Written by Iqra Pervaiz

Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling
-Edna Ferber-

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year – a time to give without expecting anything in return, a time to celebrate love, a time to reflect, and a time to rejoice.

For some international students, their Christmas might be dull or glittery in comparison to the way they used to spend it back in their hometown. For me, celebrating Christmas last year according to British traditions was one of the most rewarding and fun-filled experiences of my life.

A flight from London to Karachi can cost over a thousand Euros, so that contributed to my decision of spending my first ever Christmas in the UK last year. I felt sad and homesick during the festive season, while so many students packed their bags and were excited to meet their families. But, for me, it was easier to cope while I was surrounded by so many friends to spend the holidays. Together, we were all ready to immerse ourselves in the ambiance of this holy tradition.

The international student office of Bangor University was quite sympathetic towards international students who might be alone during the holidays. Therefore, every year Bangor University arranges a wide variety of Christmas festivities to celebrate the season in style and fun. One of the most popular events is visiting the Christmas markets in different cities. And, when it comes to visiting Christmas markets, you can’t miss the Manchester one, which is world-famous.

So we donned our Santa hat and jumped into the festive spirit! The Manchester Christmas market attracts people from all over the UK and beyond, and is very crowded. It offers delicious mouth-watering international food, mulled wine, and delicately crafted and hand-made Christmas gifts for people of all ages. So, all you need for Christmas is in the heart of this charming market.

However, although I visited the market, I spent the actual Christmas in the European Cultural City of, Valetta. The island is buzzing with Christmas rhymes, music, décor and markets. Valetta is lit up completely and is all set to embrace Christmas Eve this year, too. There is something for everyone, ranging from music to bouncy castles.

The fascinating part of the Christmas stories, decorations and lights, is that even though they differ in these two countries (and globally), they are still more similar than they are different.

The moments of joy, the passion of exchanging gifts, and reflecting upon the love of God was similar throughout, and, most importantly, all the people enjoying Christmas celebrations smiled in the same language.