Agony Aunts

Dear Heather and Emily, I’m an international student and will not be returning home for the holidays. I’m scared I’ll be really lonely as all my flatmates are going home and I’ll start to feel really homesick with no one else around. Do you have any advice on how to pass the time?

It really sucks that all your flatmates are going home and you aren’t, but fear not! There will still be people around! Like you, not all international students go home so find out if any of the other international students you know will be around and you can spend more time with them. If any of your friends commute, they live in the area so you could also meet up with them while your flatmates are away and, failing that, your housemates will be back soon. Many students only go home for a short while in December due to essay deadlines and exams. On the other hand, while it’s peaceful you have an opportunity to knuckle down and get any coursework done and revise or plan for exams. Just remember it doesn’t have to be all studying whilst everyone else is away. During the holidays there are plenty of opportunities to eat new food – the supermarkets have been stocked with all sorts of festive goodies for a while now so be brave and try something new! There are also a bunch of fun activities in December. Why not check out a pantomime or go to Winter Wonderland for ice skating and fair rides? Even though you won’t be going home, you can still call your family and these tools for keeping in touch apply to friends and flatmates too. We hope you can enjoy the holidays!

Dear Heather and Emily, recent health advice from my doctor has meant that I now have a very restricted diet. How do I enjoy the holiday festivities, such as going out for meals, without feeling left out or difficult?

You are not alone! These days restaurants (and supermarkets) are catching on to the fact that people have complex allergies and intolerances. Most chain restaurants now have menus online which detail what items are specifically vegetarian, vegan, gluten, nut and dairy free. You could suggest eating at one of these places for the work or society meal. Or when whoever is organising the outing asks about dietary requirements you say specifically what you can’t eat and that way the venue will hopefully be able to tailor make something for you. If it’s more of a get together/family occasion then offer to help cook. It might seem like a bit of a pain but you know what you can eat and it’s better than having allergic reactions or an upset tummy! In the end people will understand that you aren’t trying to be awkward, you just don’t want to be ill. You’d be more of a pain if someone had to take you to the hospital because you’d eaten something you shouldn’t have!

Hi Heather and Emily, my girlfriend and I have only been together since Freshers and I’m worrying about what to get her for Christmas. Have you got any suggestions for presents?

We understand your dilemma. You’ll have been together for a few months by the time Christmas day rolls around so don’t go over the top! Any grand gestures may be a bit too much this early on in the relationship. However, as it’s a big holiday it can feel like you have to get the perfect present and if it’s the first gift you’re buying for her then it probably seems like a momentous occasion. Remember, she’s probably wondering what to get you too. You shou ld have gotten to know each other by now so try not to be generic with your gift. Make it more personal by thinking about what she likes or anything she’s mentioned wanting recently but not treated herself to. Hopefully, she’ll appreciate the extra effort. Good Luck!

Heather and Emily are Waterfront’s very own Agony Aunts and Matchmakers.
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