Embracing Australia as your home for the holidays

9 December 2020

Hey OzTREKKers, it’s Emma! The holidays are upon us, and like many other students in Australia right now, coming home to Canada isn’t an option this year. So, what will the holidays in Australia look like?

Staying in Australia for Christmas holidays
Half of us are using the back of the couch as a bench, and Paulina picked out red and white tablecloths

When you sign up for a degree abroad you understand that you’re going to miss some of the holidays. Most of us are able to get home for the Aussie summer/Canadian winter, meaning we catch any holidays included in that period, but there is no way you’ll make it back for Easter, Thanksgiving, grandma’s birthday, Mother’s Day… the list goes on.

Just because we aren’t home doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate though!

This year, my lovely friend Paulina took it upon herself to host a Friendsgiving, and it was exactly what I needed! Paulina cooked her first turkey and we all brought sides and desert—many of which included maple syrup. It was a mix of friends from school and Paulina’s work, but we were all Canadian and that was really special.

I have to admit, I was hesitant to go because it was near some pretty big assignment deadlines, and it’s hard to gauge how an event will go if you don’t know half the guests. But, I am so glad I went. It was the perfect depiction of Thanksgiving as I know it: good food, an overflowing table, makeshift chairs as inevitably you don’t have enough, loud conversations with laughter, full bellies and full hearts.

I know 2020 has been rough with a lot of students in Australia canceling flights home (myself included), but if I learned anything from Friendsgiving… it may not be the same as home, but it’s worth getting together.

Most of Australia has moved to fairly large indoor gatherings so it’s definitely possible. The bravest of you can make the main (with plenty of calls home on how to cook a turkey. Warning: Australian ovens are smaller.). The rest can bring the sides, and you all bring your accents! If you’re feeling daring… I made maple fudge, which almost made a French Canadian cry (in a good way). Check out the recipe!

Many of us will be “stuck” here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fill our “winter” with memories, friendship, and warmth (not the outdoor heat—Australia will take care of that for us—but the warmth you feel in your heart). Reach out to your friends, and any of the others in the cohort who might be “stuck” and make a night of it, I promise you won’t regret it.


Emma’s a second-year student in Macquarie University’s Doctor of Medicine program! Follow her on Instagram for more tips and info! 

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