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The Festive Season as an International Student

Megan is a Brand Ambassador for The Student Housing Company and a third year international student at the University of Melbourne. She is currently pursuing a degree in commerce majoring in Accounting and Finance. She is a Filipino Chinese who hails from Singapore and has lived in Hong Kong and China too. A fun and driven individual, she knows how to work hard and play harder. She #livesforthegram and is a meme lord. If you see her around campus, don’t forget to say hi!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Yes! Christmas is almost here! As an international student in Melbourne, sometimes we aren’t be able to return to our home countries because of school obligations. I remember having to spend New Years in Melbourne because of summer school. There were hardly any friends remaining in Melbourne and I didn’t know what to do. It can get kind of lonely when you’re alone in a foreign country by yourself, especially during the festive periods which were once spent with friends and family.

Or maybe you just don’t feel like heading back to your home country this holiday. Either way, you’re in luck! You may not have experienced Christmas Festive Cheer like here in Australia as an international student, so this is a great opportunity for you to expose yourself to celebrating Christmas the Aussie way! You can still have a wonderful time in Melbourne over Christmas and the New Years. Here are some activities you and your friends can enjoy over this Christmas season!

1. Christmas shopping

Late on your Christmas shopping? Head down to Bourke Street to pick up some presents for friends and family. Treat yourself to a present too, while you’re at it! Nothing like a little retail therapy. Not to mention, there are always crazy sales going on along Bourke Street on Boxing day, make sure you don’t miss out on those great deals!

Also be sure to drop by Myer’s Christmas Window at Bourke Street Mall for some pictures with the Christmas decorations. Myer’s Christmas windows are a must-go if you’re in Melbourne. Every year the displays are different and they just seem to get more beautiful. For more information, you can visit their Christmas Window Website.

Bourke Street is only a short tram ride from The Student Housing Company’s student accommodation in Melbourne, University Square – check it out over the holidays for 2019 accommodation!

2. Take Instagram-worthy photos with decorations around town

There are Christmas lights and decorations put-up all-over town. Take an evening stroll amongst the magic and grandeur. A huge Christmas tree and a Giant Bauble will be lit up at Federation Square for your viewing pleasure. Be sure to take those Instagram-worthy pictures! There will also be Christmas projections at the Victoria State LibraryMelbourne Town Hall, Federation Square and NewQuay at Docklands. Crown Casino will also be showcasing a Christmas Artvo exhibition.

3. Eat your heart out

Treat yourself to a nice Christmas dinner at some of these restaurants that will be open on Christmas day and serving up some delicious food. Victoria Hotel serves up Charcuterie and a mouth-watering dessert buffet for $70 per adult. Bangpop offers a Thai-style seven-course sharing menu at $69 per adult and a range of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Bangpop also offers gluten-free and vegan dining options. Or if you prefer a less fancy Christmas meal, you can check out Lygon Street, Chinatown, Federation Square and South Wharf. Some restaurants around the area will definitely be open!

If you’re a sweet-tooth like me, do visit Brunetti along Lygon Street for some of their Christmas specials. Brunetti bakes up some seriously delicious gingerbread-man cookies in Christmas. Here are more of Brunetti’s Christmas specials.

Feeling adventurous? Check out my favourite international food spots around Melbourne over the summer break!

4. Have your own Christmas dinner with friends

For me, the best part about Christmas is eating good food in the company of even better people. Gather your friends together and whip up a Christmas feast that you will all enjoy. Cooking and eating together will really bring out that Christmas spirit. Here are some classic Christmas dinner dishes with easy-to-make recipes! Who says Christmas meals are hard to make?

• Roast Chicken

• Mashed Potatoes

• Crackling Roast Pork

• Mixed Vegetables and Christmas sides

• Eggnog

• Christmas Cake

5. Volunteer the gift of your time

Why not be the agent of change and spread some Christmas cheer for the less fortunate. Christmas is a time for giving, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be presents. Donating your time and efforts to helping the needy during Christmas is one way of celebrating! MS Australia are looking for volunteers to wrap gifts in a shopping centres. Vision Australia are looking for volunteers for the Myer gift wrapping service in various locations. Melbourne City Mission are looking for volunteers to help with their ABC Giving Tree Appeal by collecting toys and sorting through donated items. These are just a few of the many options for volunteer opportunities. A more extensive list can be found here.

There are also a whole range of options if you are looking for a paying job over the Christmas break, check out this blog on student jobs in Melbourne for more info!

6. Snuggle up at home

Feeling a little lazy? That’s fine too! Stay at home, order some delivery with your friends and have a movie night! Enjoy classic Christmas movies like Home Alone Christmas Reunion, The Polar Express, The Grinch and A Nightmare before Christmas. Here is a list of Christmas movies you can binge on while stuffing yourself silly with food. Don’t fancy movies? Curl up on your couch or bed and read your favourite book with a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Christmas can be celebrated anyway you want! Don’t be too bummed if you’re not heading back for the holiday season, there is plenty to do. Here is wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas celebration no matter how big or small it is!

Know even more things to do and places to see during the Christmas season? Share them with me!

Instagram: @megaortega 

Facebook: Megan Ortega