Overseas students introduced to Yuletide delights

Newcastle v-c gives international students the full flavour of a British Christmas

December 19, 2013

Source: Alamy

Festive fare: Newcastle University is laying on holiday food and entertainment

As universities empty of staff and students for the Christmas break, one group is often left behind.

For some international students, the festival has little traditional relevance, and flight costs mean they often stay in university accommodation over the holiday.

To make them feel more welcome at a time when their families might be thousands of miles away, Chris Brink, vice-chancellor of Newcastle University, hosts a turkey lunch for about 100 international students every Christmas Day.

“I was an international student and, particularly if you come from the southern hemisphere, it can be a bit bleak [being here over Christmas],” said Professor Brink.

“If you have students who can’t go home – China is a long way away – it seems a reasonable thing to do,” he added. “Free food is always a wonderful thing for students.”

Professor Brink’s house being too small for such an occasion, the lunch, as in previous years, will be held in a local church hall.

The food is cooked and served largely by Newcastle staff volunteers, some retired, as Professor Brink said he was “not sure” that he was “competent to carve a turkey for 100 people”.

The lunch is one way in which universities can keep their international students happy during the Christmas period. Newcastle and Northumbria universities have produced a guide to Christmas for overseas (and home) students who will spend the holiday period in Newcastle.

Through the two institutions, students can arrange to see a “traditional British pantomime”, Jack and the Beanstalk, and can learn how to “wrap like a professional” at a gift-wrapping session.

Also on offer is entertainment not specific to the holidays: students can buy tickets to see Newcastle United Football Club play Stoke City and Arsenal on 26 and 29 December, respectively.

And the students’ union is hosting a four-hour “Xmas Movie Marathon” of back-to-back Christmas films on 2 January.

The guide also explains certain traditions, such as the Queen’s Christmas Day address to the nation, which will be screened at Professor Brink’s lunch.

“In the past, many families would sit down together to hear what she had to say, but this tradition has decreased over the years,” it says.

The guide directs students to carol services and a Pagan Yule festival. But it also offers a final page of insurance warnings, including, “if, as a student, you choose to take your spouse or children to an event, you do so at your own risk”.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy