selfie taker so, apart from the occasional stroll downtown, I didn’t go out of my way to attend Christmas lighting events.

But that’s what’s so great about the holiday season: literally every place morphs into a winter wonderland, whether it’s your local bookstore or the random island between busy roads suddenly decked out with pine trees. Despite my reluctance to participate in any crowded events, I eventually succumbed and watched the giant menorah get lit up in Trafalgar Square. I got free donuts to boot.

All the exploring, cooking, and eating served as a wonderful distraction that helped curb my homesickness. The too-short days made it harder to exercise, but easier to stay wrapped in a blanket while Skyping with my loved ones back home. Time flew, and before I knew it, the long-awaited holiday had finally come. It was my favorite one: Boxing Day, because that meant only one thing – everything was now on sale.

A happy Christmas, indeed.

My flatmates had gone home for the holidays, leaving me as our sole resident.
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Mirava is a Filipino writer, veterinarian, and now an aspiring epidemiologist – which is what she’s taking her Master’s for at the Royal Veterinary College. She loves dogs, running in parks, theatre, and film. In summary, she loves London.