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How to survive Christmas at home

Hints and tips on surviving the festive holiday back home

You've been away at university for a whole term and you can bet your family are going to have some questions, here's everything you need to survive the next four weeks.

What will help you cope?

Being at home is great, but sometimes it can feel suffocating and you miss the independence you had at uni – nobody to complain about the noise you make rolling in at 5am, nobody to ask you to do your dishes as soon as you finish eating and nobody to make you feel bad for lazing around all day.

Many students feel the best thing to do when being back home is to spend time with your home friends, whether it be going for a meal, a trip to the cinema or having a few drinks at the pub.

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Often lots of Christmas films and TV, chocolate, pets and plenty of home-cooked meals help you through the four week period too.

What will you be asked?

You'll be asked any number of these questions over and over again as you see your relatives. It gets repetitive.

How's university going?

Keep it blunt. Your term might've consisted of messy socials, last-minute assignments and all-nighters, but relatives don't often relate or are often appalled by the stories you have to share. A lovely 'great thanks' will suffice. Try keeping it positive so they leave you alone and don't push it further.

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Relatives just don't need to know really

Are you enjoying university?

The best answer is yes, keeping it positive to DISTANT relatives stops them worrying and asking further questions that you might feel sensitive too. Although, being home at Christmas is the perfect opportunity to tell your parents, siblings, grandparents, friends or any close family, if you AREN'T enjoying university, such as if you're struggling with the workload, feeling homesick or feeling lonely – be honest with them, they are there to help and you have four weeks to change things with them alongside you.

If you don't feel you can speak to your family or friends at home over Christmas you can speak to your college JCR well-being officers, academic advisory or the Lancaster Nightline- 01524 59 44 44.

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How are your grades looking?

Good thanks. It's unlikely they'll understand the grading system.

Are you eating properly?

Yes I made a lovely (insert easy but nutritious meal, even though you've pretty much lived off takeaway and snacks all term)

Have you got taller?

You can usually laugh this one off or shrug.

Have you lost/put on weight?

Laugh it off as you walk away or shrug and change the subject.

The most important thing to remember is to stay calm. Even if it's the seventeenth time they've asked.

Things to watch out for

There are also plenty of conversations you want to avoid at the dinner table when you're back home, conversations that can cause plenty of family arguments.

Political conversations

At some point you will be asked your opinion on something political, especially since you're at uni you're expected to be highly opinionated. It could be something like Brexit or about a specific person (maybe rhymes with Tronald Dump?). Be careful how you answer.

Honestly when I'm at home I tend to avoid these conversations altogether, I don't have the patience to argue. If you do, feel free to express your opinion but be ready to defend it.

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Avoid politics at all costs

Drunk relatives

One of the main causes for both Christmas joy and misery. Don't try and stop anyone or you WILL get into arguments, just keep an eye on what people are drinking and how much. If your aunt is on her sixth wine spritzer and wanders over to talk, retreat and hide before she tells you how she never loved your uncle.

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Racist relatives

The best way to deal with a racist relative is to respond quickly and simply. You probably aren't going to change their mind over Christmas dinner. If your uncle starts complaining about how he "just doesn't like 'em " and how "they take all our jobs" keep it calm and simple.

Extra Tips:

Offer to help

You've moved out. You've learned to cook, clean and survive on your own. You're independent. But moving back home is like taking a step back, you're in someone else's house where there are rules – you can't just role in at 5am and chat rubbish till 7am in the kitchen.

I know you're on a break but offering a helping hand can really make a difference – it stops your parents complaining that your lazy and treat your house 'like a hotel' (you will hear this often).

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Keep a positive frame of mind

Family can be hard work but if you go in expecting to have a bad time, you will. Yes your uncle may ruin it by loudly complaining but you may also see your favourite cousin. You'll also spend time with your parents who have likely missed having you around.

Reward yourself

Before you go home for the Christmas break, plan a treat to reward yourself for getting through it. It doesn't matter if it's a night in with a new book or a night out with your mates – it's something. Often a drink or two can definitely help.

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If all else fails, at least you'll get to see your pets.

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