My first festive season away from home was not as bad as I thought it would be.
In fact, it was surprisingly pleasant.
There are clearly lots of differences in how people across the world celebrate their festive holidays. I can, however, only account for Botswana and Cardiff, Wales as well Manchester, England.
In Botswana, some of the young people like binge drinking and spend nights out on the town.
It’s the longest holiday time of the year so it’s understandable that most would like to take advantage of the free time on their hands.
Most of my past festivities were spent that way or I would be at the village with the extended family.
Growing up, the presents we got for Christmas were mostly clothes but the older we got the more people cared less about giving presents as Christmas gifts.
In the UK, particularly Cardiff where I am currently based, the festive holidays are about family and giving and lots of store discounts.
I was afraid of a lonely Christmas because I had no family and friends around. In fact, it took me quite a while to make friends.
My homesickness lasted an entire two months during which time I would cry myself to sleep because I missed home.
I had a cousin I had never met before who lives in Manchester so when she asked me to come and spend the holidays with her and her family, I was delighted to say the least.
I spent my first Christmas away from home in Manchester and I loved it. The Christmas tree and all the decorations were up by the time I got there.
On the day, we woke up early because everyone could not wait to exchange presents. They went all out in terms of the Christmas lunch, the turkey with stuffings, ham, pudding; all the food you could think of was there.
My cousin said that, to them, Christmas is about food, love, family and being merry and that, of course, involved a lot of wine.
In the evening the neighbours had a Christmas party that we attended and it was the best time I have had since I came to the UK.
For New Year’s eve in Cardiff, I decided to go to the Winter Wonderland, which is situated by City Hall. For a month prior to Christmas and New Year, the city itself had been brightly lit with Christmas lights and Christmas trees everywhere.
The Winter Wonderland makes you feel like a child in a fantasy novel because there is so much to do and so many rides to get on. I got on the tallest ride, unfortunately for me, it was not that exciting because once you have gone skydiving nothing else comes close.
Nonetheless, I had a great time and ended up winning two teddy bears for shooting targets. That was something new.
However, I didn’t have the heart to skate on ice; it is definitely not that interesting to me.
The fireworks lasted for about 15 minutes and the weather was terrible but there is something about a new year that brings a lot of optimism.
Although I missed my family and friends, the experience of a new culture is always something to look forward to.